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The Chinese online retailer Alibaba is using AliExpress to expand its reach outside of Asia and challenge online giants like Amazon and eBay… but is it safe to shop there? Are there any security vulnerabilities you should know about? Is AliExpress secure? And are you more likely to be the victim of fraud or counterfeiting if you shop there? Here are the answers you need.

What Is AliExpress?

If you’re not familiar with AliExpress, here’s a quick primer: it’s a huge online retailer owned by The Alibaba Group, a multi-billion dollar corporation that started as a business-to-business buying and selling portal. It has since expanded to business-to-consumer, consumer-to-consumer, cloud computing, and payment services, as well.

To give you an idea of just how big Alibaba is, they reported over $14 billion in sales on Singles’ Day, 11 November, 2015.

AliExpress-homepage

AliExpress is Alibaba’s online marketplace aimed primarily at international buyers. It allows small businesses in China to sell to customers all over the world, and, just like Amazon, you can find just about anything there. It might be more accurate to compare AliExpress to eBay, though, as sellers are independent; it simply serves as a host for other businesses to sell to consumers.

Why Is AliExpress So Cheap?

If you browse some of the products on AliExpress, you’ll probably notice right away that many of the prices are really low and wonder why. There are two different distinct possibilities, both of which you’ll find in abundance on the site.

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rpi-starter-AliExpress

First, there’s the possibility that you’re buying directly from a manufacturer, which reduces the cost of selling to you. Costs for production in China, in many cases, are quite a bit lower than they are in other countries, and the lax enforcement of intellectual property laws may also contribute. A lot of electronics (like the 4WD Arduino robot How to Build a 4WD Arduino Robot for Beginners How to Build a 4WD Arduino Robot for Beginners Read More I built) have fantastic prices on AliExpress, because they’re made in China and you can buy them direct.

rpi-starter-amazon

The second possibility that an item is extremely cheap is that its either counterfeit or fraudulent (or semi-fraudulent, as in the case of the GooPhone I5 How to spot an iPhony! Are GooPhones as Good as iPhones? How to spot an iPhony! Are GooPhones as Good as iPhones? Do you own an iPhone 5? Or do you wish you could own Apple’s latest but can't afford the ridiculous cost? It may surprise you to hear that the iPhone 5 has a cheap knock-off... Read More ). China is known as a hotbed of counterfeit production, and AliExpress is no exception. You can get all sorts of counterfeit items there, from electronics to clothing. Some sellers have also been known to defraud buyers by tricking them into paying before they receive an item and then disappearing with the money.

Of course, being able to tell the difference is crucial.

Security Vulnerabilities in AliExpress

Over the past few years, only one high-profile security vulnerability has been revealed in AliExpress. Last year, there was a cross-site scripting What's Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), & Why It Is A Security Threat What's Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), & Why It Is A Security Threat Cross-site scripting vulnerabilities are the biggest website security problem today. Studies have found they’re shockingly common – 55% of websites contained XSS vulnerabilities in 2011, according to White Hat Security’s latest report, released in June... Read More (XSS) vulnerability discovered — the same problem that eBay is having How to Stay Safe from eBay's Newest Security Vulnerability How to Stay Safe from eBay's Newest Security Vulnerability A security vulnerability is putting eBay users in danger, but the auction website has issued only a partial fix, instead of a complete one. So what is the vulnerability, and how can you stay safe? Read More right now. This vulnerability would have allowed attackers to reveal some browsers’ personal information, and the researchers behind the revelation made it clear that a huge amount of data could have been scraped very quickly if the bug hadn’t been caught.

Beyond that, I haven’t been able to find reports of any vulnerabilities in AliExpress’s systems. Of course, not every vulnerability would be publicized, but this most recent XSS problem is by far the most glaring error on the record. And, according to the researchers who discovered the vulnerability, once AliExpress was made aware of it, they took it seriously and fixed it quickly.

Unfortunately, the researchers also reported that it took them a very long time to get in contact with anyone at the company, which is worrying, especially given the seriousness of the vulnerability.

