“Alibaba is a SCAM” – you’ll find this written everywhere online! The truth is, yes, it is possible that you may get scammed on Alibaba.com IF you don’t know what you’re doing. However, with the information you learn in this blog post, the chances of you getting scammed on Alibaba will be very slim.
Is Alibaba Legit?
Just to be clear: Alibaba itself is not a scam. In fact, it’s one of the largest companies in the world, with a market value of tens of billions of dollars. Alibaba.com is simply a platform where buyers and sellers meet. Yes, there are some scammers on Alibaba, just like any other online platform, but that doesn’t mean Alibaba itself is a scam. By that logic, you can say that eBay, Amazon and Gumtree are scams because you can find MANY unscrupulous businesses on those websites, too.
That’s why I find it hard to answer when people email me asking for an Alibaba review, because that depends entirely on the seller. If you’re asking purely for my review of Alibaba as a website, then the answer is I love it! Yes, it is reliable! It’s made sourcing from China, and many other countries, incredibly easy and opened up opportunities for people who previously would never have been able to start their own private label business. So if you’re wondering if Alibaba is legit and safe to use, then my answer is a resounding yes. But of course, that is true IF you know what you’re doing.
And that’s what today’s blog post is all about. I’m going to show you how to spot scams on Alibaba and how to find trustworthy and reliable Alibaba suppliers, using the 15-step system which I’ve used to find suppliers for my own 7-figure Amazon FBA business.
The Myth of the Alibaba Scam
And for me the biggest problem that this “Alibaba scam” myth creates is that it makes people who are new to importing too afraid to even start their research process. They have that one line repeating in their minds “Alibaba is a scam, Alibaba is a scam, Alibaba is a scam….” and that’s why, with today’s blog post, I want to clear the air once and for all. I will give you a step-by-step filtering system that you can use to spot Alibaba fraudsters and avoid 99% of scams on Alibaba and unlock the potential of one of the world’s biggest online marketplaces.
Also, we need to differentiate scams from bad suppliers. A scam is when you buy something and never receive it. Or receive a fake item. That’s a scam. A bad supplier is someone who suddenly changes an item’s price in the middle of the order, has a high defect rate in the final order, sends you poor quality goods, etc. That’s a bad supplier and unreliable supplier and someone who you should no longer consider trustworhty with respect to your expectations, but it’s hard to call it a scam, as maybe they simply can’t produce goods that are up to quality you want. That is a whole other conversation, of course, but this article is specifically focused on obvious SCAMS where the “supplier” takes your money and disappears with it.
Before we get into the actual verification and scam filtering process, let me quickly remind you that you cannot get any kind of branded items wholesale from mainland China. I’m talking about everything from electronics, video games and software to designer clothes, shoes and other similar items. If you’re looking for anything branded, China is NOT the place to go. At worst, you’ll get scammed and receive nothing. At best, you’ll receive worthless fakes.
What is a branded product?
By branded products, I mean products that are manufactured by well-known companies, like:
- Under Armour
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 wholesale from Alibaba or other similar sites—you simply cannot!
Companies with manufacturing operations in China have very strict distribution policies in place, so it’s not like someone can walk out of a Foxconn factory (they do most of Apple’s products) with ten iPhones or iPads in their pockets to sell on Alibaba. It is simply 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 of those well-known brands only distribute their goods through official, tightly secured channels. 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
- Images of famous people
- Sports team logos
- Olympic logos/themes
- Video/mobile game characters (Angry Birds, Pokémon Go, etc.)
- Automotive industry logos, trademarks (Audi, BMW, etc.)
- And so on!
To produce products with intellectual property designs on them, a manufacturer needs a special license agreement with the IP owner and has to pay fixed or ongoing fees for each item they produce. Most suppliers in China don’t have any such agreements in place, so they basically use these designs WITHOUT the owner’s approval. This is illegal, of course, and purchasing these items can get you in a lot of trouble.
In some cases, large manufacturers will have 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 that involve IP designs when ordering from Alibaba and China in general.
Now, back to Alibaba. The company has actually improved its website and listings significantly in regards to counterfeit and unlicensed products. These days, it’s very hard to find any “branded” items on Alibaba as they have removed most of these listings and suspended the offending advertisers. Years ago, you could do a search for any hot selling product such as consoles, shoes etc. and get hundreds of results full of Alibaba fraudsters. I just tried a similar search and it returned ZERO results.
They now even put up a special message when you make searches like these, warning you that it’s a branded product and you need to be very careful when ordering such items from suppliers on Alibaba.
Anyway, what does any of this have to do with our original topic? Well, the number one rule for how to avoid getting scammed on Alibaba is: STAY AWAY from anything branded! You can only source unbranded goods wholesale from mainland China!
That’s what you want anyway, right? I mean, if you want to source products from China to sell on eBay or Amazon, you will want genuine manufacturers who can supply you with products you can put your brand on, provide custom packaging, etc. There’s only a very small profit in brand-new branded goods for online resellers (in most cases), so it’s not even worth considering if you want to build a profitable business.
Marketplaces are full of sellers offering branded items and because multiple people sell the exact same product, the only differentiator is the PRICE! Whoever offers the lowest price for the item makes the majority of the sales. And trust me, when your competitors deal in tax evasion, grey imports and even stolen goods, you won’t stand a chance competing with them.
Once you eliminate branded goods, you’ll see that it’s actually very difficult to get scammed on Alibaba because most “normal” product suppliers on Alibaba are genuine companies.
And that’s why this is my number one tip for how to not get scammed on Alibaba.
Plus, Alibaba offers a range of tools to help us verify the supplier, use safe payment methods and they cover the whole transaction inside Alibaba’s Trade Assurance platform.
Still, by using the following Alibaba scam-filtering system, you will quickly and efficiently filter out bad suppliers and identify the best of the best! As I said, it’s not enough to simply filter out scams, you also need to avoid bad suppliers as no one wants to deal with defective products, delayed orders, mispacked items, etc.
Without further ado, let’s get straight into the process of finding GOOD suppliers on Alibaba, which will also show you exactly how to avoid scams on Alibaba.
This whole system relies on your ability to analyse a supplier’s profile on Alibaba (and outside of it) and to know if a seller on Alibaba is legit. If this is the first time you are using Alibaba’s website, take some time to analyse a few supplier profiles. This will help give you some context for all the information I cover in this post.
Once you become more familiar with the process, you will realise that you can filter out suppliers VERY quickly just by taking a look at their profile. So, there’s a small learning curve involved, but it’s really nothing to be afraid of.
Here are the 15 KEY elements to look at when you evaluate a potential scam on Alibaba.com:
1. Gold Supplier
What is GOLD supplier status on Alibaba? It’s a premium, paid account status for suppliers and it costs several thousand dollars per year. Having this status doesn’t necessarily mean that the supplier is 100% legit, but scammers usually don’t pay for Gold supplier status because they need to change accounts very frequently and this extra cost is simply too much for them.
Scammers usually stick with FREE Alibaba accounts and simply hope that newbies are unaware of this because they don’t understand how Alibaba works.
I personally NEVER deal with any free account suppliers as the concentration of scammers is the highest within this group!
If possible, I always try to stick with Gold suppliers who have at least a three-year track record on the site. Gold supplier status is still the number one thing to look for when searching for reliable suppliers on Alibaba and to avoid scams, especially when used in conjunction with filtering out first-year and second-year suppliers.
To see if a supplier has Gold status or not, you simply go to the product page or supplier profile and look for the number, which also tells you how many years the supplier has had that Gold status. This is the same number you can see in the search results, so if you get a huge list of suppliers for the product you’re searching for, you can identify the most established suppliers right from the search results.
If you see a Gold status supplier in their sixth, seventh or eighth year, it’s a sure sign that it’s an established company. The chances of them being scammers are incredibly slim. Scammer accounts simply don’t last that long. They get caught sooner or later.
There is an Alibaba fraud scam currently going on involving Gold suppliers, though, as scammers sometimes HACK Gold status supplier accounts or buy them from companies that go out of business. This is a very smart tactic because you, as a buyer, could tick all the boxes I cover here, and it could still turn out to be a scam.
So, how can you spot these scammers? In 99% of cases, scammers will use the Gold status supplier accounts they’ve acquired to sell highly popular BRANDED goods, like PlayStations and similar. Remember, I’ve already warned you that Alibaba is NOT the place to look for such items, so if you see these types of offers, you will know immediately that it’s a scam.
