Home Online Shopping Things to Remember while Purchasing from AliExpress

Things to Remember while Purchasing from AliExpress

aliexpress logoAliExpress is the retail side of Alibaba and is a place to purchase goods in small quantities. AliExpress offers some sort of buyer protection which is very important when purchasing from another country and especially the Chinese goods which hardly carry any warranty. However, it is still a pretty risky place and you as a buyer must keep the following things in mind while purchasing from AliExpress.com

Tips to Stay Safe on AliExpress

If you are buying from AliExpress for the first time, the tips mentioned below would ensure a happy shopping experience for you.

1. Buy from Established Sellers

Always try to buy from sellers which are selling since a good time and have a good feedback. These sellers mostly care about their ratings and are happy to help you in case there is a problem with your order. Also look at the past feedback that they received on the same item. If it is also favorable, you’ve found a good seller to buy from. Your transaction should mostly be very pleasant with such sellers. On the product page take note of the following things:

aliexpress seller badge
Seller Details on AliExpress

Open (years) lists the number of years has the shop existed on AliExpress. The older, the better. For example, the shop (Foison Group) in the above example was established on December 9th 2012. The fact that the shop has existed for 3+ years speaks for itself that the seller is here to stay. Expensive items should be shopped from shops which have existed since long.

seller badge scores aliexpress
Seller Badge

Top Rated Seller is a badge given to sellers who have provided excellent service over a period of time. Aliexpress reviews the sellers monthly and only the best out of best are promoted as Top Rated Seller.

Feedback Score shows the number of 4 or 5 star ratings received by the seller (minus) the number of 1 or 2 star feedback received. Sellers with high feedback score are well established and are expected to provide good support around the clock.

Positive Feedback shows the percentage of positive feedback received by the seller during the past 6 months. The higher the positive feedback, the better. But do compare the Positive Feedback with Feedback Score as new sellers will also have close to 100% positive feedback because they haven’t sold enough and hence no real feedback from end users.

Number of product orders and feedback choosing a seller which has sold a good quantity of the product you wanna buy is a good idea. You’d also see buyer feedback related to the product making it easy for you to judge the quality.product feedback & orders aliexpress

Established sellers also have a dedicated sales & support team which is usually available around the clock and you can contact them for any issues that may have.

2. Read Complete Item Details/Description

Sometimes very useful information is included in the item details/description section. Do NOT place the order by just looking at the product title and photos, instead check the description as well and there might be certain explanations that seller has left for the buyers. For example, the seller may state the features, specifications, compatibility,  quality of the item and whether it is a replica or an original product. Shipping, refunds and support related questions are also generally answered in the item description.

Aliexpress Item Details Clarification
Example of seller’s clarification in description

3. Seller Guarantees

For many items, sellers offer their own set of guarantees. Others aside, one thing that you should definitely look for before buying expensive & branded items (…cough iPhones, Galaxies) is the Guaranteed Genuine tag. If a product that falls under this guarantee is found to be counterfeit, you will get a full refund (shipping costs included).

seller guarantees aliexpress
Seller Guarantees

Returns Extra is also a good choice to have. Under this, sellers agree to accept your items back if you do not like them for any reason. You surely need to pay return shipping costs, hence it only makes sense for expensive products.

These details can be found under Buyer Protection section of the product listing page or under Seller Guarantees tab.

4. Communicate with the Seller before Purchasing

Before making a purchase, do communicate with the seller using the Chat or Messaging system that is provided by AliExpress. Always clear your doubts and ask any item details, shipping or delivery questions you may have.

Some listings don’t mention the brand of the item and some others might have identical spelling to a branded product. These items can be knockoffs and do confirm with the seller if that is the case.

5. Think twice for items with a super low price

If you feel that the price of a particular item is much lower than its real value, it’s better to avoid it. These are most probably the Chinese knockoffs which look like a genuine product, but are not in reality.

6. Avoid Free Shipping for Expensive Items

Free shipping is usually sent via the National Post service and takes a long time to arrive. There is also an extended risk of items being delivered as broken or even never reaching the destination. So, while free shipping is okay for low priced goods, do choose some decent shipping service (DHL, EMS; etc) when buying items with high prices. Also ask for shipping insurance if the seller supports that.

