There are people every day that find this miraculous website with offensively cheap prices, that make Wal-Mart seem like a flashlight salesman on the night the power is cut, and after the few moments of blissfully looking through the listings, they think, “Is it too good to be true? Is AliExpress legit?”
So, Is AliExpress Legit?
I have been there, and that was my exact reaction when I first found AliExpress.
This was not my first time on a website that sells cheap stuff, before that I have bought from eBay, DealExtreme, and FocalPrice; all of which are real sites, but all of them also have fraudulent sellers.
Nowadays, Chinese manufacturers are not only producing low-quality copies of Western product , they actually make them. Of course, there still are companies that make iPhone copies of a questionable build, and stuff them with iOS-styled Android guts; but there also are companies like Foxconn; companies that assemble the parts into real iPhones, Blackberries, Wii U’s and BMW’s.
AliExpress gives us, people outside of China, a taste of the real Chinese market; we get an an access to goods of a quality that is comparable to the quality of the goods you see at local stores, only at a fraction of prices that you are used to. For instance, we get an easy access to brands that are very popular on the Asian market, that are trying to gain exposure on the global market – brands like Huawei, Xiaomi (the second largest smartphone seller in China) and RS TAICHI (which was around since 1975, started to gain popularity in the West in the past 5 years or so).
How to be safe on AliExpress?
Aliexpress is just like eBay or Amazon. These are all individual sellers, and to avoid being burned, it is better to buy from somebody who has a decent feedback rating. Also just like ebay, research the item being sold. Even if the seller is a good guy, the product may not be.
Anytime someone complains about AliExpress, the root of their problem boils down to breaking one of these simple rules. I’ve bought a lot of stuff from Aliexpress (over 250 orders, some of which have 2 or more items), and so far my experience has been mostly positive. I have set a few guidelines for myself, that have kept me safe with not only AliExpress,
- I buy from large volume sellers, and avoid knock-offs. For electronics and clothing I shop for Chinese name brands. The same way as you would look up reviews on Dell, HP and Apple products, you can look up reviews on Lenovo, Huawei, etc. Usually, the same product will be sold by a number of different sellers, and unless it is a product that just appeared on the market, you should be able to find listings that have reviews, or search online for the product overview.
- I always check seller rating. There are sellers that sell so much they simply can not be bothered with the buyers that received damaged or wrong product.
- I always check the product review – even if the seller is a good guy, the product may not be. Unless the thing you want to buy was just introduced to the market the day before (you won’t see a lot of those), chances are that someone else has already bought it.
- I use common sense. The “too good to be true” is a statement that can be stretched pretty far, if you are new to AliExpress; but it is not difficult to understand that a 52″ 4K TV can not cost $300. If you have doubts, look closely at the seller page and see if they have any other products that are priced way too low. It is also helpful to look at the weight and the dimensions of the package – if it is a fake listing, chances are the seller did not pay attention to such small details.
- I always keep my eyes on the tracking status, and report issues, if any, in time. If the product got lost in the mail (which by the way has not happened once with any of my purchases), or if you receive he wrong item (sellers are humans, and that could happen too) it is up to you to report it.
I have also heard a lot of concerns from people about worrying over paying with their credit card on AliExpress. I have went through two different cards, neither of which had any unauthorized transactions – I use my card often, and check my balance every day. The Alipay system they currently have in place, should you choose to use it, prevents you from having to enter the card number in every time, which is good against keyloggers.
Having said that, I heard about cases when the seller would request credit card information to “verify” something. Never do that! The seller does not get your credit card information at any point; instead, AliExpress use ESCROW system, which means they take the payment from you, hold on to it, and credit it to the seller’s account once you confirm the receipt of the goods.
So instead of worrying about the legitimacy of AliExpress, focus your efforts on dodging dodgy sellers.
AliExpress is a real website; it is an awesome marketplace, way better than Amazon and eBay in my opinion. If you are willing to spend some time there (or if you read my blog :), you are looking at very handsome savings.
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Wondering how Chinese sellers manage to sell their products so cheap, offer free shipping, and still make money? Find out here.