Because AliExpress relies heavily on Alipay, Alibaba’s international payment system, there’s potential cause for worry there too, but Alipay also seems to be well-secured. After a vulnerability was reported in its mobile app that allowed in-app phishing What Exactly Is Phishing & What Techniques Are Scammers Using? What Exactly Is Phishing & What Techniques Are Scammers Using? I’ve never been a fan of fishing, myself. This is mostly because of an early expedition where my cousin managed to catch two fish while I caught zip. Similar to real-life fishing, phishing scams aren’t... Read More , it fixed the issue in about six weeks. Not stellar as fast as issue-fixing speed goes, but still not terrible.

The Real Danger: Fraudsters

AliExpress and Alipay are solid systems when it comes to security. They’re not invincible, but nothing is — and their track record is a good one, so you can be confident that you’re not more likely to have any of your information stolen via one of these services than you are using a more familiar service like Amazon or eBay (remember, even eBay has had a massive data leak The eBay Data Breach: What You Need To Know The eBay Data Breach: What You Need To Know Read More ).

However, there is one gaping hole in AliExpress: the merchant approval process. I can’t say what sort of process there is, as only merchants from mainland China are allowed to sell on the site, but there have been a lot of reports of scams on the site. So many, in fact, that the AliExpress Security Center has a section of fraud case studies and tips on how to avoid fraud when buying from their site.

fraud-case-study

So how do you stay safe from fraudsters and scammers when shopping on AliExpress? The same way you do everywhere else. Here are four tips — if you follow them, you should have no problems.

1. If the price sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

This is how scammers get you; they reel you in with the promise of a once-in-a-lifetime deal (this is one of the strategies used in the recent spate of eBay fraud 5 eBay Scams To Be Aware Of 5 eBay Scams To Be Aware Of Being scammed sucks, especially on eBay. You invest all of that time into selling a particular product or you spend a lot of time researching the perfect item, complete the transaction, and then… nothing. The... Read More ). Check other sites to see what the going rate is for whatever you want to buy to make sure that the price on AliExpress isn’t far too low. If it is extremely low, you’re probably buying a counterfeit product or being set up for a scam.

2. Use Alipay’s Escrow service.

aliexpress-escrow

Escrow protects you in a number of ways. First, your credit card details aren’t given to the seller, so you don’t have to worry about them stealing your identity or going on a shopping spree with your card How Credit Card Fraud Works, And How To Stay Safe How Credit Card Fraud Works, And How To Stay Safe Despite what you may have heard, credit cards do get stolen, and credit card fraud happens, online and offline. But how does a thief get your card number, and how can you keep it safe? Read More . Second, the payment isn’t released to the seller until you’ve confirmed that you’ve received your purchase. So if you get scammed, you can just get an easy refund from AliExpress, and not have to go through the long, painful, and probably hopeless refund process with the seller.

3. Check the seller’s feedback before buying.

anker-store-feedback

If a seller has a bad reputation for defrauding buyers, there will likely be evidence in their feedback and reviews. Be wary of sellers with any mentions of not delivering or sending sub-par goods. In the time I’ve spent on AliExpress, I’ve seen mostly positive reviews, and I’ve never had a problem getting what I’ve ordered. But it’s still important to be on the lookout.

4. Check your order carefully when you receive it.

Because the escrow system allows you to withhold payment until you’ve received your order, you can confirm that you got what you paid for. Make sure everything is included, that it looks like what you ordered, and that, if you bought a brand-name item, it doesn’t look like a fake.

AliExpress: Safe If You’re Careful

When it comes down to it, the evidence says that shopping on AliExpress is indeed safe, as long as you’re careful, and this is the case with any other online marketplace. Some, like Amazon, offer you more protections than others, but if you’re willing to pay attention to what you’re doing to save a lot of money, AliExpress is a fantastic option.

Do you shop on AliExpress? What has your experience been? Have you ever had to request a refund? Share your experiences in the comments below!

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  1. jason
    March 22, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    I have tried to use Ali Express and I ordered one item. When I tried to order a 2nd item, it became very hard to complete the transaction. The customer service chat is worthless. And you can only log onto your home computer. I tried to log on from work, and I was not allowed to get to my home page. STAY AWAY, if you are ordering from the United States.

    • prince
      March 28, 2017 at 4:20 pm

      should i purchase anything here or not

  2. Richard Dickerson
    March 22, 2017 at 10:22 am

    I have ordered from Ali Express for 3 years now and have had mostly problems with delivery but never a problem getting my money refunded. Most of the time postage is free but if you want a refund is on you for return postage.

