7 Tips to Buy Safely on AliExpress and Avoid Frauds or Scams
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It’s not always easy to stay safe while you’re shopping online 10 Tips For Safe & Secure Shopping Online This Holiday Season 10 Tips For Safe & Secure Shopping Online This Holiday Season The Holidays are almost upon us once again. And that can only mean one thing - yep, its time to buy gifts at the last minute again! But how do you avoid criminals while buying... Read More . For every legitimate and reputable site, hundreds want to take your money and run for the hills, never to be seen or heard from again.

If you want to stay safe, it’s important to research the site you’re making your purchases on. How does it protect buyers? Is it easy to avoid frauds and scams 3 Online Fraud Prevention Tips You Need To Know In 2014 3 Online Fraud Prevention Tips You Need To Know In 2014 Read More ? How does the site handle disputes and refunds?

Today, we’re going to dive into the world of AliExpress and answer some of those questions. You may also find that as long as you’re a smart shopper, there are plenty of reasons to buy your tech from Chinese sites like AliExpress Why You Should Buy Your Tech From China (And How to Do It Safely) Why You Should Buy Your Tech From China (And How to Do It Safely) There are some good reasons to buy tech products and gadgets from China instead of, say, Amazon. Here's what you need to know. Read More .

What Is AliExpress?

AliExpress is part of the Alibaba Group. The group is a Chinese eCommerce company that offers a variety of retail services to businesses and consumers around the world. In April 2016, it overtook Walmart to become the largest retailer in the world.

Alibaba launched it AliExpress subdivision in 2010. It’s an online-only company which sells mainly Chinese products. It functions more like eBay 10 eBay Scams to Be Aware Of 10 eBay Scams to Be Aware Of Being scammed sucks, especially on eBay. You invest so much time into selling a product or researching the perfect item, complete the transaction, and then… nothing. Do you know when you’re being scammed? Read More than Amazon: it’s a host platform that lets third-party companies sell their wares. It doesn’t sell products itself.

The site is the most popular e-commerce site in Russia and is also widely used throughout Latin America.

Buyer Protection

Buying online comes with inherent risks. Unlike doing your shopping in a physical store, you can’t see the item prior to purchase.

This removes a significant part of the buying process. You can’t feel a product to test for build quality or check an electronic item to make sure all the features work as described.

If you’re buying a well-known brand, you can read online reviews or even head to shop to negate the problem.

But in the case of AliExpress, where many of the cheap Chinese products are not available in stores, you’re on your own. Normally, you will be making your decision solely based on the description and a few photos. It’s vital, therefore, that the site has a robust buyer protection policy.

Luckily, it does.

aliexpress buyer protection

The company offers two important guarantees:

  1. A full refund if you don’t receive your order — If the item does not show up, or even if it does not arrive within the timescale the seller specifies, you can apply for a full refund.
  2. A full or partial refund if the item is not as described — If your purchase differs significantly from what you expected, you have two options. You can either return the item for a full refund or keep the item and receive a partial refund.

Resolving Disputes

Unfortunately, as with other eCommerce sites, getting a refund for a missing, defective, or incorrect item is not as simple as merely clicking a “Refund” button. There’s an entire dispute process you need to work through.

aliexpress dispute process

On AliExpress, the dispute process involves three steps:

First, you need to contact the seller and raise your issue directly with them. If you’re raising a dispute either before the order has been completed, or more than 15 days after completion, this is the only option open to you.

If you’re still in the pre-completion stage and the seller refuses to cooperate, you have to wait until the order is closed and raise the issue with AliExpress. Sadly, if you’re beyond the 15-day mark and the seller refuses to cooperate, you’re out of options.

Second, if you’re within the 15-day period and you’re not happy with the seller’s response, you can open a dispute ticket. This makes the process formal.

Third, if you’re unhappy with the formal discussions, you can escalate the issue to AliExpress. It will then act as a mediator between you and seller to reach a resolution.

Finding a Reputable Seller

The easiest way to avoid using the refund and dispute channels is to find a reputable seller. If thousands of satisfied customers have used the seller in the past, you’re far less likely to run into problems.

The Feedback Page

The most obvious way to check a seller is to look at their history. On any seller’s page, click the Feedback tab for a complete breakdown.

aliexpress seller feedback

Each seller has a Positive Feedback percentage and Feedback Score. The Feedback Score is the sum of all ratings, converted into points. Four- and five-star ratings are worth one point, three stars are worth zero, and one- and two-star ratings deduct one point.

