What is AliExpress? Are you able to shop online with AliExpress? Is there any security risk? Here’s what we discovered after shopping there multiple times.
You’ve finally found a deal on AliExpress.com. Is AliExpress safe? What happens if the items don’t arrive on time? These are the answers.
What is AliExpress?
AliExpress is a short primer. Alibaba Group is the owner of this huge online retailer. It started out as a business to-business selling and buying portal. It has since expanded to business-to-consumer, consumer-to-consumer, cloud computing, and payment services.
Alibaba reported sales of over $85 Billion during the 11/11 Singles’ Day event in 2021.
AliExpress is Alibaba’s online marketplace for international buyers. TaoBao caters to domestic Chinese. It allows small Chinese businesses to sell to customers around the globe.
You can find almost anything on AliExpress, just like Amazon. AliExpress sellers are third-party sellers, unlike Amazon. AliExpress does not sell any products. AliExpress is a marketplace. This means that your experience with a seller can be very different.
Why is AliExpress so cheap?
You’ll notice a lot of the AliExpress products are very affordable if you look at them. What is the reason? There are many possible causes, but all are the same.
The first is the possibility of buying directly from the manufacturer. This reduces the selling price. China has lower production costs than other countries. Lax enforcement of intellectual properties laws could also be a contributing factor.
AliExpress has amazing prices on many electronics, such as this 4WD Arduino robotic robot that we built. They are made in China and can be purchased directly from the manufacturer. This means that you don’t have to pay the middle-man retail mark-up.
It’s a ruse
A second reason an item might be extremely low is that it could be fake or was scrapped from the production line. This could also happen if there are strict brand quality standards. AliExpress is not the only one that is well-known for its counterfeit production. AliExpress is unlikely to find genuine brand goods unless it’s Chinese.
Some sellers use shady listing practices to be competitive against other sellers selling the exact same product at a similar price. One common practice is to add a small accessory as an option purchase that is less expensive than the main product. In the search results, the accessory’s cost (not the main product) is displayed.
The brick toy in the picture below was $4.64. This is a great price for a 541pc set of building pieces! Click through to see that the seller also added a “bag of 10 balls” for $4.64. Brick toys are $56.93. That’s quite a difference.
AliExpress has some great deals but not all items are genuine and prices are often higher than they appear. There are many counterfeit products available, including clothing and electronics.
AliExpress is a trusted marketplace that allows you to distinguish between legitimate deals, fraudulent listings, and obvious scams.
What is the delivery time for AliExpress?
AliExpress items have an estimated delivery time. It is usually between 20 and 60 days. In my experience, it’s often inaccurate so you should ignore it.
AliExpress has increased the “Buyer Protect Time” from the initial COVID-19 crisis to as much as 90 days. Another way to put it is that you must wait for a refund for an item not delivered for at least 90 days.
Three months is a long time to wait to get something online. It doesn’t necessarily mean it won take 90 days, but it might.
My experience is that most items take around two weeks to arrive. More than half of the 30+ products we purchased during the 11/11 sale arrived within two weeks.
This depends on the shipping method used. AliBaba’s own shipping service, Cainao was launched in 2018. They have their own warehouses and partners in major shipping countries. CainaoGlobal Economy is horrible, I’ve found.
Even if you are notified that the package has arrived in your country it may still sit in Cainao’s warehouse for up to a month before being delivered. One of the three packages Cainao delivered to me took over two months; another one was lost. However, I was able to get a full refund.
AliExpress Standard Shipping is delivered usually by Airmail. The last mile is then handled by your local mail service (Royal Mail for the UK or USPS for the USA).
Courier shipping services such DHL and UPS are the most reliable but they’re also a premium service.
Tracking numbers will be added to all shipments, even those that are free. However, it could take up to a week for a package to be shipped before the tracking number is actually added.
You should then be able follow the package’s journey through China’s postal centers. After a while, it will arrive at your country’s customs clearance office.
You should contact the seller if you do not have a tracking number within 10 days. However, you won’t have the right to file an official dispute regarding non-delivery until the delivery deadline has passed.
After spending thousands of dollars on AliExpress over the past decade, I have only had to file a few disputes for non-delivery. Although one could be traced to my local customs office and had been there for over a month, the other was not. The seller offered to send it back, and I received them both about a month later.
In other cases, a full refund was granted. One occasion only a portion of an order was delivered. Because the seller had a tracking #, the shipment was marked as delivered regardless of whether it contained only part of the order. AliExpress decided in my favor and I was not able to receive a refund. This story is a lesson in how to unbox everything.
Automatic Taxation in the UK and EU; USA up to $800
Sellers used to be able to declare goods as “gifts” that had a low value. This meant that the package was exempted from additional taxes. This loophole has been discovered by the taxman, at least in Europe.
Shoppers from EU countries will notice that orders below EUR150 will automatically get VAT added by AliExpress at their checkout. This cost is not shown on the sales page. It is for UK customers as of January 2021. When you click the checkout button, the tax is added automatically. Make sure to add 20% to the product page.
