AliExpress Shopping Guide. How to Shop Safely at AliExpress
Shopping online can easily lead you into an unsafe territory. For every legitimate company there are a few looking to get your money and run away.
If you want to protect yourself, don’t rush to give your money away easily. Always research the site you are going to buy from and find out how they protect their buyers, are scams and frauds likely, and how will you get your refund if needed.
Let’s take a look at AliExpress.com and find out if buying gadgets from this Chinese retailer makes sense.
What is AliExpress?
AliExpress is a part of Alibaba Group ecommerce organization. Alibaba has recently surpassed Walmart and became the largest retailer in the world, offering various services for consumers and businesses in China and around the world.
AliExpress was added to Alibaba platform in 2010. It works just like eBay by letting third parties sell Chinese products on the website. They don’t produce or sell their own merchandise.
The site is very popular in Russia and Latin America. This proves the global point.
Buying online you have to be willing to take more risks than picking an item in the store. First of all, you can’t see it or test quality and features. If you are buying a well-known brand, you can read reviews and go to the store to take a look before ordering.
If you choose to buy from AliExpress because of price, you are on your own. You will have to evaluate the product just based on a short description and a few photos. In this case your best bet is buyer protection program.
AliExpress offers two ways to resolve disputes:
· Full refund if you didn’t receive your order – full refund can be applied for if the item never comes or comes very late.
· Full or partial refund if the item is not as advertised – if you get something different than expected, you can return it for a full refund or keep it and get partial refund.
There are instances when resolving disputes and getting money back can take some work. AliExpress has a three-step system for disputes
· First step is to contact the seller and work directly with them. If a dispute arises before the order is complete or more than 15 days after, this is the only path for you. AliExpress won’t help you if the order is not complete yet or if it’s past 15 days. You are out of luck if the seller does not cooperate after 15 days.
· Second step can be taken if the seller is not cooperating before 15 days after the order has been complete. You can open a dispute ticket and make the process formal.
· Finally, AliExpress can get involved if nothing else works before 15 days are up. It will mediate between you and the seller at this point.
Finding a good seller
It is very important to understand how good the seller is. Reviews are very important here, and the more – the better. If thousands of buyers before you were happy, there is a high chance that you will be too.
Always check seller’s feedback page before buying – it’s just a click away. Each seller has a feedback score and positive feedback percentage. All ratings are converted to points: 4-5 star review gives seller 1 point, 3 starts are worth 0, and 1-2 starts deduct 1 point.
The start ratings are divided into item description, communication, and shipping speed. Each of those categories is evaluated in comparison to other sellers’ average.
Finally, there is a section for history of scores and customer comments. This is very helpful when making a decision.
To beat the competition seller might offer some guarantees to give you extra confidence. It’s usually per item, so don’t think that the same seller will have the same guarantees for all their products. Here are some examples of most common guarantees:
· On-time delivery or money back
· Full refund if item is not as described
· Domestic return with free shipping in your country
· Guaranteed genuine – verified by AliExpress
You can see those guarantees listed on the product page below the image or in the Buyer protection section.
You should always take some responsibility for your actions. AliExpress lists some suggestions to safeguard your purchasing decisions:
· If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Sorry, no iPhones for $20.
· Never send money directly to the seller’s bank account or your buyer protection will be void. It should be done through AliExpress.
· Do not confirm delivery before you get what you ordered and had a chance to look at it.
Overall, AliExpress is a safe shopping platform, not any worse than eBay or Amazon. Chinese made products often have a bad reputation and are considered cheap and poor quality, but that is simply not true. After all, most things we buy here, in US are made in China, don’t forget that.