Furthermore, when you start communicating with scammers, you will quickly realise that they’re full of s**t! They oversell to you SO HARD by offering incredible deals, like “Buy two PS4 consoles and get one free”. All with FREE delivery, of course. C’mon! It’s way beyond a too-good-to-be-true deal! Plus, they will only use unsecure payment methods, which we’ll cover in more detail later in this post.
2. Verified Supplier
You can select the “Verified Supplier” filter right from the search page, if you want. I don’t do this, though, as not all suppliers are verified, so if you’re dealing with a product that is not very popular, you could filter out many suppliers who could be good, even though they’re not verified.
What does verified supplier mean on Alibaba? “Verified Supplier” means that a third-party inspection company (such as SGS, Bureau Veritas, TUV SUD or others) have carried out an independent inspection of the company. They check and verify things like:
- Company profile certification
- Business scope certification
- Enterprise qualification certification
- Product R&D capability
- Quality assurance capability
- Aftersales service capability
- Associated factory
- Cooperative factory
If the supplier has been verified, you will see the special verified logo on their Alibaba profile, as well as a list of things that have been verified.
Then, you can click on the individual items to get more information or access visual materials on the aspects that have been verified. This is a super powerful and easy way to see if you can trust this Alibaba supplier and if they’re who they say they are.
I have been in the business of importing goods from China for more than 15 years now and I have seen how Alibaba and suppliers on the Alibaba platform have progressed over the years. A decade ago, all we had to go by was the Gold supplier status—that’s it!
Nowadays, we get so much information, pictures, videos, certificates, verification seals, etc. It has never been easier to spot scammers because the good, genuine suppliers have nothing to hide. They know that people have “trust issues” with Alibaba, so they invest their money into Gold supplier membership, verification, panoramic images, videos and everything else!
As soon as you start researching suppliers, not only will you be able to filter OUT scammers and bad suppliers, but you will also be able to filter IN the really professional, established manufacturers from the short-lived trading companies and other middlemen.
So, please use all this additional information to your advantage. Be sure to check out all the verified documents, images, videos, certification and compare suppliers to find the most professional and reliable ones.
Ok, the next part of my filtering system is:
3. Trade Assurance
Trade Assurance is Alibaba’s own platform for placing orders and managing payments. If the supplier accepts Trade Assurance, it’s another great sign that it is a legit Alibaba seller. When orders go through Trade Assurance, IF DONE PROPERLY, you will get protection for your order and you will be able to use safer payment methods, such as a credit card.
Now, if you don’t use it properly, things can still go wrong with a Trade Assurance order, especially when there are differences in opinion about the quality of the items delivered. To minimise problems, you have to be very specific with your order, have all the item specs written down in your order, stick to the payment deadlines, etc. I won’t get into all the details in this article as I have written a separate guide on Trade Assurance here.
Just like with the Verified Supplier filter, you can select the Trade Assurance filter directly on the search page, under the Supplier Types dropdown menu:
Trade Assurance is definitely a good sign of a trustworthy supplier, but you shouldn’t automatically eliminate everyone else. Some perfectly legit suppliers on Alibaba do not use Trade Assurance. Basically, you have to look at it from the perspective of how many suppliers there are for the product you are searching for. If you get TONS of results, then it can be a good idea to only contact suppliers who accept Trade Assurance.
On the other hand, if there are only seven suppliers and three of them don’t use Trade Assurance, I would consider all seven before making any decisions.
4. Transaction History/Level
Transaction history is indicated by the small, orange diamonds next to the supplier name. These are also shown in the search results. Basically, it indicates how much in sales a supplier has done on Alibaba and, obviously, the bigger these numbers are, the better. It is a good indicator that it is a legit company with regular orders.
Of course this is fairly self explanatory – if I see a supplier on Alibaba with hundreds of thousands in sales, then it’s very unlikely they’re a scammer as after a few people complain of a scam then you can trust Alibaba to take the seller off their site.
I wouldn’t rule out any supplier simply because they have no transaction history, though, as only Trade Assurance orders are included and many companies work outside the Trade Assurance platform.
Just keep this filter in mind as an option for extra proof that you’re dealing with an established seller.
5. Ratings & Reviews
This is a relatively new feature on Alibaba, but it is highly welcomed as we can finally see what other buyers think about the supplier and their products.
It’s great that they also list which product the feedback/review was left for and the buyer’s country. I don’t know how much feedback manipulation goes on within this process, but so far it seems quite believable because the review numbers are not that high and, in most cases, they do seem quite honest to me.
It’s probably not that easy to scam the system with fake reviews as these are from genuine orders that go through Alibaba itself, so it would be a lot of hassle to game the system that way.
Anyway, I wouldn’t base any decisions on looking at the reviews alone—unless they’re very bad, of course! If they clearly indicate that the product quality is low, the supplier made mistakes with the order, etc., that’s a good reason to remove that supplier from your shortlist. As time goes by and the number of reviews increase, this will become a much more useful tool for buyers. Again, bad reviews doesn’t necessarily mean they’re an Alibaba fraudster, but it does mean you should keep looking for a reliable and safe supplier!
6. Factory Inspection
This is a SUPERB way of looking behind the curtain and seeing whether the Alibaba profile of the company matches with what they’re actually doing. One of the biggest problems that buyers encounter is separating trading companies from true manufacturers. An inspection report solves this problem as it will be OBVIOUS from the images in the report if it is a factory or trading company.
Trading companies usually don’t do these inspections at all, and if they do, all you will see is an office building or office space with chairs and desks. However, factory inspection reports will show you their manufacturing plant, the tools they use, their warehouse space, etc.
I have already written a guide on how to do Chinese supplier inspection on your own, but it’s great to see that Alibaba has implemented this into their portal and allows suppliers to do this themselves by uploading inspection reports on their profile page.
One thing to look out for on these inspection reports is the DATE of the inspection. If the report is several years old, a lot of things could have changed with the supplier. They could have moved locations or sold the business altogether. Ideally, I would want this report to be no older than one to two years at the most.
Not all suppliers will have them uploaded, so it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are not a good supplier. I have often done inspections on my own, even paying for them if the final supplier I have picked for a product meets all other requirements, offers the best prices, has great sample quality, etc. Again, you can read more about that process in my Inspection Reports blog post.
Many suppliers will show off scanned certificates for their products (CE, for example), their manufacturing facility (ISO) and other parts of their business. It’s just more proof that you’re dealing with a genuine supplier.
Also, there will be some products that require specific certificates to import goods from China, so be very careful when sourcing such products and always look for companies who have those certificates on hand.
Be warned, though! There are cases where suppliers use fake certificates, so to be 100% sure, you should verify these certificates. Usually, you’ll find the company/organisation name of the certificate issuer on the certificate itself. You can then contact them and ask for verification of that certificate.
Many testing houses even have online testing facilities that allow you to check such certificates for free, instantly, like on SGS’s website, for example.
Once again this is an expense that most scammers simply won’t bother with and an easy filter to help you avoid getting scammed on Alibaba.
8. AliExpress Store
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 store, 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 do you find out if a supplier has an AliExpress store?
Simply go to the supplier’s profile, then click on “Contacts”. Usually, suppliers will put a link to their AliExpress store under the website links option—if they have one, that is.
And you can take this even further. Quite often, just to save myself some time and avoid unnecessary communication, I use a supplier’s AliExpress store to order samples. This way, you can easily check the quality of the product and, if you’re completely happy with everything, place your real wholesale order by contacting the supplier directly through Alibaba or even through AliExpress!
Yes, you can even get significant discounts when buying in true bulk on AliExpress, so if you want to stick with AliExpress and its 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 a cut in fees for each transaction.
Again, not all suppliers will have an AliExpress presence, so don’t eliminate any supplier just because they don’t have a store. True manufacturers usually don’t deal with retail customers, so they typically won’t have an AliExpress store. Often, though, they will have a sister trading company that deals with retail customers, so you can always ask the supplier whether their products can also be purchased on AliExpress or not.
In terms of filtering out any scammers, think about it from their point of view – why waste time with small orders on AliExpress? If you can only scam a few people before Alibaba shut you down then of course you’ll go for as high an order value as possible. That’s why an AliExpress store is another easy sign that you’re dealing with a reliable Alibaba supplier.
9. 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, use it to look for signs that this truly is the same company they claim to be (logo/company name on office walls, factory footage showing production of the goods they’re advertising, trade show footage, etc.).
And this also applies to the images a supplier uses in their profile and product listings. I’m always wary of suppliers who use stock images in their profile or listings. Only one thing crosses my mind: they have nothing to show!
Trading companies are usually the ones who do this. They only have a few office images, stock product images and some mysterious, blurry factory images, so you can’t really understand what is going on there.
