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How to Avoid an Aliexpress Scam

Aliexpress scam

 

As Alibaba Group’s “Aliexpress” service continues to grow in popularity, unfortunately we are starting to hear more and more about the “Aliexpress Scam”.

In case you haven’t heard, Aliexpress is essentially a Chinese version of eBay, just the sellers are all Chinese individuals and companies whilst the buyers are individuals overseas.

Much like its more famous counterpart Alibaba, Aliexpress attracts customers with a huge range of products and fantastic prices, but it is also plagued somewhat by dubious business practices by the stores it hosts. In this article we present some practical advice for buyers on how to avoid an Aliexpress scam.

It is amazing how many consumers get blinded by the promise of a great deal (verycompetetive price, fast delivary time & branded goods). It’s easy to get scammed when price is your only criteria. However, for most foreign buyers, one of the biggest attractions of Aliexpress lies in the variety of unbelievable cheap products to be purchased directly from China, without having to go through an intermediary.

As a buyer you need to ask yourself before making a purchase: is it really possible that the seller could offer the product at such a low price? You need to have realistic expectations for what you are buying, and this doesn’t just apply to clothing!

 

Avoid Branded and Electrical Products!
Many consumers consider Aliexpress to be something of a buyer’s paradise for bags, clothing and accessories. However, from the enquiries we receive and comments we read on forums, the experiences from buying big brands and electrical products aren’t so good.

There is no clearer example of this than on this eye-catching review from an Aliexpress user, Todd, who claims he was scammed 57 times in one day! Although this is obviously a rather sensationalist claim, there are some very good points made in Todd’s article, namely:

The problem with Aliexpress – as a whole – is that there is NOT a one single legitimate brand name product sold on the site.

If you are looking for anything technical like an iPad, phone, or a laptop, beware that you could end up with a very poor quality product and have little recourse to get your money back. Aliexpress own help center also reminds buyers that the famous branded products sold at lower prices are mostly fakes.

Although the appeal of buying a cut-price iPhone 6 from Aliexpress is high, the chance of getting a knock-off or falling victim to an Aliexpress scam is bordering on 100%.

 

Be Cautious with Your Payment Method
Aliexpress offers escrow service which can help buyers get a replacement or refund in the event of a dispute. It isn’t without its problems though – here is more from Todd:

"even after showing considerable evidence that your product is faulty or incorrect, it’s like there’s nobody there to look over the facts. Many times, you get an automatic rejection. It’s ridiculous."

 

You eventually either lose your money or you are left with the option of shipping the item back.
Despite their escrow service not being well regarded, it’s still a better payment option than using Western Union (which is a big NO) or making payment by bank transfer, where you really have no recourse in the event of a scam.

 

Check the Seller’s Feedback, Very Carefully
Aliexpress has implemented a user review and rating system, which although far from foolproof, is still a useful tool to help consumers make purchasing decisions. The limitations of Aliexpress’ user review system is undermined by the existence of many stores using deceptive methods to achieve a better rating.

However, given the lack of a transparent store verification system, there is still some useful information for buyers to gleam from comments. But, you have to read the comments really carefully to look for warning signs – as Todd explains:

"the seller will usually offer you a refund if you leave them a 5 star rating. I was given this option about 70% of the time with my defective orders."

 

Also, when you look through Seller Ratings, you will occasionally notice 5 Star Ratings with a negative comment behind it. Who does that? and How?!!


Only Buy From Verified “Gold” Suppliers, Is it?
Oddly, we have noticed this advice in the Aliexpress Help Center: They recommend buying from their Gold Suppliers, but as far as we can tell there are no Gold Suppliers in Aliexpress currently!!

As you may know, that Alibaba Gold Supplier system is highly flawed and many previous “Verified” gold members have been blacklisted. Currently there is no clear way for buyers to understand how stores are verified, or even know who really operates them.

 

Our conclusion, to avoid Aliexpress Scam
Given the poor controls in place on Aliexpress, the surest way to avoid an Aliexpress scam is to not use it in the first place. If you however are keen to shop on Aliexpress, do so with great caution, lower your expectations and always remember the saying “you only get what you pay for!”

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