  3. Gaby
    March 18, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    MY experience through aliexpress has been very good, although with some seller fake products ( which I was aware during the buying) it seems they didn't even send the products, in this cases I dispute through aliexpress and the results had been on my favor ( given proof with pics tracking etc).
    I MADE 330 purchases in aliexpress, 16 didn't came, During the 1 year of been a client, every dispute has been very easy to filled.
    To my country it always takes much time to process the delivery ( customs is slow, local mail is slow) but the sellers send the items rather quickly, the packages get here between 1 or 2 weeks, the rest of the time, 2 or 3 months is the burocracia in place in my country. But for this reason I ask the sellers for extended buyer's protection period, before I even consider a dispute.
    MY payments has been clear, every amount well specified on my credit card report.
    Every refund made by aliexpress has been clear in the report too.
    The only recommendation I could think of is about the app , which has a flaw system when the payment appears, sometimes it ask me the 3 digits security nunbers of the card , sometimes it processes the payment without this step.
    After all, I think my money is secure, and the system in place really works in favor of the buyer, when you are a conscious buyer , and you have track of every item, expire of protection, ratings, communication with seller, then you will have a satisfying experience.

  4. Don Comeau
    March 16, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    I purchase plant seeds and bonsai seads approximately 20% of the seeds I receiveare not marked as what they are so I have no idea I am very dissatisfied with that!

    • Dann Albright
      March 19, 2017 at 1:25 am

      Evidently seeds aren't a great thing to buy from AE, then! I didn't even know you could buy seeds from them. Most of our readers seem to use it for electronic or mechanical things.

  5. Barry
    March 7, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    Do you think that eBay and Amazon offer better protection than Aliexpress to the buyers? I don't think so because I had bad experience to dispute in eBay and Amazon because their dispute process are unclear and their contacting methods are highly painstaking and confusing. Aliexpress surely created a better dispute system than eBay and Amazon and the item descriptions in there are far more better.

    As a buyer, I do understand that sometimes the shipping of an item can be delayed due to various problems such as postal strike or traffic problems. Therefore I think it is a more human way if the buyers would give the seller a one-time extension, say 15 days, to give some extra delivery time to the item, rather than creating a dispute right away. Put yourself into the seller's position, I believe that you would also hope that your buyers would understand your uncontrollable difficulty and thus slow down the dispute process with a hope that the item will be received by then.

    On another hand, there are buyers who want to get the products for free by claiming "Item Not Received" on purpose. Are you one of them?

    • Dann Albright
      March 9, 2017 at 1:09 am

      I've been fortunate enough to not have much experience with dispute resolution on any of these sites. I'm glad to hear that someone thinks AE's is effective, though!

  6. Carl Douglas
    March 1, 2017 at 7:02 am

    Aliexpress does honour their purchase protection. However if a problem arises and the seller offers an alternative solution, you lose all purchase protection if you accept it. Long story short. If a problem arises just get your money back.

    • Dann Albright
      March 9, 2017 at 1:08 am

      Yeah, that's definitely the way to go. While it doesn't always seem like a great idea, the purchase protection is generally safer going with something offered by a vendor.

  7. Jonn
    February 27, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    The problem is the Aliexpress Appeal process. Once you are in, you cannot pay until they get your uploaded documents. Can you imagine uploading your Amex card info, including a
    statement, and a driver's license 6 times with the comment- "System busy-Try again later?"
    I contacted the "CHAT" page and was told the system was always busy.-Try Google Chrome. they said.
    Uploading is limited to specific files-pdfs, jpegs etc. and a limit on file sizes. Out of frustration,
    I sent a wire transfer which cost $25USD. They would not accept PAYPAL or just a card until
    the Appeal is cleared. Terrible communication. Better to deal with Amazon or EBay.

    • Dann Albright
      March 9, 2017 at 1:07 am

      How did the price compare to what you would have paid on Amazon or eBay?

    • jason
      March 22, 2017 at 3:16 pm

      I have had the same experience. STAY AWAY from Aliexpress. It is very difficult to order from Aliexpress. And asking for your personal information, is very suspicious. Not sure why I was directed to the appeals process. Giving your personal information to a company affiliated with the Chinese Government, is a bad idea. STAY AWAY if you are ordering from the United States.

