August 16, 2016 by Andrew Minalto - 1302 Comments

Alibaba SCAM Exposed! Tips & Tricks for 2017!

alibaba-scam-exposed

Alibaba is a SCAM” – you see this everywhere! And yes, you may get scammed on Alibaba IF you don’t use common sense… just like on ANY OTHER online marketplace.

Really I kinda feel sorry for Alibaba as I know for sure it is not a scam. Alibaba is simply a platform where buyers and sellers meet. Yes, there are of course scammers on Alibaba but that doesn’t mean Alibaba itself is a scam.

With that logic you can then say that eBay, the Yellow Pages and even your local business directory are scams as you can find MANY unscrupulous businesses there too.

The biggest problem this ‘Alibaba scam’ myth creates is that people who are new to importing are too afraid to even start their research process as they have that one line repeating in their heads – Alibaba is a scam, Alibaba is a scam, Alibaba is a scam…. that’s why, with today’s blog post, I want to clear the air once and for all and give you a step by step filtering system you can use to avoid 99% of scams on Alibaba and unlock one of the world’s biggest online marketplaces.

But before we go into the actual verification process; let me quickly remind you that you cannot get any kind of branded items wholesale from mainland China. I’m talking about electronics, DVDs, software, designer clothing, shoes and similar items. If you’re looking for anything branded, China is NOT the place to go as you’ll either get scammed or at best, receive fakes.

What is a BRANDED product?

By branded products I mean products that are manufactured by well known companies, like:

  • Apple
  • Samsung
  • Nike
  • Sony
  • Segway
  • Etc.

These are brands that are well known to everyone and even though most of their products are manufactured in China, you CAN’T buy them in wholesale from Alibaba and other such similar sites – you simply cannot!

Companies with manufacturing operations in China have very strict distribution policies in place and it’s not like someone can walk out of a Foxconn factory (they do most of Apple’s products) with 10 iPhones in their pockets to sell on Alibaba. It’s not possible to buy iPhones directly from Foxconn, even though they’re the ones who manufacture them.

This is NOT how things work in China!!

All those brands distribute their goods in tightly secured, official channels and you won’t find these products advertised on Alibaba. If you do see ads for such products, there’s a 99%+ chance that it’s a scam!

Another product type you have to be VERY careful with is Licensed products. These are products that carry some sort of intellectual property on them, such as:

  • Disney cartoon characters
  • Famous people’s images
  • Sports team logos
  • Olympic logos/themes (like Rio 2016 logos)
  • Video/Mobile game characters (Angry birds, Pokémon Go etc.)
  • Automotive industry logos, trademarks (Audio, BMW etc.)
  • And so on!

To produce products with such intellectual property designs on them, a manufacturer needs a special license agreement with the IP owner and has to pay fixed or on-going fees for each item they produce. MOST suppliers in China don’t have any such agreements in place and they basically use these designs WITHOUT the owner’s approval, which is illegal of course and this can get you in a lot of trouble if you order such items.

fake-frozen

In some cases, large manufacturers will have such licensing deals in place but you should always ask for proof and try to verify it if possible. These will be very rare situations though so in general, I recommend you STAY AWAY from any products involving IP designs, when ordering from Alibaba and China in general.

Now back to Alibaba – they’ve actually improved their website and listings significantly in this regard – these days it’s very hard to find any “branded” items on Alibaba as they have removed most of these listings and suspended offending advertisers. Years ago you could do a search for any TV series and get hundreds of results. I just tried such a search and it returned ZERO results…

These bootleg DVD box sets were very popular – 24, Baby Einstein, Friends, Breaking Bad and others – all fakes, 100% copies, sourced for a fraction of the actual cost and sold back on eBay. Luckily, those days are over! Sure, there are still bootlegs available on eBay but not on the scale it was before.

They now even put a special message for searches like this – warning you that it’s a branded product and you want to be very careful ordering such items from suppliers on Alibaba:

baby-einstein

Anyway, what does this have to do with our original topic – well the no.1 rule to avoid scams is – STAY AWAY from anything branded on Alibaba.com! You can only source un-branded goods wholesale from Mainland China! And once you eliminate branded goods, you’ll see that it’s actually very difficult to get scammed! To make it practically impossible, just use my 12 step filter system…

1. Gold Supplier

If possible, I always try to stick with Gold Suppliers who are on their 3rd year+. Gold Supplier status is still the number 1 thing to look for when looking for reliable suppliers on Alibaba and to avoid scams, especially when used in conjunction with filtering out 1st year and 2nd year suppliers.

The Gold Supplier status costs several thousand dollars each year – scammers simply can’t afford that kind of money. Besides that, they’ll never last longer than 1 or 2 years – by then they get caught and have to change the company name and register a new Alibaba profile.

gold-supplier

That’s why I try to stick to Gold suppliers who have been trading on Alibaba for at least 3 years. If you see a Gold Supplier in their 6th, 7th or 8th year – it’s a sure sign that it’s an established company and the chance of them being a scam are incredibly slim.

I NEVER do business with free members on Alibaba! I even don’t look at free profiles as that’s where most scams are hidden. If a Chinese manufacturer or trading company can’t afford the Gold Supplier yearly fee, it definitely says something about them.

2. Supplier Assessment/Onsite Check

Onsite check means that Alibaba have checked the supplier’s premises and have verified that a business exists there. They also do a company verification to confirm legal existence of that supplier.

onsite-check

Supplier Assessment is a more in-depth verification by 3rd party companies, like SGS, and offers a more detailed inspection report, often including financial data, more images, and even videos.

As a general rule of thumb, you should deal with suppliers who have at least the Onsite Check done and ideally, 3rd party supplier assessment too, for added peace of mind.

3. Trade Assurance

Trade assurance is an Escrow type of payment system on Alibaba where you get protection on your order if something goes wrong (product not delivered, not delivered on time, quality issues etc.).

trade-assurance

Unlike traditional Escrow where money is held until you release it (like on Ali Express), with Trade Assurance you actually pay the money into the supplier’s bank account, but you still get protection on your order.

In general, Trade Assurance is a good indicator that the supplier won’t scam you by not sending your goods but of course it does not guarantee that your order will go as smoothly as planned (more on that later).

You can make your work easier by simply using 3 filters directly when doing searches on Alibaba. All you have to do is tick boxes for all 3 when doing your product search:

  • Trade Assurance
  • Gold Supplier
  • Assessed Supplier

search-filters

This way only suppliers that meet all 3 criteria will be shown in your search results.

4. Transaction History/Level

There’s a new indicator introduced by Alibaba that shows transaction history and level of trade for suppliers using the Trade Assurance system.

Basically it shows how much in sales a supplier has done on Alibaba and obviously, the bigger these numbers are the better, as it is proof that it’s a legit company with regular orders.

transaction-score

I wouldn’t rule out any supplier because of them having no transaction history though as only Trade Assurance orders are included, whereas most orders are placed outside that system.

But just keep this filter in mind as extra proof that you’re dealing with an established seller.

5. Certificates

Many suppliers will show off scanned certificates for their products (CE for example), manufacturing facility (ISO) and other part of their business.

It’s just more proof that you’re dealing with a genuine supplier.

certificates

Be warned though! There are cases when suppliers use fake certificates so to be 100% sure, you want to verify these certificates. Usually you’ll find a company/organisation name on the certificate who you can then contact and ask for verification of that certificate.

Many testing houses even have online testing facility where you can check such certificates for free, instantly, like on SGS’s website for example.

6. AliExpress Store

This is a very good indicator that you’re dealing with a legit supplier. These days more and more Alibaba companies are opening AliExpress stores where you can shop safely for small MOQs and pay securely via Escrow using your credit card. If a supplier has an AliExpress shop, check it out. Specifically, check out their feedback as it can tell you a lot about the product quality, how quickly the supplier dispatches goods etc.

How to find out whether a supplier has an Ali Express shop?

Simply go to supplier profile, then click on Contacts. Usually suppliers will put a link to their Ali Express shop under Website links, if they have a shop that is.

aliexpress-store

And you can take this even further – quite often, just to save me time and avoid extra, unnecessary communication, I use a supplier’s AliExpress shop to order samples. This way you can check the quality of the product and only once happy with everything, place your real wholesale order by contacting the supplier directly through Alibaba or even the same AliExpress!

YES, even on AliExpress you can get significant discounts when buying in true bulk so if you want to stick with AliExpress & their escrow system, you can simply negotiate a deal with your supplier there. Just keep in mind that it will always be more expensive than dealing with the supplier directly as AliExpress takes their cut in fees for each transaction.

7. Live Factory Video

If a supplier has a video on their Alibaba profile, check it out. If it’s produced by Alibaba themselves, it’s a sure sign that the company is real and genuine. If not, still try to use it and look for signs that tell you this is the company you’re dealing with (logo/company name on office walls, factory footage showing production of the goods they’re advertising, trade show footage etc.).

verified-video

And this also applies to images a supplier uses in their profile and product listings. I’m always wary of suppliers who use stock images in their profile/listings as only one thing crosses my mind – they have nothing to show!

Trading companies are usually ones that do this – they only have a few office images, stock product images and some mystic/blurry factory images so you can’t really understand what’s going on there.

real-images

My ideal supplier has tons of pictures showing their factory, the entrance to the factory, the reception desk with logos on etc. The more images there are with the factory name or company name showing, the better.

8. Website

If a company owns a proper, standalone website in English, that’s another good sign that you’re dealing with a reputable company. You should also do a Who Is database check to find out when the domain name was registered; the older the better, of course.

But don’t expect world class websites here! Most Chinese supplier websites are very basic, even old-fashioned and load very slowly (this must be something to do with internet connections in China or their hosting) BUT it’s okay, in fact it’s completely normal.

website-sample

On a side note – even if a company has a decent website, I usually stick to dealing with them through Alibaba. But sometimes there can be exceptions – for example – sometimes sales agents on the website’s live chat are much faster to respond that on Alibaba. This is most likely because they view a website lead as being much higher value that an Alibaba one, where they get lots of time wasters.

So yes, if the website has live chat, do try using that.

9. Trade Shows

Whether it’s on a company’s Alibaba profile or their website, look for Trade Show information.

trade-shows

Scammers DO NOT attend trade shows so if you see trade shows listed for up-coming months, or past trade show information with pictures, it’s another good sign. But always make sure to try and verify this information on the official Trade Show website (for example, China’s biggest trade show is Canton Fair).

10. Google Search & Global Sources Profile

Do a quick Google search of the company’s name. Quite often you’ll get links to their profile on other Chinese B2B websites, such as MadeinChina or Global Sources. If the company has a verified profile on Global Sources, chances of them being a scam are reduced to an absolute minimum as Global Sources takes its verification process very seriously and there are stringent requirements for authentication.

global-sources

So depending on the number of stars a supplier has on Global Sources, you can be sure that you’re dealing with a real company.

While still on Google, do another search for “company name + scam”. Usually this will pull up any forum posts or scam reports associated with that company.

11. Invoice/Bank Details

When you’re already in the negotiation process and receive your first pro-forma invoice, always check the company address, name & bank details. It should be exactly the same as on their Alibaba profile.

NEVER send money to a personal bank account! This is the most typical scam played out on Alibaba – the supplier will tell you that they’re having a problem with their business account so please send the money to our boss’s account. NEVER do that! Money that goes to a personal bank account is often nothing more than money gone down the drain.

12. Payment Options

If the only payment methods a supplier accepts are Western Union and Money Gram, run away! I would never even consider dealing with such a supplier. And while not all suppliers in China will accept PayPal, a bank transfer to a company’s account should be a default payment method that is always available to use.

If they also accept Trade Assurance, a letter of credit or PayPal – even better! But never only Western Union or Money Gram!

The only time that I’m happy to use Western Union is when paying for samples as it’s quicker and cheaper to send small amounts via WU than to do a bank transfer.

That is all pretty straightforward, right? Excellent!

Conclusion

So that is my TOP 12 filters to use when looking for a new supplier on Alibaba. There are of course many more, smaller ones, like – watermarked pictures. If a supplier has their own, watermarked pictures on their Alibaba product showcase, it’s another good sign that it’s a legit supplier (scammers usually don’t have the time or resources to get unique product pictures).

watermark

But overall, if you follow these 12 verification steps to check new suppliers, the likelihood of you getting scammed on Alibaba is really, really small. Sure, you can get unlucky – no one is protected 100% and risk is part of any business but in general, you’ll stay safe and avoid scams on Alibaba if you follow my advice.

Lastly, let me quickly note that there’s a difference between getting scammed on Alibaba AND simply getting a bad supplier with low quality stock or a supplier who is lazy, unresponsive and doesn’t want to hear about your problems after the sale is made. There are good and bad suppliers everywhere – be it China, UK, Argentina or anywhere else!

That’s why you should always start with a sample order, just to test the product quality and the supplier’s reliability. If you’re happy with the sample order, place your first real order but still keep it to a relatively small size and increase your orders gradually. Why? Well what often happens is that suppliers send out a perfect sample but then if you go ahead with a massive first order, they could send you a lower quality product.

Ideally, you would want to do a factory inspection before you place your real order. This way you can verify that the supplier is actually what they appear to be and reduce the chance of you getting scammed to a minimum.

Verification is also important if you want to deal with manufacturers ONLY as many trading companies advertise themselves as manufacturers when actually they’re just a middle man and don’t have any manufacturing facilities. An inspection report will reveal the truth!

Well, that’s it for today. I really hope this helps you to stay out of trouble and avoid scams on Alibaba! As I said, there are actually not that many scammers left at all, but if you avoid branded goods and follow my 12 step verification process, your chances of getting scammed are reduced to an absolute minimum.

Just to educate yourself more on this topic, please check out my TOP 10 Scams on Alibaba article so you are familiar with the actions of a typical scammer and got spot them before it’s too late.

Thanks,
Andrew

1,302 Comments
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  1. I’d be grateful for any advice.
    I am a 16 year old boy and I am very new to buying from Alibaba (Aliexpress specifically). I recently purchased three lots of resin flatback pieces with characters on them that clearly resemble Disney characters, and a lot of resin flatback pieces with the Molang bunny on them from a seller who did not state the characters’ names or company names in their title or description, and have few orders or feedback on what I purchased; I also didn’t ask for proof of a lisence agreement before the purchase. I am very suspicious as I didn’t know about this whole thing before I purchased and now I’m worried I could get into trouble for ordering these items.
    It was a mistake on my part for not researching into ordering from Alibaba or into the shop more, and I still don’t know if it’s okay for me to have ordered these products.
    I may be overreacting (I have autism, etc. and it’s very hard for me to understand the severity of situations) but I just want to be safe.

    I’d be incredibly grateful for any advice on this!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sketch,

      NO, in general it is not ok to buy such items from Ali Express (Alibaba, China in general) with Disney characters on them.

      I’m almost certain that they’re not officially licensed so you’re essentially buying fakes/copies.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thank you for replying,

        Could I get into trouble for ordering these? I’m really worried about it.
        And do you have any advice on what to do about it, then?

        Again, thank you, I’ll make sure to be way more careful now I’ve read about all of this.

  2. Its actually not funny at all. This is my story on alibaba on the 7th of july 2018. I wanted to buy play station 4 ,i contacted the supplier which we agreed, he later aaked me to pay trough western union which i did to my surprise they didnt receive the money i was asked to go back and remove the question and answer claming that WU didnt pay them for one week ,i wrote a modification Letter to WU to Release the money . He later told me to cancel it and do Bitcoin which i did. After the received the money they told me that shipping fee has increased that i hav to add to my order to justify the shipping fees which i did. They later sent me a track number which i rested my mind after 3 days he called me and asked me to pay custom fees or else they will clear my goods. I requested for My county account details which they refused to give me,i requested for the ship company contact they refused ,i rejected that . they later told mebif i am ready i should get intouch. I clicked in my track number all my details came up on the shipping compay. I have bn buyiny on alibaba paying on alibaba link n i am getting my goods. Pls something much be done .i am sad because i am a pregnant woman.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Tosin,

      I’m sorry to hear you have been scammed. Buying a Play Station on Alibaba was a very, very bad idea…

      You can’t get such branded electronics on Alibaba – they are all scams.

      You will never see your money again, nor that Play Station.

      Andrew

  3. Hi!amazing article!unfortunately i was first time dealing on alibaba and first time scam.just send the money in ,,boss account”.its any chance to recover my money?any ideea?
    thank you

    1. Andrew Minalto

      No, sorry Eduard – that money is gone for good if they scammed you.

      There’s no way to reverse such a bank transfer.

      Andrew

  4. Hi there and thanks for you blog here. It really helped me a lot. I found a company on alibaba that is 1st year gold since a couple of months and I was not sure if I should trust them. Also they had no reviews whatsoever and they said it is because you only see reviews when you sell in china. The company is actually somewhere in the EU but as they cant provide ANY other security for me I wont buy from them. I mean in the chat with the company owner he even told me I should then go an buy from china-sellers a copy if I need a trustworthy money-transaction. Rude imho! What you guys say to this? Is 1st year gold seller enough or what else can I take a look? I didnt find a homepage from them either.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      What is the product you’re after? Is it anything branded?

  5. I’m dealing with a clothing supplier that has 1yr golden supplier onsite check and advised me to use Trade Assurance. So I did I am very new to this. Should be worried I’m being scammed??

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, you should always be “worried” when dealing with suppliers on Alibaba.

  6. Apurva Rajguru

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for this great post. I am in process of vetting suppliers for my upcoming online store. I have used all the filters you mentioned. I also came across the “Business Performance” section in Company Profile. I see that for suppliers with good track record of Gold Supplier, Supplier assessment, Onsite check and even a factory video there is no information or very little information about their transactions or reviews. Is it normal on Alibaba for suppliers to not have this information posted. I got jittery about one supplier who was 11 year Gold and was very responsive but had zero reviews or transaction history posted. Just wanted to know if this is a norm?

    Thanks,
    Apurva

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, that is quite common as not all suppliers will offer/place orders via Alibaba so they may not have any transactions or reviews.

      This fact alone at least would not raise any red flags to me.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  7. I buy a large amount of goods on Alibaba for import in to Canada. Here are the three most important tips:
    1) ALWAYS use trade assurance orders and pay through the Alibaba site. Yes there are some small fee’s for this, but a little money now could save you a lot later.
    2) MAKE SURE the exact product descriptions and full quality requirements are clearly stated on the trade assurance order – not just on the invoice or in an email.
    3) ALWAYS pay for a sample and get it in your hands first before buying in bulk. Most companies will give you a free sample, you just pay the freight. It costs a little but you need to know exactly what you are getting.

    1. Sorry I forgot 1 more – there four really important things!

      For bulk orders use a freight forwarding company with an office in (or close) to your city, that speaks your language, that also has an office at the port the goods will be shipped from. DO NOT use shipping from the Alibaba MFG. It is much cheaper to do it yourself, and they will understand how to clear customs in both China and your home country. Also, if issues arise it is easier to communicate with a local company. K&N is always a good choice.

  8. Thank you that information is very helpful!!! I wish I would’ve came across this a month ago. I made a huge mistake that cost me $1,600 dealing with someone from Pakistan. No Trade Assurance, no on site check and etc.. The samples that this guy sent me were terrible! Nothing what I asked for, not the color, not the size, nothing… anyway the payment that I made was through western union, which I now know was a big mistake. He’s giving me all type of excuses why he can’t send me my money back.. The company name is I.M International, and he goes by the name Usman Ali. That company cannot produce anything on their website it’s all false! So plz people, be careful.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks for sharing this with us Mike and next time be more careful.

      Andrew

  9. Thank you for sharing this really valuable advise Andrew, I wish I had seen this earlier! I have now been trading on Alibaba for a while and wanted to share a problem I encountered. I received several samples one week, however one of the suppliers failed to place a dot in the right place on the invoice. My $10.00 sample suddenly became a $1000 product liable for import duties! My top tip would be to always check the delivery paperwork and invoice prior to signing for anything overseas!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks for sharing this with us Trevor!

      You have been extremely un-lucky with this as I have never heard of this specific situation/problem.

      Andrew

  10. Thanks for info
    I ordered 8 graphics cards and paid by cryptocurrency and if it were a scam it’s no big deal. But they wrote to me that mistakenly sent 200 cards instead but I can have them for free.
    I have from the beginning realized it’s a scam but when they suddenly wanted more money for taxes and customs.. within EU, right 😀 I told them to take it all back because I will not sign anything if something really shows up, which I doubt. Have you heard anything like this before?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Lol, sorry – that’s a very creative SCAM indeed! 🙂

      You will never see your money back, not talking about any cards.

      Alibaba is NOT the place to look for such graphics cards – you will either get scammed or receive fakes.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  11. Hey Andrew,
    I’m about to buy 5 containers of solar panels. You think it’s common to require balance paid in full prior to shipment. Should I be afraid it they won’t accept a Letter of Credit for at least part of the payment?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Chris,

      Of course – if it’s your first order with a supplier, everyone will ask for full balance paid prior shipping.

      L/C can be used, yes, if the supplier accepts it but not everyone will.

      So make sure you have done full factory inspection, verified supplier + pre-shipmen inspection on your order to see that everything is legit.

      Andrew

  12. Shimon mamruko

    Hi andrew,
    Unfortunately I didn’t read this article -and I was scammed by 3,300$.
    Is there anything I can do?

    Thanks!
    Shimon

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Not much you can do, no.

      If you paid via TT, WU or MG – that money is gone for good.

  13. Christine Ryan

    THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH FOR THIS!! I was about to make my first purchase. I inquired on Alibaba and was rerouted to a company in the US.
    The area code was.from Illinois, but it was clearly a satellite call, with a delay. The person on the line had an African accent, and would not take PayPal. Area code from Illinois, African accent, telling me he’s from Spain, and payment address in Kentucky. Then he.began to pressure me, and said Money gram was required to “speed up the order.” He almost had a temper tantrum . I was JUST about to pay when I thought of checking about scamming online. And so I asked him to all me and I’m so glad I did.
    THANKS AGAIN.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Christine,

      I’m very pleased to hear that! 🙂

      It was a 100% scam and good for you that you did not send any money yet!

      Andrew

  14. Luka Peljhan

    Dear Andrew,

    I wish I would of read your words before my first deal here. I was actually so “stupid” that I trusted the seller who had cheap merchendise, that I payed him in advance in crypto currency and ofcourse instead of getting the items now I am getting various excuses why the goods did not arrive yet and that they sent too many of the items and i need to pay more before the transport goes on (like it is on hold until I pay more…).

    How does Alibaba deal with those scammers, do their profiles get deleted? I have sent a report but did not get a reply yet in 24h.

    Thanks for the article again, lesson learned.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Lesson learned indeed….

      Was it a FREE Alibaba profile or Gold Supplier?

  15. Jack Sinclair

    Hi Andrew,
    For my small clothing business I am looking to buy 50 shirts from a manufacturer and they seem to checkout when it comes to being “legit”, but something is throwing me off. They are asking me to pay for the 50 shirts before a sample is even produced and when I asked if I could only pay for the sample, they dodged it and told me basically I had to pay for the 50 first. What do you suggest I do?
    Thanks so much,
    Radical Roost

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jack,

      That does sound fishy indeed…

      Sample is sample – it should be just one unit.