My ideal supplier has tons of pictures showing their factory, the entrance to the factory, the reception desk with a logo on it, etc. The more images there are with the factory name or company name showing, the better! These are all great signs that you’ve found a reliable Alibaba supplier that you can trust.
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. In this case, the older the better.
But don’t expect world-class website design here! Most Chinese supplier websites are very basic, even old-fashioned, and they load very slowly. This must be something to do with the internet connection speeds in China or their hosting, but it’s okay. In fact, it’s completely normal.
On a side note: even if a company has a decent website, I usually stick to dealing with them through Alibaba. Sometimes, there can be exceptions. For example, sometimes the sales agents on the website’s live chat are much faster to respond than those on Alibaba. This is most likely because they view a website lead as being much higher in value than an Alibaba lead, where they get lots of time wasters.
So, yes, if you need to make contact and the website has live chat, do try to use that option. But mainly this is just another indicator of a genuine long running supplier.
11. Trade Shows
Whether it’s on a company’s Alibaba profile or their website, look for trade show information.
Scammers, in general, DO NOT attend trade shows, so if you see trade shows listed for the up-coming months or past trade show information with pictures, it’s another good sign that you’re dealing with a legitimate business.
However, always try to verify this information on the official trade show website (for example, China’s biggest trade show is called Canton Fair). As you are now aware, some Alibaba fraudsters like to make things up, so you can’t blindly trust everything they say and show. Make an effort to verify all information on your own before you believe it.
12. Google Search &
Global Sources Profile
Do a quick Google search of the company’s name. Quite often, you’ll find links to their profile on other Chinese B2B websites, such as Made-in-China.com or GlobalSources.com.
If the company has a verified profile on Global Sources, the chances of them being a scam are reduced to an absolute minimum because Global Sources takes its verification process very seriously and has extremely stringent requirements for authentication.
So, depending on the number of stars that a supplier has on Global Sources, you can be sure that you’re dealing with a real company.
While you’re doing your due diligence on Google, do another search for “company name + scam”. Usually, this will pull up any forum posts or scam reports associated with that company.
13. Invoice/Bank Details
When you’re already in the negotiation process and receive your first pro-forma invoice, always check the company name, address and 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 common scam played out on Alibaba: the supplier will tell you that they’re having a problem with their business account and will ask you to please send the money to their boss’s account. NEVER do that! Money that goes to a personal bank account is usually money down the drain.
Scammers will also often try to use different companies for receiving money. If the company name on the invoice is different to what you’re dealing with on Alibaba, be very careful. It could be that they have a legitimate sister trading company set up for dealing with international clients, but you definitely need to ask questions and get answers that 100% confirm what they’re saying.
14. Payment Options
If the only payment methods a supplier accepts are Western Union and MoneyGram, run away! I would never even consider dealing with such a supplier. While not all suppliers in China will accept PayPal or use the platform’s Trade Assurance, 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 use a supplier if the only payment options are Western Union or MoneyGram!
The only time that I’m happy to use Western Union is when paying for samples, and that’s only because it’s quicker and cheaper to send small amounts via WU than to do a bank transfer. But even then, I’m also prepared to lose that money if everything goes wrong (I’m talking about small amounts here, always less than $100, usually less than $50).
Nowadays, however, there are very cheap ways to pay for samples and get mid-market exchange rates without going near Western Union or MoneyGram.
With companies like Wise, your money is always converted at the mid-market exchange rate, making them up to eight times cheaper than banks when paying international invoices.
Setting up the payment is simple, too. You sign up for a free account, set up your transfer by entering your supplier’s bank account information, state what currency you’d like to pay them in, and then fund your transfer. The funding options include bank transfer and debit/credit card. Your supplier won’t need to do anything. For them, it’s just like receiving cash into their bank account.
With over five million customers and co-founded by the first employee of Skype, you can be assured that your money is sent securely. However, just like with a normal wire transfer, your money is not protected if your supplier turns out to be fraudulent, so it’s best used when you’re paying a supplier you trust.
You can find out more about TransferWise in my post here.
15. Product Selection
The last filter on my list is product selection. By that, I mean the types of products the supplier has listed on their Alibaba profile.
For scammers, the strategy is simple: they have a limited time to use the account before it gets banned, so they will try to list all kinds of unrelated but very popular products to lure people in quickly. They know that they can’t use brand names in their listing texts and titles (because Alibaba filters them out), but they can still do it by uploading images of branded goods, which are much harder to spot.
It’s not uncommon to see a scammer profile on Alibaba that sells iPhones, Nike’s and PlayStations all under one roof. Again, you already know by now that branded goods on Alibaba mean it’s a 100% SCAM! But you still have to be cautious and do your due diligence, even when you’re searching for unbranded goods.
True manufacturers will usually offer one type of product, cover one product group, or deal with groups of similar products. They won’t offer socks along with electronics. Yes, there are trading companies who do this, and they can be totally legit, but our goal (in most situations) is to find product manufacturers, not trading companies. So, I would recommend staying away from profiles that have all kinds of unrelated products listed.
Another reason to be cautious is that a genuine Alibaba supplier profile could have been hacked. For example, consider a profile that sells gardening hose products. A scammer hacks it and lists a few highly popular products that are in the household goods category (say, TVs and other related products). For them, it’s an easy way to lure people in. They’re using a legit profile, so they can ask for payment via Western Union, MoneyGram or a personal bank account and scam the buyer while hiding behind a legitimate business.
So as a final filter always take a look at what other products the supplier is offering on Alibaba and use that to spot any potential scams.
These situations are very rare, though. If you avoid branded goods and follow my 15-step filter process, the chances of you getting scammed are down to almost zero.
So, how do you feel now about getting scammed on Alibaba? Is Alibaba safe?
After reading through all of the steps in this blog post, I’m sure you’ve come to realise that it’s the people who don’t investigate suppliers or who don’t know much about the platform who get scammed on Alibaba. I mean, we have so many tools and so much information at our disposal.
You have to be very greedy and avoid every red flag and common-sense warning to fall for those scams.
Just stick with this guide and you will avoid 99.99% of scams. There are, of course, many smaller filters you could also use, like watermarked pictures. If a supplier has their own watermarked pictures on their Alibaba product showcase, it’s another good sign that they are a legit supplier because scammers usually don’t have the time or resources to get unique product pictures.
You also have to consider the communication style and how aggressively the supplier is offering incredible deals (offers like: Buy 2, get 3, FREE shipping, etc., which are all clear signs of a scam!). In short, use common sense! If it looks too good to be true, it definitely is!
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 the advice in this blog post.
Let me quickly remind you once again that there is 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, the 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, then you can place your first real order. I recommend you keep your first order to a relatively small amount and increase it gradually. Why? Suppliers often send out a perfect sample. If you place a massive first order and they send you a lower quality product, you’re stuck with a lot of it.
Ideally, you would do a factory inspection before you place your real order if an inspection report is not already available on the supplier’s profile page. This way, you can verify that the supplier is actually what they appear to be and reduce the chances of you getting scammed.
Verification is also important if you want to deal with manufacturers ONLY, as many trading companies advertise themselves as manufacturers when they’re actually just a middleman and don’t have any manufacturing facilities. An inspection report will reveal the truth!
Well, that’s it for today. I really hope you enjoyed my “review of Alibaba” and that this helps you to stay out of trouble and avoid scams on Alibaba! As I said, there are not that many scammers left on the platform at all, but if you avoid branded goods and follow my 15-step process for how to avoid scams on Alibaba, your chances of getting scammed are reduced to an absolute minimum.
To educate yourself more on this topic, please check out my TOP 10 Scams on Alibaba article to familiarise yourself with the telltale behaviours of a typical scammer, which will teach you how to spot scams on Alibaba from a mile off!
If you have any questions, I’m here to help! Please leave your comments below the post and I will personally answer them within 24 hours, Mon-Fri. I’m happy to share my knowledge and 15+ years of experience with anyone who is new to this process and needs help.
Lastly, if you would like to learn more about importing products and building an Amazon FBA business using your own branded goods, check out my Amazon Sharks program:
It’s got 20+ hours of video lessons on how to start a successful Amazon FBA business that take you from A to Z. Branding, importing from China and everything else you need to know is covered in great detail in the course. You will also get my personal support, various bonuses and free updates for life. So definitely check it out here.
Good luck with your importing and stay 100% SCAM-free! 🙂
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Great information but I’m currently going through a hell of a time with Alibaba (NOT) Trade Assurance.
