AliExpress has had a lot of negative feedback and a bad reputation since it was founded in 2010. The reviews were so scathing that many people avoided the website at all costs.
Due to this feedback, AliExpress has launched a Buyer Protection program and refund schemes to help customers stay protected when shopping on AliExpress.
The website is an online marketplace, not a supplier. Their consumers can buy products from multiple different small businesses in China. Think of it like eBay. AliExpress doesn’t have complete control over what is being sold and the legitimacy of every item. However, it can block sellers if too many negative reviews are posted about them.
AliExpress isn’t a scam site. Instead, it’s the AliExpress sellers you need to watch out for.
Is AliExpress A Legitimate Business?
Yes, AliExpress is a legitimate business. You can check the legitimacy of a Chinese business by searching on their National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System. From there, you can confirm the founding dates, the current ownership, and the legal representation for the company.
This shows that AliExpress is registered as a legitimate business and should be acting under Chinese law.
Reasons Why People Do Not Trust AliExpress:
- Delay in delivery
- Counterfeit goods
Many believe AliExpress isn’t legitimate because they compare American or Western shopping values to a Chinese business. For example, shipping from a local distributor in China to a house in America will likely take months. Although some companies, such as Amazon, can promise delivery in days, this is usually due to local stockpiles or significant company trading agreements. Imagine that your product is shipped from an overseas warehouse, and that might help you understand why it will take that long.
These delays may feel unusual for Americans, but it doesn’t mean the business is illegitimate.
The second reason many believe AliExpress isn’t legitimate comes from receiving counterfeit goods. Being mis-sold goods through false advertising is a crime, but the criminals are the unscrupulous sellers, not the marketplace.
Although you may have a case against the suppliers who mis-sold to you, AliExpress isn’t necessarily at fault.
In January 2023, a landmark ruling changed this concept for European marketplaces. The Court of Justice of the European Union studied a case of counterfeit Louboutin shoes on Amazon. They ruled that Amazon could be liable for trademark infringement despite the shoes being sold by a third party.
The ruling didn’t declare Amazon at fault, but it could be. More investigation and court work are needed before a final decision is made. The initial statement has changed how marketplaces manage their third parties. Websites like Amazon, Facebook, and AliExpress may become liable for counterfeit products.
Regardless, this doesn’t affect the legitimacy of AliExpress. Instead, this shows a common misunderstanding of delivery time and who is at fault.
Is AliExpress Safe?
We need to understand how a marketplace could be unsafe to answer this question. The three areas of concern surround leaking personal information, leaking payment information, and losing money from a dodgy order.
Leaking Personal Information
AliExpress is an online marketplace. When you buy from AliExpress, they will pull details such as your name, email address, and physical address from your account. They will also pull your payment information, purchasing information, and customer support questions.
This isn’t unusual data collection. AliExpress will use this information to understand what type of products you want and what demographic you fit into. Then, they use that data to direct you toward items you wish to buy.
AliExpress will sell your purchasing information to third-party advertisers, such as Amazon, as each online marketplace tries to grab your attention.
There have been no reports of a personal information leak from AliExpress. However, in June 2021, a report showed that Alibaba leaked information. Data from a billion items sold on their platform was sold to willing buyers.
Alibaba and AliExpress are owned by the same parent company (The Alibaba Group), so this leak affects them both. Two people were arrested for the leak, and both companies assured their customers that the issue had been resolved.
Leaking Payment Information
There have been no reports of leaked payment information from AliExpress or Alibaba. However, if you are worried about financial fraud, there are two secure AliExpress payment methods.
- Credit Card
The first is PayPal. PayPal automatically converts your money from your regular currency to the one needed. It does this with no charge to your bank account. It also ensures a secondary security step before allowing money out of your account.
Although you shouldn’t need the conversion feature, it’s a cheap way to spend money without your bank charging you for currency exchanges.
The main positive of PayPal is its security feature. You can receive instant notifications to confirm when it is being used, and AliExpress will not see your account details as you’ll input your PayPal details instead. This additional layer of security prevents the website from seeing all of your data.
The second payment method is to pay with a credit card. Most credit card companies offer Credit Card Purchase Protection. This protection covers the price of a purchase if it arrived broken, was stolen, or was mis-sold. To invoke the protection, you need to contact your credit card provider and explain the issue. Then, they can cancel the payment or reimburse your account.
Evidence may be needed, and some credit card companies will not allow reimbursement after 90 days. Each lender will have a different policy, but using a credit card to pay for your online goods will automatically protect you from counterfeit goods.
Is It Safe To Use My Debit Card On AliExpress?
Yes. It is safe to use your debit card account when you buy from AliExpress, as the website is secure. However, if you use a credit card or Paypal, you will receive refunds quicker should you need one.