      I would recommend you look for a different supplier.

      Andrew

  16. Marlon Alvarez

    Hi Andrew,

    I have some doubts, i’m trying to purchase an electronic food truck from china to import here to the US. I was told by the customs broker that i need to make sure the food truck meets US Vehicle Standards but neither does he or me know what that means. Do you know? I also google it but i couldn’t understand it. Also i ask the supplier if they ever exported to the US that electric food truck and they said no. So i’m guessing it might not meet US Vehicle Standards. If you can help please. Thank you!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Marlon,

      Just don’t do it, seriously.

      You will get in so much trouble, costs, and plus there’s a chance of you getting scammed.

      Alibaba is not the place for you to buy a food truck.

      Andrew

  17. NewbieRiskTaker

    Andrew, have found your site most helpful. About ready to make a very sizable purchase of almost $30k and my first purchase on Alibaba. Everything about the supplier seems legit and to follow your “rules”… is through Trade Assurance, I ordered product inspection, they have had an Onsite Check, etc, etc.. and we are paying nearly $700 extra just for an extra layer of protection by paying thru Visa. The one thing giving me pause before sending the funds is simply that:

    -Trade Assurance order details show companies proper company name and address etc.
    -Trade Assurance Purchase Contract at TOP of contract shows everything matching exactly what is on their Alibaba store in terms of address, and what is anything Alibaba-wise.
    -However, where I am having pause is that in section 4.8 of the same contract, it is the “Beneficiary” info for payment. It has the proper company name. It is a Citibank account. BUT, that listed beneficiary address (not to be confused with beneficiary *bank* address) states a Singapore address. It is an address of a major financial center that is 21 stories tall and legit financial center… but is this reason for red flags?

    I had intended to send payment today, but will probably wait to see how they reply since I have inquired with supplier and awaiting their reply.

    Certainly appreciate your opinion at your earliest convenience in the meantime, thanks!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Very hard to say or give advice in such situations as I don’t know all the details and I can’t take the risk telling you YES or NO! There are no guarantees…

      I would wait for what supplier has to say about this and then just use common sense.

      But I see that you have made some good checks, including inspection etc. and if the product is not high risk product, it should be all good.

      Andrew

  18. Lacy sooner

    So I placed my second order with a seller. We’ve been working out details for a month. She didn’t ask me for money until last week. She sent an invoice to my email and when i opened the email, PayPal came up and said sign in. I sent her a message and told her to have her accounting dept to send to my paypal with my email. She did, but i just noticed the payment is to her. I have an invoice from the company, but the actual payee was in Chinese and I couldn’t read it. I went back and copied and pasted to google translate and it was her name. It’s only been two days, what is your suggestion?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Lacy,

      Thanks for your comment.

      It’s very hard to give any definite advice here as situations can be different and at the end of the day it all comes down to supplier – how genuine and legit it is.
      describe it.
      Usually I say NEVER send money to personal accounts in China, only ones in company’s name. But this advice is more applicable to normal bank transfers. With PayPal it is slightly different and sometimes suppliers will have PayPal accounts under personal names.

      Now, this does NOT mean that they’re 100% legit. I’m just saying that this fact alone wouldn’t prove it.

      As always, I recommend you do a pre-shipment inspection on the goods so you know at least they’re for real:

      https://andrewminalto.com/pre-shipment-inspection/

      And do throughout supplier verification of course, even before you do inspection.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  19. Gary Davids

    HI Andrew
    Thank you so much for providing this kind of information .
    If i order some basic product such as kitchen cleaning pad , and ask them to pack as my brand name . do i get any trouble to selling on amazon ? since the patten is not mine and there are tons of same product listed .
    also, the supplier page indicated the Shanghai port , does it mean i need to taking care after to ship from shanghai port to Los Angeles ?

    Thank you

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Gary,

      Thanks for your comment.

      You can do that yes, it’s called Private Labelling. As long as the product is not patented you can simply put your brand name/logo on the product and/or packaging and sell it on Amazon.

      As for shipping – yes, usually you want to use a freight forwarder to handle shipping from the port in China to your address. Supplier can also arrange shipping for you but I recommend you use freight forwarder to avoid any hidden fees.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  20. Do you need a registered company to buy on alibabi? Or can you make personal purcheses?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Paul,

      No, you don’t need a registered company to buy on Alibaba – individuals can do business there too.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  21. Hi!
    Thank you for article, it’s very helpful!
    I want to make my first order on Alibaba.
    Find assessed supplier and he sent me proforma invoice in Excel file in email and invoice to Paypal.
    In Invoice in Paypal I see only total. All the other information in Excel file in email.
    I think this supplier is trusted but want to ask you is it normal way that all information not in Paypal invoice but in Excel file? Can I use this Excel file in dispute if something going wrong?
    Thank you!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Artem,

      No, you won’t be able to use that Excel file in any disputes.

      But yes, it is normal to have a detailed invoice sent separately (usually as a PDF document) and then simply have PayPal request for the total amount.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  22. Hi Andrew,

    New to this all! Just wondering whether you can buy wholesale from aliexpress, without alibaba involved. I have been told that only consumers are able to purchase from aliexpress while alibaba is for retailers?
    Thankyou!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Louise,

      Anyone can buy from AliExpress and you can buy in wholesale quantities there too.

      Nothing stops you from buying 10, 50 or 100 items from Ali Express.

      It usually has discounts on higher quantities too.

      Andrew

  23. Hi Andrew

    I run a party supplies business and occasionally purchase via Alibaba.

    I’m currently talking to a business that supplies confetti but am dubious about placing an order.

    I requested payment via PayPal & they’ve said they don’t have it set up and would prefer Visa or MasterCard. I usually prefer to only pay via Paypal!

    They’re a 1 year gold supplier. I usually try to deal with only 2+ years.

    They’ve had an onsite check & supplier assessment completed.

    I’ve tried to do some due diligence. I cant find a website with the same domain ending as their email address. Their telephone area code is correct for their advertised location. There’s one photo of a trade show at which they’re advertising as having exhibited at.

    I’ve looked at some of their certification. The company name on their certificates is similar but not identical to theirs, with the same General Manager name.

    Should I run a mile?!

    Many thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Its very hard to say/give any advice based on this information, sorry…

      My first reaction is – the product is really no that unique or difficult to source – so why not just look for more established supplier?

      But if you want to work with this supplier, I would do a factory inspection on them first:

      https://andrewminalto.com/china-factory-inspection/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew

        Many thanks for your speedy response!

        It’s a very specific shape of confetti that I’m looking for for one of my clients. It’s not run of the mill so I’m trying to find a supplier that can create custom designs & these guys are saying they can do a custom mould.

        I’ve asked them if they are happy to accept payment via Trade Assurance and what they can offer sample wise so will see what they come back with.

        I will either get a factory inspection arranged or look elsewhere I think…

        Many thanks

  24. Hi Andy

    Quick question I have been told that bank puts a charges on the top of the goods price for the payment made. can you clarify pls.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mik,

      Yes, of course – there’s a fee involved in making international bank transfers.

      It is usually a fixed fee, not % and you know exactly what the fee will be before making the payment.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  25. Hi Andrew,
    Excellent article!
    I just heard about kitset houses for sale on Alibaba. I’d like to ask if you know of any site that has reviewed these houses or sellers? Google hasn’t turned anything up for me.

    Thanks!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Sorry, can’t help you with that one.

  26. Rachel Pitman

    Hi Andrew, I hope you can shed some light on my problem. I’m having problems paying for an order on alibaba. I paid my supplier for the samples through card and they came through fine no problems. However, I’ve put in a bigger order and now it’s declining the payments, I rang my bank and they said it’s not being declined on their end and I tried several different cards— still no luck. My supplier agreed to accept payment via PayPal. However, when I asked her to put all information in the invoice (items, how many of each, company address etc) because the one she originally sent was very vague, she said that it didn’t allow that much information in the invoice. I made the invoice myself on PayPal and sent it to my personal account and it was fine and working with all the added information of the stock (colours/numbers etc). Do you think that the she is trying to scam me? I don’t understand why she won’t add all the relevant information that I’ve askef and is saying that it’s not possible when I’ve tried it for myself and it worked. If this information is not on the PayPal invoice will it affect anything if the products don’t show and I need to make a claim?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Rachel,

      Thanks for your comment.

      It does sound a bit dodgy to me… But maybe they just don’t have those tools available in PayPal?

      In general, scammers don’t accept PayPal as they can’t scam you with PayPal payments – you can get your money back if things go wrong.

      So I would ask supplier to simply send you commercial invoice separately – as a PDF file with all the details you need. And then you can simply make payment via PayPal.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  27. is it possible for a company to be a 8th year gold member, but doesn’t offer trade assurance

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, it is possible.

  28. Hi ! I just pass my firt order ( small one to starts 10 pcs) ~ 240$ with a reliable supplier, 5 years gold, accept paypal, trade assurance .. we talk on alibaba messenger to start, and continue on whatapps and confirm the order on whatapps, so I pay by paypal..? Is it ok to do it this Way?
    And should I have to pay some other fee like custom ? ( im from canada)
    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Bryan,

      Yes, for such super small order it is ok to pay directly via PayPal.

      And yes, you’ll most likely pay taxes when goods arrive in the Canada. Shipping company will then inform you about this.

      Andrew

  29. Hello,

    I am new to Alibaba.com and I was planning to buy something that would cost me $15,000. I had to put a 30% down payment and the seller only offers the Pre-Shipment Trade Assurance. After making the deposit payment I would like to cancel the order because I am not sure that I can trust this seller, I am afraid that I can loose the remaining balance because only the deposit would be covered. I’ve requested a refund that was declined by the seller and the alibaba.com. What can I do next, how can I get my deposit back. My order will only ship after the full payment is made.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Alina,

      What payment method did you use?

      But in general – deposits you can’t get back! That’s why they’re called deposits – you pay this money so manufacturer can buy raw materials etc. and do the production. If you ask for your deposit back now, manufacturer is out of pocket for your order as probably already started the manufacturing process.

      Andrew

      1. Hello Andrew,

        Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to me!

        I did pay the down payment with my debit card.

        Thank you,

        Alina

        1. Andrew Minalto

          If it was a debit card (and not credit card), the payment can’t be reversed anymore.

  30. Hi Andrew,
    Nice article, it’s really informative.
    I found some very cheap brand names on AliBaba and they say it’s original. Should I believe it? An original ps4 for 150 dollars? Or should I get a sample and check it? Is there really authentic brands on AliBaba? I have a feeling it’s a scam, especially because the payment method is western union and money gram.
    Thanks!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mike,

      And what do you think? 🙂

      Of course it is a 100% SCAM!!! You can’t get PS4 consoles for $150 on Alibaba and no where else for that matter.

      Alibaba is NOT the place you look for such branded goods.

      Andrew

  31. Hi Andrew,
    I have a potential supplier that is a 9 years Gold supplier.
    Their premises has been checked and they’ve been verified by a 3rd party
    They have trade assurance (though they don’t want to use it. They say the order is too small)
    They’ve done a reasonable amount of business (transaction history)
    Their website is a godaddy site registered in 2008 (how old they say they are)

    BUT… they refuse to do the transaction through Alibaba (they say Alibaba doesn’t like to deal with things less than a $1000) and that paypal hasn’t been used for chemicals since 2006 – both of these statements were redflags for me. I offered to pay the extra fees for paypal even. Then she flat out told me her company doesn’t use paypal.

    Is it common for a well established company to occasionally jerk around `small fish`? She seemed reasonably willing to accommodate before the payment part. Could it be that its just too little to consider trade assurance?? Its $230 – the company is Health Sources Nutrition Co., Ltd. (anhui)

    Thanks in advance Andrew!

    1. So… they have the seal for a 9 year gold member… but in the company profile Alibaba verifies that the company was established in 2010? Also their website dates to 2008. Are these date discrepancies a red flag?

      1. Andrew Minalto

        Not really, no, at least for me that wouldn’t be the biggest issue.

    2. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mark,

      I quickly checked that company and at first glance they look all good to me (that is not a guarantee).

      But obviously $230 is a VERY small order for a company like this, very small. They’re spending more time with you that they can get in return from your order. As it is such a small order, I would personally just take the risk and use bank transfer for it. You won’t go bankrupt if it all fails, right?

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  32. HI Andrew, Great Information in your article! I am new to the import scene and am looking to make a deal with a 5 year gold company on alibaba who is verified. Everything seems legit, I checked the company website start date as you recommended and it lines up with their 5 year gold status. What scares me is they want me to send the deposit directly to their bank ($1050.00), which does match with who they are, and bypass alibaba. They say it’s to save them on “tax” which really might just mean “fees” because my order would be less then the normal MOQ.
    Does this All sound kind of normal to you?
    Thanks, Mike

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mike,

      It is a common practice but of course it is risky for you.

      If you’re not willing to take the risk, maybe agree on paying the Alibaba fee, at least for your first order, so it goes through Trade Assurance?

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Well, Thank You for the helpful tips on your site Andrew! I have made a few transactions on Alibaba since my original post here and have not had any issues. Thanks Again!
        Mike

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Good stuff Mike! 🙂

  33. So is it normal to go through paypal? I see under the transaction level bit you say that most payments are done outside the Trade Assurance. I was ordering a sample product and was brought to email to do discuss things. Through there they asked if I wanted to do paypal. I wanted to keep it through the website for safety, but it wouldn’t accept my credit card. I feel like I will get my sample, but I’m worried if we do this for the bulk product I won’t have the same kind of protection as the trade assurance policy. And maybe this is a way of them scamming people. Gaining their trust with the sample.

    The company is a 3 on transactions and they are a 5 year Gold Supplier but I don’t see anything about supplier assesments.

    I just want to be a little more prepared for when the real money comes out. Would love some thoughts. Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sal,

      Yes, it’s perfectly normal to use PayPal when dealing with Alibaba suppliers, ESPECIALLY for samples.

      In fact, PayPal is my PREFERRED payment method as it does give you protection by default plus very rarely suppliers who take PayPal play tricks/scam you (as with PayPal it’s very hard to do – PayPal will side with the buyer in case of something goes wrong).

      And for samples PayPal is actually the most commonly used payment method.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  34. Good Afternoon Andrew,
    I found your website to be very informative. I personally have been dealing with Chinese manufacturers for some years now. Started before Alibaba came into existence and still dabble here and there when ever I get one of my “great” ideas. I have read through the comments here and it appears a lot of people don’t understand what they are dealing with….manufacturers and wholesalers….it’s a whole different world from buying retail. They old saying “to good to be true” has always applied. You want a laptop? Go to a store….same with a bike or a phone….there is NO FREE RIDE folks. I was raised in retail and more than anything else a relationship needs to be established with the company you are dealing with…they don’t want your onetime order…..they want a relationship and a steady flow of business from them to you. This is a business that deals in bulk and resellers do a whole lot of research and are very diligent if they want to be successful. It’s not easy and it’s not for everyone….I could go on all long about this. Good day to you Andrew, Suzanne

    1. One more thing for people importing bulk merchandise from foreign countries……..there are Customs agents that get a reasonable fee to take care of the red tape and the complications of Customs…..Use them!

    2. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks for your comment Suzanne, you’re absolutely right! 🙂

      Andrew

  35. Hi Andrew, I read your article. I was wondering if can help me with it, please: I have recently purchased one trial order for 200 pcs with Trade Assurance, and today the supplier sent me this email: The product yesterday already shipping to Amazon. But we are make a order in alibaba have a problem. Need you help us to confirm it.
    We go for this shipment need to separate customs declaration, but we said before is not separate customs declaration.So now I need to modify the delivery time, and then trouble you received an email later to help us make “confirmation but don’t remit” . is ok ?
    Or alibaba refund to you, you again payment to our TT, ok?
    Which way do you want to make it?

    So, what do you think about it? what must to be my next step?
    Thank you!!!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      I don’t even understand what they say in the message so can’t really help with any advice…

      1. Me neither. Now she changed the delivery time and she asked me: “could you make Cancel the order, but not a refund? Because the products already sent to Amazon.”

        She says: They shipped the products in a single customs declaration, but alibaba now require separate customs declaration, but the goods is sent, can’t separate customs declaration, for the sake of your account credit and my account on alibaba.We need your help to confirm. ”

        I have checked the tracking number in UPS and says: The package is awaiting clearing agency review. / The package is at the clearing agency awaiting final release. Alternate Tracking Number 1ZE7295X0476549953.

        She tries to confuse me to cancel the order and keep the money, or at least get us trade assurance, rigth?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          This sounds like a scam attempt to me, with a fake tracking number or something.

          DO NOT cancel your TA order!!!

          Andrew

  36. It is possible to be scammed by a gold supplier? (2 years)
    So i just made the first Payment to move on with the order, i tried to make all the research around the company and everithing seemed ok so i moved on with the payment with paypal (registered with the company email)
    but after i did it, i googled the phonenumber of the seller (marketing dpt) i found the same contact phonenumber /whatsapp/skype on a different alibaba product (wich is kinda related but a total different company) but with an email address of a page no longer exists (@solutionindy.com)…
    i dont know what to think please help

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Conan,

      It’s impossible for me to tell what’s going on there….

      Could be group of companies? Or say an employer who worked recently in that other company…

      You should ask the supplier and see what their explanation is.

      Andrew

  37. Andrew,

    I’m dealing with a Trading Company that suppots Trade Assurance, but messaged me that they don’t accept paments through Alibaba, only Paypal, credit card, Western Union, TT. They have a Gold Key Supplier rating on PayPal.

    They also said that I can send the payment as “friend or family” by PayPal to avoid the 4.4% fee. They seem legite in my due dilgence, but the Trade Assutance issue and offering to send a “friend or family” is worrying me. They also don’t have a lot of sales listed on Alibaba and my understanding is the listed sales were made through Trade Assurance.

    They are verified also on Alibaba.

    What do you think?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Steven,

      I don’t know whatever they’re legit or not BUT NEVER send money as gift via PayPal!!! (to avoid fee).

      As these payments don’t come with protection by PayPal.

      So this does sound dodgy to me…

      Andrew

  38. Andrew,

    Thank you so much for the incredibly informative article.

    I followed the above advice as I was sourcing some heat-shrinking tubing, and I have been going back and forth with “Guanghai Electronic Insulation Materials Co., Ltd.”. Their Alibaba profile and website seem legitimate, and the contact there was very helpful. We ordered some samples and received them, and they meet our expectations.

    However, today I wanted to dive deeper into the company, and while I was doing so I found a page on their Alibaba site that displayed the contact info of the person I had been talking to, except his email address was different. This different email address ended in “eeletech.com”. I was curious so I Googled it, and found out it’s a company that makes selfie sticks and other electronic stuff. However, it appears that their website is no longer functioning, as all links lead to the Guanghai Alibaba site for electronic insulation.

    This made me even more suspicious, so I used whois.com to search the domain of both Guanghai Electronic Insulation and Eeletech. The Guanghai site was registered as recently as November 2016, which concerns me by itself because their Alibaba profile claims they have been a manufacturer for 7 years. When I searched the Eeletech domain I found it was registered to HICHINA ZHICHENG TECHNOLOGY LTD. A quick google search of this company brought up a bunch of results regarding scams. Apparently HICHINA has over 300 domains that all seem legitimate but are actually scams. Even though the Guanghai domain is not registered to HICHINA, the connection between the two has me concerned. Am I way overthinking this, or is this a company I shouldn’t do business with?

    Thank you again for all of the helpful information,

    Jared

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jared,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I can’t really give you a definite answer without doing a full investigation on my own BUT in general – IF things look suspicious, look for alternative suppliers!

      Heat-shrinking tubing is not a unique or hard to find product – there are hundreds of suppliers that offer these products on Alibaba, so just contact other suppliers, get samples etc. and go with a company that are “clean”.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  39. Hi Andrew

    Thanks for this article and post.
    I have done most of what you stated, ordered from a 6 year Gold Supplier and paid by PayPal. Filed a report with PayPal, got nowhere.

    The company is Houdeled.com, Guangzhou Houde Lighting Appliance Co., Ltd.
    I would like to share my story with your readers;

    I have not filed a report with Alibaba yet, because I paid with PayPal. do you know how I should file with Alibaba since it was an offsite burchace?

    If anyone is thinking of doing business with Houdeled.com, Guangzhou Houde Lighting Appliance Co., Ltd. Think again!

    More than likely you are doing your due diligence trying to determine if Houde Lighting Appliance Co is a good company to do business with, or if you will have problems with them, the products that they say they manufacture, or the Houde family staff. Well you came to the right place here’s why:

    First I get a price for the products we decide to order, and then they used the old bait and switch the product and charge us more money for the same product.

    Then after we paid in advance we had to wait months for your order. They claimed it was a mistake in manufacturing paperwork. Then once we received their product it was fond to be defective, so if you order from them you may end up suffering the following dilemma many others have.

    After you receive the order and find out that the products were defective, they will try to extort more money from you for the replacement of the defective products. Then they will say that they made new products for you, and hold it for ransom, until you send them more money. After accepting there ransom demands, they will stop responding to your emails, and you will not receive the new products.

    Bottom line this company conducts themselves in a bad business like fashion and practices false and deceptive business practices, they keep thinking of new ways to scam you out of more money.

    This is a true story of the dilemma we has had with them. We received defective products, and were never refunded, and never received a good replacement of the defective products, the company made lots of guarantees, bait and switched the original order with cheep substitutes, then tried to extort more money, and even held the replacement good with a ransom demand for more money.

    If you are thinking of doing business with Houdeled.com, Guangzhou Houde Lighting Appliance Co., Ltd. Think again!

    Dealing with China Companies is a crap shoot. We relied on the emailed communication between us and the company to be reliable, everything was shipped insured, so we knew we would receive the products, which we did, but all there emailed communications turned out to all be false. They gave us there assurance and guarantee, (which even covered “what if we received defective lights, and they said it would all be replaced at no costs to us”) which all turned out to be 100% false.

    All we can do now is hope that our experience in dealing with Houdeled.com, Guangzhou Houde Lighting Appliance Co., Ltd. and post on sites like this and http://www.houdeledreviews.com/ in order to Help someone else from getting ripped off and do business with another LED light manufacture and hope that there products are made better and will arrive with no defects.

  40. Dear Andrew

    I have been facing this strange problem while trying to place orders on alibaba, using trade assurance. My suppliers draft the order and everything is perfect but when I click on send initial payment I see an error stating “credit card payment not supported for this order”. Now I am unable to place any orders as the payment isnt being processed. i used my credit card just fine day before yesterday to make a payment for $900. Alibaba support is not at all helpful, they say the payment has been blocked for security reason to protect your payment., kinldy use a different card. But I am unable to do anything on the payments page as the add card option is greyed out. I have tried creating a new account but still the same issue. Any advice on what the problem might be?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sam,

      I’m sorry but I have never experienced this and obviously can’t provide any support on Alibaba’s behalf.

      You’ll have to sort this out with Alibaba directly.