I received my new tractor but it is riddled with faults due to poor assembly, but the biggest issue is some mayjor components were substituted with cheaper inferior ones and a number of items were not even sent.
I’ve been dealing with the Disputes team for some 8 weeks but its been clear from the beginning that this is a seller’s advocate and the person on the other end has demanded “evidence’ after “evidence” after “evidence”. Once supplied they move on to the next demand. I’ve already had to fork out over $500 for a report and the customer service officer now says “you can’t expect the seller to pay for this can you”.
I’ve asked for a contact within Alibaba to pursue this with but the request simply gets ignored.
Trade Assurance is what convinced me to buy in China. Had I known it was a deceitful lie I would never have purchased my equipment from China. Now it appears there is little way out to get any genuine solution to the fraud/theft which Alibaba calls Trade Assurance. I would warn readers that they risk their money by purchasing on the belief that Alibaba will protect their rights……even if the company they purchase from is a Gold Level Customer like the one I used was.
If anybody can provide contact details within Alibaba where I can bypass the loop which protect the dishonest seller then it would be very helpful as I now face a repair bill and a product which is not what I ordered. Its been a horror story of why not to buy Chinese. The price was good but the result speaks for itself.
Sorry to hear about your problems. I would never suggest ordering such an item from Alibaba/China for precisely this reason – for complicated, high value items the saving is usually never worth it vs the warranty you would get buying from a company in the US / EU.
And Trade Assurance won’t help you much as it’s too technical – it’s more for items that are not delivered at all or clearly faulty etc.
The only thing I can suggest is to keep escalating it with them. Have you not had any luck speaking to the company directly?
Paid deposit by credit card and balance by wire transfer.
On the point of passing the Dispute Department what do you think about writing to Head Office in Hong Kong? Snail mail.
It seems to me that the Disputes Department may be unaccountable despots if there is no way of bypassing them.
Its a sticky situation but I’m hopping mad about being scammed and having the Disputes Department ignore all requests to escalate the issue and play the game of ‘nothing we can do’ when Alibaba Trade Assurance is held up as a guarantee that customers will not be burnt.
If it were a $100 items I’d move on. Unfortunately its a $24,000 item and its plain wrong that Alibaba takes side with the dishonest Chinese seller rather than the aggrieved party. This is not business. Its theft.
I am coming to agree with you that on the big ticket items one should NEVER deal with Chinese sellers as a one off sale to them seems to be a green light to act dishonestly. Not something to ever want one to transact with this country again.
What percentage was the deposit? I’m hoping it was a large amount of the total order as for that portion you can contact your bank and get your money back.
That’s a good idea to send an actual letter to their head office. I would try every avenue possible as like you say, it’s not a small amount to simply forget about it. I personally would involve a lawyer as they’re more likely to take your complaint seriously then.
And yes, I was seriously considering ordering some high value machinery for a business venture a number of years ago but in the end I paid 3x more to get it from a European manufacturer, purely for the warranty. It’s just not worth the risk in my opinion.
I’ve repeatedly asked the person claiming to be from The Disputes Team to escalate the issue, but they just ignore the request.
I’ve also persistently repeated the Trade Assurance promise of getting what you pay for with goods being as per the Contract and in a suitable condition. In my case there are substitutions of components with inferior ones, missing items and more faults than anybody could ever imagine. The tractor is pretty well unusable in its current state.
What I really need is information so I can bypass the current seller’s advocate and escalate the issue. The website has absolutely nothing to take one past the Dispute Resolution stage, which is a blatant seller protection team. I’m looking at being out of pocket by a significant amount of money with the seller having pulled off her scam and now, apparently, untouchable.
If you have any contacts I’d be so grateful for the information. Thanks
Unfortunately there’s no such way to bypass the dispute resolution stage, otherwise I would of course be more than happy to share the contact info.
Sadly there’s not a lot I can suggest at this point. I’m assuming you didn’t pay by credit card?
Beware of Karis Imp&Exp Co., LTD!
I’ve ordered an RTX 3080 Ultra 10G, which is 660 USD each, and spent around 30 grand but I haven’t received any of the product. And after paying, Mr. Hugo, the contact person, cut me off. He
stopped replying and I did not hear anything from him.
Their website is nice and somewhat believable and he (Mr Hugo) also coordinated with me using
WhatsApp. They also have a picture of their business license, but in Chinese, and some company photos so they really look legitimate.
You CAN’T get such items from Alibaba or anywhere in China for that matter. It’s just not possible, no matter how legitimate the website looks it’s 100% a SCAM.
Hi, Andrew ! I have a very simple question. I found a chinese suplier for copper scrap – with trade assurance, verified supplier, etc, videos, BIG factory in China. EVERYTHING seems LEGIT. With one exception – the price. Curent prices per ton copper scrap are 9 000 dollars per ton. Chinese factory sell for 1 000 dollars per ton (IF YOU buy more than 100 tones). For me, honestly, is too good to be true and I WONDER where is the catch. EVERYTHING seems legit, but price is not real for me. I just wondering if the scammers are advanced enough to falsificate ENTIRE FU**ING FACTORY in China.
You’d be surprised at how much effort scammers can go to!
Thank you for the insite! I’m looking to purchase about 4k USD of furniture from a Chinese manufacturer on Alibaba.. everything seems legit (510,000+ transactions, 4.8/5 star reviews, images of the manufacturing process etc). I just noticed a TUV Rheinland verification though and looked up the certificate on the TUV Rheindland database and could not find it. I looked again at the certificate and realised it looks fake.
I wasn’t hesitant until now – but everything else seems ok? I wonder if it was done by the company to try and keep up with the competition.
Do you have any thoughts? 🙂
What makes you say it looks fake?
It would be very strange (and stupid!) for the company to fake one, especially if they have over 500,000 in transactions.
I would contact RUV Rheindland directly and ask them to authenticate the certificate.
Let me know what they say!
All the best,
Thanks for the response Andrew! I did exactly that and contacted TUV who confirmed everything was legitimate! I will be purchasing from them soon enough 🙂
Hi Andrew, I am planning to order Construction steel materials from alibaba that is worth 230,000 usd is it normal that my supplier does not want me to pay through trade assurance since they said that it will be a risk for them as the steel materials keep rising and said that when I pay through trade assurance the payment will be hold by alibaba until I received the goods? I am paying 30% Downpayment and if you can check their profile in alibaba this is the company name “Tianjin Longford metal productd Co.,Ltd.” Appreciate it if you can help me this is my first time ordering this amount.Thank you.
Have you ever dealt with this supplier before?
If not I would be doing a lot more due diligence and visiting China in person for an order of that size.
I have ordered Graphics card from Alibaba. I payed from Paypal. After the payment he told me that he only allows payments from Friend and family method only. I made payment from goods or supply method. He tell me to confirm the payment from paypal (Purchase complete) and after then he will ship my order. I told him that I cant confirm before I received the order. Now he not replies to messages. Conversation done through Alibaba messages but payment didn’t go through Alibaba. What should I do? Is this a scammer.
I’m sorry to say that has a number of clear signs of a definite scam!
1. Selling graphics cards – you simply can’t find such branded products from Alibaba or from any Chinese suppliers for that matter.
2. Insisting on payment via PayPal friends and family – again this is another clear sign that you’re being scammed.
I’d recommend taking a look at this article that I wrote which covers both of these and the other most common scam attempts on Alibaba: https://andrewminalto.com/top-10-alibaba-scams/
I have a supplier that says they will accept Payment through Alibaba for samples but they do not want to take payment for the mass order through Alibaba. They say they use wire transfer because Alibaba charges them 2% fees. Sounds weird to me but the company is Gold Standard, verified, with ALibaba video, 8 yrs with Alibaba and 4 on supplier index rating. What gives?
This is actually not that strange.
I get a lot of emails from people scared that their suppliers doesn’t want to take payment via PayPal for example, due to the fees, and this makes them scared it’s a scam!
However like I said it actually makes sense as when they’re working with small margins that 2-3% can make a big difference.
BUT there should be no problem for them to take the payment through Alibaba or PayPal as long as you’re covering the fees. That’s always a telltale sign whether it’s a scam or not.
Hi, i placed a an order ($1000) with a supplier and even though i mentioned that they have not put my complete address on it, they still sent it out and it got sent back. Then they claimed to have resent it, but refused to give me any evidence that they had, no tracking number, no evidence they had posted it (i believe they have lost the parcel).