Debit cards do not have the same level of refund protection, but credit cards and Paypal have these guarantees as part of their protection scheme.
If you don’t have a credit card, apply for a PayPal account and use your debit card as the primary payment method. This way, the finances will still come from your debit card account, but you have an added layer of protection.
The most common complaint of counterfeit items from AliExpress are either copies of big brands or receiving the wrong item altogether.
Because this issue became prominent, AliExpress created a Buyer Protection scheme.
What Is The Buyer Protection Program
This money-back guarantee promises to refund you if the item you received doesn’t match the description from the seller. This wording means receiving the utterly wrong item will result in a full refund. In addition, receiving a broken or counterfeit item will also be refunded.
Many disheartened AliExpress users are unaware of this feature and don’t use the protection scheme. If you ever receive incorrect goods, contact the seller for a full refund first, and if the dispute still needs to be resolved, contact AliExpress directly from your order detail page.
You will be given a “Free Return” label if any returns are required, so there is no extra cost to you.
As the platform is a marketplace, AliExpress cannot ensure no counterfeits are on their website, but they can make sure that every victim gets their money back.
Because of the protections, you can expect your money to stay safe and your payment details to remain secure when shopping online.
The buyer protection period is up to 90 days and can have another 15-day extension under certain circumstances.
How Safe Is eBay?
eBay is one of the oldest online marketplaces, so we compare AliExpress to this website. Unfortunately, eBay has the same drawbacks. However, it has a large team dedicated to banning scam sellers.
Are AliExpress Products Good Quality?
By American standards, AliExpress doesn’t sell good quality products. Of course, you can find diamonds in the rough, but most AliExpress merchandise is cheap for a reason.
There are two reasons for the low-quality products:
- American expectations
- Aimed at low prices
When you buy a product from an American company, that item will go through a quality control process mandated by industry regulations. Sometimes mistakes are made, or standards slip, but overall, American stores must hit a specific target.
Chinese stores have the same process, but their quality control standards differ. This means that cheap materials and inconsistencies are common among smaller Chinese manufacturers.
Our second point is aimed at the price. The items are cheap due to the materials and time spent on their creation. However, workers may need to produce unreasonably high stock levels to get their wages, which means they are more likely to make mistakes. This can lead to easily ripped top seams, dolls with strangely painted faces, or products with missing parts.
Before you purchase anything from the AliExpress platform, make sure to read the product reviews. Ideally, more than 100 people should leave a review, and the average score should be four or higher. This suggests multiple people have had success from the seller.
How Are Products on AliExpress So Cheap?
There are three reasons why AliExpress offers cheap products.
- Sellers are based in China: They have direct access to many products, which generally require a shipping fee before it reaches your local stores.
- Low minimum wage: The second reason is that the Chinese minimum wage is around 25 yen per hour. That translates to 0.20 US dollars. Cheap labor means cheap pricing.
- Cheap materials used: Lastly, the materials used are cheap or flimsy. All these factors create low pricing.
Types Of Scams to be Aware Of
Although AliExpress doesn’t scam their customers, their sellers might. There are three types of scams you should be aware of.
AliExpress is on the US government watch list for counterfeit goods. This means the likelihood of buying an illegitimate product is high.
These products might be illegal, harmful, or fake. Check for these four factors to help you determine if the product you want is counterfeit.
- Price: If the price is too low for the product, it might be fake. The newest iPhone will never cost $10. A case of beer will never cost $0.50. Consider the average price of this object and use that figure to judge if the discounted price is unreasonably low.
- Brands: Almost all top brands will be fake. Ray Bans costs too much for a website like this, Starbucks cups are usually sold in Starbucks, and Disney holds a firm grip over all their merchandise. If you hope for branded goods, you will likely receive a fake.
- Low Reviews: We have mentioned this before, but you shouldn’t buy any item with less than 100 reviews and less than four stars. You want 100 or more to create a diverse demographic of reviews, and if the product is less than four stars, it suggests inconsistent product quality problems. Some sellers will post fake reviews to boost their selling reputation. This is why products with over 100 reviews give a realistic reflection of the products.
Brushing is seen as a victimless scam but a type of identity theft. Scammers hack into your account or create a fake one using your personal information (such as your name and address).
They then order their products and leave a positive review. They usually spend their own money on these products, as it lowers the likelihood of detection. However, some may use credit cards attached to their victim’s account.
They will keep ordering their products to boost their perceived value. As a result, AliExpress will believe they have genuinely high traction and will encourage them up the listing.
Because they use your address, the items will arrive at your home. If they aren’t using your credit card, you could assume this is a win-win, but this leak in data shows that your information can be stolen.