  8. Rich
    February 24, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    My experience with Aliexpress was pretty dismal. I put through an order for 4 items. They rejected the order asking for additional information. They request copies of my driver's license, Social Security card, my credit card and the CCV number on the card. All via the internet or e-mail. Seriously? I ordered two of the items again and it the order went through. Their system says both items have been shipped but neither has reached the US yet, it has been two weeks. A week after I placed my orders with Aliexpress, I ordered an item direct from one of their vendors (one of the item orders they rejected) and that vendor when dealing with them directly was pleasant, responsive and I received my item already. Another item I ordered via ebay from a Chinese vendor and it will be here in a couple of days.

    I'll never do business with Aliexpress again. I just hope the two items I did order actually arrive and are what I ordered.

    • Dann Albright
      March 9, 2017 at 1:06 am

      You're definitely not going to get anything from Aliexpress in two weeks. You just have to go in with that expectation. As for asking for all the ID, that's pretty weird. I haven't heard of that before.

  9. Simon
    February 24, 2017 at 4:08 am

    Fake and poor quality. Not worth to buy.

    • Dann Albright
      March 9, 2017 at 1:05 am

      What have you bought from there before?

  10. Shahjahan
    February 19, 2017 at 5:19 am

    Don't buy from aliexpress. They always favour seller rather than buyer. It takes long time to receive the item .

    • Dann Albright
      March 9, 2017 at 1:05 am

      It does take a long time, but that's one of the prices you have to pay for buying stuff from around the world!

  11. Alain
    February 14, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    I've done a lot of purchases from Aliexpress Most of them cheaper parts and never had an issues. Shipping is a little longer then normal but you do get good deals and well worth the wait. You do have to watch some of the sellers but those types of sellers can be found anywhere . Recommend Ali express to anyone I know

    • Dann Albright
      February 19, 2017 at 2:33 am

      Thanks for your recommendation! Being vigilant about who you're ordering from is definitely necessary. Glad to hear that it works out for you.

  12. Jeff
    February 11, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    I ordered an in dash DVD Navigation unit from this store: ShenZhen Evan Car DVD Player Store. It had some issues and the vender (Len Hu) requested that I not start a dispute but they will make it right. All they do is drag it out until the 30 day appeal and review limit is reached and then you will not hear from them again. Now I am stuck with a $400 defective unit. START A DISPUTE OR THEY WILL RIP YOU OFF.

    • Dann Albright
      February 19, 2017 at 2:11 am

      Thanks for sharing your experience; initiating a dispute when something's going wrong is always a good idea!

      • James Williford
        March 14, 2017 at 5:18 pm

        If you know how to get in touch with live person at AliExpress, please
        let me know.
        I ordered some Gold Plated Chain Necklaces from a supplier I have ordered
        from several times before with no problem. The order come to $249.90 from
        S925Mall was paid by Mastercard on Feb. 25, 2017 and was supposed to be shipped free by DHL. The shipper stated the tracking no. was 2613956932.
        DHL stated they could not find a shipment by that number.

        I contacted S925Mall which stated the order was never shipped and advised me to open a dispute with AliExpress. I have been trying to open a dispute with AliExpress for over a month filling out forms and going in circles not ever reaching a live person. If you have any suggestions I would appreciate it.

        • James Bruce
          March 14, 2017 at 6:12 pm

          There is no live person, AliExpress is platform for third party sellers. Your money is held in escrow by AliExpress until you mark the item received. What's the status on your dispute? They're all shown under your account along with a countdown timer for the next action. If something doesn't happen, it rules in your favor. Most will state an on-time delivery date, and a month hasn't even elapsed since your order. If you look at the dispute, it'll probably either say "you can't open a dispute because the allotted delivery time hasn't elapsed yet", or "awaiting response from supplier", along with a countdown.

  13. Irene
    February 6, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    The seller is not wanting to issue a refund on product I did not receive. Upon order I was informed that it could take up to 58 days for my order to arrive after which I could open a dispute and request a refund. I have been in contact with the seller and they are asking for a different reason to issue a refund.

    • Dann Albright
      February 11, 2017 at 2:29 pm

      That's very strange. You did wait more than 58 days, though?