(Trading with this person has not been good, most replies to questions, yes,no and very often nothing, i believe there business was given to them…there is no way they could have built up a business with that ” carefree ” attitude, not once have they used the word sorry or apologized)
So the short and sweet of this, is they now want $500 more before they will resend and they refuse to refund me, i have put in 2 complaints on Alibaba, both where closed with out any reason why, so after going in to live chat a lot (about 30 times now), i was sent a email by the dispute team, where they wanted evidence of the supplier sending it with my wrong address and proof of me contacting a courier company etc and i sent them all the proof via screen shots they wanted and more.
After over 2 months, they refuse to reply, so then about a month back, i spoke to a women in live chat…and made it very clear that the dispute team or corrupt…so she ask me to give her all the details (screen shots) i had, then she said she would contact a higher management (we were chatting for over an hour, these women in live chat, really do try there best to help), i was sent an automated email that said follow up case and i have replied to it, 2 or 3 times asking for an update, but no replies.
The supplier is still trading and the dispute team will not discipline them, to me this is…Alibaba management corruption scam…
Have you ever heard of this happening before and is there any other way for me to sort this out (they have Trade Assurance, but i don’t)?
Thanks for all the info on your site and any advice you can give.
Sorry for not replying to this earlier, I missed a few comments. Did you ever get this resolved?
It was the 13 Jan 2021 when i made my 4th and last complainant.
This is the email i got after speaking to the lady in chat:
” Hi Buyer,
Thank you for contacting Alibaba.com.
Concerning on the issue that you speak of. Your issue has been fowarded to our higher department. We will now begin to reivew your issue and fix this as soon as possible. Please do bear with us for the mean time. ”
So after near two week of no update on this, i sent several emails asking for an update and then on the 24th Feb i got this message:
” Hi Customer,
Thank you for contacting Alibaba.com.
On this since there are no response from you within 3 working days, I will now close the case if you have any concern feel free to contact us on the live chat, thank you. ”
(I sent several emails after that, but they will not reply)
They or just mucking me about: ” when i made the 2nd complainant on Alibaba, 40 days had past with no news on my complainant, so again i went into live chat (more times then not, when i went in live chat, they would just say…weight a few more days or a week…sometimes) on Alibaba, when i was in live chat, i was looking for a screen shot on my pc to share with the lady in chat, but was gone more then 5 min and got cut off. And then they want and closed the unsorted out (40 day old) 2nd complainant, the reason they give for closing it was…because i was cut off in chat… ”
I have bought stuff from two other suppliers before this supplier and had no probs.
This order that the supplier will not deliver was paid for in May 2020 via the same payment method i used with the first two suppliers Western Union.
But as i have told the people in live chat and via emails to Alibaba, i will never use Alibaba again until this is sorted out.
Thanks for the quick reply.
No, when i last contacted them to do with one of the chat staff contacting someone, i got this email:
“Concerning on the issue that you speak of. Your issue has been fowarded to our higher department. We will now begin to reivew your issue and fix this as soon as possible. Please do bear with us for the mean time.”
So after a few week i sent serval replies asking for an update, but nothing. That is 4 in total complaints now. Alibaba ” will not ” deal with this supplier.
Andrew if you feel you can contact someone higher up at Alibaba and get my order delivered, i will be more then happy to pay you for the trouble.
Thanks for the reply.
Mr C Clayton.
That’s extremely disappointing from Alibaba. How long is it now since the complaint was escalated to higher management?
Also how did you pay for your order?
Placed a similar order and the guy used a fake tracking website to lie to me, +84766704294 thats hes number, https://www.nyklinelog.com/ the fake website to provide the tracking. Do not make payments offline from alibaba theres tooo many scammers out here, they pretended my order got stuck in customs and apparently i had to pay extra £650 just to release it loooool.
This is another common scam. Both the fake tracking and then trying to get even more money from you by saying your order is stuck at customs! I covered that in my Top 10 Scams on Alibaba post here: https://andrewminalto.com/top-10-alibaba-scams/
Very educative information
Is buying brands like Yamaha keyboard ok, you have any link of a trusted supplier ?
I don’t suggest trying to source any such branded products from Alibaba!
Very helpful I was almost falling a trap …I saw advert buy two tv get two free it’s. Scam??
100% a scam! Don’t even think about it.
When you have something shipped using Alibaba ocean express where do you pick it up? I live in Ohio and I’m sure they don’t deliver to your door.
When using sea or air freight you should always arrange a door to door shipment, so the fee includes all customs clearance (not including taxes as that’s your responsibility) and shipping to your door.
So if you get scammed then is there any way to get the money back
If you pay via wire transfer, Bitcoin, Money Gram, Western Union and similar forms of payment method, there’s no way to reverse the payment.
Thanks for the guide, I’ll looking at importing yoga wear. I’ve found suppliers by filtering:-
1. Only Gold standard suppliers (3 years+)
2. Only verified suppliers
3. Only manufacturers (using verified reports)
4. High number of transactions
Q1. Some of the suppliers don’t have an export licence according to the verification report, yet they export 90% of products. Is this a red flag?
Q2. I’m been trying to verify the company location using google maps but when I put the address into google maps it can’t find the address. Is this a red flag?
Thanks for your comment.
1) It could be. But on the other hand, many factories in China will have “sister trading companies” who will deal with exporting clients. So, the fact that the factory doesn’t have an export licence DOES NOT automatically mean that they’re a scam, no. Just contact them and ask on how they handle exports when they don’t have an export licence.
2) To be honest, I have never used Google Maps for China – from what I know, it could be widely inaccurate or you simply don’t know how to properly use it/find the address. Either way, yoga wear is not a high-risk item and you should be able to find legit suppliers using normal verification procedure, ordering samples etc.
Sorry Andrew, I just got another question. It seems to be difficult for some reason to find a Gold standard supplier on my niche. There are very good ones with years in the market with trade assurance available like I said on my last post and they are verified suppliers too, but I cannot help but notice why there does not seem to be much of any with Gold standard in addition to the other badges, I know you said badges are not all, but what would be the best thing to do in this case, would it be better to find another niche that has the three badges?? Many thanks again and sorry to keep troubling you.
That does sound unusual to me as in most niches, most of the suppliers have the Gold status.
Are you sure you’re not looking for some high risky/branded goods?
As that would explain the fact that you can’t find any Gold suppliers.
I think I am confused, so the gold symbol is not there, but when I press the number of years say 5 years it takes me to the explanation about the Gold standard, so I assume the suppliers are Gold standard then they just no have the symbol, but instead the years. Is this correct?? Thank you so much again!
Yes, correct 🙂
I just want to venture in importing and I spoke to some supplies for sample order
I really have a good read on what to look for
But she asked for to drop my orders on her WhatsApp
Is that safe?
Thanks for your comment.
No, you shouldn’t really place an order via WhatsApp. It’s best to keep all the communication on Alibaba and place orders via Trade Assurance.
Otherwise, you won’t know who you are dealing with really – maybe it’s an ex-employee or something and the company is not responsible for their actions.
Hi, Would really appreciate your help, if someone has trusted supplier and also Trade Assurance, but not Gold Standard is this ok? It just makes me wonder why especially because some of the suppliers have been on Alibaba for years, why do you think is this? Thanks very much, Alicia.
These “badges” alone doesn’t mean anything. Even a Gold supplier can scam you, especially if you’re looking for high-risk items.
BUT you can minimise these risks and one rule to follow is to deal ONLY with Gold suppliers. So yes, unless there’s no choice at all, I recommend that you stick with Gold suppliers only.
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. I will look into other suppliers then. I am taking my time to figure things out.
This was so helpful! I’ve ordered little stuff (unbranded) here and there but I’m a filmmaker and so decided to look up some film cameras / drones.
Without any hesitation I put in an order for a drone that was 1/4 the actual price and now the supplier says he’s out of stock till next year, yeah right!
I was about to make a second purchase with another supplier for a very expensive camera but I knew there was no way this camera which generally cost $8k would go for $1k.. is there anyway to report these sellers?!
The supplier insisted this was the real deal but I knew it was too good to be true! I found out it was a scam because they only wanted to use moneygram /western union .. great read, thanks for your help!
Glad I could help! 🙂
Yes, they’re all scams. Don’t even think about buying such branded equipment from Alibaba.
And there’s no point in reporting them anyways, as they close down and create new profiles all the time.
Thank you for in-depth guide on alibaba. I am just in the process of chatting and requesting samples from a supplier. They have asked for my address and phone number and email address. I am just wondering if I can pay through alibaba for the samples. I am reluctant to provide my phone number in the event I get scam calls from them.
Thanks for your comment.
Technically supplier can set-up Trade Assurance order for samples, yes, but usually it’s not done that way. If you can’t trust supplier with the sample, which is usually a small amount of money, then you shouldn’t use that supplier at all OR shouldn’t import from China at all.
