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  • FIRST POST
    • MSE Jenny
    • By MSE Jenny 8th Aug 16, 5:54 PM
    • 1,216Posts
    • 3,554Thanks
    MSE Jenny
    0 WOW
    New Buying From China (incl AliExpress) guide discussion
    • #1
    • 8th Aug 16, 5:54 PM
    0 WOW
    New Buying From China (incl AliExpress) guide discussion 8th Aug 16 at 5:54 PM


    Hi all,

    We've written a new Buying From China guide and would love your feedback.

    How did you find the info? Was it useful? Do you have any other tips you'd add?

    Thanks for your help!

    MSE Jenny
Page 2
    • DunxR
    • By DunxR 12th Aug 16, 5:21 PM
    • 5 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    DunxR
    I would echo many points made by previous posts. As someone who has bought products for re-sale from China for over 20 years I would consider the following points before buying anything from a Chinese trader.

    Ethics
    • Is the product made in a factory with extremely poor working conditions?
    • Does the factory use Child labour?
    • Does the factory use forced labour?

    Safety
    • Are the products electrically safe?
    • Does the product contain dangerous chemicals such as Lead paint or solder, plastics with toxic chemicals etc ?
    • If the product is aimed at children, is it tested not to break into small parts that could cut or choke a child?

    One of the responsibilities of re-sellers bringing in products from China is to do extensive testing to ensure safely, and to audit factories to ensure good working conditions/no child labour? The above list is only some of the considerations of an importer of products. All of this costs money, which is one of the reasons the product is more expensive in the UK than to buy from China.

    Ultimately it's your decision if you want to buy directly from China. However I would urge for you to consider some of this and make an informed choice.
    • Danger Fourpence
    • By Danger Fourpence 12th Aug 16, 6:13 PM
    • 306 Posts
    • 65 Thanks
    Danger Fourpence
    Always had decent experiences with DX over many years.
    • DKK
    • By DKK 13th Aug 16, 10:28 AM
    • 3 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    DKK
    I know from a money-saving point of view buying from China can make a lot of sense.

    However, I do think that ethics should be taken into account too. China has an appalling (and worsening) record in recent times of harassment, imprisonment and even torture of human rights workers, lawyers, religious people etc. The reason the Chinese government is able to be so bold in this is because of the dependance of the West on their goods and services, and the income that flows into the country from trade etc.

    We made a decision as a family a few years ago not to buy anything from China unless we absolutely cannot avoid it. It's not all that easy, it means going without sometimes, and it may just be a drop in the bucket. But principles still matter.
    Originally posted by mlfworkman
    I could not agree with this more. I urge people to please consider China's human rights abuses, working conditions and increasing aggression towards its neighbours. It is getting away with all of this because of the West's seeming dependence on it's cheap products.
    • John Gray
    • By John Gray 14th Aug 16, 7:14 AM
    • 4,797 Posts
    • 2,447 Thanks
    John Gray
    I have bought Stuff from Amazon and occasionally discovered that the goods are being made/shipped from China. This has usually worked well - if slowly - but it is well worth looking at the customer feedback at the right of the firm's page.

    Here is a particularly notorious firm from whom I have received nothing, even after six weeks of waiting...
    • omendata
    • By omendata 14th Aug 16, 5:02 PM
    • 45 Posts
    • 35 Thanks
    omendata
    Bang good and tomtop are good!
    • yableep
    • By yableep 15th Aug 16, 9:46 AM
    • 5 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    yableep
    AliExpress
    Hi Guys,
    I been buying things from AliExpress and must say with a lot of success. If things don't go well, the seller will do everything possible to please you.
    But you need to compare prices b4 you buy, it's not always cheaper on Al;iExpress, some of the seller listing on ebay aswell and have distribution from the UK. Shipping time is also getting faster, some items I received in 5 days.
    Good luck with your shopping
    • ethans_dad
    • By ethans_dad 16th Aug 16, 11:00 AM
    • 7 Posts
    • 4 Thanks
    ethans_dad
    Bought various things from AliExpress and DX and never had any real problem:

