Hello readers! As you might have noticed (if you have read any of my past reviews), I purchased most of my Chinese branded electronics from Aliexpress.com. When I first came across the website, I ran some background check on it before deciding to use it. Unsurprisingly, the general feeling towards the website based on most of the user reviews is amazingly negative!
Nonetheless, I still wanted to give it a try as they seem to offer products at a much cheaper price than other competing online stores. One of the major push for me was that the texts on the website is at least using proper English and that they provide customer protection scheme through Escrow.
If you are new and is still deciding whether or not to purchase through Aliexpress, this guide is intended for you so read on!
What to ExpectI think the simplest way to explain what Aliexpress is, is by saying that it is sort of like Amazon where sellers/companies get to advertise their products except in this case Aliexpress does not carry out any background check on the sellers (this includes some dedicated scammers!).
And also, Aliexpress is using a much more obscure payment method called Escrow instead of the well-known Paypal. So, if you want your experience to be trouble-free, make sure you use your common sense and not get caught up in the heat of the moment upon discovering a terrific deal.
While you can safely shop from any sellers on Amazon knowing that you are well protected, shopping on Aliexpress is a totally different thing. The following advice are mostly just common sense but more often than not, people tend to forget them.
1) If a deal seems too good to be true, then it most probably is.
Even if a seller is "just" offering a price that is USD30 cheaper, be wary and check their feedback scores! If they have none then save yourself a headache (and money) and look else where.
2) Always look at the feedback score.
A seller does not have to have a 100% positive score (although that would be ideal) but anything less than a 90% is a no-no for me. Also take a look on the number of feedback submitted. If a seller have a 100% positive feedback but only have 12 feedback in total, then I would suggest you to look at other more established sellers. It is possible that those feedback are self-generated by the sellers (through one way or another) although this might not always be the case, it is better to be cautious than losing your money for nothing.
3) Use shipping methods with tracking capability.
Personally, I have always opted to ship my stuffs using DHL instead of using the China/Hong Kong post even though these options are often offered for free. To me, why would one save a few bucks and risk losing your stuffs during shipping. Also, even if you opted for express delivery such as DHL, do NOT expect to get your items in time but at least using these courier will guarantee that you will get your items.
4) Buy items which are proven to be reliable.
Unless you are the adventurous type (like me :) ) then I would suggest you to not purchase newly introduced products with no reviews on it online. At the very least, wait for a month or two and see if there are any complaints online on the product. The reason for this is very simple; you do not have any real warranty by buying from these sellers.
Yes, they might say that they provide 1-year warranty but they will also tell you to ship it back (and then also pay for the return shipping) using anything but the well known couriers! Their reason for this is so that they do not have to pay for the import taxes, a shitty excuse if you ask me :). Personally, I had to ship one item back to China using UK's RoyalMail (tracked) and luckily for me it arrived safely and I got my money back but as always your mileage might vary (YMMV) so only purchase products which are proven to be reliable to prevent possible head (and heart) ache.
5) Never pay using bank transfer.
Always pay using credit/debit cards even if it means you have to use somebody else's. This will make your life easier in the long run if anything bad happened.
Cheap prices do come with a (another?) price. If you are not willing to tolerate the following issues then Aliexpress is NOT for you.
1) Fake tracking number.
For every orders, there is a specified limit for how many days the seller have to ship your items before Aliexpress cancel them (Processing time) and refund your money. This is why many sellers gave a fake tracking number to trick the system into believing that they have shipped you items hence the orders won't be cancelled. A shady practice which I have experienced a couple of times before. All is not lost however, as in all of such instances, the sellers did give me the actual tracking numbers and this usually is after the processing time has ran out.
2) Out-of-stock items.
There has been multiple occasions where I thought I have found an incredible deal from a 'good' seller and then immediately placed an order only to find out later that the item is out-of-stock. Now I have learnt my lesson; before placing any order, you should ALWAYS chat with the seller and ask if it is in-stock (this is bound to be an annoying experience for any of those English native speakers).
If you have ordered an item which is out-of-stock, sellers would often try to convince you to buy other items from their store of similar price. Of course, you can always agree to this if you trust them enough but most of the time I would just cancel the order and find other sellers.
Once you have agreed with the seller to cancel the order, a button to cancel the order will appear on your order and then Aliexpress will automatically start the refund process. I had to do this once and the money was refunded into my account 7 working days after I cancelled the order.
4) Slow shipment.
Yes, yes. It doesn't matter what they say, your items will not (never?) reach you in 3 days after you placed your orders. Most of the sellers on Aliexpress are simply drop-shippers which means that they still have to wait for THEIR supplier to ship the products to them.
This by itself might take a couple of days, hence the long processing time. From my previous experiences, the most efficient sellers will ship your products in 2 days but these sellers are really the exceptions rather than the rule. So in short, simply order as early as you can afford to:)
5) Communication with sellers.
Do NOT expect to have a conversation with any of the sellers in proper English but to be honest there is nothing wrong with that. I myself have a very limited vocabulary but at times it does frustrate me that the sellers never seems to bother to improve their English. If you are one of those grammar Nazis then Aliexpress will be your hell :)
Past TransactionsUnder this section, I will provide a list of sellers which I have used before and give some brief comments regarding my experiences with them. I hope I can maintain this list over time as I continue to use Aliexpress.
1) Look Me - Hot sale fashion products and Wholesale accessories!
Recommendation level: Neutral. (Slow shipper)
Comments: Ordered on 17th June, posted on 25th June using EMS. Arrived on 28th June at UK.
Contact person is pleasant but will continue to contact you on TradeManager everytime you go online.
2) Shenzhen Eternal Technology Co., Ltd.
Recommendation level: Highly. (Fast shipper)
Comments: Ordered on 25th June, posted on 27th June using UPS. Arrived on 4th July.
Did not have to contact anybody, the seller took care of everything.
3) Noble Sports Trading CO.,LTD.
Recommendation level: Slightly against. (Did not update products descriptions, fake tracking number and slow shipper.)
Comments: Ordered on 9th August but few of the products were out of stock so had to change it twice.
Gave a fake tracking number so that Aliexpress won't cancel the order. Finally shipped on 15th August using DHL and received in on the 23rd August.
4) Shenzhen Beaconton Electronic Co., Ltd.
Recommendation level: Neutral (Slow shipper and fake tracking number)
Comments: Ordered on the 22nd September. Shipped on the 3rd October and reached me on the 5th of October using DHL. Also used fake tracking number so order won't be cancelled.
5) Shenzhen Nonstop Technology Co., Ltd.
Recommendation level: Trusted.
Comments: Actually ordered from them twice.
a) Paid on the 8th October. Shipped on the 12th October using DHL and reached me at UK on the 15th October.
b) Paid on the 21st October. Shipped on the 25th October using DHL and reached me at UK on the 30th October. Actually it arrived earler but once in a while DHL will decide to charge you some admin fees which you have to pay online first before they deliver your things to you.