Even if no fraudulent activity has happened to your accounts, others can get your data too. This can lead to more nefarious consequences.
You may have been brushed if you notice packages arriving at your door without context. Install Identity Protection software to block off this contact and find the leak in your data.
You should already have Identity Protection software installed.
Misleading Product Listings
AliExpress offers a feature that allows sellers to add variations to their products even if they seem the same. For example, a seller might sell tops and wants to separate each top into sizes rather than have a drop-down to allow buyers to pick their size.
This means they can add the size to the product description, making it easier to find when buyers type in the keywords.
Many sellers use this feature to make it look like they are selling one product but are selling another. For example, they may say “Playstation 5 Box” and show images of a Playstation 5 console. Although the image suggests you are buying the console, the label states it is only the box.
A more likely example would be “Latest Playstation Console, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 5 White Box, Playstation 5 Box” This overly detailed description is typically ignored by many buyers and is purposefully confusing.
If the price doesn’t match your expectations and the description isn’t clear, the listing might be purposefully misleading. So to stay safe, avoid these items.
Always read the listing name and the description when shopping on AliExpress, as hidden details might reveal the actual product you are purchasing.
Seven Methods To Avoid AliExpress Scams
Throughout our article so far, we have mentioned a couple of tips to avoid AliExpress scams. Bookmark this page and scroll down to this section to help remind yourself of these scams. Here we will condense each method already mentioned and bring new approaches to light.
1 Avoid Super Low Prices
If the product price is ridiculously low, it will either be counterfeit or misleading. For example, sunglasses costing $0.50 seem too cheap. However, looking at the listing in more detail might reveal its true item – a sunglass cleaning cloth or cloth protector.
Another example is Ray Ban sunglasses worth $5. They sell for $75 as a minimum, so you can guess this listing is counterfeit.
2 Read Listing Descriptions In Detail
Most listing scams want to take your money without giving you a refund. If they can lure you in with their photo and confusing listing but put the real item in the description, they can avoid refunding your purchase from a complaint. The seller can say that their description details the true item, and it’s not their fault you didn’t understand.
Because this will seem like a customer mistake, you will only get a partial refund.
To avoid this, make sure you read the descriptions carefully. If you’re unsure, don’t buy from the seller and look elsewhere for your product.
3 Avoid Products With Low Reviews
Low review numbers or low star rating means the seller cannot be trusted. Make sure each item has at least four stars or more and over 100 reviews.
4 Use PayPal Or A Credit Card
PayPal and credit cards have an added protection feature. If AliExpress refuses, your credit card company can refund you.
5 Check The Trademark Database
The USPTO website shows you all trademarked brands. If you find a suspicious brand on the AliExpress website, you can add the brand name to the USPTO website and learn if the company is genuine.
You can also use this database to learn if the item you buy breaches trademark law. For example, if you don’t recognize the brand, you can search for it on the website and see who owns it and what it should look like.
This verification step can help you avoid violating trademark laws if you resell the item.
6 Check Delivery Times
Many customers complain about AliExpress delivery times. When you order, you can see the maximum delivery time your product will take to arrive. Some orders will allow you to track the shipping information or speed up the delivery.
No matter which delivery method you pick, note the estimated delivery day. Because of the Buyer Protection, the delivery guarantee will give you a refund if the product has yet to arrive by the final estimated delivery day.
If you take too long to claim your refund (usually 15 working days), you won’t be entitled to a refund. Note the estimated delivery times, and make your claim as soon as the delivery is late.
7 Quality Check Your Items On Arrival
The AliExpress Buyer Protection guarantee will send you a refund if the order doesn’t match the description on the website. The window of the complaint will fit the delivery window.
If your package doesn’t arrive in time, you can ask for a refund for failed delivery past the delivery estimation time. But if your item is wrong, you need to raise a complaint before the delivery estimated time.
In short, you can get a refund if the delivery is late or wrong, not both.
To make sure you get your refund, check the product as soon as it arrives. Check the quality, color, size, or any other issue that could result in a refund.
The quicker you submit your complaint, the less likely it will be rejected.
Which Online Marketplace is Better: Alibaba Or AliExpress?
Alibaba and AliExpress are both from the Alibaba Group and sell similar products but have different clientele.
- Clientele: AliExpress is designed for consumer products and selling to individual customers worldwide, while Alibaba suppliers are aimed at businesses. If you are buying products for a company, use Alibaba. If you are buying products for yourself, use AliExpress.Price: Products are cheaper on Alibaba while a bit more expensive on AliExpress. They also both cater to cheap dollar-store value items.
- Minimum order quantity: You have to buy products in bulk on Alibaba. A single caseload could contain 35 items. Unless you are ordering for a party or a business, a large quantity isn’t needed.