    Cycle clothing - decent quality and fit (not up to premium brands but then neither are the prices)

    Cycle equipment - decent quality for price (never bought anything electronic)

    Blocks (Lego) - very similar to real thing at fraction of price

    Plastic figurines - can have slight problems with damage in the post, but always been able to sort out with seller

    Soft toys - great quality for price

    Also bought luggage tags, biscuit cutters, tablet accessories with decent results.
    • dobbiesloan
    • By dobbiesloan 7th Sep 16, 5:19 PM
    • 1,427 Posts
    • 2,285 Thanks
    dobbiesloan
    Size Warning.
    Just received my first order. I usually buy XL but as Chinese people are smaller I ordered XXL.
    I measured the shirts that came and they are 21" across so they would be a tight fit on someone with a 42" chest (I'm 48").
    I spoke to a Chinese Robot on line that told me I mast wait 10 days after the goods were dispatched before I can raise a dispute. (It took 7 days from dispatch to delivery.)
    The quality of the shirts are not bad & I would happily wear them if I could get into them.
    The total price was around $16 for 3 shirts that I will probably have to write off.
    I would like to order more if I can find a size guide, does anybody know where I can find one?
    GONE ENGLAND
    • soolin
    • By soolin 7th Sep 16, 5:57 PM
    • 57,704 Posts
    • 40,791 Thanks
    soolin
    Just received my first order. I usually buy XL but as Chinese people are smaller I ordered XXL.
    I measured the shirts that came and they are 21" across so they would be a tight fit on someone with a 42" chest (I'm 48").
    I spoke to a Chinese Robot on line that told me I mast wait 10 days after the goods were dispatched before I can raise a dispute. (It took 7 days from dispatch to delivery.)
    The quality of the shirts are not bad & I would happily wear them if I could get into them.
    The total price was around $16 for 3 shirts that I will probably have to write off.
    I would like to order more if I can find a size guide, does anybody know where I can find one?
    Originally posted by dobbiesloan
    It Is unusual not to have a size guide on the listing and not all sellers use the same size guide anyway.
    I'm the Board Guide for the Ebay Board , Charities Board , Dosh & Disability , Up Your Income and the Local MoneySaving-England board which means I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly, and I can move posts there. However, do remember, board guides don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com (it's not part of my role to deal with this). Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.com
    New to Forum? Guide
    • barmonkey
    • By barmonkey 10th Sep 16, 6:46 PM
    • 6,408 Posts
    • 15,231 Thanks
    barmonkey
    I could not agree with this more. I urge people to please consider China's human rights abuses, working conditions and increasing aggression towards its neighbours. It is getting away with all of this because of the West's seeming dependence on it's cheap products.
    Originally posted by DKK
    Yea right, like thats going to stop people looking there for a bargain.
    WWSD

    (what would Scooby Doo)
    • dobbiesloan
    • By dobbiesloan 11th Sep 16, 6:19 PM
    • 1,427 Posts
    • 2,285 Thanks
    dobbiesloan
    Size Guide
    I have been in touch with firm regarding returning them for an exchange for a bigger size. they replied that shipping cost would be high and offered me a partial refund.
    I have asked other firms for size guide and the size they have recommended for me would be too small according to their own seze guide.
    On the Ali's men's clothes page the largest size is 4XL but if you click on something you like some stores own size guide goes up to 6XL.
    Also some stores have an European size guide.
    I have now placed orders with 4 different shops, The delivery time for last order was 7 days so they should he here before my holiday after which I am going on a diet.
    GONE ENGLAND
    • tazdev
    • By tazdev 14th Sep 16, 7:48 PM
    • 10 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    tazdev
    I've just received my first order from using AliExpress and cannot fault the quality (Mens analogue quartz watch £2.58 inc shipping, paid in sterling with UK debit card, payment taken at time of despatch). Having ordered numerous items from Amazon in the past, some of which have been shipped from China I expected a long delivery - it took 5 weeks.

