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New Buying From China (incl AliExpress) guide discussion

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Shop but don't drop
96 replies 51.6K views
MSE_JennyMSE_Jenny Senior WriterMSE Staff
1.3K posts
Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
MSE Staff
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Shop but don't drop
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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
«13456710

Replies

  • The MSE guide is a good start. Below I offer my experiences of buying direct from small Chinese suppliers via Aliexpress.

    My Aliexpress (AE) profile says I’ve been a member of AliExpress since 2004 (I joined the original wholesale group/company which AE is part of). I’ve been buying more regularly (multiple items most weeks) for the last 3-4 years.

    Read all about how to be careful buying - mostly common sense and basic approaches as used on eBay & Amazon (which are now chock full of AE suppliers). Advice like beware of “drop-shippers”, they’ll be cheaper but riskier. Look at a supplier's main “storefront” to see if they really are a specialist supplier or “jack of all trades”. Check feedback on items and not just sellers.


    SEARCHING AE- is all part of the fun, Keep your search terms simple and try and work out what the locals call the thing you are after. It’s often worth doing an image search on google; type in: site:Aliexpress followed by the item you are after, then click-thru for results. Advantages of using this method is you can use Googles advanced search terms. Note that due to time passing since the pages were indexed, any Google results after the first page are unlikely to still be available on the AE site. AE also has a mobile app. In many respects it’s easier to use then the website. Searches seem much easier.

    Like eBay and Amazon, product pages have alternatives products listed towards the bottom. These often display the same or similar products from other suppliers. Using this method can be more fruitful in finding options and better prices/suppliers/reviews for the item you are after.

    Check ads carefully. Expect as a rule most to have fake images or photos “ripped” from other sites. Some suppliers will have original manufacturers images so keep an eye out for them. Most ads have incorrect or suspect aspects in their descriptions, so read them carefully. Sellers would rather make the sale and argue about it afterwards.

    AE has strict buyer-friendly refunds policy which you should read before buying (worth it as I’ve never returned faulty/misdescribed items unless seller agrees to pay postage in advance).

    Be careful with electrical items. - some of the build quality and functionality you’ll find will be shocking, some quite literally! Unless you know how to verify things like CE marks, you should probably assume such markings could be fake.

    Clothing - comes up very much smaller (to fit average Chinese), so expect a ladies UK 10-12 to be listed as XL! Anything marked “one size” is maximum a uk women’s 8-10. Footwear seems ok, but check your US/UK/EU size conversions. Expect discrepancies in description, as in general AE sellers are not as accurate as you might expect. Remember to check product feedback from actual buyers.

    Do your homework and as advised in the MSE guide, make small spends (IMO less than £5).

    Pay by card as PayPal is not accepted (and unlikely to be). I think Alipay (part of the group owning AE), can be used without fear, I’ve never had any problems and payments/refunds are processed promptly as in EU.

    Delivery. I consistently find that things get delivered by airmail within 2 weeks to London, sometimes much less.

    Lastly don’t automatically assume it’s cheaper on AE. In the last 12 months I’ve noticed that prices are often lower on eBay and even Amazon. This could be because of raised selller costs on AE (paying for a much expanded Alibaba Group), but equally due to the widespread infiltration of eBay and Amazon by chinese sellers and “drop shippers”. I suspect this has forced sellers on eBay and Amazon to price more keenly. It’s worth checking around as you might find that the days of super cheap deals on AE are firmly behind us…

    Hope you find this of some use. I rarely post on MSE so will probably not be able to reply to any questions. Thx.
  • LesleygLesleyg Forumite
    10 posts
    When setting up an account with them, for shipping to the UK, it chooses US$ as default currency. Should I change this to pounds?
  • edited 10 August 2016 at 8:31AM
    Rachiek414Rachiek414 Forumite
    1 posts
    edited 10 August 2016 at 8:31AM
    I always buy from Aliexpress and I even get a discount if I purchase the items via their app. I once bought two NFL jerseys for husband, paid £24 for both and when they arrived they were the versions that would normally sell for £200 each. They were genuine jerseys but they were the ones that had slight imperfections so wouldn't be sold by the NFL. Looking at them you wouldn't have known they had any imperfections (stitch wasn't perfect on one letter within the name and on the number of the other shirt). My husband was happy with them. I wouldn't risk something like a wedding dress, but for everything else (and I've had phone cases, stationery, craft items etc) they are brilliant. I've also never had any issues dealing with the sellers, disputes are dealt with quickly and I would recommend them. The only downside is the wait for products which can be up to 6 weeks so if you want something specific you'll need to order it in advance. :-)