      • Irene
        February 11, 2017 at 4:41 pm

        It's been past the 58 days. They say the product is on route. When I track the package it hasn't even made it to Canada. I placed my order in November 2016

        • Dann Albright
          February 19, 2017 at 2:05 am

          That's rough. Doesn't sound like you have much recourse other than repeated emails. Sorry to hear about your issues!

  14. Karen Sedgman
    February 4, 2017 at 9:47 pm

    I've been buying from AliExpress for a couple of years now and have only had problems with one seller where I didn't receive the products, and that may well have been because of customs here in Australia - who knows, really? But to give the seller their due, they have continued on through the process and I finally received my refund. And as far as shipping time - I place my order and then forget about it until it comes! It's like Christmas - sometimes I've forgotten what I ordered and it's a lovely surprise! I do see a lot of reviews from all over the world complaining about shipping time - goodness me, it's free, what's to complain about? We also need to remember that our messages are translated from and into Chinese (or whatever), but I don't have an issue - in my experience the sellers are always very polite and willing to please. Yes, you do need to check out your sellers but there's plenty to choose from and I'll certainly continue to use them. For the price we pay, we're always taking a risk, we just have to be aware of that risk.

    • Dann Albright
      February 6, 2017 at 6:12 pm

      Yeah, shipping time can be a deal breaker for some, but when it's free, it's hard to argue with waiting for a couple weeks. Especially when it's coming from across the world!

  15. IMA G THOMAS
    February 1, 2017 at 11:55 pm

    Awesome site, buy from them regularly!

  16. Calvin Gooden
    January 22, 2017 at 11:58 pm

    I been waiting for my package for 3 months n they have no number to call if anybody can help im willy to b open...

    • Dann Albright
      February 6, 2017 at 7:13 pm

      Unfortunately, if there's no number, there's not a whole lot you can do. If you can email, try that, but if not, you probably just have to wait.

  17. Morrison
    January 11, 2017 at 9:27 am

    AliExpress: my experience
    Buyers Protection: ZERO
    Suppliers integrity: ZERO

    I have tried to negotiate with a supplier (Rose Natural Healthy Items Wholesale) who refused to help ma so I ended up lodging a dispute with AliExpress, and AE has judged against me. Thus I do NOT have 100% buyer protection.

    I ordered WHITE bed fabric from'Rose Natural Healthy Items Wholesale.' I chose 'white' from the product description color list,... but I DID not receive WHITE. Aliexpress says I am stuck with this beige/yellow fabric stating that the colour on the computer screen is diffrent to the actual produt. But I orderd WHITE from the description list, I did NOT choose for an image. I expect white. I have zero buyers protection.

    DO NOT BUY FROM THIS SUPPLIER
    https://www.aliexpress.com/store/618336
    Company Name: Rose Natural Healthy Items Wholesale
    China (Mainland)

    I have lodges a dispute to Aliexpress: fail reason 'NO PHOTOGRAPHIC or VIDEO EVIDENCE'
    I have lodges an appeal to the dispute: fail reason 'NO PHOTOGRAPHIC or VIDEO EVIDENCE'
    but I have supplied photographic and video evidence weeks ago. They just can't se it.

    Has anyone else had this problem? Any advise?

    • Dann Albright
      January 13, 2017 at 12:58 am

      Sorry to hear that. Does that company have particularly bad ratings? Or does it seem like other people haven't run into that problem?

      • Morrison
        January 13, 2017 at 3:45 am

        The suppliers ratings are fine. nothing really that bad.
        Now Im getting messages from the supplier fearing the wrath of God on to me.

        I just dont know how Aliexpress can NOT see the evidence that I have supplied. They are extremely supportive of the supplier. I have zero protection.

        • Dann Albright
          January 18, 2017 at 11:42 pm

          Hm . . . that's very strange. Any chance there's a misunderstanding somewhere?

  18. Tamara
    January 3, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    What is Escrow & how do you activate it? When i tried to buy something it straight away asked for my credit card. I signed out coz im a bit afraid of using this site. Great article by the way!

    • James Bruce
      January 3, 2017 at 4:15 pm

      Escrow means your money is not given to the seller until you receive the goods and mark them as such. It's automatic.

      My credit card information has been saved in AliPay for years without issue.