    This is cheaper than replacing the battery in an older watch so was a bit of a no brainer.

    I think if you go into it with your eyes open, don't spend more than you are prepared to lose, probably avoid very cheap electrical goods and look closely at the age & rating of the seller.... then why not? Just don't expect western levels of purchasing rights or customer service.

    As far as "China's human rights abuses" etc are concerned, my current financial situation takes precedence unfortunately. Those sort of concerns have to go in the same box as organic / fair trade / farm shop food at the moment.
    • ortolickus
    • By ortolickus 20th Sep 16, 1:51 PM
    • 19 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    ortolickus
    Aliexpress - a bad experience
    I've bought a few items from Aliexpress in the last year or so and things have gone smoothly. Recently I bought an android TV box that proved to be faulty (defective hdmi connector) and that's when I experienced the "customer service" offered by Aliexpress and 'Everday (sic) Likes Store' (the seller).

    At first 'Everday Likes Store' (ELS) would not accept that there was a hardware fault. Despite my comprehensive description and uploaded pictures they insisted I download a dodgy-looking .exe file from a 3rd party Chinese website to my PC, run it and load resulting files on to a micro SD card. I was then to put this into the box and boot up, simultaneously poking a cocktail stick into the AV socket on the box. This is as best I could gather because the instructions were in Chinese and pigeon English.

    When this proved a dead end, ELS and Aliexpress (via email) insisted I upload a video of the fault happening. I had even more difficulty uploading a video than I did uploading photos so I (twice) replied to Aliexpress's explicit offer of assistance. They ignored both emails and I could find no way to contact their customer services other than by 'webchat'. Personally I hate webchat and my prejudice was reinforced with an utterly fruitless 'conversation' with someone who had a tenuous relationship with English and (as far as I could judge) gave me incorrect information.

    I could barely blame her. I found the returns "system" convoluted, confusing and self-contradictory as I tried to decipher the messages coming from ELS and reconcile them with those from Aliexpress. Before I uploaded the video, Aliexpress refused even to consider a refund. After I finally succeeded (at about the 7th attempt) they accepted the item was faulty and suggested an £18 refund. I refused because I had originally insisted on a full £23 refund PLUS the return postage if they required the useless item back.

    Aliexpress have now demanded that I return the item 'tracked' within 8 days or they will 'release payment' to ELS. Neither they nor ELS have agreed to refund the return postage (Actually, I have no idea exactly what ELS have proposed because their English is so poor I simply cannot understand it). It would cost me £12.45 to return and that is only tracked in the UK. I have no sensible means of asking whether this complies with Aliexpress's definition of 'tracked'. Fully tracked would cost me £47.

    Clearly returning items to China is invariably impractical and I don't believe Aliexpress even have a facility for offering a full refund against unreturned faulty goods. I should have taken the £18 and mitigated my loss. Now it looks like i'll lose the lot.

    I find it hard to imagine why I ever used Aliexpress. Their prices for these sort of things are barely cheaper - sometimes dearer - than ebay or even Amazon. And as imperfect as these companies are (particularly ebay!), I have used them for the thick end of two decades without ever experiencing this degree of inconvenience, frustration and ineptitude. Above all it is the utter lack of proper customer service that ensures I shall never use Aliexpress again. I would strongly advise fellow forum members to follow my example.
    • dobbiesloan
    • By dobbiesloan 20th Sep 16, 6:38 PM
    • 1,427 Posts
    • 2,285 Thanks
    dobbiesloan
    Was disappointed that my scum bank Santander charged me a Non-Sterling transaction Fee and a Non-Sterling Purchase Fee.
    Defiantly leaving them in November when they cut their 123 interest rate.
    Make sure you only pay in GBP.
    GONE ENGLAND
    • Electric vehicles 4 you
    • By Electric vehicles 4 you 5th Oct 16, 7:55 AM
    • 1 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Electric vehicles 4 you
    Do you homework
    Having set up my web site 5 years ago to raise funds for "Crohns Research" i have gone through many highs and lows whilst buying goods from China as a drop shipper, i would like to add my pennies worth to this discussion.