    Rachel
  • soldierboy001soldierboy001 Forumite
    14 posts
    MoneySaving Newbie
    I use a site called banggood.com and find this no problem, I usually buy mobile phones and watches for other people as well as myself and to date I have only had 1 problem and that was for USB cables that could be used both ways and were cheaper than standard USB cables, I chucked mine away as they needed to be forced into the item being used and I thought this might damage the items, on HUKD's that ran this item the consensus was about 50/50 as to whether this was a good item.
    All the mobile phones I have purchased for people have been 100% accepted as better than any item you can get for about the £50 mark and are usually latest Android and dual sim. As said before the only problem is the 28 days delivery, which can sometimes be 14 days or more.
  • PaulscarbsPaulscarbs Forumite
    29 posts
    10 Posts
    I purchased a MirrorLink device for my vehicle. It didn't work and seller tried to get me to do all sorts of things with it as well as sell me another one (I know!). In the end I ended up paying double for the working one as return prices - which I had to pay - were too high.
    Does section 75 of the credit card protection apply?
    I won't be doing this again.
  • NasqueronNasqueron Forumite
    7.7K posts
    ✭✭✭✭
    Rachiek414 wrote: »
    I always buy from Aliexpress and I even get a discount if I purchase the items via their app. I once bought two NFL jerseys for husband, paid £24 for both and when they arrived they were the versions that would normally sell for £200 each. They were genuine jerseys but they were the ones that had slight imperfections so wouldn't be sold by the NFL. Looking at them you wouldn't have known they had any imperfections (stitch wasn't perfect on one letter within the name and on the number of the other shirt). My husband was happy with them. I wouldn't risk something like a wedding dress, but for everything else (and I've had phone cases, stationery, craft items etc) they are brilliant. I've also never had any issues dealing with the sellers, disputes are dealt with quickly and I would recommend them. The only downside is the wait for products which can be up to 6 weeks so if you want something specific you'll need to order it in advance. :-)

    Rachel

    90% certain those "genuine shirts with imperfections" are fakes - why would NFL sell cast off via a Chinese auction site? There is a huge market on Aliexpress selling fake bike gear which is often indistinguishable from the real kit but of course you are helping Chinese copyright thieves commit crime and depriving the real companies of money to help support their players/teams and develop new kit. Specialized (a US bike company) have a full time employee who just goes through the site flagging fake items to get them removed from sale which is a constant battle
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  • This is a buyers nightmare, so many fakes and counterfeits, Chinese sellers should be ashamed of their `rip-off` culture. The main problem for buyers is that the sellers can send you any old junk and they know that you will be unable to do anything about it, and `AliExpress` will actively help these con-men to sell their rubbish, they know that you will be unable to return the goods.
  • edited 10 August 2016 at 1:38PM
    HnoeyHnoey Forumite
    1 posts
    edited 10 August 2016 at 1:38PM
    Hi I have bought a phone through Banggood and it would not initialise, so they said to send it back tracked post for a full refund. I tried taking it to the post office but they say they cannot send anything with a battery in to China?
  • redroo555redroo555 Forumite
    194 posts
    hi there, i wanted to join ali express and buy some items for a fairy garden, that are from 22p to £2 , but am confused as it does state As some or part of the Services (as defined in the Alibaba.com Terms of Use, as defined below) may be supported and provided by affiliates of Alibaba.com, Alibaba.com may delegate some of the Services to its affiliates, particularly Alibaba.com (Europe) Limited incorporated in the United Kingdom, who you agree may invoice you for their part of the Services. does this mean that say i purchased some items that came to £3 ish, i could then receive a bill from whoever else they delegate its services to ? sorry to sound thick but i don't understand this and don't want to end up with a bill for ££££,s for something that only costs pennies !! thanks in advance trese
    i keep losing weight, but it just keeps on finding me!!!!!!:D
  • 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.
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