      Andrew

    2. eddy van bavel

      I tried using my mastercard while shopping in alibaba, the symbol for mastercard was advertised, I had the same email, saying for security reasons it could not process, the reason was the seller only used a Citibank account to do business, he email me with a paypal account to buy his goods. so far nothing to worry about,

  41. Alibaba Trade Assurance seems to be a real SCAM. It works so: You see advertisements everywhere “Let Us Protect Your Orders from Payment to Delivery” , but it is not working, you will not get any refund. There are number of reason for that. Alibaba dispute team defends only Chinese sellers, but not buyers. It looks they have reasons to do that, that is big business. We can publish detailed information of our case when we applied to refund because the seller did not fulfill his obligations. In our case seller has Gold status and good rating, but anyway did not fulfill the contract.

  42. Hey man. I’ve been trying to find a graphics card supplier and I’ve stumbled upon a 7 years gold supplier who had an onsite check and claims to support Trade Assurance. He however refuses to use Trade Assurance when asked. Instead they insist that they only payment options available are Western Union and money gram . They say the are located in United Arab Emirates and that my order will be at my doorstep 3 days after payment confirmation(I live in central Europe). He also claims to have graphics cards for sale even though their company produces optical lenses according to their alibaba profile. They also include ridiculous discounts for said graphics cards “buy 10 get 8 free” kind of deal. It’s 100% a very successful scam right? I’m saying successful because they can afford to pay for the gold status for 7 years. I reported them to alibaba.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jan,

      Of course it’s a scam, 10%, stay away!!!

      And stop wasting your time looking for such products on Alibaba – they will ALL be scams.

      Andrew

    2. Jan,
      What the scammers do is hack the profile of 7-year gold supplier and put the graphics cards on the front page. Look closer, and you will see that the products offered by the genuine owner of the profile are not graphics cards.

      1. Andrew Minalto

        Yep, exactly!

        That’s a very classic scheme.

  43. Thanks for this insight. Very helpful article. I have been in conversations with Suppliers through Alibaba and they always reply back to my gmail. Outside of the messaging system within. Is that normal?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Anna,

      Yes, that is normal and common practice.

      It doesn’t really make any difference.

      Andrew

  44. Lisa Nixon

    I want to buy baby milk from them but they want ,western union payment. My friend bought from them and had to go to New Jersey to pick up her items,when they said they would deliver to your door. but-she still owes them money. Which company is best Alibaba or express? i want o but A2 plantunm milk very popular .

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You want to buy baby milk, from China?

      Seriously???

      1. Mike Rovison

        I am seriously laughing out loud!

        1. Andrew Minalto

          ha-ha! 🙂

  45. Hey Andrew, I have a supplier that will sell 5 yeti branded coolers for half the price that we can get them here in the states. Too good to be true?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      yes, exactly – too good to be true.

      1. Andrew, my heart is broken. i own/run a no kill sanctuary, and noticed that many people were selling very low cost animal products on ebay. well, going down the lone farther i learned they were buying from china. well, i did some research and communicated with a seller from china who assured me that all the products his company sold were fully tested, and i would get a COA (certificate of analysis with each order). so i ordered an item. FAKE, it killed 10 dogs in 30 minutes. they were dying so fast i was literally running back and forth trying to dose activated charcoal into them, and or peroxide to make them puke. no way to stop this. the item i bought is supposed to be very safe on dogs as it only affects animals with shells like fleas. well, whatever poison they sold me, it wasnt what i ordered. i kow i was an idiot for ordering from overseas. i live with this everyday. i break down and just sob every day. the guilt is killing me. what i saw that day is engraved in my mind and heart. PLEASE do not buy any chemicals from anywhere overseas if you plan on using it for anything that lives! or they may not live anymore!

  46. Thanks for this Andrew!
    I did a google search and found your write up.. but I’m still unsure if the seller is legitimate.
    He has a lot of things going for him..
    Trade Assurance, 1yr Gold status, accepts PayPal..
    but he also sells branded products at hugely discounted rates, apparently with all the original documentation, warranties, etc.. and minimum order of 1 piece too!
    The only negative thing (if any) is that he takes more than 72 hours to respond to queries (based on the response percentage)
    …so given that, and your write-up, I’m still uncertain if it’s safe to trade with him (via PayPal)

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mishu,

      What kind of branded products? What brands?

      But 99% that it is a scam.

      Andrew

      1. it’s an msi brand laptop.
        ..so what you’re saying is that even though the supplier accepts PayPal and alibaba Trade Assurance and is Gold Supplier and on site checked..
        it’s still 99% chance the laptop is fake?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          I say that it’s a 100% SCAM!!!!

          You can’t buy branded goods on Alibaba, especially branded electronics like MSI laptops.

  47. Jennifer Wohl

    Hi I read your article. I am only wanting to order one thing a bicycle. Was concerned that the bike would weigh more than what was stated and which seller assured me was correct. And would like to know I could get a full refund without me having to pay the shipping as I can imagine shipping would be high. So it actually says aliexpress. Anything you can tell me to help me out! I could send name of vendor! Sorry never ordered from them before. Use to Ebay, Amazon, and other companies in the Us.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jennifer,

      DON’T DO THIS!!!

      Shipping, import duty/VAT/customs fees – you’ll pay so much extra that it’s simply not worth doing it.

      With bulky items, China is the place to go ONLY if you order in BULK, not single items.

      Andrew

  48. Thank you! Well presented, objective, relevant and very insightful.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Jessica! 🙂

  49. Hello Andrew awesome info thanks,
    negotiated a deal with a 2nd year gold supplier with a limited transaction history, has aliexprexx store with only 9 transactions only positive, when i said lets do the transaction through trade assurance she responded. “Mel, with this 500pcs, we would like to go with PayPal as the qty is too small.” (only a $700 order)
    Does that seem legitimate or sketchy?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mel,

      Well, it is quite common for suppliers to refuse Trade Assurance for small orders (like yours).

      So it’s nothing unusual, no.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  50. Catherine Hoang

    Hey Andrew,

    I did make an order of shoes from one supplier located in Sichuan. The supplier i bought is sticked with 3rd year-Gold supplier and Trade Assurance. I also did check alot of their feedback before making transaction. I made deposit 50 percent of contract fee (7.000 usd) to their bank account.
    In our invoice, they’d committed to send their good after 25 working days since my deposit at May 10th 2017. However, about 1 month gone late, they not yet send to me. They’ve changed alot of staff working with us and they also can’t make sure the quality of goods like the sample sent to us before. I made cancellation to this order and required them to give me money back. They said NO. I feel i am cheated with this order and they don’t care their reputation on ablibaba when i said to them i will claim this case to alibaba support for offfline Trade team. I wonder whether or not alibaba can help me to do this case out.

    Thanks for your answer !

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Catherine,

      If you made the transaction via Trade Assurance and it clearly stated dispatch time, then you need to open a case with Trade Assurance and take it from there. You should be protected by Alibaba if they can’t deliver on time.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Catherine Hoang

        Hi Andrew, thank alot for your reply

        Unfortunately, i didn’t make transaction via Trade Assurance. The supplier is labeled with 3YR GOLD Supplier and Trade Assurance, and i thought that is enough reputation. I paid them via their bank account. I still keep their invoice in which there is dispatch time, and it is so lag behind.

        Alibaba Offline Trade Team did receive our dispute for this case. They said to me not worry about that they will process it. But I still worry about my money, it is big amount. Do you think Ablibaba can help me out.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          I don’t think they will help you, no, sorry.

          You can only get protection if you place your order via Trade Assurance.

          Andrew

  51. Brian Evans

    Hi Andrew
    Great information in this article. I did pretty much all you said on here, bought from a gold supplier (albeit 1 year) used Trade Assurance and paid through Alibaba. Unfortunately though the electric wheelchair I bought does not work and I have pursued through Alibaba’s dispute process and find them very thorough. They actually agree with me that I have a valid case and have threatened to remove the supplier from their site. The Company however are still refusing to honor their warranty and Alibaba have just gone quiet, be interesting to see if they follow through.

  52. Thank you for the information.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome! 🙂

  53. Hey Andrew,

    Thanks for taking the time to right this article. I had just a quick question; I’ve been in contact with a supplier, I had screened a product, negotiated a fair price but when it came down to payment I had suggested to the seller that I wished to use a credit card or even e-checking so I would be covere under Trade Assurrance but she insisted on Paypal. I ended up not wanting to go that route as I had read that Paypal transactions done through alibaba don’t qualify for buyer protection the same way ebay and other sites might. Basically if I recieve a package within 45 days and open it, I can’t file a “not as described claim”. Does that sound right to you? Or have things changed in that regard? I’d appreciate your thoughts..

    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Justice,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Hmm, first time I hear about such rules… In general PayPal is very good method to use as I have seen PayPal reversing large transactions in favour of the buyer for goods not as described, without even asking to send them back to supplier.

      And suppliers know this and very rarely you’ll have problems with suppliers who take PayPal.

      You can read more about how PayPal protects your purchases here:

      https://www.paypal.com/webapps/mpp/buyer-protection

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  54. Hello, Andrew. Thanks for this informative article!!

    This is my second time using an Alibaba supplier and my first time using Trade Assurance for the transaction. We’ve been negotiating this deal for a couple of months and I’m ready to buy. He sends over the invoice and I see a $75 “insurance” fee. When asked what it is, he says that fee is for Alibaba customs clearance and that if I pay directly to his bank account then I won’t have to pay that fee just a $28 bank charge.

    I’ve searched and searched and see nothing about a customs clearance fee from Alibaba. In fact, Trade Assurance is supposed to be free for both buyer and seller. I’m thinking this is some type of bank fee associated with him using Alibaba.

    The guy has a good reputation on Alibaba and he seemed like a stand-up guy but this tiny bump in the road is making me skeptical now. I’m already spending over $3000 for the product and shipping PLUS the credit card processing fee on my end to pay him. I’ve already told him I disagree with the extra fees and we’ve gone back and forth a bit but I need to settle this.

    My questions are: Have you ever heard of or paid this insurance fee? Is this legit? Also, should I be paying his bank charges? Is this common practice?

    Your input and guidance would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Will,

      Thanks for your comment.

      In theory yes – Trade Assurance is FREE but in realty many suppliers do add extra fees when TA is involved. You can only communicate with supplier and resolve it best way you can as no one else can really help you with these situations. If the supplier is really good, I guess $70 on a $3000 won’t make such a big difference for you anyways. But if it’s a deal breaker, and supplier doesn’t change his mind, then you will simply have to look for a new supplier.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  55. Hi Andrew,
    Thanks for sharing this information to the world, I really appreciated it. Would you help me, I received my product (clothing) which mafe me unhappy, some stuff broken and so bad quality. they have trade assurance, gold supplier, and I paid thru MasterCard. what am I supposed to do now?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Astari,

      First of all you need to contact supplier and tell them that you’re not happy with the quality of items you have received and ask them to resolve this situation. If they’re not willing to do anything about it, open a case within Trade Assurance portal and take it from there.

      If everything else fails, do a charge back case with your credit card company to get your money back.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  56. Friend Oftruth

    hello again, Andrew

    Just had to write a quick note, after tucking my donkey tail back into my shorts and hiding my donkey ears under my hat. I feel like an…er, a donkey! Here I was thinking, “Oh, I must encourage this person for their thoughtfulness toward others and the great amount of time they have taken to answer the countless questions – a tedious task… and he’s not complaining. Wonderful…I will encourage him and applaud his efforts. Oh man…

    So why do I feel like the donkey? Well, AFTER I wrote my comment to you, I was checking out some of the links you posted in certain replies back to others. Stumbling upon one site, I see: About Me/Andrew Minalto.

    Imagine my surprise lol…good grief, you didn’t need my encouragement at all haha, you’re doing just fine. And you have a beautiful wife and daughter by the by! (I pray God puts a hedge of protection around your marriage, your family and all that concerns you all).

    Anyway, I merely had to awkwardly apologize for thinking you were some kind of newbie that had knowledge and wisdom about Aliexpress (Alibaba) and with a good heart set out to help and inform others, which I felt was generous and thoughtful and let’s encourage this person!

    lol bless ya Andrew and your family. Forgive my ignorance; I truly did not know who you are or any of your history; i just saw a good heart and wanted to show gratitude, appreciation and to encourage. I didn’t send this for publishing Andrew, but more to privately let you know that I truly did not know…anything about you…lol (i know u know what i mean)

    Be safe (you and yours) and thanks again, Andrew for all your hard work.

    Bonita P

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks a lot, really – you made my day! 🙂

      Andrew

  57. Friend Oftruth

    dear Andrew,
    I would like to take a moment to thank you for such a level-headed, in-depth review of Aliexpress aka Alibaba. You confirmed many of my thoughts such as taking time to check out the reputation of sellers; the feedback from legit customers on product quality, delivery time and basic professional (or non) interactions (if any has taken place).

    There are times that I will think of a couple of questions to ask a seller, such as sizing (clothing) and ask them to convert it to my country’s sizes, or is the product sized small or large…well, you get what I mean. I ask logical questions to see: (1) how quickly they respond (2) how accurate or how detailed the response (3) professionalism, and if they seem to value your business. It is just to get an idea of the sellers attitude, care for their reputation, concern for customer satisfaction, etc.

    Your review is written “straight from the hip” (lol – for lack of better expression at moment), informative and balanced (meaning it does not seem biased in any way, but (as stated) straight up).

    Andrew, you are spot on when you say that Alibaba (Aliexpress) is as Ebay or Amazon or such type of platforms. Again, it comes down to a little detective work (pass me the magnifying glass, Sherlocke) to keenly check the reviews, whether most are positive or negative, how long the company (seller) has been with Alibaba (or Ebay etc).

    Well, I seem to be repeating much of what you said but reworded (lol – not intentional) but you confirmed exactly what I had thought myself. Thank you Andrew for taking the time to share your knowledge and wisdom with others to aid in decision-making.

    It is true that so many just put “[company name] legit or scam (fraud) into Google search bar and viola, they see the words “scam, scam, scam and slam the door on a website without really grabbing that magnifying glass and putting their nose to ground (or laptop or smartphone lol small joke…very small joke).

    I found that Aliexpress (Alibaba) has some wonderful sellers, very professional, offering good quality products at amazing prices. I’m very new with them, but if readers will take heed to your heads up about it all, guaranteed there will be some happy buyers.

    Well, thanks for letting me ramble, Andrew. Keep up the good work! Kudos

    Bonita P

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks very much for your detailed comment & feedback!

      I really appreciate your kind words 🙂

      Andrew

  58. Hi Andrew,

    I ordered over $6000 worth of tableware sets from a manufacture on Alibaba. Before I made the order, I requested samples and they look good. I have been in touch with them for almost half a year by now and here comes the issue:

    The seller and I originally discussed about shipping out the goods on March 23rd. We are using a freight forward of their choice. However, we later decided to ship it on April 6th instead. The seller told me that they made an operational mistake and linked the order with the shipping date March 23rd when we first discussed. Now that date has passed and they later tried to correct it to April 6th on Alibaba. The system wouldn’t let them do it because it has passed the due date(March 23rd). They told me that they have been in touch with their Alibaba manager to fix this. However, they were told that there is no way to update the status now since they have violated the shipping terms. The shipment is already on its way and is scheduled to arrive here in 3 days. They said that the Alibaba manager told them that the only way for them to still get paid from Alibaba’s account is if I cancel the order and ask for zero refund. There is no way for they to update the current order’s status to shipped now because of that mistake.

    I don’t know what to do now as it worries me to cancel the trade assurance order! What would be your suggestions? Any help is much appreciated!!

    1. By the way, I tried contacting Alibaba’s client service. She told me that she doesn’t think the seller would be unable to update the status (which makes me even more worried) but is not sure. She asked me to file a dispute so the right team would be able to look into this. I filed it 2 days ago but it takes 3 days before the Alibaba team would even start getting involved.

    2. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Cathy,

      Do not cancel the trade assurance order, if goods have been already shipped.

      If they arrive in 3 days, just wait for them to arrive. You haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about here.

      But don’t cancel order as it “could” be a well played trick to get them out of TA agreement.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thank you so much for your advise Andrew!

        The supplier has only sent me the bill of lading and is holding on to the commercial invoice until I’d cancel the order. Without it I can’t clear custom. They are saying that if I go clear custom and pick up the goods, I can cancel the order and ask for the full refund. Since the current order status can’t be updated to shipping on their side now(due to the above operation violation), Alibaba would refund me in full and they can potentially suffer great loss.

        My gut tells me not to cancel the order too so I guess waiting to hear back from Alibaba would be my best alternative?

        Thanks,
        Cathy

  59. Roger Llewellyn

    HI thanks for all this great information.
    What about shipment consolidation in China. I want to buy from several suppliers and have them ship in one box.

    I have one supplier who says yes they can do that but it all sounds s bit dodgy that they will take other companies product and considate for me? I have purchased from them and they do seem to be quite a large company.
    Could this just be the member of staff I speak with being helpful .. OR ??

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Roger,

      No, some companies are happy to consolidate such shipments for a small fee or even no cost at all.

      Obviously this concept comes with additional risks of goods getting lost, stolen, you getting scammed etc. so I would only do this with established, trustworthy suppliers I have been in business together for some time now (at least 3-4 orders).

      There are also mail forwarding companies in China that can do this for you, check out this guide for more info:

      https://andrewminalto.com/taobao-part-one/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  60. Seller offers moneygram, WU, and bank transfer as forms of payment. How am I safe using a bank transfer?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Shawn,

      There’s no protection when you send money to supplier via bank transfer.

      Once the money is gone, it’s gone.

      Andrew

  61. Ron Schaefer

    Great info thanks so much. My supplier is 3 year gold supplier https://sunwin-tech.en.alibaba.com/. They have agreed to take a credit card for payment but Alibaba is blocking it for fraud even though the $9000 laser is well below my credit limit. I am reluctant to use their TT or echeck options as I liked the idea of having the extra protection of my credit card company in case there was a problem with such a large purchase. If I use their TT or echeck and the Assurance plan do you think that is good enough given that Sunwin is an established company?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ron,

      Take a look at this post describing Trade Assurance process in more detail:

      https://andrewminalto.com/trade-assurance/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  62. hi. i am goin to order some electronics from alibaba its a deal buy 2 get one free. There are their name and skype ID to contact them. now i am dealing with them on skype. i have made my order and they are asking for western union to make the payment before delivery. WHAT DO YOU SUGGEST? should i take that risk?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      And what do you think Cooper?

      RUN as fast as you can!!!

      It’s a 100% SCAM, don’t even think about sending them money.

      Andrew

  63. I recently placed my first order through Alibaba . I ordered a custom hair piece to match some hair that I purchased off Aliexpress. I selected a product from their list and and gave them the custom specifications that I wanted to be made. They requested I send a picture of the hair I had, that I wanted matched . I ended up sending two different pictures because they said the first one was not clear enough. They informed me that it would take 20 to 25 days to complete and they would let me know when it was ready. I had no problem with this. So they asked me to pay through western union but I wanted to pay by credit card through Alibaba and that’s what I ended up doing. The hair piece was completed in time and they contacted me to let me know . They instructed me to close the order because something about the taxes would be too high and they would send my hair piece directly through DHL. At that point I asked to see a picture of the complete product . When I received the picture I noticed it didn’t look exactly as I had hoped but I figured that maybe the picture is just not doing it justice. She had already sent the package by the time she sent the picture. When i received the package almost the next day my fears were realized. It was awful. The hair was the wrong texture . It was very coarse and almost seemed like animal hair. (ie horse yak or camel hair) they had mixed lengths of hair throughout the hair piece when i requested 30 inch hair and it did not have a silk top as in the product description. I took pictures of the hair they sent me and my hair side by side and also made a list of all the things wrong with the hair piece. I waited and no response . When they finally responded , they said it was some sort of Chinese holiday. The response was basically them defending the reason I had just paid for a hair piece I can not use at all and am very displeased with . They said I didn’t specify I wanted a silk top but it’s listed on the product description I selected . They said the different lengths in the hair are as in hair would normally be , keep in mind I ordered 30 inch hair but it looks as if the took about 25% of 30 inch hair and mixed it with 25% of 5 inch hair, 25% of 10 inch hair, and 25% 20 inch hair . Also they said in my specifications I wanted “Brazilian curly” and that’s why the hair was so tightly coiled. I went back and collected pictures of all the ” Brazilian curly” hair from their product list and none look like what I got . What I got looks like their “kinky” texture. I feel like what was the reason they would make me send pictures of my hair and the texture if they were just going to give me the wrong texture anyway based on a term ” Brazilian Curly” and my hair still doesnt look like their ” Brazilian curly” hair either. They didn’t at all try to give any resolution to the problem. I have emailed them back a few times since then and still no response. So I decided that i better try to open a dispute though trade assurance but guess what? Since she convinced me to close the order , there’s no way to open a dispute . I feel like they took advantage of me being a naive new customer by doing this. Now I’m trying to find out how I can reach trade assurance because I cant find any contact info for them. I’m also afraid that since I was told to close the order there may be nothing they can do at this point. HELP!

    This is a message they sent me about the order closing:

    “hello Anre!
    how are you?
    hope all is well wiht you.

    the frontal is already finished and ready to ship. However, we noticed that using the declaration export of alibaba “yidatong”, you will need to pay a lot of fee, i mean tax for the customs.

    So we would like to send you the frontal via DHL directly without using the declaration export of alibaba “yidatong”, then you can avoid to pay the high tax.

    we just sent a cancel order request to you on alibaba, please check and confirm it. We can give you the tracking number of DHL right away.

    Thank you very much!”

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Anre,

      Thanks for sharing your story with us.

      Unfortunately as you already closed the order on Trade Assurance, no one will help you with this order. When you close Trade Assurance agreement, you basically say that you have received the order and you’re happy with it.

      Lesson learned!

      Andrew

      1. I was afraid of that . They asked me to close it before I even received it . They knew what they were doing in a sneaky way. so does that not help me in any way?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          No, sorry.

          Only way you can resolve the issue is by communicating with supplier and trying to come up with some kind of agreement with them.

          1. Thanks I will be filing a complaint with Alibaba and the FTC if they don’t make this right.

          2. Andrew Minalto

            You can of course do that, but chances of it making any difference are very, very slim. I’d say less than 1% slim.

  64. Hi Andrew, I really appreciate your post it is very helpful for me , I was very hesitated to deal through Alibaba ,
    I have one question , I`m planning to import Korean beauty products (skin care , make up) and I found some Korean companies that dealing through alibaba , is it possible ?

    Thank you in advance

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Hamsa,

      Yes, that is possible.

      Just make sure they’re the manufacturer or authorised distributor to avoid fake products.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  65. Hi Andrew

    I am a starter from amazon FBA, I would to know some information about bring your goods to the US but I currently located in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Ok now I am in contact with a supplier from china on Alibaba.com but I want to know when you make an invoice on Amazon for shipping your product directly to Amazon, to you have to ask the suppliers to pay FOB, EXW and CIF price or just sent the invoice to the suppliers and the give the goods to a carrier such as UPS / DHL/FEDEX which my invoices are coming from. Just give an idea how to get my goods from the Suppliers to Amazon FBA warehouse

    Thanks
    Jeff Fleury

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jeff,

      Please check out this article for more information:

      https://andrewminalto.com/from-china-to-fba/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  66. Mike DeHart

    Hello Andrew. You have a great site here. The information is very good.

