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New Alibaba SCAMs Exposed: Tips and Tricks for 2021!

August 2, 2021 by Andrew Minalto - 1521 Comments
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New Alibaba scams discussed in detail here.

“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?

Example of branded product not to purchase: PS4.

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

  • Apple
  • Under Armour
  • Samsung
  • Nike
  • Sony
  • Lego
  • 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 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.

15-Step Alibaba
Scam-Filtering System

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
  • Etc.

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.

7. Certificates

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.

10. 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. 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 u​p 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.

Conclusion

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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  1. well personally I was hoping to find a digital camera on there but apparently that is against the first rule “No Name brands” What kinds of stuff do people ususally find on here that is good quality and people might want to buy?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Joshua,

      Thanks for your email.

      Digital cameras can still be bought from China, just no brand name ones.

      What kind of products?

      Just take a look @ Alibaba’s product category list – MILLIONS of un-branded products there:

      http://www.alibaba.com/Products

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  2. I have a pending order on alibaba…it is pending because my bank debit card would not go through. I called my bank; they said visa blocks transaction to china for security; however bank can call visa, and block can be unblocked for 24 hours. This has led to some questions:

    1- my seller will take PayPal; I did a sample order with them and prepaid directly to them via PP account (PP is NOT an option at alibaba checkout); now I have this pending order with them; they will accept escrow

    2-I want redundancy in protection; ideally I think doing escrow with PP debit card (if alibaba accepted) would be best solution

    3-I am also thinking of getting a prepaid visa/MC card from Western Union or American Express dedicated solely for alibaba transactions

    4-I want a solution that gives me backup protection in case something happens, and alibaba escrow tries to hose me (many complaints out there about them)…thoughts, opinions, and recommendations please…

    …oh, I am in USA, if that is relevant

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Bob,

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Your best bet is really to use Escrow on Alibaba and un-lock your VISA for this transaction. Or get a pre-paid card as you say.

      Escrow still offers you more protection than PayPal without Escrow so I think if you have verified your supplier, it’s genuine etc., you better use Escrow.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  3. Hi
    Andrew ,i had a faulty product from a seller on aliexpress,its a DOA dead on arrival tablet pc so i raised a dispute for full refund,now the status says ” if seller don’t respond in 2 days ,the dispute will be closed in your proposal,does that mean i’ll get my full refund if the seller don’t respond?

    Regards
    Jack

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jack,

      Yep, that’s exactly what it means.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  4. Hi

    You said we shouldn’t buy name brand goods from China. Does this include drinks (alcohol).

    I want to buying drinks in bulk but I’m moving very cautious after reading your blog

    Please could you help me

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Peter,

      Yes, of course – that does include alcohol too.

      I would never import alcohol from China.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  5. Hi Andrew,

    Thank you for this article, I am new to importing and it has helped clear up a few things for me but I still have some questions:

    1. How much do shipping agents and customs brokers cost? Do I need one? Who decides the shipping? What is the most cost-effective way to go? Door-to-Door or Door-to-Port?

    2. Can I use escrow for the initial 30% deposit amount that factories require? How do you check the goods once it gets to the destination? Open a few boxes and repackage it?

    3. Does this audit: http://inspection.alibaba.com/search?&page=2 on alibaba cover before, after and during production? Do you inform them that they will be inspected after agreeing on the price and before production begins?

    4. My customers will order on demand, do I even need a warehouse? Can I just send them to the post office for them to pick it up or ship it to them directly?

    Thank you,

    Philip

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Philip,

      Thanks for stopping by.

      1) They’re not that expensive at all. In fact, if you use a good freight forwarder, you’ll actually SAVE money as these companies will offer you much better shipping quotes. For customs clearance they take just 10-20 quid. Door to Door is best as it means stress free importing process for you.

      2) No, you can only use Escrow on Alibaba for full amount. Yes, you should open random boxes, as many as you can to check products. Better to do this BEFORE goods are dispatched from China. (by hiring a quality inspector).

      3) Yes, yes and yes. You can get all services covered and when you inform factory that they’ll be audited, products checked, chances are that they’ll do best on quality side of things.