As for scammers getting your phone number – I don’t know – in over 15 years of doing this and sharing my phone number thousands of times, I haven’t faced this problem. Yes, some suppliers will send you messages, but it’s super easy to block them (if you want). That’s it.
Hey Andrew, thank you for this article. I have been looking for suppliers of genuine customized name necklaces. Should I go ahead because I’m not really sure if it’s okay to buy jewelry on Alibaba or not.
Thanks for your comment.
What do you mean by “genuine”? Are you after some kind of branded jewellery? Then no, Alibaba is not the place to use.
Question, if a customer buys a product from your website which means you would have to use the customer’s money to buy the product from your Alibaba supplier along with having the supplier ship the product to the customer. Is there way you can request the supplier to send your invoice with your companies title excluding the supplier’s invoice so that the customer doesn’t get confused seeing a different company name and price on their invoice? How does that work?
Thanks for your comment.
What you’re describing is called dropshipping (not wholesale). Alibaba can’t really be used for dropshipping in 99% cases as MOQs will be hundreds or thousands of units. So, you need to buy the item in bulk, ship it to yourself (or Amazon) and then sell individual units to customers.
If you want to do dropshipping, you need to look for specialised dropshipping companies, who will also be flexible with the shipping and invoicing options.
Hi Andrew. I had a good read and truly thank you for your efforts and time for this article.
I’d like to thank you in advance if you happen to read my comment.
It is my first time purchasing from Alibaba and I’ve engaged a few suppliers. One supplier stood out as he was very responsive and friendly. All of them MOQ is 10,000 bags as I need some customization on the size of it. I truly understand that, however, I wanted to purchase just 100 bags for sample and if all goes well. I will purchase another 10,000.
The supplier that has been in touch with me the most has decided to make this special request for me. He has fulfilled most of your pointers such as gold status, 2 years in the market, and seems pretty genuine. He even emailed me the quotation through their company domain name email. However, he doesn’t have an Aliexpress store and I couldn’t find them on Global source profile.
I have recently encountered a tiny issue, which I’m not sure to mark it as a red flag or perhaps just some miscommunication. I sincerely seek your advise.
So, I requested for 2 cartons which is equivalent to about 100 bags for sample. After much negotiation, he decided to do it for me. Then came a payment through the Alibaba chat. I paid and didn’t look at the quantity, 1 day later, i did the maths and found it abit way too cheap so I double check and the payment was actually for only 2 bags instead of 2 cartons. I messaged him on the error and he said that they are doing it seperately because it is hard for them to customise to my requirements at such a low quantity. I can understand since he is doing me a favor. However, I asked again, since you’re already going to make 2 bags. Why can’t you just make 100 bags on the way? In the end, he said ok. He will make 100 bags for me.
So a payment of the remaining 98 bags came. The price per bag was good. But the shipping was very very expensive. I wonder if they can adjust it or is it through alibaba. The first payment i made for 2 bags was $44. The second payment i made for the remaining 98 bags is $582. This is issue that I’m unsure if it’s supposed to be like that. He mentioned that they are using DHL air shipment that is why is it so expensive. If it is a big order, they can go by sea which is $600(shipment fee) for 10,000 bags.
I’m not sure if it’s a red flag or i’m just new. Please advice. Below are the possible red flags.
1) 2 bags instead of 2 cartons
2) Initially he told me it’s hard to make 100 since I’m requesting for a bigger customized size which is understandable. However, if he can make 2, why not just make it 100.
3) I realised that based on the size that i want. The quotation per bag is cheaper when i ordered 100 bags compared to ordering 10,000.
The quotation was about $0.80 per bag for 10,000 bags.
But the sample of 100 bags is $0.50 per bag.
Is there anything weird here or am I thinking too much. Sincerely hope you can advise me. Appreciate it.
Thanks for your comment.
I really can’t tell you whatever it is a scam or not, but I can’t see any major problems with the story you have outlined here.
The only thing that doesn’t add up is that price for the bag is CHEAPER for the sample order compared to the 10k order. That can’t be right.
But maybe they simply added the extra cost to the shipping fee they charged you? That would make sense and the numbers could work out.
Fantastic article, Its a must read for people that want to buy products in China.
Here my dilemma, how you can help.
Since 10 years i buy products from 2 companies in China. They are in a niche market and they are also the only ones producing this type of equipment for the whole world.
Last month i discover a new company in Alibaba that cleans to be doing the same type of products. The company is 1 year old registered and gold supplier. There is videos and images of the new products, and company registration was verified. They have also registered a trademark, that i confirmed is legit…
Now it comes that i already catch them in a lie last week.
On Alibaba company page there is 3 registered people to handle customers requests. 1 of them being the supposed boss. Last week i discovered that in place of being in talks with with 2 persons, like they let me believe, i was chatting with the same person, the boss. So the boss let me believe that i was in communication with 2 persons while he is the one playing 2 characters.
Then i think, if he lie about such small things, he will lie about anything.
The problem is that there is no other manufacturers producing this items.
What would you advise i should do?
Thanks for your comment.
Why do you need/want to change the supplier? If you have a good working relationship for 10 years now, why would you want to change that?
For a cheaper price? I wouldn’t risk that with a brand new supplier. And even if they’re good, you should ask your current suppliers whatever they can lower the price for you BEFORE you switch over to a new supplier.
At least, that’s what I would do.
Thanks for your informative website/blog. I’ve been scammed by a third party supplier from Alibaba named SOMJAI KHONSONG CO. LTD and the shipping company is ASIA MARITIME LOGISTICS CO. LTD. both from THAILAND. Beware of these companies, very dishonest !!!!
Hi Andrew I just placed an order for 2 different type of items. The first item I ordered about 50 and received them, the 2nd item I purchased 20 and they send another item instead. What should I do, they stated they would send me the item I ordered but I would need to pay shipping is that normal? I don’t want to be out of more money. Thank you.
If they made the mistake, they need to cover the additional costs.
You should send back wrong items too.
They want me to cover half of shipping to get me the items I ordered. They told me to keep the other ones. (Or ship them back but I would have to pay) I told them I didn’t want the other ones and they said they wouldn’t pay for shipping to me on the right items and basically if I don’t pay then I wouldn’t get them. They did offer to refund me on the ones they didn’t send. I just don’t know what to do. Should I try to open a claim on them or something.
Thank you for responding.
OMG!!. Thanks for this Andrew. I have been trying with Alibaba since 10th May – 26th September 2020. I named them “Alibaba and the 40 thieves” and left the site. I have literally been checked hundreds of suppliers, sent sooo many emails asking for RFQs, etc., trying to place orders for Amazon Fire Sticks, and then BAMM!!, every “company” sent a what’s App message with info to pay by money-gram, various cash-apps, or western union. I thought to myself, “my God, why aren’t these people using Banks?”
They all want money sent, usually not in the country where the factory is “supposed” to be listed/located, eg one factory owner supposedly in China, but a 2nd person who contacted me lives in Saudi and he directed me to make payment to a 3rd person living in the US!. None of their email address & websites exist. Everyone wants you to contact them via What’s-app “for fast payment, processing and delivery”, thus avoiding the official platforms I suppose.
No way I was going to pay some 3rd or 4th party in another country, or anyone for that matter an unsecured payment. This was the M.O. of EVERY Supplier that contacted me, and I became suspicious, reported & deleted their What’sapp messages. Now thanks to you i will go back and try one last time. Will let you know how it goes.
Please don’t waste your time – Alibaba is NOT the place to source branded goods like the Amazon Fire sticks you’re mentioning.
Alibaba is only good for un-branded goods.
thanks for this article, it helps a lot. I contacted recently few suppliers concerning the same quantity and type of product. However one demands 600USD and the other one 1000 USD for a DDP delivery (product price is 1200 USD). I am not sure if the second one is just very pricy or the first on is trying to avoid VAT and import taxes. Do you know if there is a way to proof this`? Thank you!
Thanks for your comment.
In general, I strongly recommend to NOT use DDP terms as in 99% of the time, they’re bogus. Please read this post for more details:
Thank you! I guess I will have to overcome my fear of doing the customs clearance by myself and make a DAP or CIF order instead. Would you recommend one of these more than the other?
Why not use a freight forwarder who can handle all that for you for a fixed fee?
Hi, is it possible for deposit to be returned from Alibaba if supplier has changed quantity due to additional packaging for same cbm (LCL shipping), although supplier has reduced their price the shipping per unit has now increased making it less attractive proposition.