    I have a specific situation: I ordered two pumps from Modo Pump Co., Ltd. I have been working with them for over two months. The pumps have very precise specifications. They have a 2 year star (the company is only two years old), on site verification, use Alibaba Trade Assurance, are listed with Made in China, but not Global Sources. Their prices are in line with other companies but they will supply everything I want. They want 50% payment now (total order is $7,000) and the remainder upon shipment. I am pretty sure they are a trading company. I will pay 50% upon shipment but I want to pay the remaining 50% after I have inspected the goods at the logistics company in Houston, Tx. I asked them to do this-they said no – is my request unreasonable? Thanks for your help.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mike,

      No supplier will send/dispatch goods to you without receiving final payment.

      So you have to organise inspection in China – at supplier’s location, before you pay second half.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  67. Hi Andrew,

    I want to share with you a weird experience with Alibaba. I tried to buy some bracelets from a company name Yiwu Melone Jewelry Co, Ltd. But when I got ready to pay, they told me that they only receive payments through Paypal, Western Union or T/T. So they ask me to pay thought Alibaba in order to use my credit card. Once I realized the process of payment I got a message the they need some more information about my card. So I was send to an other page of Alibaba where a woman wrote to me saying that I need to send the following documents to confirm my order:
    A copy of my personal ID
    A copy of both sides of my credit card
    A copy of my bank statements
    All this to be send to security@aliexpress.com

    I didn’t send any of those documents, because that is all my personal information to send over internet.

    I really need the items I was going to buy, but this seems crazy to me.

    What should I do?

    Thank you.

    Dany

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Dany,

      Yes, AliExpress is often asking new customers to verify themselves due to large number of charge back cases people do.

      Just blank out all the important information on documents, card numbers, IDs etc. – just leave your name and address shown. This way, even if someone stoles this data, it will be useless.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  68. Thanks for this great tutorial. Wanted to buy on Alibaba but with the USA trade association going apes about fakes and counterfeits, I wanted a little reassurance. I’ve always thought, “Caveat emptor” when looking for bargains.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Susan! 🙂

  69. Láfontaine

    Hi Andrew,

    I have a major problem with the customer service at Alibaba and AliExpress.
    Have you any idea what I can do to get in touch with them as I have tried everything and I mean everything.

    My problem is this:
    I am not able to log in to my account all of a sudden. I keep getting this message: refresh or feedback???
    I can then retrieve a new password using my email address however I get the exact same message; refresh or feedback.
    I have chatted with customer service as I was going crazy.

    I have had the same password since day one but now I can not log in and it keeps saying refresh or feedback.

    I have done everything in my power to get help but no one can help me.

    Have you an advise how to get help from either Alibaba or AliExpress as it seems to be impossible to get in touch with either. I asked the service team on chat but they said that there was no possibility of calling a number or writing to an email address which I find very unprofessional.

    I look forward to your answer.

    Best regards,

    Ann

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ann,

      Have you tried using a different browser or computer to login into your account?

      As sometimes these problems are browser related.

      Andrew

  70. Hi Andrew,

    I am placing my very first order on Alibaba. I went through your check list and everything seemed ok until I realized the most recent email that I received from the person had a different company name at the bottom and the pay pal email he gave me to deposit money does not have the company name in it and is different than the email that he was messaging with. Is this normal? what should I do?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Martha,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I wouldn’t worry about the PayPal email address being different – most suppliers will use free/generic email accounts for PayPal, so that’s not a red flag really.

      As for different company name – simply ask them why there are two companies and see what they say?

      Sometimes there’s one company – manufacturer and other company – trading company that deals with all export orders. So again, it could be all legit but you need to find out what they say about this.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  71. Hi there Andrew,

    I just wanted to know how to make a secure payment on Alibaba from the UK if you don’t have a credit card if paypal isn’t available?As we pay in GBP and not USD, how is this converted on Alibaba? Are there any bank charges when making payments online on Alibaba?

    And finally, who calculates the import duty/vat and how is it paid?
    Many thanks if you can guide me through this!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Eamon,

      You can get protection IF you make payment via Trade Assurance. There you can select TT method which basically means sending an international wire transfer (bank transfer).

      You’ll send it in USD so the money will be converted at your bank, from £ to $. Yes, there will be a charge/fee of course for sending such international payment.

      As for VAT/import duty – once goods arrive in the UK – your shipping company (in case you use a courier like DHL, TNT, UPS etc.) will calculate taxes you need to pay and send you invoice for these taxes.

      Andrew

  72. Hello Andrew,

    Awesome service you provide here. Just to share a bit with some of the newer buyers here. I have successfully ordered several shipments from Alibaba and the only negative experiences I’ve had are once the quality was very poor so too cheap does not necessarily mean a bargain, if anything request samples. I bought some jewelry and handbags once and they became damaged within the week of arrival and they credited me on my next purchase but seemed reluctant to credit me without a purchase, even though I submitted the photos they requested. And typically if your orders are too small I would say you are treated less friendly. So I have had some success with Alibaba and profited but be specific about what you want down to the details e.g. percentage of cotton vs. polyester in your fabric etc. However my question to you Andrew is, does a reviews section exits on Alibaba? If so where as I can’t seem to find it.
    Ricky

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ricky,

      Thanks for your comment.

      No, unfortunately there are no Reviews as such for suppliers on Alibaba main site.

      Andrew

  73. Andrew hi am new on alibaba.com and need your assistance anyway I really want to order but when I ask for the shipping price for most goods is really high some times higher than the prices of the total product am in Africa how do I get cheaper shipping price

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Janet,

      Alibaba is not a retail site where you buy one product.

      You need to buy in real wholesale/bulk quantities and use correct shipping service – in most cases SEA freight to get decent shipping cost per item.

      Andrew

  74. Thanks anyways, your posts are good.

  75. Hi Andrew.
    I have located my Chinese supplier but I am having difficulty locating a gateway merchant who will agree drop ship orders of human hair from China.
    Do you have any suggestions?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Lisa,

      No, sorry – I have no recommendations for that.

      Andrew

  76. Hi. And thanks for this article. Good to know.
    I have a question if you don’t mind. I have been looking for a product which I bought for my daughter through Groupon. It was “reduced” from about 70€ to about 40€. (I think – I can’t really remember). Her cousin liked it so I thought I would try and find a seller in China for her and also to sell it on eBay as my daughter loves it. I see sellers selling it on Alibaba really cheaply – about $3.50 which is great. But when I look on eBay for comparable prices the sellers from China are selling it at wholesale not retail price. So how can I make a profit like this? I was thinking of reselling at about 15€. It seems impossible to compete so do you have any recommendations?
    I now realise that I was ripped off so to speak! I imagine the seller on Groupon, by putting that the Recommended Retail Price was so high and they were selling it for so low it seemed such a bargain ! Next time I will do my homework!.
    Thanks
    Ann

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ann,

      You already answered your question – that price on Groupon was not real, it was inflated.

      But you also want to keep in mind that the product quality can be different too as I highly doubt that a 40 EUR Groupon item would sell on eBay for just $3.5

      The difference here is too big.

      Andrew

      1. Hi and thanks for your reply.
        I would like to know though how someone can buy a product on Alibaba at a certain price to try and resell on eBay if the sellers from China are selling it at the same price.
        I thought that the idea was to find something “cheap” in China and then resell for a profit but if they are selling directly, I can’t see how I could make a profit.
        Thanks.
        Ann

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Hi Ann,

          It’s a very complex question I can’t answer in a short blog comment.

          But there are many things you can do, some of which I have covered in this post:

          https://andrewminalto.com/how-to-compete-with-chinese-sellers-on-ebay/

          Also, the shipping factor is a HUGE minus for Chinese sellers, many people simply don’t want to buy from a Chinese seller due to slow shipping.

          Plus the quality issues, returns issues etc.

          Andrew

  77. Thank you so much for taking the time out to provude suvh helpful information. I almost got “western unioned” today before reading your article but something in my spirit told me to run and thankfull another supplier got in touch and offered payment through paypal.
    I now await the delivery of my goods.

    Have a great day

    HT

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome! 🙂

  78. John Conner

    Hi Andrew

    Thanks for the reply

    Does Alibaba give the seller the winning side if they consider it a small mistake, even though I clearly write that condition in the Trade assurance terms?

    Can I write every small thing in the trade assurance terms?

    Thanks
    John

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi John,

      It’s very hard to tell as each and every case is different.

      I personally haven’t dealt with a situation of dispute yet, nor have my clients so I don’t really know how they play it out.

      Andrew

  79. John Conner

    Hi Andrew

    I contacted a factory on alibaba with 13 years of gold supplier, and for 5 months I was working out all the parts of the product so that it should be 100% good, (its a complicated product)., when it came to finalizing the deal, he tells me that it is not that factory that sells this item it is a different factory and he showed ma a link, it was a 12 year gold supplier factory, he told me he works for both of these factories part time on 1.5% commission,

    When it came to payments he said that he wants me to pay T/T, so i told him we had made up in the beginning that the payment will be paypal, so he said he meant only for the sample payment, but not for the big order, anyway we agreed on alibaba trade assurance, when i asked him if he knows the name of the person that comes up when you go to that factory on alibaba he said that he doesn’t.

    What mainly puzzles me and make things suspicious is the fact that for 5 months he didn’t tell me that it was a different factory, is this a crazy assumption?

    The question is: is this person some sort of scammer? Is trade assurance liable if there will be any problems?If it is liable does the china side usually win or the US side, for example if I claim that the goods weren’t exactly as the samples, or the packaging wasn’t exactly as we made up, or does it have to be a drastic mistake to win?can i pay with chase credit card for trade assurance? Will I have a hard time disputing the credit card payment if he doesn’t come through 100%? does it compare anything to Amex disputing policy?

    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your comment.

      It’s impossible to give you any definite answers as the situation is very specific. It could be some kind of scam or it could be all legit, hard to say. The fact that they worked with you for 5 months though tells to me that he’s legit, as scammers usually don’t have patience for doing this. And if it’s not a high risk product, nothing branded etc., it could go all well.

      Definitely use Trade Assurance and fund transaction with a credit card. If everything else fails, you can always do a charge back case with your card company and get money back that way.

      Be very specific in Trade Assurance terms – make sure you describe precisely product, quality/features/packaging etc., as much detail as possible. And ideally do a pre-shippment inspection before you pay 2nd half of the money.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  80. Hi Andrew I want to buy sharp black portable ac portable black silver from Alibaba com how do I know if they are legit or a scam I was ripped off for over three hundred dollars last year the company says that they are based in China how can you help me.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi George,

      Sorry – what exactly you want to buy? What product?

      Andrew

  81. Hi, do you have any experience with BAILLORD GADGETS LTD? 3yrs gold member, but accept only Western union for units or TT for bulk orders explaining they were ripped off after some fake payments from buyer via paypal. They provided also business licence and seller permit, not sure if this is scam.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      No, sorry – have never heard of them.

  82. Hi, Andrew! Thanks for this article. I’m preparing to launch an online business and have a design for a product. I have been communicating with manufacturers in China and narrowing in on a particular company. They are a gold supplier in their 5th year. They have trade assurance, supplier assessment, transaction level history of 2 1/2 diamonds, SGS, ILAC, and Intertek certifications, and a website in English. However, I can find no trade show info, no AliExpress website, no video (though plenty of pictures), and I can not find them on MadeInChina or Global Source. Payment methods listed are TT, credit card, and e-checking. I find only two reviews on their site which are both good and when I search the company name + scam, I find nothing. Do they seem legit? https://famicheer.en.alibaba.com/company_profile.html

    1. I should also mention that they have worked hard for my business without being overbearing, have been the most forthcoming with details, answered all of my questions, and have been the most willing to work with me on MOQ (allowing me to purchase 100 pcs. of each item rather than 300 provided my total order is above 300 pcs.). I have not shared my design yet, though.

    2. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Heather,

      Thanks for your comment.

      You won’t always find ALL filters for all suppliers. That company looks ok to me!

      Just get some samples first and then if quality is all good, plan your real order.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  83. Angu Ransom

    Alibaba users should equally watch out for messages that request them to click on a link from their email box. The landing page is usually a scam page . Some people fall into scams because of greed. For example a Samsung Galaxy S4 at 5$ brand new. Is this possible?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Of course it’s not possible! 🙂

      Email/link scams are very popular – reason why you should never click on a link in an email that comes from PayPal/eBay/Amazon/Alibaba etc. Just go to the website, login and then see if there’s a message for you.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  84. Tom Winkle

    Hi, thank you for making all my worries go away. A wonderful article. I was so confused. I will print this out and share with my friends.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome! 😉

  85. Hi Andrew

    The options for me paying are TT and visa, I do not have a credit card but I have a visa debit card. Will this be OK and covered by Trade Assurance? I am going through the correct channels as the supplier has sent confirmation that it is covered because the payment request was sent by Alibaba themselves and it clearly stated this.

    Also the method of paying TT is confusing as when I click the TT tab it gives me the Citi bank details of the supplier. I have no idea where or how I make a TT payment if I wish to do so. There is no clear pointer, or am I being stupid and a VISA payment is a TT payment?

    Kind Regards

    Arthur

    1. Andrew Minalto

      No, VISA debit card won’t work. You need to use a VISA credit card there.

      Or alternatively use the TT (bank transfer option). IN this case you need to transfer money to that supplier’s Citi bank account – by going to your bank or by doing it via online banking.

      Andrew

  86. Thanks that’s great, I have just been informed I cannot use e-checking as this was just for US buyers.

    Can I ask if I pay via the Visa payment option which would be direct from my account, is that what would be called the TT method? and does that cover me with Trade Assurance?

    Big thanks again for your efforts.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      TT is bank transfer.

      VISA is when you pay using your credit card.

      Both options can be used with Trade Assurance program (plus e-checking for US only right now).

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  87. Hi Andrew

    I am in the process of paying via Alibaba Trade Assurance, there are 3 parts on the ‘Add Bank Information Section’.

    They are asking for Bank Routing number (9 digits), Checking Account number, up to (17 digits) and a Federal ID Tax.

    1) I have no idea what any of these are?

    2) Also, shall I pay via TT or by e-Checking?

    3) do I use Individual account or Business account? I do not have a business account as yet.

    Thanks again for your efforts

    Arthur

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Those are simply bank details – account number and bank routing number.

      You can use personal bank account, that’s fine.

      Andrew

      1. A supplier is asking for my bank information on alibaba to give me my “money back”. So far they have been a pain in the butt, I sent them money for a product, they said that I needed to cancel it in order to send it DHL express, so I cancelled. Then they drafted up a new order, and it asked me to pay another $120 bucks, I told them I had already paid previously and I questioned why it was asking me again. They seemed confused and then said that my money will be refunded to me instead, but I had never requested a refund, just cancelled as they told me to do so. I asked for my money back and told them to refund me my money through paypal email, instead they’re asking for my bank info to deposit. This is absolutely fraud correct? Alibaba doesn’t seem to care about my fraud ticket I created too…I must be out my money 🙁

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Hi John,

          It does sound very scammy to me indeed!

          Just open a case with PayPal and get your money back that way.

          Andrew

  88. Hi Andrew

    I will be paying a 30% deposit to a company very soon, as apparently the prices in the new year will increase. I have heard this type of increase in China is common for new year price changes.

    I just wondered if you are familiar with this?

    Another question I have is; the company are happy to accept payment via Alibaba Trade Assurance which pleases me, Can I ask if this method of payment is a painless, straight forward and easy method to complete transactions?

    I just wanted your view before going ahead.

    Thanks again for all your efforts..

    Arthur

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Arthur,

      Well price increases as such are every common, yes, so it’s nothing unusual. Of course many times suppliers use this as scare tactic to get an order from you but that’s life. You never know really for sure when it’s a genuine price increase or a marketing plot.

      Trade Assurance – I recommend you read the TA page on Alibaba to fully understand how it works etc.:

      http://tradeassurance.alibaba.com

      But yes, it is the preferred payment method.

      Andrew

  89. Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Arthur!

  90. Hi Andrew

    I have done what I think is due diligence on a company, They attend Trade Shows, LinkedIn account, Facebook account, Alibaba Gold supplier, 8 years in business, Trade Assurance, Assessment by Alibaba employees and so on.

    Your never to sure when doing this so I wanted to give you 3 links to see what your thoughts were.

    Can you take 2 minutes to look at these and share your thoughts please?

    https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/Canned-Tomato-Paste-70G_470264506.html?spm=a2700.7735675.30.8.8I1qtv&s=p

    http://www.chinesetomato.com/

    https://www.linkedin.com/company/hebei-tomato-industry-co-ltd?trk=top_nav_home

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Arthur,

      That company looks 100% genuine to me.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  91. Thank You very much, Andrew! All the best to You!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome! 😉

  92. Hi! I had a supplier send me only a portion of my order. They didn’t send the refund before the buyer protection ended, so I filed a dispute hours before it ended. I wasn’t sure what I was doing, so I actually ended up requesting the full amount (which is not correct). They came back with a proposal for the correct amount. Now they want me to accept the proposal. Will accepting it close the dispute? Shouldn’t I see a payment come through? I’m worried I’ll accept the proposal and not see my money come back in. Am I being too worried about this? Thanks! This is what his response was:

    for some design which are out of stock , we have told you and would like to refund you the amount $479.31 . but you open dispute for the order and ask full refund . pls check the order status and accept the new correct refund amount we revised . after you agree, alibaba will refund you money according to our agreement immediately . pls do and cooperate . thank you ! now the order is waiting you to process . thanks !

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sharon,

      No, you should be fine by doing this.

      As they can’t offer you full refund, they adjusted amount accordingly.

      You need to accept that refund.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  93. Hi Andrew

    Thanks for the advice, First of all I sent an email to the Freight company you have recommended in your comments and they have not called me at all so you may want to give them a nudge..

    You mentioned getting a pre inspection of goods before sending the second payment. Can I ask who does this, the freight forwarder or and independent inspector? I may purchase CIF so not sure who would carry that out.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Arthur,

      December is a very busy month, you may want to give them a call to speed up your quote.

      Read more about pre-shipment inspection here:

      https://andrewminalto.com/pre-shipment-inspection/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  94. AliExpress is a total scam for German buyers… I buy online a lot. After seeing that AliExpress promoted international shipping – I ordered about 30 items (from different sellers) in August 2016 to be delivered to me in Berlin, Germany. Only 3 items arrived! I was told to wait long after delivery times posted came / went – which I agreed to do extending the deadline dates or “warranty” – giving the missing items until December to show up. In December, I complained and started asking for refunds – with proof in the tracking showing the items never were even allowed in Germany and were returned to the sellers. So does AliExpress return the money for the all items I never received? No. Instead, they terminated my account so that I could no longer even be able to make a claim for refunds. They sited a policy that said nothing specifically other than accounts can be terminated on their whim / will – and I did nothing but ask for refunds for items never received – which was backed up by the tracking info on the site itself. AliExpress may not have customs issues elsewhere – but it certainly should never falsely claim they can ship to (thus sell to) German buyers. I have never experienced such a scam website before.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks for sharing this with us.

      I have ordered tons of items from Ali Express and never had any problems…

      Maybe you order something that can’t be legally sent to Germany?

      Don’t know really but sounds very weird to me that out of 30 orders you only received 3…

      Andrew

    2. Hello, I have ordered over 300 different items from Aliexpress this year to Austria. So far, several items have not been delivered (lost on the way) and I got immediate refund. In one case, it has turned out that the supplier has not sent the goods although has posted tracking number and changed the status to “in transit”. They have send the refund immediately before I even complained to Aliexpress. However, with purchase protection you are quite covered – the only thing needed is to maintain overview of the orders and react in time.
      @ Andrew – thanks for the great info!

      1. Andrew Minalto

        Exactly my experience/thoughts! 🙂

  95. Hi, you wrote: “Scammers DO NOT attend trade shows”

    Sorry, that is not true. They can go for the photo opportunity, without even having a stall. Maybe even actually having a stall.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Rave,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, technically you’re right – they could do it and some probably do. But it’s a very small percentage.

      But in general scammers don’t do this.

      Andrew

  96. Sharon Bowen

    Hi Andrew, just wanted to echo that your blog is really really useful!

    I am attempting my first Alibaba deal, for customised printing items. I have tried to follow everything you have advised. I selected a Trade Assurance Gold Supplier of 3yrs. I selected Alibaba logistics to deliver, even though their estimate cost was DOUBLED, apparently I got my volume figures wrong! But now I am feeling very apprehensive.

    My supplier, who seems to work a 20 hour day, considering the responses that I receive from her, tells me that in order for them to ship my order on time, I have to cancel my trade assurance order and set the refund to 0, as there are some delays using the Alibaba logistics service, lots of paperwork, Government rules etc. I am obviously loathed to do this as I have paid in full for the order and shipping service and feel if I cancel the trade assurance order, I am left with all the risk.

    Time is running out to get this delivery in time and I don’t know what to do.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sharon.

      Thanks for your comment.

      I personally haven’t used Alibaba logistics service so can’t really comment on how it works…

      I always use a freight forwarder for shipping, customs clearance procedure.

      But the fact that they ask to cancel trade assurance contract sounds alarming to me… Without trade assurance you have no protection, if you pay with bank transfer. If they take PayPal, it’s safer but still – it does sound dodgy to me. And it’s still unclear how the shipping process will be organised….

      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew & Sharon,
        I am currently dealing with a dress factory that has asked me to refund my trade assurance payment in lieu of accepting a secure payment invoice from them:

        “Because we can’t do custom declare directly, so we can’t receive the payment .
        Could you please cancel the trade assurance order, and we do it by secure payment ?”

        I have ordered with dress factories in Asia for the past 4 years and was under the impression that the carrier like DHL, would handle issues like customs declarations.
        All this began after I received a paid in full confirmation email from trade assurance five days ago saying they have received my final payment. I received my photo inspection of the garment and all that is left is for the factory to ship the dress out to me.
        They kept insisting that I either cancel the trade assurance or file a dispute and wait 7-12 days for a refund and then pay then via their Alibaba secure payment.

        Keep in mind I had just talked to them about shipping the dress on time because my client was flying in for a fitting and that was why I paid them early to avoid any mishaps.

        This factory is a gold 8 year seller that meets almost all your criteria for a legit company. I am currently waiting for them to tell me if they will be able to ship the dress today or refuse to ship until I pay their way. Did I mention this is my client’s BRIDAL GOWN which was due to arrive on Friday, client flies in on Monday!

        Any comments? This sound familiar?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Hi Erica,

          Thanks for your comment.

          To me it sounds dodgy… why did they accept Trade Assurance order in first place?

          Not sure what’s going on there and what you can do apart from communicating with them and insisting that you need item dispatched ASAP and can’t wait for any other procedures.

          Thanks,
          Andrew

          1. Thanks Andrew!
            Great site:)

          2. Andrew Minalto

            You’re welcome Erica! 😉

        2. Hi Erica,

          What did you end up doing? I’m in a similar situation and my supplier is asking me to cancel my order and set the refund to 0 too.

          Just wondering if you did receive a dress in good quality at the end?

          Many Thanks!

    2. Hi Sharon,

      What did you end up doing? I’m in a similar situation and my supplier is asking to cancel my order and set the refund to 0 too.