      4) You need warehouse to store goods you can then ship out to customers. You won’t be shipping from China directly.

      Hope this helps!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  6. Alejandro Fuerte

    Hi Andrew, I’m from Mexico and I’ve been buying from US suppliers only and I really want to give Alibaba.com and Aliexpress.com a try, but I have 2 main concerns:
    1.- Could I trust in Aliexpress.com Product reviews? I’m asking you this because I’ve found the very same Product at Amazon.com and at Aliexpress.com with totally different reviews (bad at Amazon.com and good at Aliexpress.com);
    2.- Being from Mexico I’m really afraid of import fees once the order enters into the United State, I know nothing about it, I only know that mexican import fees to chinese merchandise are OUT OF MIND, do you know if crossing US borders one must pay for import fees?

    Best regards,

    Alejandro Fuerte

    1. Scamming method on AliExpress.
      I think that is new method how get money but not send goods. I send money for a 2 phones with shipping method DHL/UPS. But seller told me that he can not send via DHL/UPS can sent only by China post. He ask me refund 12 USD for each phones because China Post chipper. I refund an order was finished, I get no phones, he stolen my money. Hes e-mail ldong171@163.com but off course he will use new.

      1. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Edward,

        Thanks for sharing this.

        You should NEVER accept partial refunds on Ali Express as it means you’re losing escrow protection. You should also never agree to change shipping to China Post, as no one uses China post for valuable items.

        Thanks,
        Andrew

      2. Edward

        Thank you Andrew! Now I know! I just wont to give information to new byers!
        Edward.

    2. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Alejandro,

      Thanks for stopping by.

      I see that you only sell well known brand MMA stuff on your shop. You CAN’T get it from China!!!!

      All the products on Alibaba and AliExpress with brand logos on them are FAKES! You can get in trouble trying to import them as it’s illegal.

      So I would recommend you just staying with reputable US wholesalers who sell genuine products.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  7. Dhruv Sagar

    Nice article Andrew, will definitely go through your filters when I’ll be ordering from Alibaba. My issue is it’s been 3 days that I requested info on usb pen drives to directly a few select companies and now I’m flooded with Spam from Chinese companies supplying electronic items contrary to me requirement from mysterious email addresses like @132.com, qq.com, 126.com, etc. All the emails are via a different sender.

    How are these people getting my email address? Or did I mistakenly put up a request on a ‘forum’ where everyone can review the requirement?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Dhruv,

      Thanks for stopping by.

      It could be that or it could be that you posted a buying request on Alibaba?

      That would explain it….

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  8. I’m planning to place an order on aliexpress.com to buy some bicycle helmets. Most of the well known brands anyway procure their items from chinese manufacturers but I do not know what to do in case I am sent low quality fake helmets as this is a question of life and death for a cyclist. Could you tell me what I should keep on mind while placing this order with any supplier. Thanks a lot.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for your question.

      DO NOT buy such branded helmets from China – they all are FAKES!!!! You can’t get genuine, branded stock from Mainland China in wholesale.

      AliExpress.com is only good for un-branded goods.

      If you order such un-branded helmets, you’ll want to start with a small order to check quality + probably there should be some safety certificates that prove that helmets are valid for re-sale in EU market.

      But stay away from anything branded.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Stephen

        Branded goods, branded goods. Pls could you give us idea about the right goods to ask for on Ali/expreess?

      2. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Stephen,

        Branded goods is a big no no when we talk about importing from China. You’ll get scammed or receive fakes. You simply can’t get genuine branded goods from Mainland China.

        Sites like Alibaba, Ali Express and similar should only be used for un-branded goods. These can be any kind of products starting from fitness equipment ending up with watches. But they must be un-branded.

        Thanks,
        Andrew

  9. Aliexpress is NOT a fair and balance plateform!
    Comparing it to Ebay is a blatant lie.

    For exemple:

    – You can’t cancel an order if you made a mistake (bought 2 in place of 1), you have to ask the seller to cancel it and of course he will usually not accept the cancellation.

    – The DHL delivery note is enough for the seller to proove the shipping BUT when you return the goods, the same delivery note is NOT enough for Alibaba to refund you, the seller has to admit to the delivery witch of course never happens. How is this a balanced plateform?