Sorry, I don’t know the answer to that. You should ask TA support or at least read through the small print in TOS.
Alibaba is a scam, I mean Alibaba as a company. They support the suppliers they list on their website as a gold supplier even though the supplier continue to scam people . Each time you will chat with their agent they will come up with different excuses and the most dumbest agents I have ever experienced. The agents have no clue and put the responsibility on the dispute team and you cannot chat with the dispute team directly. Result you will wait forever after raising a dispute eventually giving up. This explains why each scammers are so bold and continue to flourish scamming more and more people. My advice stays away from Alibaba
I purchased an electric bike from someone named Sunny, and yes I realized it was to good to be true. but I looked at the amount of diamonds and read the reviews. I received the tracking number and of course I new it could take a long time as it sat at Hong Kong port for about a 45 days, and finally reached the US and then at the Garden Grove Post office and delivered! I was floored, . I called them directly and they said every thing was right, even the tracking #. Then I looked more closely at the site and it said e packet, and I called the post office and they told me e packets are small. Then I contacted the Help Icon and told them what happened and they opened an investigation and I got my money back.
But what gets me is her site is still up, but there are no products. when I clicked on how many sold it took me to a page that showed the sales and my info was one of the buyers! That infuriates me.
Thanks for sharing this with us Jamie!
Hi, thanks for your information. I wished I’ve read it before I ordered products from Alibaba. The supplier is from Thailand. They said my shipment is stranded at the Paris airport because it was labeled for business so I need to produce an “import license”.
Is this a scam? I just want to use the products for giveaways for the holiday. Any suggestions?
What kind of products did you order?
Hi there I’m wondering if you could help me this company had Alibaba insured. I ordered two electric 1500w motor bikesfrom Alibaba website I even took picture of the transaction of what it said in the advert . Too cut a long story short . When they arrived to my house in the uk . No paperwork no eec/ COC don is I’m complete stuck with ; bikes that can’t be registerd
I’m sorry, but there is not much you can do about it…. you shouldn’t have bought these from China, without doing proper research/home work.
You could try getting them certified by a UK based testing house, but:
1) It will be very expensive
2) They may not even pass the certification…
I would recommend that you try selling them off, maybe to a country where the laws are more relaxed.
I really want to try ordering from Manufacturers in Pakistan, they have much lower MOQs. However none of them use trade assurance but I know lots of companies use Pakistani Manufacturers. What’s the best way to go about paying them?
Thanks for your comment.
Well, you will have to do your best to research the company as much as you can and then – just take the risk. Maybe you can find an inspection company that does inspections in China? This would at least guarantee that you’re dealing with a real business.
Also, not sure if PayPal is available in Pakistan or not, but that’s another payment method that gives you some protection.
Hi, we ordered for 2 units of laptop and they would send too much. They also sent products that we didn’t order. Is that scam?
I think I’m being scammed right now
A supplier I’ve already paid for items is asking me for $375 to clear clearance and I’m tracking my items through Dania Direct Log. The tracking is working and it is updating, is this a real company or not? I’m lost
It sounds like a scam to me. Why do you have to pay your supplier to clear goods through Customs? The supplier has nothing to do with Customs. Shipping company would contact you directly if there are any Customs fees/procedures involved with your shipment.
Can I know is FOB cover the custom clearance and taxes?
No, it does not.
Very informative thank you.
Newbie here ,I have a dilemma received goods from alibaba supplier but part of the order where damage broken to be exact .seller agreeing to refund will you just agree refund on the broken pieces?or will it be prudent to ask refund for some part of shipping since not all goods where received in good condition. Please advise
I would be happy with a refund for broken items, yes. Many suppliers won’t even cover that, so you’re actually in a good position here to receive a refund on the broken items, without spending money on a 3rd party inspection.
Great article. I’m new on Alibaba and been talking with a vendor from Kenya that sells Kef speakers at one third the cost. Gold member since 1 year and accepts bank transfer, WU and Moneygram but no CC or Paypal or Trade Assurance. They say they say they bought huge stock ok speakers. I really wish they’re legit. What do you think?
These guys below are huge scammers on the platform. They got our order wrong, then told us they were a small company (they aren’t) and begged me accept only 50% replacement stock and they will replace the rest in future orders.. They then forced me to PAY for the replacement stock, which i only did as i was in urgent need for it. Then, when i went to place my next order, they refused to supply. I realised afterwards this was all so i didn’t report them to Alibaba as bad suppliers.
Zhongshan Bloomingflower Children Products CO. , LTD.
Add: NO.9, Yongjun Road, Dongsheng Town, Zhongshan City, Guangdong Province, China
Tel: 0086-760-2363 3126
Fax: 0086-760-2363 3138
Name: Roger or Forever or whatever other names they come up with as they seem to always change staff.
STAY AWAY from this company. If you mention this complaint to them, ask the mods of this site to get in contact with me to prove what I am saying as I kept all communication of their false promises and admission of fault with no effort to fix it without is paying.
They are heartless, cold, and evil.
It’s a 100% SCAM! Stay away!
Hello the info was very helpful but I’m very new. Ordering some disinfectant spray from a company jining kaishang Trading LTD..are they a scam Ralph Weber is his name the person I’ve been communicating with…
I saw your question about Ralph Weber. I ordered Lysol from hi. And I have been waiting for 3 weeks. It started at $500 then he needed more money to clear customs and then another $100 for rerouting it. It is a scam and I already notified alibaba. Did you order it from him? Did you receive it ? It was a scam
Did you ever recieve your order? I was very close today in buying disinfectant spray from an Alibaba Supplier. Luckily for me the cashapp tags the supplier provided came back as fraudulent. So Cashapp returned my money. When one cashapp tag failed, the agent provided me with another. Both came back as fraudulent and both times cashapp returned my payment to me. The supplier provided some excuse that Cashapp have been having issues these days, told me to leave the “for” field in cashapp blank, and proceeded to give me a 3rd cashapp tag to send paymen.. At this point I told her I no longer feel comfortable with this transaction. I had already agreed to take the transaction outside of the Alibaba platform to the Watsapp, pay with cashapp, and now you want me to try a 3rd cashtag?? I told her that if she would accept half the payment order now and half when shipment arrives then I would proceed to send a cashapp payment. She was willing, however at this point I no longer felt comfortable and lost all confidence that this was a legitimate
business deal. She was too aggressive and wanted to complete payment so quick and kept saying “I know it is scary but it is 100% guaranteed shipping, none of our packages come damaged”. I did get
her to agree that if my package does not arrive or my product is damaged, she will assume the costs. This is my 1st experience on Alibaba, did not understand branded products are not allowed on Alibaba’s website. I told her to give me a moment to think, which is something they do not want you to do. She text me all day asking if I sent the payment, tried to call me several times. I am so glad I came across this article because it answered questions that I couldn’t find anywhere else. I trusted this particular company because their Alibaba page looked great, have all the credentials I was looking for – gold supplier, trade assurance, 5 star reviews, certifications. Only downside was they had been in business for only 1 year. Which was okay in light of all the other accolades. She also claimed the product would ship from Hollywood, CA in 4 days, door-to-door. Shipping fee 10.00, don’t have to worry about custom fees. I felt I asked all the right questions but if scammers are hacking into other suppliers website and using their credentials to seem legitimate – we need to be extra cautious!!
Good for you that you didn’t pay! It was a 100% scam! I have a more recent article on this type of scam here:
Thanks for your comment.
I’m sorry, but I can’t verify the suppliers for you – it’s something you have to do. I have plenty of guides/articles on my blog about this process, please check the archive page:
I got a message on Alibaba.com where I usually chatted with suppliers. The message have a linked Is said Is this your products? When I look up the person who sent me message hidden all info, business info and I never deal with that supplier. I immediately deleted the message and blocked that person. I think they tried to hack my phone. So scary
Yes, it could be scammers trying to hack your account.
That helps a lot! Could you give some tips on how you are going to know if you’re negotiating with a legit shipping agent in Alibaba? As it’s my first time planning to import an item. Hoping to get a reply. Thank you so much!
You don’t really need to take the additional risk of using a shipping agent in China. You can use local freight forwarders for the shipping process, such as:
Ok, stupid question. Listings for Polaris Slingshots. 2019 & 2020. China 1000-1500 USD per unit, England supplier 4000-6000 USD per unit & India or Pakistan supplier 2000-3000 USD per unit. In US, at a dealership you are looking 20,000-30,000 USD. All 3 are Gold suppliers. There is a catch here, what is it? Are they not US DOT compliant (30 years ago in Taiwan you wanted to ride in a Mercedes cab, rather than a local made cab, because the Windshields in the Mercedes were made of safety glass
Those are ALL SCAMS! Don’t believe a word they say. You can’t buy such items at such ridiculously low prices on Alibaba. Those are all scams.