7. Customs/Import Duties may be Charged

Low cost items usually get past the eyes of customs department, but there is a high chance that you’ll incur import duties for expensive products. So, do compare the price after accounting for customs with the regular price in your country before declaring that the xyz item can be purchased for a lower price from China.

Different countries have different rates at which duties are charged for imports. Duty Calculator is a good place to get an estimate, but it is not always correct. Depending on the customs inspector the actual customs imposed on your import can be higher or lesser than the one estimated by Duty Calculator. Also, please don’t ask your questions about how much customs will be charged, because we really can’t answer that.

8. Do not open a dispute before receiving the items

AliExpress allows you to dispute a transaction in case you are not satisfied with your purchased products or if you don’t receive it within the projected delivery date. You only get one chance of disputing a transaction and you should not waste it if the seller is talking a longer time in shipping the goods. That is an easy method adopted by a lot of sellers to keep them safe from disputes arising later on. Here’s an example:

You place an order on 20th of August. The seller has not provided shipping details (or they don’t work) till 23rd and out of frustration, you open a Not Shipped dispute against the seller. The seller would then ship the items within the next few days and deny your dispute by providing/updating the shipping details. Now that your issue for dispute is resolved, you would be required to accept the resolution and close the dispute.

Once you accept the seller’s resolution and close the dispute, the seller is super safe as you’ve lost the only chance of disputing the transaction that you get. If that’s not enough, you can’t even leave feedback for this transaction making the seller even safer.

So, please use your dispute carefully and try not to waste it on anything except for Undelivered or Damaged product received.

Update: AliExpress now lets buyers cancel an ongoing dispute. Cancelling does not close the dispute and you can open up a dispute again at a later stage before the purchase protection ends. This is important/useful if the seller is asking for more time (provided it is reasonable) or your question/query is answered in the communication. DO NOT ACCEPT the dispute unless you’re satisfied with what you have received and/or the proposal that seller has offered.

9. Use it before confirming receipt

When you receive the delivery of your product, don’t get too excited and confirm the receipt of the item. Do use it thoroughly for a day or two before confirming the receipt. If there is a problem with the item received, contact the seller and ask for resolution. If his replies are not helpful, chat with one of AliExpress’s support representative and discuss your problem. Open a dispute when they suggest you the same.

When all is done, do leave your feedback summing up your experience with the product and seller. Leave negative feedback (1-2 stars) if you’re not at all satisfied and  if you are satisfied with your received product, don’t just forget about it. Instead, show some generosity and leave positive feedback for the seller/item. This helps in keeping the buying and selling system healthy 🙂

Cool! Take me to AliExpress

Updates:

19 March 2015: Added a few additional points and fine tuned a few older ones with images which might prove helpful in identifying a good seller.
24 December 2015: Updated with changes made to seller badges.

1,088 Comments

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  • Hi Narendar,
    I am new to Aliexpress….and so far all but two of my orders are perfect. I asked a vendor if they would offer a discount on a large order and they said yes, but I am confused about how to proceed. If I go to my cart, there are 43 items in it. When I click on it and scroll to the bottom the full amount is there. There is a Buy from this seller button, but I’m afraid to click on it…I’m afraid my credit card will be charged before they apply the discount. They keep saying to click on it but do not enter the password…and I’m not sure which password they are talking about. They have been in business for over 6 years and have very high ratings, so can you advise me on what to do? Thank you!

    • Okay, the way special discounts work there is that you create an order, but you do not pay for it yet. After placing the order, contact the seller and he will reduce the total amount (as agreed by both of you).
      What you have to do is to select the items you plan to purchase (from your cart) and then click on the ‘Buy from this seller button’. The next page will require you to choose the shipping address and also the mode of payment. Here, please select ‘Other payment methods’ and then finally click ‘Confirm and Pay’. Your order will be placed, but will stay as an unpaid order. The seller will be able to adjust the prices for these orders 🙂

      I’ve also created a short video to guide you through. You can find it HERE.
      Just do not proceed with your card selected as the payment method. Ideally, the system should ask you your AliPay PIN before charging the card, but sometimes it doesn’t. So better be safe 🙂 Yes, you will still be able to pay your order with your saved credit card when you retry the payment after the seller has adjusted the price.