      Time is running out for me so any info from you is much appreciated!!

      Thanks

  97. Adam Otten

    I was curious to know, if they ARE branded products, but are being shipped from other then China Mainland like for example United Kingdom. Would that be legit, or do they still need to be Unbranded? I am asking about Video Game Consoles i.e. Sony Playstation and Xbox. They just seem to good to be true with the pricing

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Adam,

      Those are usually scams of one kind or another.

      No reputable UK/USA game console distributor will have an Alibaba profile.

      Please DO NOT look for PS4 consoles on Alibaba, it won’t end well!

      Andrew

  98. Hi Andrew,

    I really love this post, it’s basically my bible for all things Alibaba and i’m currently taking my time finding a sportswear supplier (to be customised with our own branding) in Pakistan. It’s getting to the point where i’m probably too careful and in total it’s been a solid 2 months of looking and messaging companies but to no avail. We even had one close call where we had to pay a small fee to get our bank to return the funds after we sent payment and found negative feedback on that seller). So after finding potential scammers asking for money to be paid via Western Union/Money Gram we found a company that accepts paypal and they’re a 4 year Gold supplier. As they’re from Pakistan they’re not able to have the onsite Alibaba check. They also have a UK contact which helps put my mind at ease a bit more even if this is just a family relative of the owner. They’re also the least pushy i’ve come across, askig me to take my time to think things over. They’ve agreed to do a small sample order of items so I can get a feel for their quality but I’m still nervous (I know i’m tight)! I’d love your opionion on how they look on the face of it? They are: https://www.alibaba.com/talessma-international-suppliers.html

    PS – Can’t beleive how dedicated you are to replying to all these questions. I’d give you a medal if I can source one on Alibaba!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ben,

      Thanks for your comment & kind words.

      That supplier looks all good to me! Just get that sample order in to see quality of their products.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  99. Hi Andrew

    Thanks for the advice, just a few more points I wanted to make. You mentioned PayPal in your reply to me, re: I should use a supplier with PayPal or Trade Assurance, is PayPal a safe way to pay suppliers such a amount? I am talking £14,000? 1 2ft container.

    Also if they the supplier is genuinely doing Trade Assurance, has 7 year history, a website in English and attend trade shows in Europe. Would you say it was OK pay via there Trade Assurance? I have done a lot of research on the company and they seem very well established. They have Trade Assurance, Assessment certificate and are Gold suppliers.

    So my questions are:

    Do I use Trade Assurance to pay?
    Or PayPal?

    If so do I transfer the whole amount? – really not used to the idea of making such a big payment.

    I am sure if I get the goods and all goes well I will be looking back thinking what was the fuss about, but this is my first time and cannot make an error with such a large amount.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Arthur,

      It’s very un-likely that supplier will accept PayPal for a £14k transaction, VERY un-likely.

      You should use Trade Assurance for such large orders.

      Payment structure depends on your agreement with the supplier but usually it’s 30/70 or 50/50. First payment you make when you place the order and 2nd payment – when goods are ready for dispatch. Before sending that 2nd payment, make sure to order pre-shipment inspection so that inspector can check quality of goods.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  100. Really helpful and concise information. Much appreciated.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Salena! 🙂

  101. Gary McKinnon

    Excellent article, i’m just starting out on Amazon FBA so this was very helpful, thanks.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Gary! 🙂

  102. Hi Andrew

    Why are there so many sellers on alibaba that have the trade Assurance symbol and Status but when you contact them they tell you they are not Trade Assurance. They tell me the Trade Assurance fee they pay alibaba is too high and they also don’t get reimbursements from some kind of tax or Customs law in China. Are they doing this as a scam? Secondly when I ask them about payment methods they mention 30% TT transfer, what is the sensible and safe way that guarantees my money will be repaid if they are scammers or do not deliver what they state in the contract. TT 33% is still a risk I’m taking with 30% of my funds your help would be much appreciated.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Arthur,

      Thanks for your email.

      Yes, this is quite common. Many suppliers advertise that they accept Trade Assurance (to boost credibility) when in real life they don’t. They have to pay a fee when using Trade Assurance plus of course they’re liable in case something goes wrong with the order.

      If it’s your first importing deal, I would strongly recommend you find a supplier who takes PayPal or Trade Assurance.

      With TT payments there are no guarantees whatsoever, no protection so you only should use with suppliers you really trust, have a solid proof they’re genuine and trustworthy.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  103. Mike Rosedale

    Great article Andrew. We have been buying from China for years but still run into BAD supplier problem. Most recently, we bought high strength poly ropes from Jiuli Rope Co. Ltd.. We’ve done our due diligence by inspecting the factory and tested out a small sample batch. However, by the time we sent them a real order, they shipped us defective products that are more than 30% inferior in quality. When we try to claim a refund, they started playing bush-beating games, not returning e-mails, or answering phone calls. When we ask to speak to management, no one has the guts to even tell their names. Factories like Jiuli Rope have no conscience but believe they can always get away with innocent buyers’ money without any consequence . That’s how “made in China” gets tarnished easily. What would you recommend that we do to possibly get our compensation and make the factory take their responsibility ? Any help is greatly appreciated.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Not much I can suggest apart from trying to communicate with them this problem and trying to come up with some kind of agreement (partial refund or at least credit for next order).

      To avoid situations like these, in future, make sure you do pre-shipment inspection BEFORE you release second payment. This really is the only way to be safe you get quality products you ordered.

      Andrew

  104. Great article. Can you go a bit further in detail about the actual purchasing portion. I’m looking for a cheaper source of carbide end mill cutters and Alibaba has a few manufactures that “qualify” per your filters, but I’m getting lost in the inquiry/start order portion. The price per unit + MOQ on the purchase portion starts to get confusing when it lets you change prices and such. Are these negotiable? Whats a good rule of thumb when it comes to negotiating? Etc. Now, I’m not looking to buy wholesale to then turn around a resell, I’m just looking for cheaper sources for consumables.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi John,

      Almost always you can negotiate price and the MOQ.

      Please check these articles for more info:

      https://andrewminalto.com/dealing-with-chinese-suppliers/
      https://andrewminalto.com/reduce-moq-on-alibaba/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  105. brett stimpson

    Andrew, great article and thank you for your insight. We are dealing with this company currently.www.szartworld.com
    http://artworldsz.en.alibaba.com
    We received samples which came out good however 6 of 10 broke due to very poor packaging.
    After assurance the packaging was changed we placed a larger order. Im curious your thought on this. They issued us a ups tracking number on Nov5th. I called UPS for an update today
    NOV 16th and they say they generated the paperwork but UPS has not received any packages yet. Our contact had told us it shipped weeks ago. is this run around common? I also find it strange they said the paperwork had it shipping from Korea? they are in China.
    thanks for any insight you have.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Brett,

      That sounds very strange to me…

      There are usually few days for tracking info to update but 11 days seems way too long, for a courier shipment.

      Maybe they gave you wrong tracking number?

      Hard to know what’s going on there really…

      Andrew

  106. Daniel Wang

    Hello, Andrew.

    I was wondering what items are good for buying for resale? I recently quit my job to become a retailer, but I don’t know much. I recently bought some counterfeit Pokemon Games, key organizers, and water beads. Are those good items to resell?

    Do you have any tips for me and my small business for now?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Daniel,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Selling counterfeit/fake items obviously is not a good idea!

      Check out this post dedicated to market research and finding products to sell:

      https://andrewminalto.com/best-products-to-sell-on-ebay/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  107. Hi Andrew while I agree with what you are saying you can still get scammed on Alibaba even after all of the due diligence.

    We purchased bags from Jinhua Bestcreate Art & Craft Co., Ltd

    https://china-bestcreate.en.alibaba.com/company_profile.html

    They shipped poorly made bags which fell apart there was no option for a refund but when we asked for the opportunity to post feedback Alibaba decided to censor it. Apparently they will only post positive feedback.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, the quality of goods from China can sometimes be very low, especially if you go with the cheapest quote.

      Did you get samples first? And did you made payment via Trade Assurance?

      Andrew

  108. Hi Andrew,

    I highly appreciate your dedication in this post. I have read so many bad things about Alibaba that I was about to head south….

    But there is hope with your post, so thank you!

    Could you back me up though? What do you think of this seller.

    The sales manager contacted me and told me his colleague would help me out. This girl was really helpful, she even sent me a sample picture of the case with a blank page next to it and my name written with today’s date..

    I can’t seem to copy her profile URL… Maybe it’s because I am from the app.

    Well, what do you think of this company? Should I proceed?

    Thanks in advance,

    You don’t know how happy I am after finally reading a positive feedback about Alibaba hehe

    Ps: English is not my main language, so I am sorry if there are typos.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sandra,

      They look all good to me!

      They tick every box and these are not really high risk items so you should be fine.

      Start with a sample anyway of course.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  109. Thank you, you always give the most useful and helpful advise, please don’t ever stop. Thank you so much I am very appreciative over here. It can be quite scary to venture out into the world of importing and then re-selling under my own brand but you make it way less scary but still give truthful facts and advise. Keep up the great work and once again, THANK YOU!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks Lou and you’re very welcome! 🙂

  110. Hi Andrew,

    Thank for your excellent blog, I read an article of yours, you said there is no customs clearance fee for exporting from china, what do you mean about this ? because one of the forwarder gave me a quotation with additional fees include customs clearance fee, this is the fees :
    the customs clearance fee usd50/bill, documents fee: usd50/bill, usdCFS: 10/CBM, handling fee: usd35/bill, pick up fee: usd35/bill.

    Are the fees above normal ?

    Thank you

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi David,

      No, I said that in contest that Chinese scammers often ask you to pay dodgy Customs bills while in reality they have nothing to do with Customs procedure @ your country.

      You do have to pay Customs Clearance fee to freight forwarder/courier when goods arrive to your country.

      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew,

        Thanks for your quick reply, the fees above are in china not in my country, it means that the fees they gave me above are normal, right ?

        Best Regards

        1. Andrew Minalto

          I can’t comment on specific fees really as they will vary greatly depending on freight forwarder, goods volume, location etc. etc.

  111. Hi Andrew,

    Thank you so much for your informative guides. I am a newbie to e-commerce business. Have read a lot of articles about importing from China which are fairly good. But reading your articles, I learnt lots of valuable things here. However, would like to ask the following info:

    1. Is it compulsory to register company before starting to import or order products from China?
    2. Personal or business account, which best suited to open paypal account for payment in China as I wish to build real importing business?
    3. Would you suggest us to use personal or business e-mail to open Alibaba’s account or should use different e-mail address?
    4. As I’m afraid of the scammers, can I use my real data to sign up Alibaba’s account?
    5. Do I have to pay sales tax …for instance person living in UK?

    Thank you for your help!
    Regards
    Matthew

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Matthew,

      Thanks for your comment & questions.

      1. No, not at all. Any individual can import from China, you don’t need a company to do this.
      2. It doesn’t matter really – with both you can send money to China.
      3. It doesn’t matter. But yes, it’s a good idea to simply open separate email for Alibaba as some suppliers can be very persistent and send you messages every day. So it’s nice to keep these separate.
      4. You have to provide your real data if you want to use Trade Assurance.
      5. You have to pay VAT and import duty on products you import from China into the UK.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew,

        Thank you for quick response. Highly apprecited! You said I have to pay VAT and import duty on import from china into UK….that’s fine. Now my questions are:

        1. Does it mean have got to charge my e-commerce customers in UK,EU and other countries VAT as well in return?
        2. If yes, what would be the VAT standard?
        3. VAT and import duty paid, is it possible to recover them back in UK?
        4. Since VAT and import will be paid, does mean I have to negotiate for the lowest asking price from supplier?
        5. Does paypal or supplier establish limited amount for paypal payment in China…I mean the maximum amount with paypal before swtching to other method of payment or limit payment?
        6. What is best advice you could give in term of VAT, import duty, products postage and how to make profits on importing products?
        7. Is it advisable to request products picture from supplier in order to save time from taking the picture after products being received?
        8. If yes, what is the best approach and would they cooperate?

        Thank you for your precious time.

        Matthew

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Hi Matthew,

          This is really too much to answer in a blog comment. These are not simple questions that can be answered here.

          If you really want to learn how this all works, how to start a profitable importing business etc., check out my EAB course here:

          http://www.easyauctionbusiness.com/secret/

          Thanks,
          Andrew

          1. Matthew

            Hi Andrew,

            Thank you for your assistance. Much appreciated! I will check out your recommended EBA course.

            Kind regards,

            Matthew

          2. Andrew Minalto

            No worries, you’re welcome Matthew! 🙂

            Andrew

  112. Thank you for the guide!

    I have one question.
    I was going to order a solar panel from a supplier on alibaba, but they insist on interacting with me through email. They even sent me a preliminary invoice via email. Should I do a deal this way, or should i insist on proceeding with the order via Alibaba’s portal?

    The company is legitimate, as far as I can tell.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Misha,

      It’s very common to deal/communicate with Alibaba suppliers via email, Skype etc.

      It does not mean they’re scammers. But what worries me is that you say “they INSIST” to communicate via email. That sounds suspicious.

      But anyways, this does not really tell us whatever they’re legit or not.

      Andrew

  113. Wow thanks that gives me a little relief before jumping in

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Len!

  114. Hello , i wanted to ask if this one is a scam or not because they do have trade assurance and they have the symbol that they have been checked by alibaba.com .

    https://bdhuasen.en.alibaba.com/product/60549534562-0/NEW_MSI_GeForce_GTX_1080_GAMING_X_8G_Graphics_Card_8_GB_GDDR5X_256_bit_SEALED.html?spm=a2700.7803228.1998738836.186.82z6a4

    Hope for a reply !
    Regards, Tomas

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Tomas,

      It’s a scam.

      You can’t get genuine branded items from Mainland China.

      That account is hacked or something as you can see – that company manufactures machinery parts and does not deal with PC components.

      Stay away!

      Andrew

  115. Andrew,
    I know you said you can’t get branded items from manufacturers in China, but if I have/develop a logo would it be possible to find a legitimate manufacturer in China that could brand my company logo on the product?

    Thank you!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, of course you can do that! 🙂

      Most true manufacturers in China will happily brand products for you – put your logo on the product and/or create custom packaging.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  116. Ilyas Hussain

    Excellent overview. I was new to Alibaba and was apprehensive in dealing with the sellers. Came across this article via a google search and found exactly what I needed. Thank you for taking time and putting this together.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Ilyas! 🙂

  117. Hi thanks for the article.
    I want to place my first order on jewellery (not real silver or gold).
    I’m emailing a supplier who got back to my request for a certain product.
    They don’t have PayPal but said to me “why not use Western Union or just buy on our Alibaba website”, which then filled me with hope.
    To do this do I just follow the alibaba link at the bottom of her email signature?

    They were established in 2016, but their alibaba logo says 2nd year?
    They also have Trade assurance, a dollar in a crown symbol and the shaking hands symbol.
    This all sounds good right?
    Following your article.

    I literally don’t know how to place an order so I’m taking it slowly. I guess I’ll get to the alibaba contract bit soon.

    Thanks

    1. Also I just wanted to add that I googled their name with ‘scam’ – nothing came up but I noticed on a company page that knew about them that their ‘location’ was not in china? It looks like USA.

    2. Andrew Minalto

      I’m sorry but there’s no way I can tell that company is legit or not. Should you order from them or no.

      There are many, many things you have to keep in mind when researching supplier.

      But if everything looks ok to you, probably you can arrange small sample order with them and see how it goes?

      And pay for it via Alibaba.

      Andrew

      1. Great thanks.

        So when I pay through alibaba is that just using my credit card?
        Their method of payment on their alibaba page says Western Union…. is that what I will eventually be paying through? Or does alibaba have their own system with just your card?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          On Alibaba you can pay with a credit card or bank transfer.

          WU is NOT an approved payment method.

          Andrew

          1. Brittany

            Amazing!
            I’ll go credit card

            Thanks so much for your help!!

  118. Hi Andrew,
    Thank you for all your valuable advice. I am just wondering if you have any tips for negotiating price with Chinese suppliers. At what point is it expected that price negotiation should take place? I have paid their asking price for the sample and they have given prices for 50+ and 100+ etc. Are these prices generally negotiable? Should I have negotiated the sample price? I would appreciate any advice in relation to this subject.
    Thanks,
    Kirstie

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Kirstie,

      Please take a look @ these two articles:

      https://andrewminalto.com/product-samples/
      https://andrewminalto.com/reduce-moq-on-alibaba/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  119. Andrew, great article I wish I would have know half of this before loosing 2k.

    I recently was in need of somelectronic components, at the time the NA market was barren with these 2 particular SKU’s – I started to research Alibaba to see who had these units.

    This is not my first Rodeo and I am very weary of buying product from overseas – however I was in a pinch and wanted to see if I could find a supplier in China off of Alibaba.

    I found one vendor and began to have conversations with them over Alibaba platform – we then took the conversations over to Skype – then I began vetting the company – the payment process, etc.

    After days of back and forth – these guys were super responsive – I had pictures, ESN’s and everything checked. They wanted payment via Western Union and I refused – then they provided Bank info to a Paris bank.

    A little hesitant – I went forward with the Wire – and “Surprise” no product – (delay, delay, BS stories, etc)

    Is there an recourse I can take? Alibaba has been zero help.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi John,

      I’m afraid there’s nothing you can do.

      You have been scammed and that money is long gone now.

      You can of course file a report with police etc. but we all know that it won’t yield any results anyway.

      Andrew

  120. Hi Andrew

    Very helpful tips you have here… and yes Alibaba is not a scam, it’s only some sellers on it that are unscrupulous, just like you will find on eBay etc.

    I am about to buy a few electrical items amounting to $200+ from a supplier on Alibaba which is a 9yr Gold Supplier and they tick all your 12 verification steps. They are even listed on Global Sources and have a company video. However, what worries me is that they would like either TT or Western Union. They won’t take Paypal for payments more than $100 and are also saying that going through Trade Assurance on Alibaba will make it a lot more expensive. They’ve sent me the PI which looks alright, the account name looks legit but the bank is in Hongkong whereas their company is in Shenzhen.

    Should I be worried?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Geaven,

      It’s not unusual for a company in China to not accept PayPal.

      If everything else looks ok, it’s companies bank account etc., I would probably just go for it. $200 is not a lot of money.

      Andrew

  121. Great post Andrew,

    I am planning to order earmuffs, for now 200 pic but later on i plan to do bigger orders. Can you help me explain how the shipping process goes from China (Alibaba.com) to USA? What is the safest and cheapest way of doing that? Do i need to find cargo company when the products arrive in USA?
    or
    If I am ordering a product from Alibaba from China, doesn’t that cost include import duty? If not, how do I pay the import duty?

    I will appreciate any help from you.

    Tnx
    MArtina

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Martina,

      Please check this post for more info on how importing from China works:

      https://andrewminalto.com/how-to-import-products-from-china/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  122. Good day! I want to buy spy pen cameras in Alibaba – 7th year gold supplier, onsite check ,Supplier Assessment BUT – when i wanted to pay, thay said, that spy camera products in China belongs to contraband and they can accept only WU and T/T and paypal only below 500usd. I said OK and choose T/T. BUT – they send me boss account. I said – WHY???? Answear – spy camera products in China belongs to contraband, we cant use company account. I think that it is scam, but 7 years gold, own site from 2012 and…. What can u say?
    BR Sonny

    1. Andrew Minalto

      And what do you think Sonny?

      I hope you haven’t sent any money to them yet.

      I would run and run fast away from them!

      Andrew

      1. Hi!thanks for u answer. I didn’t pay. But straight that its big verified company, 7 years gold supplier.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          yes, it is strange but you never know what employees of that company are doing – what kind of tricks they’re playing on their own.

          Thanks,
          Andrew

  123. Great article Andrew, thank you!
    I have done business with a factory in Pakistan for 3 years and their quality has been getting worse and worse with every order I receive. They refuse to do anything to rectify the situation and/or ignore my emails completely. I was forced to open a complaint with Alibaba and after reviewing my case they sided with me and deducted 6 points and the case will be posted on their mini site for 90 days.
    Do you know of anywhere we can post these types of reviews to warn others about rip off factories? My $1200 is long gone but I don’t want this to happen to anyone else and am all about exposing them as the frauds that they are.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Melanie,

      Thanks for sharing this with us.

      Best way to let other people know about such bad suppliers is to write a forum post on Alibaba or say The Wholesale Forums. Make sure you use company name in forum title and it will be picked up by Google so that other people, who search for this company will find your post and hopefully avoid same mistakes.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  124. John Goode

    Hi, Andrew.

    Great article that I wish I had discovered BEFORE ordering products via Alibaba lol! I haven’t been scammed but I have ordered 600 clothing items, which after independent inspection of 50 units at random ~10% had major defects such as loose stitching etc.

    As I paid via Paypal do you think I have grounds for a dispute to attempt to recover said payment?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi John,

      Defects are common thing, especially with clothing items.

      Why not talk/work with your supplier on sorting this out? In a form of fixing these problems or giving you refund/credit for next order?

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. John Goode

        I see! I wasn’t aware that this was the case, given that this is my first clothing order. I’ll definitely give your suggested resolutions a try. Thanks for the quick reply and advice, I genuinely appreciate it! All the best with you future endeavours 🙂

  125. Thanks for this wonderful article! i m actually in the process of making buying about a 1000 Australian dollars worth of goods on Alibaba. After reading your article, i am going to ask for a sample first, i have also just send an email asking about their payment method. I was told that i could pay into the “supplier’s Citibank account in order to be covered by Trade Assurance”
    I am going to wait until i get a sample from them… the i will decide what to do next.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Sebastine!

  126. HI andrew. Excellent article. I am trying to buy two computers for 600 dollars in alibaba from a 8 yrs gold supplier and the company is from india but it saids that they ship from california and they only accept moneygram or wester union. Is it a scam?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Sounds like 100% SCAM, stay away!

      Check out this post for more details on typical scams on Alibaba:

      https://andrewminalto.com/top-10-alibaba-scams/

  127. Hello andrew.I want to buy 100 pcs of huawei mate 8 from alibaba.it cost 110$ per piece.it is a malaysian company.their payment is via bank transfer and of course company account.they are 1 year gold supplier.they said before sending inspection team i have to order first.after order i can send any inspection they have no problem.now what should i do?their company name is legity technology

    1. Andrew Minalto

      huawei mate 8 for $100? Are you serious?

      It’s a 100% SCAM!!!

      That price is way, way too low.

      Andrew

  128. Mark Wells

    I think Alibaba is a scam in that they will try anything NOT to cancel an order. Their so called “Trade Assurance” cover is the scam. Believe me they are NOT on the buyers side and they will do anything to back the interests of their manufacturers. Late production – they say – “well it’s ready now” , products wrong colour – they say – “yes but this has been changed now” , missing pieces in the order – they say “pay for another inspection and check every box. People BELIEVE ME Alibaba is in bed with their companies and NOT you. Every dispute I have entered into has gone this way. They are a disgrace!

  129. Cara Birch

    Thank you very much for these guidelines. I really appreciate it!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Cara!