Further down the page, you can see star ratings sub-divided into Item as Described, Communication, and Shipping Speed. For each sub-category, you can see whether the seller in question is above or below the site average.

Lastly, at the bottom of the page, you’ll see a historical look at their scores along with buyer comments.

Seller Guarantees

Sellers can also offer buyers specific safeguards. As a general rule, the more guarantees provided, the more confident you can be in your purchase.

aliexpress seller guarantees

Sellers offer guarantees on a per-item basis. Just because they offer lots of assurances on one product doesn’t mean the same assurances are replicated across their entire catalog. Make sure you do thorough research before you commit.

There are four different guarantees sellers can offer:

  1. On-Time Delivery — The seller promises to provide a full refund if your purchase does not arrive by a pre-agreed time.
  2. Returns and Refund — The seller promises to offer a full refund if the product is not as described
  3. Domestic Returns — The seller has a warehouse in your country. You can send returns to it without needing to worry about shipping costs or customs fees.
  4. Guaranteed Genuine — If you’re buying a big-ticket electronic item, this is one to look out for. It means the item has been verified as genuine by AliExpress itself.

To see which guarantees are provided for an individual item, check for the Buyer Protection information in the Quick Info part of the product page, or click the Seller Guarantees tab below the product image.

Be a Smart Shopper to Avoid Fraud

No matter how much security the site puts in place, you always need to take some responsibility for your own actions.

AliExpress offers some helpful hints to make sure you avoid fraudulent sales. Most of them are common sense, but it’s still prudent to recap some of them:

  • If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Sorry, but you’re not going to get the latest iPhone for $10. You’re probably buying an iPhone keyring instead. Check the small print.
  • Never send money to a seller’s bank account. If a seller wants you to send money directly to them rather than through AliExpress, do not proceed. Sending money outside of AliExpress means the site will not cover you under its buyer protection policies.
  • Do not confirm delivery before receiving the order. Never say you’ve received an item before it’s in your possession and you’ve thoroughly checked it for problems.

AliExpress Is Safe

Chinese products often have an unfair reputation for being cheap and poor quality. It’s not true. Many of the products on AliExpress are well made and available for a fraction of the cost of what you would pay for an equivalent item in the shops of North America or Europe.

If you’re a smart shopper, using the site Is AliExpress Safe and Legit? Alibaba's Online Shop Explained Is AliExpress Safe and Legit? Alibaba's Online Shop Explained Is it safe to shop with Aliexpress? Are there any security vulnerabilities? What about fraud and counterfeits? Is it legitimate? Read More  is no more dangerous than buying something off Amazon or eBay 10 Tips to Shop on eBay Like a Boss 10 Tips to Shop on eBay Like a Boss These 10 eBay tips will help you optimize your searching and bidding to save you a lot of money on the items you're looking for. Read More .

Have you bought an item off AliExpress? What was your experience like? Have you ever had to use the dispute channels? You can let us know all your stories in the comments section below.

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  1. Brooke G
    December 10, 2018 at 7:09 pm

    DO NOT USE AliExpress. They will not pay for return shipping even if the product received is not as described or defective. Shipping for me for a $120 product would be $65. It is not worth it. I ordered from Morning Star Lighting Store.

  2. Chris Koumoullos
    July 28, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    I got ripped off bought reading glasses from Lana Wang and got wrong lenses. Lost my money . They will never back up buyer only sellers. Their product satisfaction is a scam. Closed my account. Ebay and amazon only online sellers that will consider a dispute honestly.

  3. Tim
    May 26, 2018 at 7:50 am

    Don't buy anything substantial from AliExpress! I ordered a $245 USD mandolin that arrived with blems and defects. Returned for what they call Full Refund, only to discover that the Seller claimed I had damaged the neck. Went through their full Dispute process with PROOF that I sent in same condition as I received but AliExpress sided with the Seller and only offered partial refund. The worst part is, that during the "escalated" portion of the dispute, there's no confirmation of the evidence you've submitted and there's no viewing of what the Seller has submitted. So it could be anything! Now, after having spent considerable cash on return shipping -- and being penalized $$ for some supposed "damage" -- I still have NO IDEA what damage they're talking about!! The mandolin arrived, I saw it was defective, repacked it and sent it back in the same packaging, with extra padding. And even after repeated requests to get AliExpress to show me the Seller's "evidence" of the cracked neck, still no response. Their so-called "Buyer Protection" is a complete joke, BEWARE on any large ticket items. In the end, it actually COST me to buy a crap product that had to be returned. The smaller stuff is mostly okay to buy, but I will not trust AliExpress again...