    • Because the standard post services are slow. That is how they are so cheap.
      If you need faster delivery, you can choose from 3rd party carriers such as DHL or EMS which will deliver your packages within a week.

  • Hi everyone. I’m living in china and have my own company in china. I can provide you all those stuff you need from aliexpress or eBay or any platforms. I can deliver your product in few days with 100% guarantee rather than 30 days or more. Wechat or Whatsapp me on 008613884411074

  • I ordered a cellphone and a cover from Aliexpress. They shipped fairly quickly. But the package that I received only contained the phone cover.

    I opened a dispute on their platform. They asked for proof so I sent photos. I could even send postal documents, but I wrote them they have to wait for that until the office provides the documents.

    3 days later they closed the dispute, no refund. So I lost 200$ for nothing. The whole “dispute” service is just a smoke screen.

    In the closing email they asked for feedback and wrote “we hope you had a great shopping experience”.

  • I ordered a packet of knickers when they came there were a couple that were smaller than otheres and not the colours i ordered i opened dispute with seller they said manufacturing issue and would give me 10 % of next order . Really that was it you couldnt get it right first time why would i trust you again … i asked for refund or to send the proper size and colours but they refused i did leave feed back as i was left with knickers that were of no good even there size chart was wrong it stated size large would fit uk 12 when large came they would fit uk size 8 nothing more so all very decieving. They just didnt want to resolve issue i asked they send a packet of xl in the correct colours as compensation but they refused

  • Their should be a minus on the stars, I order items from AliExpress and I got some, but did not get other items after I placing a complaint and waiting over two 2 month
    there resolution is a scam, now I know how the owner is a billionaire he is scamming us from our money.
    Below is their resolution blocking my account and basically saying I am lying.

    We have noticed irregular activities being carried out by your account which violate the AliExpress Buyer Protection Program rules.

    Accordingly, we regret to inform you that we have terminated your account. You will still be able to access your account and ongoing order will stay remain, however the buying, dispute, feedback privileges has been taken out.

    So basically thanks for your money, and good by. I feel like an idiot for trusting AliExpress

  • Hello,

    i have just ordered a phone from ali express and now i am starting to get worried that whether i will have to pay any custom duties in Pakistan?

    are products delivered at home or at post office?

  • I had a truly horrible experience with AliExpress and will never use it again for a drop ship type of business. It simply is not worth the risk of what can happen. As a business owner I was double-victimized by a very bad seller who misrepresented his product and sent damaged merchandise to boot. Needless to say the customer I bought the item for was very unhappy with the situation and I don’t like having to make refunds for damaged and deceptively marketed merchandise. The AliExpress merchant was unwilling to provide any compensation for the cost of shipping back the bad merchandise. However I compensated the customer for it anyway even though I can’t get it from the horrible AliExpress merchant.

  • I ever bought from eBay and had bad experience so I never buy online for past few years. But recently I wanted to buy my wedding gown, my search brought me to aliexpress. When my eyes fell on that lovely dress I wanted, I just click buy!!! That was just a week ago. The seller said they can customized it to back laced for USD 10 and give me a free glove to go with it. This dress was shipped within a week. Now, after reading comments online, I started to worry. Are they really able to customized within a few days!! I did msg the seller to ask her if she has customized the dress and her reply was just a smiley icon!!! This is making me more nervous. So, I would like your expert opinion if I received the item and it was not customized, should I immediately open a dispute?

    • Hi May, if you’ve purchased from a reputed seller who is selling for a few years already, then you shouldn’t be worrying. On the other hand, if it’s a new seller, then it could be that the dress wasn’t customized and sent as it is.

      If the item you receive isn’t customized according to your instructions then you should first contact the seller to see if he offers some solution. If there’s no proper solution, then go ahead and open a dispute. Since it is an expensive item, you might be needed to return ship the goods back to the seller before a refund is issued to you. I’ll just hope that you get what you’ve ordered 🙂

      And congratulations on the upcoming wedding. May your lives continue to grow in love and happiness together!