    – The seller has a ridiculous amout of time to ship the product (between 20-60 days) and you don’t know how long exactly at the moment of the purshase! On the other hand you only have 10 days to ship it back. Once again not balanced.

    All in all, there is no realprotection for the buyer on this plateform, I would not recmmand it.
    I’m questionning the reason you made this pro-allibaba post …

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi There,

      Thanks for your comment.

      This blog post is about Alibaba and NOT Ali Express.

      With that being said, I have also used Ali Express dozens of times and haven’t had a single problem. You have to deal with reputable sellers, with established profile and good feedback and then chances of getting scammed are minimal. There are always exceptions of course and no platform protects us 100%, even eBay. On eBay you can get scammed too.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  10. ALIEXPRESS IS FRAUD SITE AND I LOOSE MY MONEY TWICE IN THE PURCHASE OF MOBILE PHONES. THEY ARE COLLABORATED WITH FRAUD SELLERS AND CHEATING TO VALUED CUSTOMERS. THEY DONT HAVE CUSTOMER SUPPORT NUMBER AND EMAILs. THEY TOOK DECISIONS IN FAVOR OF SELLERS ALWAYS….

    SAME ON ALIEXPRESS… I LOSE MORE THAN 500usd ON ALIEXPRESS…

    MY CASE IS AS BELOW…

    Hello Aliexpress, I ordered this goods before 2 months and it is returned by the post office department.I requested to seller to extend delivery time till I get goods back but they are not done the same.Now shipping time is near to over. Now Shipment is returned to seller’s address and seller is also agreed for full refund in messages.I would like to have full amount refund from seller ASAP. Kindly help me to get full refund of the goods as earliest. Yours faithfully, Chiragkumar Jadav

    ABOVE CASE IS HANGED UP FOR 8 MONTHS AND ALIEXPRESS RELEASED MONEY TO SELLER WITHOUT ANY HELP TO ME. I DONT RECEIVED MOBILES AND MONEY BOTH…. BEWARE ALL BUYERS….

  11. Hi,

    Thanks for an informative article. The comments section always has valuable feed back. I was going to email a supplier about a product on Alibaba, but the site wanted me to sign up first. I started to read the TOS but thought it might be quicker to find a review about Alibab instead. So here I am. The company supplier is from Germany but I wanted to know where the product was being manufactured.

    I personally wouldn’t touch products from China. Unless you can find someone you know who you trust could help you. The place is very corrupt and you could be scammed, or if you got something made then they could steal your patents etc. You know all they think about is profit and money. The melamine in the milk and the pet food sent to the states shows what ethical standards they have. You’d be better off dealing with businesses in other countries.

    I won’t join Alibaba. I will just get in touch with the supplier directly.

    Regards Barry

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Barry,

      Thanks for your comment and opinion.

      I would also ideally deal with EU companies only, but the problem is that we only manufacture certain products and even on them, often times prices are un-competitive.

      But there are good examples too – I have actually had better prices, higher quality products from European manufacturer than Chinese. So if you can spend some time visiting trade shows in Europe, you can still find decent companies to work with and avoid China based factories.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  12. oh and whats the difference between alibaba and aliexpress?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      AliExpress is basically a retail store for individual and light bulk orders.

      Alibaba is where manufacturers and trading companies deal in bigger quantities, offering much lower prices.

      While Ali Express is great for samples or very small orders, if you want to make real money with importing, you’ll want to deal with manufacturers directly on Alibaba.com

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  13. hi Andrew, thank you very much for your post. am new to business and want to start an online store its very scary for me as am investing my life savings into it. i have been wondering if alibaba.com really does work or if it was a scam and your post just cleared must of my worry hence am ready to take the steps in getting a supplier for the items i am interested in selling. i just needed to know that people had used the service before and gotten their supplies.

    can i involve you in the process? that would be of great relief to me, just having people who are familiar with the whole process involved.

    thank you

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Amaka,

      Alibaba is NOT a scam! It’s a B2B platform where buyers meet sellers. Period!