  130. Hello Andrew,

    I am looking to purchase chairs from Alibaba as I am starting an event rental company. I’ve only purchased wholesale lots of clothing from these sites, no large items. I saw your earlier comment regarding exporting and want to know if this is something I should be concerned about.

    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Tiffany,

      Sorry, which comment you’re referring to? there are almost 1000 of them, lol.

      Please clarify.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. I apologize. Someone asked about buying chairs and tables for their nail salon, and your response was:

        Hi Caro,

        If you have ZERO importing experience, zero Alibaba experience, I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to do this – there are so many things that can go wrong if you don’t know what you’re doing!!!

        Seriously, unless you’re willing to spend few months on learning how this all works, you could get in trouble real quick.

        When I made previous purchases for clothing, importing knowledge was never an issue. At least none there I was aware of. Since I am looking at larger items, like chairs, should I have a concern for importing knowledge?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Well, yes, because with small items it’s all very easy – payment via PayPal, shipping via courier, customs taken care for you etc. etc.

          With bigger items you have to use sea/air freight, payment often is made via wire transfer, plus there could be more quality issues etc. etc.

          So it is totally different procedure than buying small items.

          Andrew

  131. Thanks for your advise.
    I’ve recently been the victim of fraud where a 4 year Alibaba Gold Sipplier staff member created a new similar email midway through communication.
    Then all the payment requests were made through this new email which the factory later claim they never knew nothing about
    After paying a private cybercrimes detective, we established a link to factory , a PDF file attachment in one of the new emails show it was created from their company system . Even though the evidence was provided to Alibaba, they deny and are playing dumb, and continue to allow this supplier to trade.
    I will continue to insist Alibaba take this supplier off their site. And if they fail to do, then it clearly demonstrates Alibaba don’t offer a safe trading platform
    But don’t be fooled, if gold member factories see an opening or opportunity to defraud you, they will.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Peter,

      I’m sorry to hear about your bad experience.

      How did you pay for your order?

      Was it personal bank account or Western Union?

      You should have known that this is NOT the way to pay suppliers in China and they are clear signs of scams…

      Andrew

    2. I’m in Austrila I’d like to use alibaba iv read ur helpful tips to stay safe do u hire out ur services to help people thanks Keran

      1. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Kieran,

        Sorry, not sure I understand your question…

        Can you please clarify?

        Thanks,
        Andrew

  132. I was scammed out of 600 dollars from a gold member… Is there any way I could get my money? I have emails and receipt. ..it as an offline trade from alibaba smh

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Shawon.

      How did you pay supplier?

      1. western union this was my first time using this site.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Lesson learned I guess…

  133. Hi ANdrew thank you for your tips
    It was very useful . I want to start of buying all kinds of stuff from china but have been doing alot of research but still dont know quite how to start of l contacted a supplier regarding the cost of one item or a sample am l best giving my own email address is that safe or shall l make a seperate email account for suppliers contacting me back .

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Nafisha,

      Yes, it’s a good idea to open a new email account you use for communication process with suppliers.

      Some suppliers may be very persistent and will email you every day, so best to keep these emails separate from private ones.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  134. Hello

    I have been buying stuff from Alibaba but i want to start selling clothing items in commercial quantities. Do i need any government permit to get this stuff from China to United States. Pls send me a copy f reply to my email as i usually read it first before coming here. Thank you

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sammy,

      No, you don’t need any special permit for dealing with clothing.

      Just make sure it’s un-braneded or your own brand clothing, not copies of famous brands.

      Andrew

  135. Hey Andrew, i’m opening a nail salon, i wanted to order the pedicure chairs and tables etc from alibaba, how do i go about this exactly? so much suppliers i’m beyond confused, the chairs are expensive here in the US. and it’s about 1000.00 each give or take from alilbaba.. any experience with this?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Caro,

      If you have ZERO importing experience, zero Alibaba experience, I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to do this – there are so many things that can go wrong if you don’t know what you’re doing!!!

      Seriously, unless you’re willing to spend few months on learning how this all works, you could get in trouble real quick.

      Andrew

  136. I want to order machine from alibaba I talked with suppliers they agree to pay on alibaba through trade assurance and they are gold supplier since 2and half year
    So now I have to pay through bank to direct alibabas account, which the supplier drafted me
    Is it safe to send directly money to the site?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Harsh,

      It is as safe as Trade Assurance system is.

      Meaning if there will be problems with item, outcome will depend on which side Alibaba goes with.

      Andrew

  137. Hello Andrew,

    I have been wanting to purchase some pure silver 5 gram bars (not just plated) from a seller on Alibaba but I have a concern I would like cleared up prior to ordering. I am wondering if Alibaba sellers are legally able to sell pure bullion (in this case silver) and export it to the US or Canada. Do you know if there are any laws, rules or regulations regarding it? I would truly appreciate any insight you can offer, Thanks you!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Nicolas,

      No, sorry – I don’t have any experience with this…

      I would be very careful though – I’m sure this is a high risk market with high rate of scams going on.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

    2. Just call US customs. I found them very helpful. Give them a full story, of what are you trying to do. They are the main authority on the matter of importing anything. They will tell you what you need to pay and what paper work you need to file. Be friendly and they will be friendly back. I was importing honey at some point – they helped a lot!

  138. Hi Andrew! Hope you’re not too busy to respond to a potential Alibaba newbie like me!

    I’ve been looking to using Alibaba to purchase material for a home & greenhouse construction project, as I live in Iceland here and middlemen gouge like there’s no tomorrow (aluminum costs 3-4 times what it costs on Alibaba, polycarbonate panels 15-20 times, etc). Even after shipping and customs the price difference would be massive. But I’ve never done this before and sites like this freak me out:

    http://www.sitejabber.com/reviews/www.alibaba.com

    Horror story after horror story interspersed with reviews that look like astroturf. Now, I understand that could be the squeaky wheel effect, where only those with bad experiences are motivated to write reviews. But there’s just so many… And the worst part is how they describe Alibaba itself as if it’s “in on it”, that you never get your money back from Trade Assurance even if the company rips you off.

    Now, for most things I’m not particularly concerned about quality. They’re not particularly complex – copper pipe, rolls of asphalt sheeting, etc – how do you screw up things like that? I have some concern about the promises of where they source their polycarbonate for the greenhouse panels, and I required a guarantee on the yield strength of my aluminum profile (haven’t pulled the trigger on any purchases yet). I take it that so long as I follow your rules in supplier selection, payment, etc, I should be okay? How can one “combine shipping” on many orders into a single container and ensure that I don’t go through a nightmare of customs holdups? I’m not in a rush, but I don’t want extra hidden fees accumulating or anything!

    I don’t see where that “no substantiated complaints” thing should be. Also, should I be concerned if a seller (multi-year gold star) does not have a lot of sales through alibaba listed?

    You mention that “global sources takes its verification process very seriously”. So should I just purchase from global sources instead?

    I do have one thing that I need to order that is rather quality-sensitive – custom-folded brackets for the greenhouse. If they’re not folded right, the greenhouse won’t fit together. I assume that the key with that is, don’t rush that into bundling into the same shipping load with the bulky “no brainer” stuff, but rather take it slow, get samples, and make sure that the samples physically fit, before doing the whole order?

    For the aluminum profile, I’ve had a person working with me, back and forth before finally getting a quote (I made the mistake of putting out a request for quotes based on engineering specs, which was clearly too complex for most manufacturers; I later simplified it to a specific profile with material specs with the one manufacturer). Do you think it’d cause a problem with them if I put out a fresh request for quotes, for the exact spec they’re offering (which they’d surely see)? I thought their bid was a bit high compared to the per-kg rate I’ve seen when searching.

    Sorry for all of the questions, I just want to make sure that I do things right! Those negative reviews (particularly where they condemn Alibaba itself as well) are rather scary.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Karen,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I really don’t think Alibaba is the way to go for you as it’s a small, personal purchase. Alibaba is a B2B portal, not a retail site really.

      Also, as you need so many different products, in small quantities, I can’t see how it could be cost effective – shipping costs will be way too high for you. And you would need to get samples first to check quality etc., which will add tons of extra costs.

      So I really don’t think you should be buying these materials from Alibaba.

      Maybe another, better idea would be to buy these products from mainland Europe, from company that carries all these items and then get them somehow delivered to you.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew,

        The quantities I’m looking for are not small. 2 tonnes of aluminum, for example. 500 square meters of bitumen sheeting. 500 square meters of polycarbonate paneling. Etc. No, they’re not USD $500k orders, but they’re hardly $100-on-ebay orders either. Altogether looking at maybe $25k worth of purchases, plus shipping.

        Buying retail from mainland Europe would ~2-3x the cost vs. wholesale.

        Do you still think I should be ordering retail?

        – kv, Karen

        1. Andrew Minalto

          ok, bt stil – be very, very careful to whom you deal with etc.

          Always order samples first, do factory inspections and use safe payment methods (PayPal or Trade Assurance).

          Even with all that, there are NO guarantees that you won’t get scammed or get exact material you got as samples.

          Andrew

          1. So, in regards to my earlier questions..

            How exactly can one arrange payment such that they can get it back if the terms of the purchase are violated? It’s a little confusing as I read about things like portions that have to be prepaid and the like – would the prepaid portion be lost if it arrives not in line with the terms, or if it doesn’t arrive at all? If I paid through PayPal can I just log in and dispute it, just like that? Will Alibaba actually honour Trade Assurance? When people talk about escrow, is that through AliBaba (and if so, will they actually honour it), or another service?

            Should I be using Global Sources instead, since you state that they investigate companies better?

            How can one “combine shipping” on many orders into a single container and ensure that I don’t go through a nightmare of customs holdups?

            I don’t see where that “no substantiated complaints” thing should be. Also, should I be concerned if a seller (multi-year gold star) does not have a lot of sales through alibaba listed?

            Re, factory inspections, are you saying I should do this personally, or is it a service offered on Alibaba (and if so, what does it cost?)

            Sorry for the questions, I’m just trying to understand so that I can protect myself. 🙂

          2. Andrew Minalto

            I’m sorry Karen but this is really too many questions, too detailed questions to answer for you in full detail in a blog comment like this.

            Please read my blog archive posts as most of this is already covered here:

            https://andrewminalto.com/start-ebay-business/

            Thanks,
            Andrew

      2. To be more specific, the largest single order (the aluminum) would be about $7k EXW. Most of the rest would be $2-6k.

    2. Hi Karen,
      I wonder if you finally bought polycarbonate panels from Alibaba, and if yes , who was the supplier?
      What thickness did you consider? I’m planning to build a sunroom addition and a greenhouse, will probably need ~ 100-150m2.
      Those panels are ridiculously expensive here in Canada, too. I.e. 8 mm clear ones cost ~ USD25 per square meter.

  139. Hi Andrew,

    I have received my first Proforma Invoice from a supplier.

    The company address details match the Alibaba profile and website, plus the beneficiary name is the correct company name. However the Beneficiary address is just a random office in Hong Kong. I googled the address and loads of different companies come up, should I be worried?

    Thanks
    Oli

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Oli,

      Hard to say without doing a more in-depth look at the situation, sorry.

      Andrew

  140. Hi Andrew,

    I found your article really helpful. I have been buying products from Alibaba for 4 years – haven’t been scammed yet. But I am working with this 1 year Goldstar company – http://molacosmetics.en.alibaba.com/contactinfo.html. Without much thinking I started my order already and paid them 30% via Paypal – I also got a sample. But, now that the final product is finished they want me to TT the final payment. I have never used TT before and was very cautious about it. Especially since I looked over the PI again and realized that the TT information was for Mola Cosmetics but its a bank in Hong Kong called HSBC. They didn’t list their address or anything, just the bank, so my question is should I be concerned with sending the rest of the payment? What private companies do final inspection not from Alibaba? I ask, because I already started my transaction and it did not go through Alibaba, so I don’t think I will be able to hire an inspector from their site. Any advice is appreciated – thank you for your time in advance!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mel,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, you should definitely do order inspection now, before you make final payment. especially if they don’t agree on taking PayPal for that. By the way – did they explain you why they can’t take PayPal payment for reminding 70%?

      Anyway, ANYONE can use inspection services listed on Alibaba! You don’t have to have an order placed within Alibaba to use these services. So you can pick any company you want (I usually use Richforth as they’re cheapest) and get that final product inspection done:

      http://inspection.alibaba.com

      Hope this helps!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew,

        Thank you so much for responding! I just heard back from the supplier saying that I need to pay an additional 150.00 for Freight cost, because they miscalculated and after packaging the weight is actually more than what was estimated on the PI. They have sent me photos of the finished products/ packaging- but I am still afraid that I may get scammed. Does this sound fishy?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Hi Mel,

          To be honest, it does sound fishy, yes…

          But it could be a genuine mistake they have made too, hard to say.

          But yes, scammers often use this strategy to get more money out of people – by asking for additional payments to cover shipping, then customs in China, then customs in your country.

          I can’t tell for sure though whatever this applies to your case or not.

          Andrew

          1. Thanks Andrew for the response – I am in the process of ordering an inspection to be done. I will keep you posted on how the situation turns out!

  141. Nrupen Patel

    Hi Andrew,

    I found some suppliers from Global Sources and they are offering some good price for my requirement.

    but they only accept payment through T/T or Bank transfer. one said they don’t go with PayPal (except sample) or Escrow as they charge big amount of order as their fees.

    should I really take a chance to place an order with these kinds of supplier or I must make payment through PayPal/Escrow or Trade assurance service like from Alibaba?

    once again your guidance will be much helpful.

    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      There’s no easy answer to that question as it depends on how reliable/trustworthy supplier is.

      If you can’t find those products on Alibaba, you can give it a go. But first, do sample order via PayPal. If samples are ok, then do factory inspection and if that goes all well, then start with a relatively small order and pay via T/T.

      Andrew

      1. Nrupen Patel

        Factory Inspection???????? are you saying that I should go to china to inspect the factory????

        that will be much expensive! or is there any way I can verify suppliers factory/status??

        thanks once again for your guidance .

        Nrupen

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Not go to China, no.

          Just order factory inspection:

          https://andrewminalto.com/china-factory-inspection/

          1. Nrupen Patel

            Thanks, Andrew,

            I’ll surely use your service

            Kind regards,
            Nrupen

          2. Andrew Minalto

            No worries, you’re welcome Nrupen!

  142. Nrupen Patel

    Hi Andrew,

    It’s Nrupen here again.

    I’ve asked your mentor advice on a couple of occasions before and need it once again.

    I had ordered some VR glasses sample from china, from a contact I found on Alibaba.

    First, when we had discussion about product and sample they said if I made payment immediately they will ship it through DHL very next day… after couple of back and forth I placed an order for sample and paid for sample price and DHL delivery charge too to their PayPal account ( it was Hotmail e-mail for PayPal account, however, I contacted a company through company’s website and they confirmed it same). but sample never been despatched as they confirmed next day but dispatched after a week giving an argument that they needed some time to prepare a sample for one of an item.

    All well, sample arrived by DHL and looks perfect but on the parcel, sender’s company name was different so, I asked them why is that so? they replied it’s forwarding company….

    now, I’m thinking to place a wholesale order but worried whether it will all go well or not??

    what is your opinion on this Andrew??

    Regards

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hard to say for sure but many companies in China don’t have export license and use trading/export companies for exporting goods.

      If they take PayPal for your wholesale order, you should be safe.

      Andrew

      1. Nrupen Patel

        Thanks very much Andrew

        you are alway there to answer, no matter how many times you have been asked, really appreciated.

        also, good to know that not all companies have an export license.

        cheers

        1. Andrew Minalto

          No worries, you’re welcome! 🙂

  143. Thank you for sharing your experiences Andrew. YOur advice has made my future importing very much simpler and enlightened.

    You have the patience of a saint. The reality is that MOST (def not all) of those posting who say Alibaba is rubbish are pathologically stupid. Patently they are incapable of applying common sense so I’m sure if you ask nicely they’ll send back by return post their door and car keys and complete credit card details.

    Sheese, it’s no wonder the good ol USofA is so screwed up! I’m just glad there’s a 3000 mile wide pond dividing us…

    Take care and keep up the great work.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks for your support David! 🙂

  144. Hi Andrew,

    This is a good post and very interesting comments section. You are being very generous with your experience and knowledge.

    I’m hoping you can provide your thoughts on the following experience.

    I used Alibaba to locate a manufacturer to create some plush animals for my company to sell. I found a manufacturer that had been a Gold Member for 9 years and had a good price point. I provided the design I wanted created and paid for a sample. After some back and forth I approved the sample and wanted to move on to production.

    At this point the person I had been working with directed me to work with their partner company located in the US to complete contract and make payment. Previously we were going through Alibaba as this manufacturer was part of the Trade Assurance program which provided me with some comfort being new to this. The new US company would not be going through Alibaba and therefor not part of Trade Assurance.

    What are your thoughts on this? Does this sound like an odd approach and something to be wary of or would it actually provide me with more recourse should something go wrong since I’m dealing with a US company?

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    Tom

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Tom,

      Thanks for your comment.

      To be honest, it does sound a bit weird to me….

      I don’t know the companies set-up/structure but they’re for sure not manufacturing those products in the USA, right? So why would you need to deal with a USA based company for your order?

      Not sure, it does sound a bit fishy to me.

      Have you done factory inspection on them?

      Andrew

  145. Andrew,

    your guide is great, I am pleased to say after 12 months trading on Aliexpress and Alibaba my experiences have been generally very good. My advice to anyone starting out would be to start small (don’t run before you can walk) many of the items I buy are physically small and low cost so I avoid import duty and VAT on most items, I just have to be patient and wait for them to arrive in the post.

    There have been some awful products but when you buy in smaller quantities the loss is small.

    For bigger orders I normally try to get the supplier to send me a photo of the actual product, often by whatsapp – this shows they actually have it and you can see the quality – not a photo studio shot.

    The Chinese like to build relationships with their customers, it takes a while but is well worth it for both parties.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks for your comment Jon!

  146. Hi Andrew, Your website is amazingly helpful.

    I’ve been communicating with potential suppliers and asking for quotes and ordering samples lately. Here are some of the things I am noticing and some helpful tips.

    1). The supplier wants to create the order or invoice for you. I did this one time and the supplier created a generic order form on Alibaba.com that did not contain the item, image or an accurate description of the item. The shipping method and quote were also different. I would recommend buyers be in complete control when placing orders, even for samples. This way, you have a leg to stand on and can disrupt transactions easily and keep accurate records of your order history.

    2). The supplier requested that I (buyer) pay for order offline through PayPal. Doing transactions this way, does not allow for buyers to submit feedback, review the supplier, or orders. It also does not supply an itemized order or bill. Alibaba does not have a “business partnership” with Paypal like Ebay. If you do transactions via Paypal, make sure to prepare an itemize bill or invoice either by you or the supplier and attach to the transaction. This makes it easier if a dispute arises.

    I ordered an wholesale product that was advertised on Alibaba.com as stocked and shipped overseas (in the US). The item was shipped from a different company from China. Not the USA. Buyers should verify and confirm with the supplier before placing an order.

  147. Hello again Andrew.
    I have been negotiating with a supplier in China and am at the point of placing a small trial order.
    Before I place the order i am doing some checks on the supplier.
    They have a company in Hong Kong and another in China. I am dealing with the Chinese company.
    They are a 2 year gold supplier on Alibaba.
    According to Alibaba they have done 27 recent transactions with good feedback and no complaints although I am sceptical as the feedback could be false. I suppose without contacting the other customers I wouldn’t know.
    They have an Aliexpress store and a standalone website.
    They have a video on their website but it’s not produced by Alibaba.
    Their not on MadeinChina or Global Sourcing.
    Payment options L/C,D/A,D/P,T/T,Western Union, MoneyGram, Paypal.
    I don’t know their bank details but know not to make any payments to personal accounts.
    They look legit but here is something else!!
    I asked to see their company registration document and the sales person sent me a PDF of it. It’s all in Chinese so I can’t read it but the registration number is totally different from the registration number on Alibaba and other websites i have searched their name.
    I checked on the Honk Kong version of Companies house and it’s different to that too.
    What do you make of that?
    Would it be possible to email you the information I have so you can look at it?
    Many Thanks.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Daniel,

      Why don’t you ask supplier about this? Ask why registration number is different?

      Andrew

      1. Hello Andrew.
        Thank you for the reply.
        I asked him yesterday and he replied saying the number on the registration document he sent me is for the China based company, I entered the number into Google and got zero results. I tried different methods to search the number and got no results linking it to the company.
        I copied and pasted the reg number that is given on Alibaba into Google and got positive results to say it is the reg number of the China based company.
        To me it smells fishy.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Why not try them out via their Ali express store?

          Or even ask them to put your wholesale order on Ali express?

          As there you get Escrow payment protection by default.

          Andrew

  148. Hi Andrew,
    I’ve just read your article, and I found it very helpful.
    I just have a question. I am planning to start a doll business, and I plan to buy the doll hair from either alibaba or aliexpress. I found a supplier, and they have 99% good feedback, 4.8 stars, and the products I saw have more than 50 reviews.
    Here are the products:
    http://www.aliexpress.com/item/7-pieces-lot-wholesales-15cm-100CM-curl-brown-falxen-golden-black-wig-hair-for-1-3/1897851316.html?ws_ab_test=searchweb201556_1,searchweb201644_3_79_78_77_82_80_62_81,searchweb201560_4

    http://www.aliexpress.com/item/15-100CM-5pcs-lot-Free-Shipping-Beautiful-Rinka-Curly-Doll-DIY-Wigs-For-1-3-1/32359833500.html?ws_ab_test=searchweb201556_1,searchweb201644_3_79_78_77_82_80_62_81,searchweb201560_4

    I want to order, but I’m scared of their shipping description saying “China Post Air Mail may not be tracked and may result in delays or lost parcels.”

    The shop looks legit. Do you think I should go for it? I’m kinda scared thinking that I can’t track the package.
    Your advice would really help! Thanks!

    -Tori

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Tori,

      China Post Air Mail is a risky shipping method to use… It’s slow, with no tracking info and packages can get lost indeed.

      So what I would recommend is to contact seller and ask if they can upgrade it to EMS (add courier option to listing) or simply look for a seller that offers courier delivery by default.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  149. Joseph Kafwanka

    Hi Andrew . How do you go about recovering your money when a Gold supplier on Alibaba does not ship your goods after you have paid them and their contact person stops responding to your polite emails, skype messages and phone calls after 2 weeks of recieving payment from you . The payment made to their company account by T/T. how does one go about this

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Joseph,

      Do you have Trade assurance contract in place with them?

      Andrew

  150. There is nothing legit on these websites. I don’t understand why some people aspect it to be though. I think that if anyone buys electronics from these sites like Alibaba or Aliexpress and you get scammed. All you can do is blame yourself. Think about it, it’s an item that averages more than $800 at retail. Of course it’ll be a replica. I’d only recommend these websites if you want items that are cheap. Everything is made in China anyways. That’s not a bad thing. Even the largest companies in the world’s products are made mostly in China. I bought items from Aliexpress many times. I NEVER pay via Money order or via western union. I’d only pay someone through those services if I actually know them. I always use paypal. I advise that you ask them if you can pay them through paypal.Through Aliexpress I used my paypal debit card and other bank debit cards. You can actually report them if they don’t deliver even if Aliexpress won’t help you. Currently I’m in the process of ordering $700 worth of necklaces. It’s good for items like that where it doesn’t matter if it’s a replica or not. Plus they do it cheaper than the American jewelry wholesellers so I’m giving it a try. American wholesellers give me only 10-30% of what I’d get from Chinese manufacturers if I dealt with them directly. Plus that way, I can order more. Anyways they get their items from China too. Always take into consideration every website has scammers. That’s nothing new. Just be very careful and stick to paypal!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Can’t agree more!