  19. Ritu
    January 3, 2017 at 9:29 am

    Yes i did... its worst site ever shoped.
    Their service is damn poor.. no contact no. Available for customer support. No return exchng facility...disguistingggggg

    • James Bruce
      January 3, 2017 at 4:14 pm

      If the item is defective, you can open a case and get your money back or the goods resent. As for "customer service", this is not a single company, it's a group of sellers. AliExpress is a platform, just like eBay.

      • Dann Albright
        January 5, 2017 at 4:12 pm

        That's an important thing to keep in mind; there are always going to be a lot of different policies and people operating on AE. Another good thing to pay attention to!

  20. Catarina
    January 2, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    I have shopped multiple times on ali express. It has been great, they have all the same items as the Claire's shop, and something that costs 19.99$ on claire's costs 1,60 in ali express and the quality is the same.

    • Dann Albright
      January 18, 2017 at 11:32 pm

      I'm not real familiar with Claire's, but I'm not surprised that you can find equivalent products a lot cheaper. :-)

  21. Mr. Peter Donoghue
    December 23, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    Hi I was coned by a seller on AliExpress - I purchased a HDD at a very reasonable price . The Seller had sold multiple units . however the item failed to arrive.
    I looked on AliExpress' wed site and came across a very similar Item ( same photo & description) - on further examination I discovered that it was the same seller but a different name -
    I contacted AliExpress and highlighted this individual - I had to do this through a very long and tiring process - If i remember rightly the complaint I made was through Ali's sister Site Allbaba.com - I'm a buyer on both websites.
    AliExpress did not refund me the monies I had being robbed of - instead they offered me credit for a limited time this credit has since ran out and I never had a chance to use It . I'm still not sure if the culprit was ever brought to book for his crime . But the fact that AliExpress did not directly reimburse me is criminal - I still buy stuff from suppliers through AliExpress & AliBaba but I so mush wiser now and don't buy from anysellers unless they a well rated and a long time seller . I heard a story that AliExpress were selling 'Gold Ratings' to sellers - so my respect for them is limited ..

    • Dann Albright
      December 28, 2016 at 7:18 pm

      You're certainly not the only one with a story like this one. It can be risky shopping on AliExpress, but the payoff is that you can get stuff really cheap. Everybody has to decide whether the risk is worth it!

  22. Carlos
    December 23, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    I bought a phone and the seller sent me a different one, half of the value.
    Then they lied saying they sent the correct one, I sent them pictures and all product codes so they can check internally and they kept saying the same bullsh.t!

    Then Aliexpress offered a total refund and when whey I clicked to accept that proposal it showed me that I accepted a partial refund, of just 48 USD, which cover only 20% of the money I lost for this SCAM.

    NEVER buy in Aliexpress, even a seller called as "official" with some reputation are cheater, Chinesse don't understand what is to have the trust of a customer and don't know what does it mean a customer unsatisfied.

    • Dann Albright
      December 28, 2016 at 7:15 pm

      Yeah, that's the exact sort of thing I'm trying to help people avoid. Sometimes it's just going to happen, and that's the risk you take ordering from this site. There's never a way to be absolutely sure that a seller is legit unless you've worked with them before. Is that a reason to not shop on AE at all? That's up to each buyer.

  23. Sue
    December 20, 2016 at 10:48 am

    So far I have only bought from sellers with good rating & which have a lot of positive feedback. The only problem is it takes between 2 weeks to 2 months to get the items purchased. But shipping is free!

    • Dann Albright
      December 28, 2016 at 7:14 pm

      Checking the ratings before ordering is a really good idea. And yes, waiting a super long time for shipping sucks . . . but it's a tradeoff like anything else!

  24. Nahuel Martínez
    December 11, 2016 at 7:41 am

    I've used AliExpress many, many times, and it's always been great. My first purchase was a scam, because I didn't know much about the service and therefore didn't check the info, but when I reported it, they sent me an email letting me know the seller was being prosecuted and they gave me a refund. Ever since then, it's been nothing but good experiences.

    • Dann Albright
      December 14, 2016 at 8:14 pm

      That's great that you got a refund! And yes, once you know to be careful and what to look for, shopping there can be pretty great. It just requires a bit more vigilance than shopping on other sites.