      There are bad sellers out there just like there are bad buyers, we can’t avoid them as that’s unfortunately LIFE! But you can eliminate most of the scammers by following my advice given in this post and always starting with small, sample orders and getting inspection done prior making bigger orders.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  14. Thank you so much 🙂 Now, I feel more confident to buy the stock!

    All the best!

    Marta

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Marta!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  15. Hi Andrew,

    Thank you for your great article. It’s very useful.

    I would like to buy some fabrics on alibaba.com for the first time, and the supplier is asking me for my express account to send me some samples, but unfortunately I do not have one 🙁 Could you please explain what is express account (I assume it’s DHL, UPS, Feddex etc), why do I need it, is it free, how can I open it (can I open it without company?) and what’s the best and easier express account?

    Also the quote for delivery he is giving me (China to UK) is USD30. Do you think it’s reasonable price?

    Regards,

    Marta

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Marta,

      Thanks for stopping by & it’s great to hear you find my blog valuable!

      Yes, by express account, they mean your DHL, UPS etc. account details.

      But don’t worry if you don’t have one, you don’t need it! Just tell supplier that you don’t have a courier account and that you will pay the courier fee directly to supplier, so they sort it out for you.

      $30 is a very reasonable shipping fee for a sample order.

      Hope this helps!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  16. Hi Andrew! Thanks for your article, it’s helped me with some things I was curious about! However, I’m wanting to order a wedding gown off of Alibaba; I saw you mention ordering a “sample order” a couple times. What does this mean? Could I do that before ordering the actual dress?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Kristie,

      Thanks for stopping by.

      A sample order is a term we use in wholesale to order just few items to test quality etc. before ordering hundreds of thousands.

      If you need just one dress, you just buy it from Ali Express and not Alibaba:

      http://www.aliexpress.com/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  17. natasha mosby

    This website has helped me out an great deal… I look forward to using your tactics.
    Thank you

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Natasha!

  18. hi,
    i have ordered 3 iphones for really cheap. the iphone 5s for 250. is this real? they said they will send it out and once i see its sent out i can pay. they take w u and m g. paypal in bulk orders. is this real or a scam? im new to this site and im not sure how to see there page again.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      HI Zach,

      Thanks for your email.

      100% SCAM! I hope you haven’t paid anything yet.

      Stay away from branded goods on Alibaba altogether!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  19. I’ve made over 300 orders at Alibaba/Aliexpress and got NEVER scammed. Only buy from gold suppliers with 99%+ feedback and pay trough VISA with protection payments.
    Just that easy, it’s pretty clear that the creator of this article is a import beginner.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      HI There,

      It would be great if you would read the article, lol

      But Thanks for your comment anyway!

      Andrew

  20. Hi and thanks for the article. I was asked to Western Union money to a hair supplier but I don’t agree with wirign anyone money directly nor did i find any negative feedback on them. I’m just getting started on selling Brazilian, Indian and Malaysian hair extensions.

    I want quality authentic extensions for the right cost. I decided to totally avoid China initially due to all the scamming. I was very proud of myself knowing that some of the key points you stated were my plan of action as well.

    Can you advise me of your opinion of the following company: Hair Style Exports? They are a 7 year company….

    Thanks

    -Wanda

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Wanda,

      Thanks for your comment.

      You did the right thing! You should never use Western Union to pay supplier in China, unless it’s small amount for sending samples. Via Western Union you send money to an individual and NOT company you’re dealing with which increases chances of getting scammed.

      But if you want to deal with hair extensions, you’ll want to use a Chinese supplier as that’s where 99% of hair extensions come from.

      As for Hair Style Exports – they’re based in India and they look ok to me. They have a professional looking website too: http://www.hairstyleexports.com/, domain name registered 7 years ago so it looks good.

      Organize small sample order and see how it goes!

      Hope this helps!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  21. This is a great post, thank you! I’m in the US and want to purchase banquet chairs . The prices on AliBaba seem to be the best but after reading all the comments here, I’m still confused on how to factor in shipping and all the extras. . I’ll be ordering 600 pieces at a time but I do want ensure that companies I deal with are legit. The 4 I am dealing with fulfill most of your criteria, but not 1 company fulfills all of them. What should I do? the companies are listed below. Any you can enquire to see I am heading the correct direction.