    I had already registered with AE's mother site Alibaba back in 2008 when it was still free, then when it became a subscription service I switched to AE to source products, unbeknown to me back then I had entered a mine field.

    I had seen the "Segway" electric scooter at the golf open championship when it came to town back in 2006, the quirkiness appealed to me plus it was green, so clean and green became my new mantra.
    AE is a great source of ideas but beware the buyer, Alibaba had, and still does have a strict code of conduct and many a supplier can be kicked off the site for the slightest infringement, however AE is less stringent.
    Alibaba list mostly manufacturers whereas AE list anyone, i have noticed a large amount of "Agents" listing multitudes of items under different names, they are there one minute and gone the next...so beware.
    Always check to see if the seller has a Web site other than on AE, then use a "fraud Web site checker" to see if it's genuine and how long they have been in business.
    You can Google for a checker or drop me a line and I will send you a link to the one I use, i wished I had done this in my early days.

    Never send money you cannot afford to loose especially by T/T, moneygram or western union, once you have done your homework and feel you are dealing with a genuine company....check again.
    After years of dodging the mines I now only buy my e-bikes and electric scooters direct from the manufacturer, however, because I have had dealings with AE, Alibaba and other Chinese sites in
    the past, i still get at least 6 emails a day from various companies offering "A better deal" and when I check out their Web sites I can honestly say more than half come under the "can't be trusted" category.
    I have learned from my mistakes over the years but still get that buzz of excitement, as we all do, when offered a bargain...... take time out to check then check again, and then if your still unsure don't buy it's not worth all the worry.
    • BaldacchinoR
    • By BaldacchinoR 5th Oct 16, 3:24 PM
    • 108 Posts
    • 45 Thanks
    BaldacchinoR
    Because foreign traders are trading in the UK, they should be subject to UK consumer laws. Where they trade via a 3rd party, like Amazon or Ebay, then the 3rd party should be responsible, just as a retailer is responsible, rather than the manufacturer, for faulty products.


    Its that simple and perfectly reasonable - you trade in our country, you keep to our laws. Our consumers should be protected in the same way as when they buy in the UK. This is a loophole in UK consumer protection laws and action should be taken to rectify this.
    • jogu
    • By jogu 5th Oct 16, 5:10 PM
    • 30 Posts
    • 21 Thanks
    jogu
    Safety
    • Are the products electrically safe?
    • Does the product contain dangerous chemicals such as Lead paint or solder, plastics with toxic chemicals etc ?
    • If the product is aimed at children, is it tested not to break into small parts that could cut or choke a child?
    Originally posted by DunxR
    This. Exactly this. Obviously there are ethical concerns too (many of which apply to 'Made in China' goods purchased in the UK too), as well as issues like underpayment of VAT and competing unfairly with UK companies, but MSE have really very massively underplayed the safety issues in their "guide".

    There is a whole environment within the UK to ensure that unsafe products rarely get into consumers hands, and if they do that people are held accountable for it. When you are buying direct from China, you are skipping all those checks and controls. Even if the item is shipped from the UK (usually by a fulfilment centre), you can pretty much guarantee the checks have been missed, particularly when the seller has no actual UK presence.

    I've had experience of this even with seller's that appeared to have UK addresses; I've had quite in depth conversations with Trading Standards about unsafe batteries and the response was trading standards are essentially powerless (pardon the pun) to deal with non-UK entities until there are major changes in UK law.