      • Dear Narender Singh,
        Thank you for your reply and advice. After posting my comments, I went back to my order and discovered its a new seller (started in January 2017). Nothing can be done for now, except sit and wait for the gown to arrive, hoping it wont be a big disappoint (that is if it ever arrive at all). It was another huge carelessness on my part which cannot be undone and its a lesson to learn. I had message the seller a few times and she never replied.
        Thanks for your well wishes and advice. Love your webpage. Wished I had read it before I made my rush decision.

  • AE will always side their seller.
    I had one experience on how they handle dispute..

    Seller gave wrong tracking no.
    Item status delivered..but local carrier states that item with that tracking no does not belong to me and address is also different.

    Submit evidence in dispute..but AE seems to protect their seller more than buyer..so much for their buyer protection policy…

    Yes..not all seller are bad..
    I am lucky the amount is not much..
    To actually weigh the risk.. i already conclude to stay away from AE..

  • Hey Tom

    This is not a reply but a concern. i am in South Africa and would love to order lots of product for my store but my fear is . what if this is a scam i pay and never get my products . what is the garrantee that this is legit.?

    • You don’t need to worry about the money. As until the product has not been delivered to you the seller won’t get the payment. It will be with AliExpress and can be refunded without hassle. So go on and buy things you want. (before buying, make sure that the item is covered under buyer protection. If yes the no issues.

      • That’s right, but there’s one issue there. If you buy too many items and then surprisingly all of them don’t arrive and you dispute all of them. Then there are high chances that AliExpress will suspend your account instead of reversing the money. They probably feel that you’re cheating by disputing all the transactions.
        So, buying too many items at the same time might not be a good idea especially if you’re a new customer with not enough existing feedback.

        • Their dispute service ist just a smoke screen. They did not even read what I wrote there. They just wait 3 days, close the dispute and release the money, whatever you say.

  • HI,

    I have bought a samsung note 2 motherboard, the shipment time is 29-40 days and it guarantees shipment delivery in 39 days. I bought the item on 19th jan and today is 31st., it’s been more than 10 days and the status that is showing is that supplier is processing your item. I am worried whether i will receive the item in time or not. I am thinking of opening a dispute regarding the same. Please advice, what should i do?

    • Can you check the order status and see how much processing time is still left? There’s a maximum number of days within which the seller needs to ship the item else the order will be auto-cancelled.

      • It says still 13 days time left. The supplier hasn’t replied to my message or mail. There are comments in the review that the supplier takes time to ship the item. Is there any way to scare him by doing a dispute so he becomes alert and can ship the item asap..?

        • You can open a dispute, but since he is still within his processing time, I doubt AliExpress will pay any heed to the dispute. If there are other sellers offering the same, you can request for order cancellation and purchase from some other seller.
          The seller is probably sourcing its products after receiving orders and that causes this delay.

          • Hi, thanks for the reply and sorry for replying late. The seller has shipped the item on saturday. the tracking number mentioned is RS527003534CN . I am not able to track the item.. i guess the number is still not active. Can you tell me how can i track the item and for how many days should i get the status, as the seller might have not shipped and just forwarded the tracking no. Thanks 🙂

            • Just checked it. The tracking currently only says that it received electronic data – track.aftership.com/china-post/RS527003534CN
              That means, a tracking number is generated, but there hasn’t been any action after that. So, it could very well be that the seller did mark the item as ready to ship, but hasn’t handed over the item to China Post yet.

              One of the items I purchased recently was marked as shipped on 11th. And it started tracking from 13th.

              In your case, the seller already took so long to ship the item. He probably still doesn’t have the item in stock and only added a tracking number because the processing time was nearing an end. All we can hope for is that he procures it and handles the package over to China Post in the next few days. Can’t do much other than hoping. You should dispute this transaction if there is no update on tracking even after a few more days.