    Foshan World Furniture Co., Ltd
    BISM Furniture
    Foshan Fumai Furniture Co., Ltd
    YOUHUI FURNITURE CO.,LTD
    Foshan YuQi furniture Co,. Ltd.

    Thank you
    Taj Patel

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Taj,

      Thanks for stopping by.

      As with above post – I recommend you doing a factory audit using one of the agents listed on this page:

      http://inspection.alibaba.com/

      This is the safest way to check out factory – you’ll receive a PDF file with pictures, factory data, certificates etc.

      As for shipping, you want to use a freight forwarder who will manage the shipping from factory to your door. In UK I recommend using this company but I think they also ship to US too:

      http://www.woodland-group.com/division/woodland-global

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  22. Hi,

    Thank you for your reply to a previous post.

    Could you give me your opinion on this supplier please: Shantou Chenghai Huajun Aeromodelling Plastic Toys Factory.

    Many thanks.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi There,

      As a company, they look ok to me.

      Can’t speak for product quality of course – with items like these you’ll want to order samples and probably quality inspector for bigger orders to check items before they’re dispatched to you. You can find and hire such inspectors here:

      http://inspection.alibaba.com/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  23. Luis Manrique

    I think one thing to consider when using Alibaba is that it is a place for BUYERS and SELLERS to meet and that is about it.

    If you are a serious business owner and want to consider outsourcing a product look at Alibaba as a window shopping experience. You’ll most likely spend anywhere from $200-$1000 on samples, shipping and paypal fees but this is considered necessary in finding a legitimate supplier.

    I always make it a point to check and see if the supplier has a website OUTSIDE of alibaba. This will most likely guarantee that this supplier conducts business on a regular basis and should be well aware of your interests. Also look to see how fast they respond to your requests. Communication is key here and if they cannot reply in a reasonable amount of time, unless they are on holiday, then simply move on to the next supplier.

    I’ve never directly used Alibaba’s services, I make sure to simply email the supplier and speak directly to them. Communication will be key here and it is important that you specify exactly what you are requesting. Quality control is an issue unless you make it clear on what conditions you want the product to be. Factories in China will cut corners on ANYTHING just to save a few pennies. And of course, you won’t realize these savings until the product reaches your warehouse.

    Another motto that I like to follow is after three shipments, consider finding a new supplier because most likely, the factory is already figuring out ways it can save a few pennies on your 4th order. If you don’t stay on top of them, they will easily manipulate you when you least expect it. The last thing you want is 10k worth of product that is complete garbage.

    Dealing with China suppliers is a game. Learn the rules or don’t play at all!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Luis,

      Thanks for your comments, I totally agree with everything you say.

      Alibaba is a MARKETPLACE and should be treated like that. At the end of the day, it’s just you and the seller.

      And you’re dead right on the quality issues too – many people don’t fully realize this – especially when dealing with complex items such as electronics. I recommend using quality inspectors for any order that is bigger than say $1k or $2k as that $100 you pay for such service, can potentially save thousands on stock you can’t re-sell.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  24. Michael Huepfl

    I had already 2 satisfying orders and now ESCROW closed my order twice and insisted to get a copy of my passport, credit card and a credit card letter. Before that my payment was accepted and some minutes later everything was closed. They do not respond on the complaint form. Any idea what happened?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Michael,

      You have to contact Ali Express about this.

      If they ask you to verify your account, just verify it.

      If you don’t feel secure doing this, then I’m afraid you just can’t use Ali Express for purchases…

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  25. I’ve tried to buy things on alibaba and all my orders were cancelled for “security reasons”. They wanted me to send copies of my things like proof of credit card (a billing statement) and my social security number–basically things that freaked me out putting on the web. Have you ever had problems like this?

    1. Michael Huepfl

      same to me and I am not a first time user. There are concerns the website is redirected.

    2. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Alyx,

      Thanks for your question.

      This hasn’t happened to me but I have heard of such procedure, yes.