  25. Christine
    December 7, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    Have have purchased a lot from AliExpress only had a problem with one dealer AliExpress looked into it and we got a refund other than that we've had a great run with AliExpress

    • Dann Albright
      December 10, 2016 at 12:12 am

      That's great! It's good to hear about positive experiences with them. Seems like it can really be hit-or-miss.

  26. Amc
    October 10, 2016 at 11:47 am

    Have made over one purchases for aliexpress, most turn out to be very reliable and quality products, have had about five dodgy purchase, but I'm miles in front with saving over all to make buying there worthwhile.

    • Dann Albright
      October 21, 2016 at 8:42 pm

      That's true; saving a lot over multiple purchases can offset the one or two that turn out to be crap. Good point!

  27. joann
    August 12, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    I have a few online accounts. Aliexpress is cheaper than Ebay or Amazon on a lot of items but not all. The service is very bad especially the live chat customer service cannot do anything for you. They are just for show. You will need to file a dispute at the end. The first process takes 1 week, the seller will again message to you to solve. The second week, Aliexpress will take another week to step in. If you did not receive your item yet case, then you will have to wait for 1 month process. After he case is resolved, the refund is another delay and can be 1-2 months although they claims to be 15 business days max. I find the sellers on Aliexpress are very bad mannered and more likely to cheat you than other online. Aliexpress software are the worse of all these online accounts I have. I would say Aliexpress are the worse rank of online seller but their lower price charges to seller make them competitive.
    Ebay USA are in the second place of customer service, refund time, process time and less bad sellers. If you have another country account other than USA account, then the service are very bad. They are just slightly better Aliexpress.
    Amazon is the best of all in terms of very little bad sellers, better service, better refund and better process time. The only problem is the price is a little bit higher than others on most items, not all.
    There few other websites that are better than Aliexpress but they are slightly a little bit higher price on most things. Sometimes you have to pay a little bit more for service and ensure your item is not a reject QC item. Aliexpress sellers like to sell scraps because Aliexpress is not strict on them.
    I find all of these online webs just want to earn money and less care if buyers are cheated.

    • Dann Albright
      October 21, 2016 at 8:47 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience! I think you're right about customer service; AliExpress has a pretty bad reputation for that. I guess it's a trade-off between service and price. There's pretty much no beating AE on price, though the international shipping can take a long time.

  28. Lulu
    August 12, 2016 at 3:59 am

    Very useful review. Thanks

  29. mtvcop
    July 13, 2016 at 6:40 am

    I have a bit of experience shopping direct from China on Ebay and now Ali-express. I have had one slightly bad experience from an Ebay seller, so far nothing but good experiences from Ali-express. Given that the prices on Ali-X are WAY lower than either Amazon or Ebay, and that many Chinese sellers seem to be more comfortable dealing with a Chinese middleman, I don't see a good case for using any other retail site for Chinese-made goods. And if three weeks for shipping is a problem, just remember that it's free, even for small purchases.

    • Dann Albright
      October 21, 2016 at 8:48 pm

      That's a good point; it's all about trade-offs. You can save a huge amount of money, but it's going to take a while to get to you, and there's always the possibility of having a bad transaction. That said, it seems like a great way to get Chinese-made goods from elsewhere in the world.

  30. Alex
    June 24, 2016 at 6:45 am

    Just having a nightmare with a seller "Super E Times", stay away from this seller as far as you can. I purchased an item from them, paid in full. The next day seller informed me that the item is out of stock, and requested me to cancel the deal. So I did cancel the order. But then the seller rejected my cancellation order for no reason and refuse to return my money for no reason. Ali express can't do anything about this bad seller, so please stay away from them.

    • Dann Albright
      June 27, 2016 at 3:26 pm

      Ech, that's rough. Like any other marketplace, you're going to run into problems. Sorry you had to deal with that!