  • Hi again, Narender,
    Quick question.
    How long should I wait to dispute a purchase if the seller has not marked it as shipped and provided tracking information?
    Thanks again, you’re amazing!
    Carissa

  • Thank you for your answer, it seems reasonable 🙂
    And yes, I thought it was more of an “ethical question” too.
    But it’s to bad that the seller should take all the blame and loss for slow shipping.

    I’ll wait for his answer, or maybe I’ll just order something from his store -and tell him NOT to ship it 😉
    Otherwise I’d asked 19.01.17 if he got an Paypal-account (most sellers on AE got one -I’d guess..), but I’v got no answer so far(?).
    Anyway, “Could you please repay the item?” is a pretty strange answer/question, since he didn’t include *how* 🙂
    But I’ll wait and see, and check out the item too (it’s a SkyRC B6AC v2 6A charger), and check if it’s working correctly, genuine etc..
    🙂

    • You’re right. Sometimes it is hard to determine what will be an ethically right thing to do. You’re not cheating the seller and the seller isn’t cheating you. I believe sellers are prepared for things like these and set their margins accordingly. It was just lost, but it somehow appeared again 😛

      I’ve faced something similar earlier and sellers just ask you to make a new order from their store and skip the payment. Then they reduce the price to match the agreed amount and you pay it. The seller doesn’t ship the item as agreed. That’s how he gets the money. While they do have PayPal, this seems easier or maybe they encounter lesser fees.

      I’m yet to come across an AliExpress seller who has a good command over English. They usually send these short replies where we need to fill the missing areas with guesses. However the slow response of the seller could be related to the Chinese new year stuff. I read it is a big thing for them.

  • Hello Mr. Narender SIngh
    I now had 148 orders from AE (by now 3363 AE reward points- and yes, I’m quite satisifed overall :).
    My question is:
    Close to this date I’v had an dispute AND a refund for an item, that was not delivered within the 60 days the seller guarantee.
    I got full refund, and the dispute is stated as “Finished”, and I then ordered the same item the same day -from another store/seller, (and even with a $6 better price :).
    Thing is, about 7 days later (68 days after the first order), the item I got full refund for -entered the local post office here in Norway 🙂
    I’v messaged the seller about this issue, and he respond with (in short):
    “Could you please repay the item?”
    It’s not an expensive item (just about $50), but I would like to compensate the seller a bit, but not with the full price, cause I really don’t need two of these items.
    Also, “sellers deliverytime guarantee” -do have to mean something -or what?

    Regards 🙂

    • Hi Tom,
      I think this is the risk that the sellers have to accept in advance before starting to ship items globally. There will be lost or damaged parcels, denial by the country’s customs and various other reasons. With the settlement of the dispute, the seller did already accept his loss. So, if you’re willing to return him something, he should just accept it.

      The delivery time guarantee is kinda nothing, but an estimate. Because most items shipped via government post would arrive in 60-days, or at least show signs that it is just near. Sellers or even AliExpress otherwise has no control over when the item will get delivered. It is not their shipping service which they can control. 60-days is just a buyer protection protecting buyers from waiting forever to receive an item.

      There are only a rare few like you are honest to this extent. I’ve seen people going crazily happy after getting a refund for $5 item because it got delayed. What I’d do in this case would be to sell the second locally over at OLX or eBay and pay the money received back to the seller. I would not pay him unless I manage to sell it because I really do not need 2 of these 🙂 BTW, just don’t pay him anything at least until you receive the item and check that it functions normally.

  • i order a product around 75/- with free shipping but still not received till date from oct-16 month ..please give me a solution for this issue i paid payment from my debit card..if any costumer care no.so, please give……

  • Hello Mr. Narender SIngh,
    I am planning to buy my first produc “Xiaomi Mi Pad 2” from Aliexpress. I want to know about Customs in this case. The product costs about $164. Please hep me in making my first purchase. I am worried about warranty and customs.

    Regards,

    • Warranty will certainly be a problem as since the device is not launched here, there will be no spares available in case something happens to the device.
      Customs might or might not be charged. Registered post can sometimes pass without any customs, but it is quite unsafe for expensive items. 3rd party shipping services would usually clear customs for you and you’ll pay them at the time of delivery 🙂

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