- Catalog: Both companies are a directory. They pull their products from other businesses to make searching for merchandise easier.
Should I Use A Dropshipping Agent?
Although AliExpress is aimed at customers, not businesses, they allow the use of dropshipping agents.
These agents act as middle management. You send the items to the handlers to repackage, and your quality checks the items before sending them to your customers.
The service is free to use and is aimed at ecommerce businesses. If you own a large business, you may prefer the Alibaba price reductions on bulk orders. However, if you are a small company, you may prefer the smaller stock options of AliExpress.
To use the Dropshipping service, you should add the products to your online store. Then set up the price you want it to sell for. Once an order comes through, AliExpress will sell you the item at the wholesale price and ship the order directly to the customer.
You don’t need to do any work. You are essentially an advertiser for their company and are helping them reach more customers.
Is Dropshipping Safe?
Dropshipping is legal in the US and Canada.
If the product you’re selling is counterfeit, doesn’t match the image, or isn’t the item they expected, you are liable. Because you haven’t seen the item yourself, you might think the problem is with the dropshipping service, but in reality, your company has hired another to complete quality checks. In that process, you should check the outsourced company.
This means any problems are directly related to your company. This is the only issue surrounding dropshipping. A customer could sue based on this liability issue.
Because AliExpress is known for sending incorrect or dodgy items, the likelihood of reselling the same problematic items is high.
In general, we do not suggest dropshipping through AliExpress’s own services. Instead, use an established and well-regarded dropshipping company or send any resold items yourself.
What Items Should I Pick From AliExpress?
- Good selling history: You should follow the same safety suggestions we mentioned above – over four stars ratings, over 100 reviews, reasonable prices, and avoiding branded items.
- Good photos: You should also pick products with good photos. These photos should come from the manufacturer and not from a different retailer. Complete a reverse Google image search to see where the images came from. If the image doesn’t match the manufacturer, you cannot be sure if the item will look like the pictures. The seller could have uploaded any image. The more images there are, the more likely the seller is legitimate.
- Good customer service: Our next suggestion is to pick a helpful seller. If they respond to your questions quickly and in a friendly manner, you know that any issues will be dealt with swiftly. If they don’t respond, you cannot build a good business relationship with them.
It is still recommended to buy from AliExpress, as long as you know how to avoid scammers. AliExpress isn’t trying to scam you themselves. Instead, they are a legitimate marketplace, like eBay, which helps small businesses in China reach a larger audience in other countries.
Because the items are coming from small businesses in China, AliExpress standard shipping time could be months. So be prepared for long shipping times.
Some items will look too good to be true – that’s because they are. If you see any branded items that are cheaper than reasonable, they are probably counterfeit.
If you see any items which are cheaper than reasonable, they might be purposefully mislabeled. Look at the description.
If you receive items you didn’t buy, someone might be brushing your account.
If the item you bought arrived damaged or not to its specifications, you could receive a refund using the AliExpress Buyer Protection guarantee. You can also get a refund for late deliveries.
The safety features keep AliExpress safe. Unfortunately, it’s the sellers that might scam you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are There Fake Sellers On AliExpress?
Yes, there are fake sellers on AliExpress. They might sell illegal goods, counterfeit goods, or purposefully poor items for profit.
If you buy something from these companies, you can use the Buyer Protection guarantee to get your money back.
How Do I Know If A Seller Is Real On AliExpress?
Check their selling history. You should also check their company license on the Chinese National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System. They should be avoided if they have a star rating of 3.5 or lower. Ideally, they should have more than 300 reviews in total, but a minimum of 100.
How Long Does It Take For AliExpress To Deliver?
The delivery times will depend on the company you use and your location. The average shipping time is between 15 and 45 working days. The premium shipping options can take between 7 and 15 working days to arrive.
Is Amazon Cheaper Than AliExpress?
Unlike Amazon, AliExpress is cheaper but takes longer to receive the products. Amazon is also restricted by US trading standards, which means it has more security and eliminates scamming sellers faster.
Is Everything From AliExpress From China?
Most sellers on AliExpress are based in China. However, the platform isn’t limited to Chinese businesses. You may find some sellers from other countries.
Which Country Uses AliExpress The Most?
AliExpresses’ core audience is America. Brazil and Spain also purchase heavily from this website.
Why Is AliExpress Shipping So Expensive?
Because AliExpress is so cheap, the cost of shipping can look extortionate by comparison.
International shipping forces the merchandise to cross through multiple border barriers, each of which has its own fee. If the item is heavy, the fee can increase dramatically.
For example, a 20kg product will cost roughly 100 RMB to travel across China ($15.73). This shipping fee hasn’t reached American soil yet. When it lands, it can cost another $170, depending on how far it needs to travel.