  151. I ordered a sabres jersey from aliexpress and it came in perfect condition and because i asked the seller he even waived the custom charges for me. So i will be buying another jersey from them but they were very nice and willing to help me

    1. Andrew Minalto

      They’re 100% FAKES!

      So if you’re happy with that, you can of course continue ordering them.

      Andrew

  152. I wish I had of read this earlier. I just lost all my families savings and just before christmas too?. Thank you for the information. If I ever do try importing again at least I’ll know how to avoid being scammed.

    Lena

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Sorry to hear that Lena….

  153. Yiwu Isabella Arts & Crafts Factory is a scam and thief company in China. I ordered some goods from them, made payment but they refused to send me my goods and also refused to send back my money. Please do not deal with the company because when you make order and payment, they will not send any order goods.

    Yiwu Isabella Arts & Crafts Factory
    Name: Leon Wang – +86-15898142210
    Name: Macfinlin – +86-15164003606
    Address: No. 8, Building 1, Qiaodong 1st Zone, Jiangdong Street, Yiwu, Zhejiang, China (Mainland)

  154. Parker Mead

    Hi Andrew,

    I discovered Aliexpress here in Cambodia several months ago. I was trying to replace a 10 yo Braun electric toothbrush. No luck here. Amazon has them, but won’t ship to Cambodia, so Aliexpress to the rescue! To pay with my US debit card I had to send them a lot of info, but finally got it setup.

    Well, it was working great and I ordered seven more items. All arrived in good order by postal mail and often with free shipping. Then a few months ago I tried to order another item and was greeted by a message that my account had been suspended due to a “routine security check”. Then they closed my account after sending me a form that only applied to sellers. An Internet search search reveals that this very common

    A friend suggested that I wait a few months and try to reopen it. I did that and was told that I could only have one try. I thought I was there when they gave me a choice of a seller or a buyer form and of course I chose buyer. They sent me the same seller form as the last time! Paraphrase the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld, No Alibaba for you!!

    I want Jack Ma’s email address! I have a theory. Alibaba is under pressure for selling counterfeit ‘shanzhai’ goods. By randomly closing ‘buyer’ accounts, which they can make to appear as ‘seller’ accounts they can show their ‘vigilance’ to the WTO or Chinese regulators and keep their far more lucrative shanzhai accounts. A search for “Alibaba closes accounts for security reasons” brings up hundreds of these. The MO is always the same. They are always buyers and they are always given a seller form, which only a seller could complete.

    Maybe this is off topic, but I wonder if you have heard of this and what you think about it.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Haven’t heard of this, no.

      But one thing I know for sure – those Braun toothbrushes you were buying from Ali Express were FAKES! You can’t get such branded products from Mainland China, they are all fakes.

      Andrew

      1. Parker Mead

        I don’t think it’s a fake. It was shipped from Sweden by Swedish Post. Other items I bought were shipped from Singapore and Netherlands. It is made in China as is most everything these days, so I suspect hey get around the branding problem by shipping from outside of China.

        The only item I bought that was not usable was a Samsung/Seagate external USB 2 T hard drive, which arrived DOA.from Singapore. Strangely I can still log onto Aliexpress with my password and view items and my completed orders. Aliexpress recommends that if I have a problem I should contact the seller first. In my completed orders there is a place to send an email to the seller. When I tried to do this the email could not be sent as my account was closed.

        I contacted Seagate for warranty replacement and sent the drive to Singapore for $16. They refused to replace it claiming it was “tampered”, The reason they gave was that the serial number on the back of the drive did no match their records. This was nonsense of course and a search for Seagate warranty problems shows that they make it virtually impossible to get replacement.

        I don’t blame Aliexpress or the seller for this. I contacted my bank and filed a complaint. The money was refunded and I even got an email saying that the seller was accepting responsibility.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You did a charge back and now wonder why your account is suspended? It’s a very common routine for companies like Ali Express, PayPal and similar to block clients who do charge backs. They are high risk clients they probably don’t want to deal with.

          Also – Seagate – it could be very well true that serial did not match as it was fake, as simple as that.

          Andrew

  155. I’ve made purchases through Alibaba and all have been successful, but I think that most of the time, when people are scammed on Alibaba, it’s because the person making the purchase is “shady” themselves. Looking towards China to buy fake brands at unheard of low prices to then sell them to your own set of unsuspecting (or even willing) customers is risky business. Why would you want to buy fakes if it is illegal? If the price of something is too good to be true but you buy it anyway, you are being greedy and selfish, especially if that’s the only way you will pay for anything. There are consequences and circumstances to cheap products. Cheap products are cheaply made. Something about them is not right. Why would you want to market cheap products or fake goods if you were not being shady yourself? I manufacture my goods and look towards China for my raw supplies only because I cannot find raw supplies in the US. Not because they are cheaper in China but because the USA hardly manufactures anything at all compared to the past. I have no choice but to look towards China and a handful of other countries to buy my raw supplies. I buy samples at first, then small quantities and then I increase and I also buy the same supply from multiple suppliers until I find about two suppliers for the same supply that I am happiest with, quality, price and service wise. I do this because I want to ensure I always have access to the raw materials I need regardless of whether one supplier has a shortage or has closed shop. You just have to be smart and aware. It won’t always protect you, but it will minimize your risks and reduce the number of times you suffer any losses. Also, try to communicate with your supplier and ask questions. Hope this helps.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Marilyn,

      100% agree with you!

      Andrew

  156. Hi Andrew.

    Recently there have been sellers on Ebay selling new release TV DVDs. I have ordered a few of these, they are factory sealed and look like the real deal to me. What can you tell me about where these guys on Ebay source these products? Unfortunately I have run into problems with most of these sellers, some of the merchandise I have ordered has turned up and sometimes it doesn’t. A recent transaction was cancelled after I had paid and the seller had sent the items and provided tracking ids. What puzzled me about this was I had bought from this seller before, his products looked genuine to me, he has great feedback, over 100 successful transactions and an Ebay stores.

    I have noticed that the scammers on Ebay tend to not have stores and their feedback scores are low considering they have been on Ebay for years. Someone told me they keep changing user names or trade under several usernames. I know that Ebay are well aware of this scam and so far I have been refunded in a timely manner when problems have occurred. I am, in fact impressed with how Ebay handle things when you are forced to lodge a dispute.

    I am from Australia and would like to get into selling new release TV DVDs, however I am having trouble finding a supplier who do not charge an arm and a leg for shipping and will allow you to order in small batches to start out. I can reasonable afford to order 20 copies of 5 different titles that I have chosen to sell on Ebay, however if these products are fakes and not the genuine article, then I am hesitant to try.

    There is a drop shipping company I am in touch with called DVDfan. They will also sell to you directly, their shipping fee are ridiculous. $30 for one DVD to Australia. The seller on Ebay will mostly offer Free Shipping, which is why I do not understand why these wholesalers in China and HongKong charge so much for shipping.

    Cheers and keep up the great work, this is a terrific source of information.
    Jel

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jel,

      DON’T EVEN think about it!!!

      Those are all illegal, FAKE, bootleg DVDs manufactured in Asia they buy for as little as $1 and less per DVD and re-sell on eBay for as long as their account stays live. Once they’re banned, they create new set of accounts.

      DVD fan is selling bootleg DVDs too, just look @ their pricing (Frozen DVD for $3.5???) and payment method (Western Union). You can get into serious trouble buying and re-selling these DVDs.

      Hope this helps & I stopped you at right time.

      Andrew

      1. Thanks Andrew.

        Wow! OMG! These DVDs look like the real deal to me, I have one of them sitting here and I am waiting on an order I placed here in Australia for the same DVD to compare them. I had a bad feeling about this before I wrote to you.

        DVDfan told me in an email they offer Paypal, but that’s beside the point, I am not going ahead with it now anyway. The only site I trust with my visa debit card is Amazon.

        I realise with the technology we have these days that this type of fraud would be pretty simple and cheap to do. It is something I am completely against. I actually reported a guy at our local markets here in Canberra for doing the same thing as his DVDs were so obviously fake, I had to wonder who this bloke thought he was kidding.

        I guess I am surprised at how genuine they look.

        This is probably why these sellers are getting thrown off Ebay. What I do not understand is if Ebay know that these seller are selling fake DVDs, why haven’t they warned me? I have sent many emails to Ebay support regarding these sellers accounts disappearing and their Paypal accounts are not able to accept funds. Ebay have never given me a straight answer.

        Can you tell me what I should be looking for, a tell-tale sign that what I am buying is indeed genuine or a fake. As I bought a new release DVD from a seller in Australia for myself. And I have some on order, so when they turn up, what should I do. Should I send them back to Hong Kong or China and demand a refund? Should I contact customs?

        Would it be possible for you to recommend a good wholesaler of genuine new release TV series DVDs. Given most of the DVDs I want to sell are US series, perhaps I should be sourcing suppliers in the US.

        A wholesale site in Hong Kong called HKTDK seem to be very popular and I have never read any negative info about them, however they also sell these DVDs. When I applied to buy these from the company who sell them, they never replied. Probably just as well.

        And finally, what do you make of directory sites that refer you to wholesalers and suppliers and ask for a fee before allowing you access to the websites? One example is this site: http://www.esources.co.uk/international-suppliers/293/

        Anyway Andrew, your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

        If anyone else here has had experience with an excellent wholesaler or has any advice, feel free to jump in and have your say. I can see I a going to be spending a lot of time here, there is a lot of great info here and I need all the help I can get.

        Cheers Andrew and fellow posters, have a terrific weekend.

        Jel

  157. Marcus Aurelius

    Beware Alibaba. ordered a 64 gig Samsung micro SD card for $13 and my friend on the opposite coast did the same. Neither of us could get the card to store more than 7 gig. We concluded the cards were either factory rejects, deliberately mislabeled 8 gig units, or pirated and rebranded from a 3rd party. Neither of us will ever buy from Alibaba again. My first and last experience. BTW, service was slow. Never had a problem with Amazon though.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Marcus,

      Ordering a BRANDED – SAMSUNG micro SD card from China was your first mistake. You can’t get branded goods from China, they are all fakes. You should have known that, especially when the product was obviously way too cheap to be real.

      Andrew

  158. A well written article you make some good points. That said for me what defines a good e commerce site is not whether there are scammers present or not BUT what is done about them by the site when they are brought to its attention by unlucky buyers.

    I have recently purchased one item (as a test) from Alibaba and I’m not impressed. The item was supposed to ship with a unique anti counterfeiting card. This manufacturer (who is Chinese) always includes one. You can check the integrity of your product by scratching the card and visiting their site where you can enter the code and have it checked against their database. It was MISSING from my parcel along with the warranty card.

    I have had similar experiences with Ebay and they ALWAYS come to the rescue. By contrast Alibaba’s so called customer dispute resolution system is very poor. There is no meaningful communication between you and the seller or Alibaba.

    So for me I’d say Aliababa has the reputation it creates for itself. I’ll be sticking with Ebay.

  159. Hi andrew

    i buy some electronic on aliexpress, seller showing in shipping ” via Seller’s Shipping Method” and they provide that site for tracking
    http://ws-shipping.com

    its looks 100% fake, what happen if that fake site showing after some time, item delivered??

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Rajiv,

      Just wait 2-3 weeks, if product doesn’t show up, simply open a dispute in Ali Express and if seller can’t provide real tracking info, you’ll get your money back.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  160. Hi Andrew, you say all stuff from mainland China will all be fakes and not original/branded items? Im looking into creating a gaming products business and looking into sourcing PS4’s on Alibaba.

    I have a supplier here that has PS4’s in Bangkok Thailand, they are verified and have been Gold certified for 4 years now! They are also A&V checked and have been in business since 2007.

    Would just like to know what you think? You seem to be the right man to ask?

    Regards,
    Elliot K.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Elliot,

      I think it’s still too risky….

      What payment methods do they accept?

      Andrew

  161. Random Reader

    I was curious about the example you provided, so I searched myself. “Baby Einstein” did show up.

    http://alibaba.com/product-detail/einstein-26-collection-series-mom-s_60183704179.html?spm=a2700.7724838.102.12.kl6dQY

    1. Andrew Minalto

      yes, these are 100 % FAKE DVDs!

      Andrew

  162. i use the aliexpress sister site and its excellent but there are more good sellers than bad ones on it. always get a refund if the seller dosent answer or send items. out of 10 orders i recieved 7 which isnt bad. some sellers will list in stock but will cancel orders as not in stock but still list as in stock which is strange

  163. I’ve been buying a lot on Aliexpress, more than 40 times. So far I’m happy with every purchased I made (4.5/5 Stars). My advise is you must read product descriptions carefully. Compare your choice with similar product from other seller. Read the review. Communicate with the seller about specific information (Product size, quantity, choice of shipping company etc). If sellers don’t reply your message, don’t order from them, find another seller. If you suspect the price is too low, you can check seller’s website. If everything in this seller’s website is too good to be true, leave the seller. Shop in another place. Refund process and complain are easy. Seller really care for their reputation here. So, what do you expect from Aliexpress? Basic principle is apply: You got what you pay for apply here. Some products here maybe are not as you expected. But trust me, some products are extremely good.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      100% agree on everything you say Ray!

      There are people who want PREMIUM quality for 1/10th of the price, people who don’t bother reading or doing research. For them – everyone is a scammer!

      But I can also say that if you do your research properly and order from trusted suppliers, Ali Express is a great way to buy goods in small MOQs.

      Thanks again,
      Andrew

  164. This is a excellent write-up. I am in the processing of placing an order with a company listed on Alibaba. The name of the company is Zhejiang Holip Electronics Co., Ltd. They are claiming to sell me a name brand TV (Sony). Payment method is bank transfer or Western Union. Shipping DHL within 24 hours after payment received. Have you had any dealings with this company?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Scott,

      Branded TV from Alibaba – sounds 99% scam!

      Do you have a link to their Alibaba profile?

      Andrew

  165. Hello! I stumbled upon this article while doing some research, I am in the process of ordering from an alibaba supplier, and everything is good, but they only accept western union, or bank transfer. They are a 6 year gold member, and have an onsite check, as well as a trade assurance crest, please tell me if this is safe to deal with. I have looked at their alibaba profile and everything seems fine, pictures of the factory has their logos … etc if there is anything else I can do please help, and thank you for this great article!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Tony,

      Have you ordered samples from them?

      Andrew

  166. I tried to buy a product at Aliexpress using my credit card. The amount was around $30. My credit card bank accepted the charge (pending). Yet, I got an email from Aliexpress saying that there were some security concern and my order was cancelled. They wanted me to provide a copy of pictured ID and a bank statement for a proof. I didn’t send them any as I couldn’t understand the reason for that and didn’t want to expose too much information about myself. I did many purchases on the Internet like Amazon, aireline tickets etc. and never before had any such requirements. Any explanation?

    Menachem

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Menachem,

      This is a very common procedure when buying on Ali Express. They do this to minimise buyers/scammers who use stolen credit cards or simply do un-reasonable charge-backs. If you want to order from Ali Express, you’ll have to verify your account. If this sounds too risky for you, then you should avoid it altogether.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  167. Thanks for this your blog,

    Its obvious some of this scams are perpetuated by employee of reputable companies, but i believe with your advice, one can ensure a great amount of safety to importation.

    Please do you know cheap but reliable shipping means, one that might take a little long time to get delivered, because its obvious i cant afford the ‘express…’

    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jeff,

      Shipping is covered in this guide:

      https://andrewminalto.com/how-to-import-products-from-china/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  168. Hi , i just get communicated with a seller at alibaba.com..He offered me the SAMASUNG S6 mobile phone with an extremely low cost price in contrast to my calculations..Also promised me about an promo such as 2+1 S6 ( as a gift ) or 5+3..Told me that these phones are 100% original and not copied or fake..The seller is not chinese but american and as i read the company is situated at California U.S…So , here comes the question is this seller truly reliable and trustable on what he promised to me or the phones are fake and i gonna get chaeted and the phones are not going to work???Thank you…!!!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Marios, what do you think?

      Of course it’s a 100% SCAM!!!! Without a doubt! RUN AWAY!!!

      No wholesaler in the World gives 2+1 or 5+3 deals on latest, hottest branded mobile phones. It’s a classic SCAM!

      Andrew

  169. Charkie Mercieca

    Hi,

    I am in process of buying a mini laser cutting machine. After reading your article, everything seems all well and good with the company. Most of the points you raised up where checked and seems to satisfy one’s buyer. My only problem is about the person I am dealing with. He use an email of his own, that is, ***@126.com, which is not the company’s official email. We also comunicated using skype, still not the official alibaba site. To say everything, when I asked why skype and not the official site, someone send a message from the official site claiming that it is him, but with a different name/nick name. You send in your article that …When you’re already in the negotiation process and receive your first proforma invoice, always check the company address, name & bank details. It should be exactly the same as on their Alibaba profile….. My question is, where can I find this information about the company’s bank accounts?
    The person in contact has suggested escrow payment, but still, how can I know that this is not a scam but the real company’s bank account?

    Thanks and regards

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Does this supplier has Trade Assurance coverage?

      If it does, you’re pretty safe doing transaction under Trade Assurance terms. Read more about it here:

      https://andrewminalto.com/alibaba-trade-assurance/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  170. placed an order and on product page states 2 days processing and 3-7 days for delivery Shenzhen Blueocean Industry Co., Ltd. Store No.1711979
    just after i place order 2 different ones seller reply’s with a fake UPS tracking number
    2nd order seller responds with a fake DHL tracking number
    it’s been 2 weeks since i placed first order and still no proof of shipment should i now contact my cc company i paid with debit mastercard

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Randy,

      Was it on Ali Express?

      Also, what do you mean by FAKE tracking number?

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  171. Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for all the feedback it really gave me some good insight of the company… I don’t have much experience in buying online but I’ve found a shop that looks “promising”

    Can you tell me if this website looks the same “promising” to you as well?

    http://goo.gl/DHvTMN

    I was on about buying some bracelets like those and sell them on ebay in the UK.

    Can you please give me some tips and some advice?

    If it works I would make sure that I’ll send you some bracelets as well in return.

    Thanks, Kris

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Kris,

      Supplier looks ok to me!

      You need to order few samples first and then see how it goes.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thanks for really quick reply (for the second time today).

        I spoken to them and they do accept paypal as well so reading through your website I am quite convinced that they are the real deal… but never knows… I will need to do like you said and order a few samples then see how it goes but after that it should be fine with the supplier issue…

        All I will need then is your guide how to set up a proper ebay shop, as I believe it does teach you a few things, as well as shows your some good templates…

        Might be a looking at a great start here!

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Good to hear that Kris! 🙂

          Andrew

  172. Is this one good to you?
    I just found this post online searching for some knowledge about scams of Alibaba.

    Any help will be appreciated:
    http://logoforyou.en.alibaba.com/company_profile.html#top-nav-bar

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yep, they look ok to me at first glance.

      Andrew

  173. Hi! I am not a reseller… but I have found a few items on alibaba that are selling single items or single sets of items. I’m looking for a reception desk for my daycare center. But the prices seem extremly low compared to other reception desks I’ve found online. But all of them seem extremley cheap… I know how to avoid being scammed when it comes to payment, but are these normal prices?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sarah,

      It’s really not worth buying just one such desk from China – when you add shipping, customs clearance fees, taxes, it will become a VERY expensive desk. So just don’t do it.

      Andrew

  174. Hi,

    I read your blog and it sounds interesting because but I don’t think it is enough to protect you from being scammed. In my experience, I did follow the majority of the steps you listed above. The supplier I approached after 6 months of research was a Gold Supplier for 8 years, had a website, videos, verified by Alibaba, and on their website they had picture testimonials from previous customers. So I eventually felt comfortable enough to order a food forming machine from them, which was obviously unbranded. The problem was they sent me a broken and rusted machine. Food and rust do not go together. So first problem, they didn’t make the machine with food grade material; therefore, quality of the machine was zero and not appropriate for food use. Second, the machine itself was not working with many broken parts. Third, they sent a Chinese manual instead of an English one. I got in contact with them immediately after receiving their pile of rust. I sent pictures and videos. They told me to go clean the rust myself and to look online for an English manual. So I contacted Alibaba to launch a complaint. They asked me for invoice, receipts, and history of communication. After sending all that, they told me that they won’t do anything about it because I supposedly communicated with the supplier offline, which is untrue. Prior to speaking with any supplier, I downloaded Trade Manager (Alibaba’s chatting application) and that’s how we exchanged info and made the order. My shock came with what Alibaba did after that. After submitting the formal complaint, my Trade Manager account which had the history of communication between me and the supplier was completely erased. If you know anything about servers, you will know that they can access that information, alter it or delete it. You can read my review of Zhengzhou Holyphant Food Machinery CO.,LTD http://www.dbph.net on Site Jabber. I also have pictures there as well. There is more to Alibaba than what meets the eye. The same way you try to out smart thieves, they will find ways to go around that process to get to your money. Remember, they do this for a living. As a conclusion to my experience, I know that we all look and like to save money which is why so many are drawn to “platforms” like Alibaba, but at the end of the day, you have to realize that you are more likely to suffer a scam than to get a real bargain. Buy from a local manufacturer even if you have to pay more, at least you will help someone in your country to keep their business going.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks for sharing your experience with us Hajer.

      Yes, there’s always that risk that you’ll receive a defective item, damaged item etc. etc. This is business and there are always risks we can’t 100% eliminate. (one thing you can do though is get pre-shipment inspection done which almost eliminates problems you’re describing).

      Andrew

  175. I had an issue with a supplier. I ordered a bundle of product. Half was correct, the other half was random.

    I contacted customer service and showed evidence.

    After nearly 2 months, customer service ruled in favor of the seller not the buyer … the seller provided no evidence, I provided all the evidence.

    I will certainly never be dealing with alibaba or aliexpress ever again. Customer service is not in their right mind … clearly!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Robert,

      Did you try sorting out your order issues with supplier first?

      As I always do that if something goes wrong and as money has not been released yet to seller, they’re quick to fix any issues..

  176. Hi Andrew,

    Thank you for sharing great tips. It’s very helpful and actually made me think 10x if I should continue my transaction with a certain seller.

    Can I have your opinion about my situation?

    I’m planning to buy worth $150 of dollhouse with this seller http://www.aliexpress.com/store/631937 and the seller offers a lot of options for shipping but I’m planning to use the deal right now on free shipping to my country. I’ve read in my local forum that they also used free shipping when they ordered from Aliexpress and it was successful but with different seller and items. It will take a lot of time but it’s fine with me since I’m not in a hurry.

    What do you think about the store and the seller? The seller offers a lot of options for payment but I’ll be using Western Union since my debit card has a problem right now.