    • Annelie
      November 3, 2018 at 7:33 am

      I completely agree. If you get exactly the thing you ordered and it works, AliExpress is fine, but do NOT expect to get the right thing, if anything goes wrong. Not even if AliExpress, the platform, says you will.
      In the end, after a lot of messages to the different "shops", they either say, that they sent a new article or they claim you are too late to get a refund and the "big" AliExpress stops answering your emails.
      I have bought a lot and most of the things are OK, but do NOT trust their protection policy, as it doesn't work at all. You do NOT gete a refund or a new article!

  4. Andreas Trian
    February 3, 2018 at 9:42 am

    I was buying lots of items from alie express. Cheap but most of them worked fine. Some did not work but so cheap that couldn't bother sending them back. Just bought another. Recently i bought 2 phones for 149 usd each. They say "full refund if you don't receive and partial if not up to standard. Bluetooth was not working properly and created a dispute. After one month email exchanges and after i sent them a video of Bluetooth getting disconnected, alie express asked for more proof and more video. 1 Month studying the video i sent them was not enough. I did not send any more as i realised i wasn't going to get anything. I forgot to mention the partial refund. 7 usd increased to 15 osd! I repeatedly asked for an address to send it back but never provided one. All in all good to buy cheap things but disappointing when you buy a bit more expensive things. I have copied all messages just in case they bother to answer and try to prove me wrong.

    • Annelie
      November 3, 2018 at 8:32 am

      The same happened to me! Do only buy cheap things!

  5. Frank
    July 17, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    I am from Brazil and often my items got lost in shipping, so I need to open a lot of disputes and because of that my account was TERMINATED by AliExpress. Take care. If you open too many (20+) disputes, your account will be terminated, even you being 100% correct and honest.

  6. jj
    July 15, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    I have bought 70 items through Alien express, and so far do have any issues. The items I have purchased go from electronics to first aid kits to Cloths. The only issue I have had is with some suppliers it took a long time to receive the item. Having said the the supplier kept in touch with me.
    At first I made some test purchase, just to see what would happen, I am happy and will continue to shop using Alien express.

    July 15, 2017 at 10:17 am

    Have been on AliExpress for more than an year now. Thoroughly satisfied with them. For couple of items that were lost in transit, seller immediately and gracefully refunded the amount... Best products and amazing range at very reasonable prices

  8. Lisa
    July 15, 2017 at 6:11 am

    I love shopping on AliExpress! I never buy clothing because the sizes are too small for North Americans! The products are usually "as described". Shipping is where I have complaints......I have had an item to show up 6 months after ordering, and I have had an item to track, that sat at the Canada Post sort station for 4 months....still waiting on that one. Otherwise, some of the sellers are great to deal with! Another complaint is that AliExpress no longer has a live chat available, which used to help if you couldn't get a seller to respond, or before you put in a dispute.

  9. Matthew
    July 15, 2017 at 6:09 am

    I've used AliExpress quite frequently myself and always been happy with the quality of the products and prices I've received. My one word of caution is that my credit card was compromised the last three times I made a purchase... Of possible use a prepaid credit card or another form of payment like PayPal

  10. Vanessa A. Pagán
    July 14, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    I have shopped a lot on AliExpress and have only had one serious problem with a set of dies that I never received yet the shop said it was delivered, so I lost my money. I have had a couple of other problems, but they were resolved quickly. I have been disappointed a few times because I didn't check the equivalent of cm/mm to inches, but that's my fault. I mostly have ordered scrapbooking/card making dies and lace. The dies I buy cost about USD $1.00-5.00 on the average and that is considerably less than name brand dies. I have been very satisfied with the products and do not consider them of inferior quality. I live in Utah, USA and deliveries have taken anywhere from 3-8 weeks.

  11. Mohamed
    July 14, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    I've been on Aliexpress for about 5 months. I've bought a lot of all types of goods and it's good. I've had 2 disputes with two sellers and gotten refunds. The delivery takes about 6 weeks to South Africa. Just sort by number of orders and read the feedback and most important the detailed product description. I put a limit of 500 zar on my credit card then deposit money into it if I buy anything. So in case of my credit card details getting out, I won't lose much

  12. Colin
    July 14, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    One the problems if you do not like what you received is the cost of shipping/mailing back. It can be as much or more than what you paid for the item.