    There's very few items you can correctly say "it's only an <x>, how can it really be bad". I saw a reference to a £2.58 analogue watch. That's going to be in contact with the wearers skin a lot. What metal do you think they used for the case? What chemicals did they use to treat the strap? In both cases the answer is "the cheapest they possibly could". These people don't care about your safety.

    For clothes, what chemicals do you think are in the dyes? Any that the UK has banned as carcinogenic?

    Even battery powered items can be electrically dangerous - we've all seen the recent press about Samsung phones with exploding Lithium Ion batteries. If a huge company like Samsung can't get this right, do you think a tiny company in China can?

    The only item I managed to come up with recently that I really could think "it's only a <x>, how bad could it be" was a bicycle bell. And when it arrived, it really was worth exactly what I paid for it. In the end I paid £3 more for one from a proper UK seller which in actual value was worth way more than the £3 extra compared to the Chinese piece of cr*p.
    • zhivago
    • By zhivago 5th Oct 16, 5:33 PM
    • 11 Posts
    • 10 Thanks
    zhivago
    伟大的便宜货
    Had loadsa stuff from Chinese producers including mobiles, cases, Kindle screens, all well wrapped, timely delivered and great working order - unbeatable prices too. Shop through reputable channels and check 'reviews'.
    • tazdev
    • By tazdev 5th Oct 16, 7:22 PM
    • 10 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    tazdev
    Jogu,

    I bought the watch for £2.58 you may be refering to.

    I'm wearing it at the moment. I have been wearing it for about 12 hours a day since I bought it. Its not exploded yet. No strange rashes or marks, nor do I glow in the dark.

    However before wearing it I did wipe it down a couple of times with disinfectant wipes, as I don't know where it's been! I'm fairly confident similar watches with a different name could be bought for £20-£30 in Argos, or maybe £10 from an Amazon retailer. I just cut out the middlemen. It's cheaply made of course, so the 'leather' strap is obviously not and the stainless steel back seems a bit thin...I didn't expect a Rolex and didn't receive one.

    You also make a reference to the danger of clothing purchased from China, which considering the amount of clothing we already buy via the high street that's manufactured in China seems odd. If you read the care labels in lots of clothes, they often advise you to wash before use. I always do anyway, even if it is not suggested.

    Perhaps you believe that clothes sold direct from China are made in different mysterious underword factories from UK purchased goods, whereas I strongly believe that the only difference in a lot (albeit not all) of these clothes is the profit of middlemen; shipping agents, importers, wholesalers, advertising agencies, retailers

    I do agree with you regarding childrens toys and electrical goods that use mains power and electronics that may not work properly in the UK such as mobile phones....even if the advertisment says it will work!

    Purchasing anything from a unknown far eastern company even via a marketplace such as AliExpress is bound to be fraught with risk, so as has been mentioned before: Let buyer beware / Don't expect anything close to western retailer levels of customer service or protection / Don't risk more money than you can afford to lose / Avoid electrical goods, things with big batteries and childrens toys / Do your homework!

    Personally I'm glad I can use the internet to occasionally buy goods that I otherwise probably wouldn't be able to afford. Whilst I believe the terminally stupid should avoid most of the internet, I hope the day does not come when you or the state tells me when and where I am allowed to buy something from...... "because its for my own good"
    Last edited by tazdev; 05-10-2016 at 7:26 PM.
    • jogu
    • By jogu 9th Oct 16, 3:13 PM
    • 30 Posts
    • 21 Thanks
    jogu
    Hi Tazdev,

    Great to see some follow up, thanks!

    Jogu,
    I'm wearing it at the moment. I have been wearing it for about 12 hours a day since I bought it. Its not exploded yet. No strange rashes or marks, nor do I glow in the dark.