  31. Suzette
    May 25, 2016 at 10:42 am

    I've purchased numerous items through ali. NOT ALLL GOOOD.....NOT ALL BAD. Yesterday, I received a pair of shoes I'd been waiting for like 8 weeks! Sooo excited to wear them. Hmmmm......2 left shoes!!! Not a shoe for my right foot. I hit dispute. Sent pictures. They just sent me a message stating "I think they are the right shoes." Urghhh.....I asked him if he was blind. I did NOT want a refund, but merely the right shoe. They are fighting me on it. They only reason most of those stores have a HIGH feedback score is because they bully the buyer into leaving them 5 stsrs!! I opened dispute on a pair I did not receive. Well, stupid me went and ordered 2 more pair. Not realizing it was the same store, ANY way, they TOOK my money and NEVER shipped the shoes. They said they will give me a refund when I get them 5 stars! I could go on, but I won't !!!
    Buyer Beware!!!

    • Dann Albright
      May 25, 2016 at 1:08 pm

      That's rough. It's really tough to know if you're going to be working with a good seller or not, especially if feedback scores aren't accurate. I've never ordered anything other than electronics from AliExpress, and I don't actually know many people who have—that could be part of the issue. Anyway, yes, buyer beware is definitely relevant for the site. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  32. Wayne Lee
    March 26, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    Thanks for the informative article. I've suspected the points in your article but haven't done the research. One question still lingers in the China merchandise. What about human rights violations to make these produce cheaper such as using children and forced labor?

    • Dann Albright
      March 29, 2016 at 6:21 pm

      Well, that's a whole nother issue that would require a lot of investigation. It all depends on who you buy from, I suppose, and I don't know that there's much you can do to find out if you buy from somewhere like AliExpress. However, I feel like most of the things you're likely to buy elsewhere were probably made in China, too, and could have the same issues.

      Good thinking point.

  33. KrishnaChaitanya
    March 8, 2016 at 3:46 am

    It took more than 35 days for the product which I ordered to get shipped. Prices may be low for the product, but keep an eye on the shipping charges, which would add up and make the product more expensive. But some times we have no choice as the product we are looking for is available only on AliExpress but no where else.

    • Dann Albright
      March 9, 2016 at 3:30 am

      Yeah, AliExpress shipping isn't great. In fact, sometimes it's downright awful. But if you can grab a product with a reasonable shipping cost and you don't need it right away, it could be worth it.

      I wouldn't hold out for better shipping practices any time soon—I imagine it's just too expensive.

  34. Mike
    March 6, 2016 at 12:20 am

    Why Escrow? Just pay by Credit Card and Chargeback if not received!

    • Dann Albright
      March 9, 2016 at 3:29 am

      Because chargebacks are a pain in the ass. :-)

      And this way you don't have to get in touch with your bank and go through that whole process. It doesn't really take any extra time, either. Definitely seems like the best choice. Also, you use your credit card for the escrow payment.

  35. GeekLabsCa
    March 5, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    If only they could speed up the shipping times. If they did that they would lead the online store market. Ordered a few times from there and no issues so far

    • Dann Albright
      March 9, 2016 at 3:28 am

      Yeah, that would make a huge difference. Especially with Prime's two-day shipping making everything so fast right now. It's tough to beat that, even with significantly lower prices.

  36. Mike
    March 5, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    I use a similar online retailer from China called DealExtreme. I haven't bought anything expensive yet,but my only complaint with them is glacial delivery times.

    • Dann Albright
      March 9, 2016 at 3:27 am

      I've never heard of DealExtreme—how do they compare on the number of products offered? What made you use the site in the first place?

      And yes, super slow delivery is a concern not just for DealExtreme, but pretty much any Chinese marketplace that I've heard of (which isn't all that many, but it does seem pretty consistent). Could be because shipping of any type other than "it'll get there someday" would probably be crazy expensive.

      • Seema
        February 17, 2017 at 7:35 am

        I ordered more than 500$ from 10 October's antill now it's 16 February 2017 i am not receive yet my orders.telling me wait patiently i recommend not ordered from Aliexpress it is found. My experience

        • Dann Albright
          February 19, 2017 at 2:34 am

          Can you open a dispute?

  37. sanjay kumar
    March 5, 2016 at 6:41 am

    you should also mention that there are a lot ,lot .lot of products when compares to any other products. For myseld i would be stuck in ali viewing tach gadgets for hours

    • Dann Albright
      March 9, 2016 at 3:25 am

      That's true—the site is absolutely massive. I don't know the stats on how big it is compared to any other sites, but I can see how it would be really easy to get stuck looking at the same thing from different sellers for a long time. Choice paralysis is real!