    It’s stated that I should send it to:
    Company Name – Alipay Singapore E Commerce
    Company Code – Alipay SG
    Country – Singapore

    I read here http://service.alibaba.com/buyer/faq_detail/13886869.htm that Payment should be made to Alipay Singapore E Commerce and not to the seller. They I think when the payment is made, Alipay will inform the seller so the seller can ship it.

    I looked at their feedback and they’re active and a lot of people with Silver and Gold accounts bought something from them. They also got a lot of good feedback and 5 stars. I think they haven’t had tried shipping to my country that’s why I asked the seller if there’s someone from my country bought something from them and can they give me the link of what he/she bought but they haven’t replied yet.

    Sometimes I think they’re legit and I want to continue my transaction but sometimes I’m not sure. I tried researching some Aliexpress reviews but some are negative and some are positive. I’m really torn right now. I don’t know what should I do.

    Hope you’ll reply soon

    Thank you

    1. Andrew Minalto

      That seller looks ok to me and doll house really is not a high risk item 🙂

      So I think you’ll be just fine.

      Andrew

  177. The branded products does it include products like iPhone samsung and sk on?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, of course.

  178. Alfred Swan

    ALIBABA.COM /ALIEXPRESS.COM THE “WORLDS LARGEST CRIMINAL ORGANISATION”

    Hat’s off to JACK YUN MA the founder of Alibaba.com/Aliexpress.com these two companies form the “PROTECTION SHIELD” which allows sellers all over the world to scam anyone and everyone who buys products for their websites, with no one able to anything about it at all.
    1. If you have a problem with an item you bought you can email the seller, BUT there is no guarantee that the seller will email back and if you are lucky enough to get a reply back he will not help you. (nothing you can do)
    2. You can try to contact “Customer Service”, but you are most likely to get through to a robot chat system. Sometimes on (Alibaba ONLY) you might be lucky and get a live chat with a Human BUT of course this will not resolve anything at all they will just take you round and round in small circles and you will get nowhere.(nothing you can do)
    3. There are ABSOLUTELY NO EMAIL addresses for any of these companies, so this method of contact is out the window. (nothing you can do)
    4. You CAN NOT report a problem to the Police as they do not want to know
    5. You CAN NOT get your government to look into it because they can not do anything because china has different law’s
    6. It is most unlikely that you would find a Solicitor who would be willing to take on a case of this type and if you did there are suggestions on the internet that Solicitors fee’s for such a case would be well over $2000.00
    7. If you’re purchase was on Aliexpress and you get a HUMAN customer service rep on Alibaba as soon as you give them your order number or mention Aliexpress they will pass you over to Aliexpress customer service quicker that yu are able to blink and yes you’ve guessed nothing will be done.

    The website should be renamed to Alibaba and the on-line thieves

    The only safe advice regarding these companies is
    STAY WELL AWAY DO NOT BUY ANYTHING FORM ANY OF THESE WEBSITES

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Alfred,

      I was just wondering how I personally and millions of other people and businesses use Alibaba and Ali Express successfully for their product sourcing needs?

      Was just wondering…

      Andrew

      P.S. In no way I’m defending poor customer support situation you have faced with Alibaba. I can only talk from personal experience – that I have never had any problems with contacting suppliers regarding my orders on Alibaba and Ali Express. On Ali Express I have found that sellers are super quick to act on any problems as they know that money in Escrow is not secured yet + they don’t want to earn negative feedbacks/reviews too.

  179. monique gutzwiller

    Please help…
    I really want to order video greeting cards from a company-but I’m so scared I will lose my money to a scam. I tried to look for the things you talked about…but I don’t see anything but the gold supplier logo. I don’t know if they changed things around..or maybe I am missing something. This will be my first order from this site. It’s for my wedding…I really can’t afford to get scammed out of $1000- I’m on a super tight buget. I’m sending the link and my email . if you or anyone can help me verify this company- I would greatly appreciate it.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Monique,

      That supplier looks decent to me, no warning signs I can see from taking a quick look. If you have ordered a sample first and it went through all good and for the larger order supplier accepts PayPal, you’re relatively safe ordering from them.

      But you have to remember that any kind of importing activities carry risks – no matter how safe supplier looks. From your comment I get a feeling that you’re in almost desperate situation and desperate is no good when it comes down to business. If you haven’t done any importing before and you can’t afford any mistakes, maybe DON’t import? Find a local seller for these products, maybe buy them off eBay and just stay safe? Yes, it will be a bit more expensive but your transaction will be protected.

      Hope this helps!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  180. Help on vetting out a supplier — ABIDA INTERNATIONAL on ALIBABA –2 Year Gold Supplier with verified address and phone number . I have been chatting with the owner of the Company or business . I need help he says they have warehouses in US, EUROPE & MIDDLE EAST but the company is HQ in India .

    They only accept Western Union & Money Gram . But the funny thing is that he is telling me to send the funds for Sample order through western union to a person ( Nigerian by Name) in Cairo , Egypt where he says they have their Financial Department . There are too many red flags with this supplier , the Proforma invoice he sent me has all the details about the company .

    I am sourcing NVIDIA TESLA K40 & K80 and TITAN Z cards for some IT projects we deploying at the moment .

    Any comment or idea ?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jimmy,

      The company itself actually may be legit, they have a website here: http://www.abidarugs.co.in

      BUT they sell RUGS and similar products not video cards projectors and other electronics!

      It could be that their Alibaba account was hacked or they sold it off to someone or an employee is playing a trick here. Either way it’s a 100% SCAM! Don’t send any money to them, period.

      If WU & MG is the only payment method they accept, there’s no doubt about the fact that they will scam you. Not talking about your “bright” idea of importing branded electronics from Alibaba! 🙂

      Check out this guide for more info on Alibaba scams:

      https://andrewminalto.com/top-10-alibaba-scams/

      Hope this helps!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  181. Josh Tooker

    That’s a complete lie! I trust aliexpress as the seller doesn’t receive the payment until you have received your goods, but AliBaba on the other hand.. Complete scam! I recently got scammed on there for £437, I pid for the items and the sellers has refused to send them, I reported it to AliBaba and they said they couldn’t do anything, they said the company was hacked by a third party! Absolute ridiculous!! Complete scam, anyone know if there’s any way I can get my money back? Any procedures I can take?

  182. mark gregory

    http://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/I-s-u-z-u-Trooper_60159270908.html
    I s u z u Trooper 3.0 4JX1 Diesel Fuel Injector 8971925963

    i need 4 injectors for my 4jx1 engined 4×4 , they look real in the box item on ad , claim to be genuine and real, would they be genuine izuzu parts or copies ? i only want genuine parts.
    how would i tell before purchasing, would they in fact even admit to them being copies ?

    seller -taian zhongdi trading company , [china mainland] verified, with 2 years icon.
    the supplier supports trade assurance [icon]
    onsite check, for legality [icon]
    payments – t/t,western union, moneygram
    76.6 response rate

    on there website they claim to be a 2 year gold supplier, this i cant find on the items actual advertisement ?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mark,

      It’s very hard to say whatever they sell genuine parts or not. Or say most of them are genuine or some not. They do have an Ali Express store though with some good feedbacks:

      http://www.aliexpress.com/store/214865

      So it would be safer for you to order through there and if it turns out that they sell fakes/copies, you can always return them and get your money back via Escrow system.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  183. I was just scammed out of $978. by a place masquerading as HH Music. I want the Yamaha Keyboard line and just got to anxious so thought I would try it. First time! 3 out of 4 companies were real. They let this scammer talk to you via chat room! It is complicated to try to report it to Alibaba too. I don’t even think my complaint got through to them! Don’t buy any keyboards like Yamaha or Korg with this guy. I reported them to the FBI and to Western Union but I am sure they have many emails and names to scam with.
    He made me a deal and came back with a big lie that he needed $700. more. However these Chinese companies came through for me which are: Nobson, China Joy Keyboards, and HStart Company. They are all legite and give great service but their product is cheap and not up to the caliber of Korg and Yamaha keyboards. So don’t get burned like I did and stay away from these sites. Better to deal another way, not through Allibaba for sure!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Bob,

      Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

      The number 1 rule when buying from China is – DON’T even look @ branded products! Your example is exactly that – trying to buy branded keyboards from Alibaba suppliers. It can’t be done so don’t even look at sites like Alibaba for buying branded keyboards.

      Andrew

  184. Branded products question. Someone makes those items like the site you showed to avoid having branded products. Someone needs to make them. What are the chances that a particular company does really make a given branded item? I’m looking at elecronic components and some companies have in their catalogs pictures of similar items they made with a company logo on it and that company design. Am I thinking correctly or am I way off in my thoughts? What say you?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Chances are high but not guaranteed of course.

      I have dealt with many factories that DO MAKE branded goods for well know companies in the same niche. This is totally normal and nothing to worry about really. As long as you’re not stealing anything, don’t use logos, patented technology etc., you’re fine.

      Thanks
      Andrew

      1. I’m trying to fully understand the “…can’t get branded from China suppliers…” comment made.
        Are you saying…
        I can buy the same parts as Sanyo to use in my electronics?
        However, I can’t/ shouldn’t buy a completed fully operable Sanyo device?
        I can’t take an Intel chip and call it a Charlie chip?
        However, can take a generic chip and call it a Charlie chip?
        The use of Sanyo / Intel is strictly for example reasons.
        Gracias

        1. Andrew Minalto

          yes, sort of.

          Question is whatever you can get your hand son exact same parts as say Sanyo uses. But of they’re un-branded parts, yes you can most likely get them from China.

          And yes, you can take generic/un-branded chip and call it Charlie chip.

          Thanks,
          Andrew

  185. I am a newbie to online sales, yet not new to brick and mortor business. I’ve just begun my research which I like to do as thoroughly as possible. Add to that, that I don’t trust any human what so ever. I have sent some contacts requesting samples, and i’m willing to buy very small lots for starters. So when I order a case, about the size of two six packs, of electronic hardware (small things) from main land China and they quote me $250 for the case plus $50.00 shipping to “my door ” as I always ask (how much to get it to my door) where does Customs Duties and taxes come into play and will there be “hidden” surprises before I get my goods?
    My biggest downfall is total lack of trust (I’m still buying and selling in USA) and very detailed research make me slow to decide. I do decide however, fools rush in, is my motto. Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Charlie,

      Are you based in the USA?

      1. Hello Andrew,
        Yes, USA. Just noticed after my inquiries that you’re in the UK…cool. I’m a newbie and like taking baby steps when it comes to any investment of any kind. If I may…

        When a manufacturer has many varieties of item of interest what is considered a reasonable sample amount? One. One of 1/2 dozen varieties?

        Where is a good source for truthful knowledge about starting, establishing, and maintaining a business relationship with foreign suppliers and ALL that is involved and expected with purchasing and receiving goods for use/ resale in the United States? Including all the costs to get it to my business. And how to find out before I order what I’m going to pay at Customs Duties and Tax, etc. Did I mentioned I was OCD detailed? :-)) Thank you… (12 inches of snow last two days here, how’s by you 🙂

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Hi Charlie,

          Usually sample means one piece from each product you’re interested in. If they’re very cheap/small items, you can ask for 2-3 pieces for each item.

          To find out what import duty you’ll have to pay, use this online calculator:

          http://www.dutycalculator.com

          The procedure in USA will be pretty much same as in UK, with the only difference that you don’t have VAT to pay.

          Thanks,
          Andrew

      2. Yes, I am.

  186. chocolatechip69

    Hi. Just wanted to share my experience in hopes that it will help readers avoid making a mistake I almost made. The supplier is Kids Market Co., LTD and I found them though Alibaba. They claim to be selling brand-name baby cloth diapers that are supposedly manufactured in US. I reached out to the US manufacturer, and they confirm that part of their manufacturing is still done in China, but that they are moving all of it to US.
    Anyways, after receiving a very low price quote from this distributor I requested a sample of a product to verify it is in fact legit. The guy I was dealing with, Erick Nurdin, very rudely told me they don’t do samples because it’s a well-known brand and I can just go see it at a store in US. Well, duh, but how do I know that’s what he’s actually selling. Oh, by the way, this guy kept misspelling his first name in each e-mail I received from him. Red flag.
    I then agreed to a small order and placed it with him telling him prior to placing it that I would like to pay either through Alibaba’s Escrow or AliPay. No objections were given until the order was actually placed.
    I received a proforma with a request to do a bank transfer directly. Are you counting red flags? I finally called the guy out asking if there was a reason he refused to accept third party payment form. He got very rude and that was the last I heard from him. I’m glad I didn’t loose out on $1,600, so thanks Andrew for writing this post. It helped big time.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks for sharing this with us Kate!

      It’s a classic scammers approach and I’m so glad you did not proceed with the payment.

      Andrew

  187. Hello Everyone!

    I would like to start my adventure with import, and now I looking for good sellers ofcomputer components. I have found some good offers on Alibaba.com service, and I affraid a little bit about transaction. Is this safe and if anyone can tell me if I should try to buy something from these users? Looks good, but I don’t know is this safe… Here are their offers:

    uk108520687.trustpass.alibaba.com/product/50012291245-0/BUY_2_GET_1_free_Free_Shipping_Hot_price_for_NVIDIA_GeForce_GTX_980_4GB_Video_Card_with_700W_Power_Supply.html

    alibaba.com/product-detail/For-New-ASUS-G751JY-DH72X-17_50012366497.html

    alibaba.com/product-detail/Original-Sales-For-New-ASUS-ROG_50011921058.html

    alibaba.com/product-detail/Original-Sales-For-New-ASUS-ROG_50011862218.html

    Thank You very much for any information.

    Best Regards!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Dawid,

      Did you actually read this post?

      Those suppliers you link to – they’re 100% SCAMS, selling branded products with un-verified accounts.

      STAY AWAY!

      Andrew

      1. Thank You very much. I am on the start in this. I have found also verified sellers by Alibaba, but I thing it’s also scam…

        Regards!

  188. John Lewis

    Hi Andrew,
    I’m looking at doing business with Ningbo TOPCOM Lighting Co., Ltd on Alibaba and just looking for your opinion on them as I will be making a payment via PayPal soon and they will be shipping via DHL DDU. I understand that means I will be paying DHL for duty and taxes? Do you know if using a broker would be cheaper as I’m sure DHL will mark up? Lastly, in your experience what is the best shipping method other than by Sea?
    Thanks for any info you can provide.
    John

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi John,

      Yes, that means you’ll pay DHL for duty and taxes. No, they don’t add any mark-up on these, don’t worry. They just charge an admin fee, just like any other courier company, Royal Mail or broker. It’s usually £10-£20 and is actually cheaper what you would get doing it via a specialised customs broker company.

      There’s nothing cheaper than sea freight I’m afraid… If goods are valuable, not that heavy and you need them quickly, you can also use air freight which is more expensive than sea freight, cheaper than courier and arrives in 5-10 business days.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. John Lewis

        Thanks for your quick response Andrew.
        Much appreciated!
        John

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You’re welcome John! 🙂

  189. Matt Schmidt

    Hi Andrew,
    I am talking to a wholesaler located in the UK and want to order two pallets of red bull energy drink and have it shipped to Houston Tx USA. He said I can pay with PayPal but I wanted to ask if there is any reason PayPal would not reimburse me my money if I don’t receive shipment?

    Thanks
    Matt

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Matt,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Did you find that supplier on Alibaba? if so, that’s very suspicious…

      As for PayPal – there’s buyer protection with some rules you need to follow to get covered:

      https://www.paypal.com/lv/webapps/mpp/paypal-safety-and-security

      But it’s subject to PayPal’s review of course (if you open a case). Good thing with PayPal payments is that IF you fund the payment using your credit card, in worst case scenario you can simply do a charge back with our credit card company.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  190. chocolatechip69

    Hi Andrew.

    I came across your blog post and loved the amount of helpful info you shared. The more I read about how to spot a potential scam on Alibaba, the more confused I get about the current supplier I’m working with.
    You mentioned in your post that if a product is brand name, it is most likely a fake. But then in some of your replies you also state that many brand names are manufactured in China. I’m currently in the talks with an agent/distributor of a brand name baby product located in Singapore. The brand name is American, but even they admit that they source Chinese manufacturers to produce some of the products for them.
    The supplier refuses to send a sample, even though I offered to pay full retail and shipping. Their excuse is their product is well-known, authentic, comes with a certificate of authenticity, etc, etc, and therefore I can “look at the sample” at any reputable store.
    They are an unverified supplier on Alibaba, but looks like they’ve been registered with them for 3 years. When doing simple Google search of company name, it always comes back with multiple results with the same address and contact information.
    Anyways, I placed an order with them hoping I would be able to take adventage of Alibaba’s Escrow service, but instead the guy emailed me invoice proforma asking to do a T/T transfer. When I questioned it, his explanation was that I first pay it, then he uploads the invoice through Alibaba to make it official. Makes no sense. Wouldn’t he create the invoice through Alibaba first so the payment is actually secure?
    What are your thoughts? My total with him is over $1,500 and it’s my entire sum I have to play with, so if he gets my money and runs, that would be the end of the road for me.
    I’ve done business with couple of suppliers from Alibaba before, and we actually did it offline, using PayPal, for a similar amount of money, and it worked out fine, but something about this supplier just doesn’t sit well with me.

    Thanks in advance for your advice.

    Kate.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Kate,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I really hope you didn’t send the money off yet? RUN AWAY from that supplier!

      Free Alibaba profile, branded goods, refusing to send samples, T/T payment – its all screaming SCAM to me! Stay away from them.

      Yes, many goods are manufactured in China BUT that doesn’t mean you can buy them directly from factories just like that. far from it. Branded goods are only distributed via official channels where brand owner controls pricing and other terms. You can’t just go to a factory in China and order two pallets of iPhones, it’s not how it works.

      I’m very glad that you posted this comment and I hope that I saved you $1500.

      You can send my cut over any time you want! 🙂

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. chocolatechip69

        Thanks, Andrew.

        You did actually save me $1,500 🙂

        I came back and posted an update along with info of the supplier so if anyone googles them they can read my experience and hopefully avoid them.

        Thanks again!

        Kate.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Great to hear that Kate! 🙂

  191. A good rule that my momma taught me… “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is”

    1. Andrew Minalto

      It applies to importing from China for all 110%! 🙂

  192. So, I have been in contact with a few sellers to find some tiaras and wands. So one of them “Shelly Topstar” calls me “Dear Fluffy”. Now, nowhere in my registration is the name Fluffy. This is actually the NICKNAME ON MY CPU!!!!!! How on earth could she have known that? Can they hack me from my IP address?? Please, I need some help here, I am freaking out now because up until last night, I didn’t have McAfee installed. I do now, and the PC turned up clean, but how in the world did she know Fluffy. Please any advice?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Steph,

      Not sure, maybe you used live chat and it used your PC name? or sending some files you may send that info over.

      Hard to know without knowing your full history with each supplier. But I can’t see any way they could hack your computer, and why would they do it?

  193. Alibaba is a SCAM <— That first sentence should have been: 'Alibaba is a SCAM'

    Not having it in quotes makes it seem like you are saying Alibaba is a SCAM, then after reading further, and re-reading the first paragraph, it then becomes clear what you meant.

    Grammar matters, man.

    Grammar police.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks Tom, well spotted! 🙂

      Andrew

  194. Hi Andrew
    First of all thanks for your 10 filtering steps I’m just lucky I did some research on alibaba before buying. I say this because I went on and seen all these amazing deals and I told myself this is too good to be tru and in most cases they are so I went and started searching and found this page I read about 2 to 3 hours of all these blogs and helped me put more thought and how to find scammer and I’m looking at buying paracord and I would like your wisdom and advice on this very much so if u wouldn’t mind taking a look at this for me I think there legit but I would like your insight on this Please and thank you this is the company name http://nanjing-chongfu.en.ywsp.com this is one of there website but as this is my first time on alibaba I would really like to know as much as u know if this is legit thx.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Marc,

      Is it same company as this one? http://efivs.en.alibaba.com

      if so, they look legit to me.

      Just stay away from any products that carry BRAND LOGOS on them, like this one:

      http://efivs.en.alibaba.com/product/60110105833-221963623/metal_paracord_shoelace_charm_with_nfl_epoxy_Stickers.html

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thx Andrew Ya I figured that I wasn’t gonna buy any cuz I seen the pics of hockey teams so Ya but thx again I will go and order my samples now thx again Andrew appreciate u doing for ppl like us who don’t know anything and u open our eyes thank you take care.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          No worries, you’re welcome Marc! 🙂

  195. Hi,

    Regarding the payment to suppliers, as long as they have paypal, is it considered secured? I am about to make a sample purchase and the company does not have aliexpress i think. I have asked them and they did not answer me, and the company is in its 5th year in Alibaba. Please advise.

    Thank you.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Benjamin,

      Yes, PayPal usually means that they will deliver (they have no choice as with PayPal you can always get your money back if goods are not delivered). When paying with PayPal though, make sure you fund the transaction with your CREDIT card (not debit or bank account) so that in worst case of scenario, you can get money back via your credit card company/bank.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew,

        Oh shucks. I only have a debit card tied to Paypal. And I do not own a credit card. Is there any other way? Because the supplier is giving me an email to purchase the sample.

        Thank you.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Just pay with your debit card through PayPal and hope for best!

          usually, if Chinese supplier takes PayPal, chances of getting scammed are very slim.

          1. Benjamin

            Hi Andrew,

            Thank you very much for your reply. I will go right ahead. If I am scammed, oh well, every business has risks, I have followed your steps as close as I can, so yeah. I do hope its not a scam as it involves pretty little cash, around USD50, so in my currency is roughly MYR150. Lol. Anyway, again, thank you very much for assisting all of us in your site. Truly grateful for your help. 😉

            Cheers.

          2. Andrew Minalto

            You’re welcome Benjamin! 😉

  196. Petros Georgiakakis

    Dear friends.
    Be careful…
    I used Aliexpress for a couple of cheap items.
    Everything went ok!
    When I ordered an expensive one – a tablet from the seller “xing hui”, that cost 91,81 euros (Pipo P9 3G Tablet PC RK3288 Quad Core 1.8GHz 10.1 inch IPS Retina 1920×1200 2GB RAM 32GB ROM Android 4.4 GPS HDMI 8.0MP Camera, Properties: P9 3G n Smart Case + Black) the item never came.
    I have sent the company seven emails, attaching all the details with the scam seller “xing hui” and no one from the company answered.
    When something like that happened to the other e-shop I use (Mininthebox) the guys from there were fast and they re-sent the item.
    DO NOT buy from Aliexpress…!!!!!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Petros,

      Why did you not raise a dispute/case in Escrow?

      All payments in Ali Express are protected by Escrow so if you don’t receive goods, you can get your money back from the Escrow.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  197. hi i am looking at some products from a seller on alibaba, but they are in pakistan.

    for some reason the escrow service isnt available to pakistan, what do you suggest?
    i have bought alot of things in the past from ali express and have been happy. the shipping takes a while but that isnt really the sellers fault at all .

    only want to order a few samples but the shipping is 100 dollars so i dont want to be sending 150 dollars through western union or anything, i dont know what other payment methods are available since pay pal also dosent service pakistan.

    what do you suggest?

    1. Andrew Minalto