I found a company which is selling Korg organ model PA 4X for about 600$US.
They said they are buying in bulk so the price is lesser than the normal store.
Are they scam?
Thanks for advise.
Yes, 100% SCAM!
I’ve noticed a few times that even by verified suppliers, when I check on the official website of the inspection company, I can’t find that supplier’s name or certificate.
I even found suppliers where its certificate says ‘To see this certificate online, go to the website…” and that website seems to be a fake website of this inspection company!
Take for example the website: https://leheshandong.en.alibaba.com/company_profile.html
Which is a verified company on alibaba.
Verified by Bureau Veritas.
But after a google search for the Bureau Veritas website, to check if the certificate is legitimate, I found the website https://approvalexplorer.bureauveritas.com/1.0.7/#/home
After searching this website I simply can’t find this company!
So I went and downloaded the certificate of this company direct from alibaba, which says on it that to verify the certification I should go to the following website: http://www.bv-certification.com.cn
which (while it does indeed have the certificate on it), seems like a fake website of Bureau Veritas! The website is not even secure!
I’ve had this same problem with other “Verified Suppliers”. So my question is: Does it make sense that these companies are faking their way into the “Verified Supplier” status? I mean, they are Gold Suppliers with Trade Assurance and everything, so what is going on?
Thanks for sharing this with us, it does look weird, I agree….
Not sure what is the cause there as that company does look legit to me. Have you asked them about why they don’t show up on the Bureau Veritas website?
Thanks for your reply.
I haven’t asked this supplier direct, but I’ve seen this happening with lots of other suppliers also! In fact so far in my experience finding suppliers this has been the norm rather than the exception!
Is it stupidity to order (a small amount at least) from them as long as I keep to ALL the other advice found on your website and other places over the net?
No, I don’t think it’s a stupidity. Especially when you’re dealing with such low-risk items and every other indicator looks fine.
Thank you! Your website and personal advice are brilliant.
You’re welcome David! 🙂
Very informative article. I have been thinking of importing packaging products from china for a while now but I am not getting anywhere and I was wondering if you had any tips.
Firstly the sample prices are ridiculous for an item that is worth 50p they want $30-50 shipping fee. The biggest issue I have is none of the quotes I get are wholesale prices. I am wanting to order in large quantities 2K+ per SKU so one shipment could be about 10k units of 5 different items. But the wholesale price I am often getting is worse than retail price I can purchase the same item in the UK. what is going on? Even after hard negotiation the reduction in price is just above wholesale price in UK. Then you factor in import shipping cost, customs/duty/vat and I am wondering how is anyone importing stuff from China to UK.
Is there a secret to this whole importing business that I don’t know about? or is everyone ordering in 50k+ units? or am I not getting to the right manufacturer? I am really struggling with this.
Thanks for your comment.
What kind of products you’re trying to order? Is it just plain cardboard boxes? If so, you will have to import whole container loads to make it cost-effective.
Wow thanks for super fast response…
Yes they are pretty much plain white 350/400gsm boxes for baking products. When you say container load…how much we talking?
Even when I ask them for larger quantity I get terrible pricing.
I think I am also not finding actual manufacturers as most ones I have seen seem to be distributors but I could be wrong.
Hundreds of thousands if not millions of units. In a word – it’s not worth importing such items from China.
Pls i need some help abt this company ivisionsgmbh.com.de i saw there advert on Alibaba for ps4 console, that says buy 5 get 3 free. and they say i can only pay through bitcone are dey scammers
And what do you think? 🙂 Of course, they’re scammers, 100%.
So, I read your information and walked away enlightened. I would like to know why they don’t accept American Express. This card has a protection clause and will go after them if anything happens. I have not been able to find a vendor who accepts that card.
American Express card is very popular in the US, but not so much in other parts of the World. You will find that many places online do not accept AE cards. They’re simply not that popular outside the US.
I should have made a research first or found you before I made a nightmare transactions with Alibaba. I ordered UV light from Luan Shihui Lighting (I think this company has a lot of traders but posting as the supplier because when I was looking at exactly the same product noticed different names and different prices)I got a lower price than the others only to find out it was misleading. I tried selling it to my friends just the next they called me that it’s not working and has this loose sounds, so I went back to the seller because I’m still within 30 days return policy and he wanted me to video the 150 pcs to prove my claim which is ridiculous I did 3 but for him, it’s not enough. I was asking for a refund, for unsatisfactory defective units which he turned down and started attacking my character that because of the price change I’m doing a malicious thing. I elevated it to Trade Assurance just the same they ordered us to do 20 random videos and only 7 worked they want us to pay $500 to have them tested by Alibaba expert, it was very clear that most are not working but the supplier has more influence his explanation is now in Chinese. So we don’t understand so we have to translate them in English. I was stressed out, time-consuming and lost money for the overcharged, I paid shipping and handling and taxes plus additional fees for paying thru credit card( which is my only hope) Trade Assurance is biased, they always say let’s see what the supplier’s response. they just closed it with 0 refund because we didn’t agree to pay $500 to test them. I am broken-hearted with these scammers or horrible suppliers. I wonder where I can still file a complaint?
Thanks for your comment.
I’m sorry to hear about your bad experience, but you should have really read the rules/terms on how Trade Assurance works before you made any deals through it. If you knew that most of the items are defective, you should have paid for that inspection – after the inspection result, you would get a refund from Alibaba.
Those are the basic TOS on how Trade Assurance works. This is not eBay or Amazon where you can simply ask for a refund and get it. Inspection needs to be done to verify that your claims are correct and accurate.
Absolutely excellent!! After reading this article on your 15 step process I am now more confident that I can achieve a positive outcome and that the odds are more so in my favour. Thanks for the info!
You’re welcome Nathan! 🙂
Thank you for such a great article! I negotiated a price with a seller on alibaba and reconfirmed the shipping several times saying to them it seemed really low. They assured me it was correct and so I paid with my cc through Trade Assurance, 2 hours later they emailed me and said that they made a mistake and that the shipping was 3 times as much as I was quoted and paid for. I asked to cancel the order and refund. But alibaba will not refund the transaction fees and so I am out a couple hundred dollars for a 2 hour transaction. How can I go about getting the transaction fee back? The seller should have to cover the fee since it was their error but all they say is that they apologize… Sooo bummed no product and out money for nothing…
Thanks for your comment.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to get that transaction fee back, as per TA TOS, those fees are non-refundable.
Hi, I am trying to purchase a supplement in bulk to sale for my business. The first vendor I used charged me $294 for the supplements for 3 cartons. I paid via cash app 🤦🏽♀️ I didn’t think nothing if it because I use vendors that accept that payment method, however, the day of delivery I get an email from the shipping company (different from DHL) that I was told originally and they tell me before they can deliver my charge it’s $250. I was beyond upset. I contact the vendor 469.431.1068 and they told me it was nothing I could do but pay the $250 delivery. They shipping company is bogus “Dania Direct Logistics” they have no phone number only contact information is an email, and they haven’t returned my email since the request for money, no address. Nothing. I’ve been on alibaba for hours trying to find a vendor for the supplements but only one say trusted 12 years and he just asked me to send payment via money gram, WesternUnion or bitcoin. He said they don’t accept 3rd party payments through alibaba. 🤦🏽♀️PLEASE HELP
I’m sorry, but you have been scammed.
Was it branded supplements you’re after? They are all scams on Alibaba.
I have been chatting with a supplier for MSI laptop with all the latest feattures. This supplier is gold.supplier from past 5 years. He is providing some great offers such as buy 2 get one free with free shipping. The product is amazing, he sent me some photos and indeep specification of the product, he is also fast replier with great english. I like this product and thinking to buy, the supplier said they dont trade on alibaba and we been chatting in whatsapp. He told they do transactions through netbanking, cash deposit and bitcoin. He have also provided an invoice. And i have my heart set on the product at this price. Please guide what should be done ahead. Whats your thought?
Don’t do anything – it’s a SCAM! Stay away from this and any similar offers.
You can’t buy such branded electronics on Alibaba, especially at such low prices.
Thank your for the advice. You have saved me my money. Thanks for providing right info at right time.
You’re welcome! 🙂
I place a order of branding AirPods case I never received it ! The lady cola told me that it was shipped it !! 2 months passed !!! And I told her again where is my goods and she said then I was not gonna receive them no more I was so mad!! They took my money