    However before wearing it I did wipe it down a couple of times with disinfectant wipes, as I don't know where it's been! I'm fairly confident similar watches with a different name could be bought for £20-£30 in Argos, or maybe £10 from an Amazon retailer. I just cut out the middlemen. It's cheaply made of course, so the 'leather' strap is obviously not and the stainless steel back seems a bit thin...I didn't expect a Rolex and didn't receive one.
    Originally posted by tazdev
    This is the great dilemma. Is it something that is made of good materials, but they've skimped on them (like the the back being a bit thin) or is it something made out of poor and potentially harmful materials?

    Here's a reference to a study about carcinogenic dyes:

    http://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/environmental_risks/opinions/sctee/sct_out27_en.htm

    Do you think your 2.58 watch contains any azo dyes?

    (It's important to note that wiping the watch with a disinfectant wipe will do nothing substantial to remove these dyes - they're dyes, they're not intended to be easily removable.)


    You also make a reference to the danger of clothing purchased from China, which considering the amount of clothing we already buy via the high street that's manufactured in China seems odd. If you read the care labels in lots of clothes, they often advise you to wash before use. I always do anyway, even if it is not suggested.

    Perhaps you believe that clothes sold direct from China are made in different mysterious underword factories from UK purchased goods, whereas I strongly believe that the only difference in a lot (albeit not all) of these clothes is the profit of middlemen; shipping agents, importers, wholesalers, advertising agencies, retailers
    Not a mysterious underworld at all. It's well known that quite often you see branded, official goods and unbranded made in exactly the same factories - but with completely different raw materials being used.

    If people reading haven't seen https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_Chinese_milk_scandal it's definitely worth a read.

    Laws in China are completely different, with a lot fewer safety standards and checks. Something that is perfectly legal to make and use in China is not legal to sell in the UK, often because of what it is made off not meeting our safety standards. Legitimate, safe raw materials often cost significantly more than an 'acceptable in China but banned in the UK' material, like the carcinogenic dyes I mention above.

    The extra costs not mentioned is that when a UK company gets something made in China, they are (in general) meticulous about the whole process. They specify and often order themselves the raw ingredients. They do spot checks at the factory, and often have UK staff semi-permanently based in the factories. When goods arrive in the UK, the company importing them tests them, often doing random spot checks that include chemical analysis to check that the manufacturer hasn't tried to substitute cheaper less safe materials. Trading standards also do these checks, and fine companies or confiscate goods.

    If a t-shirt has been dyed with carcinogenic dyes, washing it before use makes no substantial difference to the wearer's exposure to those harmful chemicals.

    I do agree with you regarding childrens toys and electrical goods that use mains power and electronics that may not work properly in the UK such as mobile phones....even if the advertisment says it will work!

    Purchasing anything from a unknown far eastern company even via a marketplace such as AliExpress is bound to be fraught with risk, so as has been mentioned before: Let buyer beware / Don't expect anything close to western retailer levels of customer service or protection / Don't risk more money than you can afford to lose / Avoid electrical goods, things with big batteries and childrens toys / Do your homework!

    Personally I'm glad I can use the internet to occasionally buy goods that I otherwise probably wouldn't be able to afford. Whilst I believe the terminally stupid should avoid most of the internet, I hope the day does not come when you or the state tells me when and where I am allowed to buy something from...... "because its for my own good"
    So long as you are buying it with your eyes fully open to the risks, I don't personally feel the need to stop you buying things for your own use. I quite agree there's savings to made made, as you're not paying VAT or the margin made by the importer, and posting an individual item from China seems to be ridiculously cheap for reasons I can't follow, often cheaper than sending the same item within the UK! I hope you equally appreciate all the safety checks you're skipping past.

    I also hope you aren't giving such goods to friends or their children whilst keeping quiet about how you obtained them.

    If you think you can do significantly better than the existing importers (and given the statement that you think your 2.58 watch would sell for 20-30 in Argos it sounds like it, I'm fairly certain that's a substantially higher margin than Argos report in their accounts), I'd strongly encourage you to start importing in bulk and selling on Amazon etc - please do check on your responsibilities under UK law before doing so though.
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