For packages exceeding EUR150/PS135 in value, VAT will not be added automatically. This will be handled instead by the shipping company. You will also be responsible for any additional handling charges and possibly import duty.
Orders to the USA are exempted from import tax if the order value is less than $800. You’ll be responsible for 25% import taxes if your order exceeds $800.
What about AliExpress’s quality of goods?
Most goods will cost the same as the ones you see on the high street. Sometimes, however, you might be unhappy with the product. You might be disappointed by the material or colors of a dress. If this happens, it is important to be realistic with sellers.
You can’t demand a refund if you don’t like the product, unless there is something in the listing you can point out as incorrect. What can you do if your unhappy?
- Take it from someone who has done it before and you won’t be disappointed. You get what you pay for.
- A partial refund may be possible. Your first instinct might have been to rate the product with a 1-star rating. Ratings can be a powerful bargaining tool.
- It is possible to return the goods but you should be careful. The cost of shipping back to China can be much higher than what you paid initially for it. This cost will not be refunded. It is difficult to track items returned into China. Sometimes they disappear completely at the Chinese customs office.
Be realistic about what you are paying. You can see some YouTube videos to get an idea of what quality you can expect. (“AliExpress haul video” is a popular option right now). Consider adding a shop to your “Follow”, so you can buy again from them.
AliExpress’s Real Danger: Fraudsters & Fakes
AliExpress is a solid system when it comes security. While they are not perfect, their track record is excellent. You can rest assured that your information will not be stolen from these services more than if you use a service like Amazon or eBay. (Remember, even eBay suffered a huge data leak).
Since I was a teenager, I have had several credit cards stored in my AliPay accounts. I have never been robbed. Keep in mind that I am a European citizen, so my credit cards are protected with chip and pin technology as well as a rear verification code which isn’t stored. The decades-old financial technology used by the US is still a major factor in fraud.
AliExpress is not the place to buy branded goods
In most countries, brands are granted special protection. While you may not be concerned about whether a product is genuine or not, if your package is inspected and found to be fake, the goods will be confiscated. If you have bought many of these goods and you suspect that you are trying to sell them, you can expect customs officials to knock on your door.
Chinese brands are an exception to this rule, and will often have an AliExpress storefront.
Before you buy, make sure to check the feedback from the seller
Sellers with bad reviews and a reputation for fraud will be exposed in the feedback and reviews.
Avoid sellers who claim they won’t deliver or send sub-par goods. Be wary of stores that have been created in the past six months and are called generic names like “shop325423456”.
After you receive your order, make sure to inspect it carefully
The escrow system allows for you to withhold payment until your order is received. This will allow you to confirm that you have received what you ordered. You should ensure that everything is in order, that the item looks exactly like it did when you ordered it, and that it does not look fake if it’s a brand-name product. It is possible to even film the unboxing in order to have proof if you receive an incomplete order.
After marking an item as received you have 15 days to file a dispute.
Take care with storage, memory, and graphics cards
Even though it’s common to fall for this scam when you buy from Shenzhen market stalls, it’s much easier to do online. Although the memory stick claims to be 64Gb, it actually has a lot more. Although the firmware is hacked, you will not know this until you try to use the entire drive. You are now safe and sound.
If you are willing to take the risk, make sure you test your drive using a tool such as h2TestW immediately after you receive it.
Due to the Chinese government’s recent crackdown on cryptocurrency mining you should be cautious about buying a graphic card. Many miners will try to sell second-hand cards. Although secondhand is fine, the stress of mining 24/7 and occasional gaming are very different.
How to get a refund on AliExpress
You can file a dispute with the seller if a package doesn’t arrive or you have other issues. The “helpful” Eva customer support bot is used to start the process. It’s located at the bottom right of your orders overview page. Select the problem you are interested in and wait for the bot to load your order.
It is important to note that due to supply chain issues and shipping issues, the protection period has been extended to 90 business days for most orders. You cannot file a dispute if your order is not within the delivery window.
Eva will ask you to confirm your intent to file a dispute if the delivery window has ended or you have other quality issues. Then, the process of negotiation with the seller begins.
If necessary, you can provide additional evidence to support your claim. You can accept or decline the seller’s claim. The process continues until both sides have reached a solution. An AliExpress agent will make a decision if a resolution isn’t reached within 45 days.
Although I have never had any problems requesting a refund from AliExpress, the feedback of other users shows that new customers are treated differently than existing customers. AliExpress may reject your request for a refund if this is your first order.
If that is the case, a chargeback may be your only option.
Are AliExpress’s Shops Safe?
AliExpress shopping is safe, according to the evidence. Be realistic and cautious. There are many bargains available, as well as low quality products and scammers.
Despite this, many of the same sellers are now listed on Amazon and eBay, and the prices are not much different. Because Amazon and eBay offer better consumer protections than AliExpress, I recommend AliExpress over eBay, even if it is a little more expensive.
You should verify that the seller is authorized to sell the item if it is not available on AliExpress.