      Not sure why would they need your social security number? That doesn’t make sense to me…

      Proof of address, yes – as they do fraud preventing just like any online retailer.

      Make sure you’re actually communicating with Ali Express officials and not some scammer.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  26. Hi,
    Can you give me your opinion on this supplier: Shantou City Ya Li Long Toys Firm. It says they are 3yr gold member but says they were established in 2013.
    Many thanks.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi There,

      Thanks for your question.

      They look ok to me. They’re a trading company (middle man), hence the super low MOQ they have. I would simply recommend you placing a small sample order of $50-$100 and see how it goes.

      With toys, especially electronic toys, you have to be very careful and monitor quality as often Chinese will send you B, C and D grade toys with many DOAs and faulty stock.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  27. PJ Anderson

    This was a very informative post, thank you! I’m in the US and want to start stocking bars with disposable e-cigs. The prices on AliBaba seem to be the best but after reading all the comments here, I’m still confused on how to factor in shipping and all the extras. If it gets too expensive I may be better off paying more for a domestic wholesaler without the bother. I’ll one be ordering 100-500 pieces at a time but I do want the best ROA possible so that I can get paid as well as the bar owner!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi There,

      Thanks for stopping by.

      If you want absolutely best price, you must have to import from China directly, as that’s where most e-cigarettes are manufactured.

      These are small, light weight items you can ship via a courier so you’ll receive your order very fast (3-5 business days). Not sure 100-500 is enough though for disposable ones to get a good pricing but if you can find a good supplier for that quantity, go for it! Always start with a smaller sample order and see how it goes.

      And of course – follow advice in this blog posts and only deal with verified, reputable suppliers.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  28. I have purchased an item with Order NO:60055724333002 from Aliexpress on August 21, 2013 and after 45 days I have opened a dispute, unfortunately the case was closed without my knowledge. I am sorry to say that ,if the supplier or seller is not reliable the protection from Aliexpress is very weak. I don’t know what I am going to do? the only alternative I have to do is to complain on the internet about the problem I faced. If Aliexpress officials can read this complaint, please try to see my case of the order: Order NO:60055724333002 and I expect your immediate solution to my case.

    Aliexpress E-mail ID: amanmeko@yahoo.com

    Dispute item:
    Order NO:60055724333002
    I hope I will get solution to my order
    Thanks
    Aman
    Cell +4740948818

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Aman,

      Thanks for your comment.

      What’s the seller name/shop link?

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  29. hi Andrew, I have been reading a lots of ebooks all saying you can buy good laptops with great specs for as low as $20. how true is this? and if true, how do I go about ordering them?
    Thanks in anticipation of your very helpful replies.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Noel,

      Thanks for your question.

      That’s total BS! Where did you get that you can buy good laptops for $20???

      Unless we’re talking about some kind of dinosaur aged, broken laptops – that price is unreal. Even laptops for spares sell for much higher price than that.

      Sorry for bringing such bad news….

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  30. Hello Andrew,

    I was ordering 20+ items from AliExpress by now, all with reasonably good quallity. Once I was so stupid to order a 512Gb flash drive, which obviously came as a small bick of metaql =)))

    Recenlyt I have ordered a cycling computer from http://www.aliexpress.com/store/314079 Shenzhen Discovery Technology Co., Ltd..

    One thing that started worrying me from the beginning was that the processing time was set to 70 (!!!) days. When I inquired why so long, I got the following answer. Do you think it is some sort of scam, shall I proceed with how they propose?…..

    The store seems to have 113 orders so far with good feedback and an own site: http://dream-spo.com/

    So it passes several of your tests! =)

    Here is the actual message from the seller:
    ——
    Thanks so much for your order and sincere support.

    I have just get a bad new from our manager that the warehouse of our factory was suffered a big fire yesterday. all DCY-438 models were lost and material Re-prepare will take too long time. Boss is so upset. we really sorry about bring you the bad news.

    To not miss your plan, we have come up with two solution below, hope to support you well.

    1) Pls cancel the order first and do choose “i have made a wrong order” when canceling the order, thank you very much. We have another upper GPS cycling computer DCY-180P to support you, with 10% discount , only $169 with 2.4G heart rate monitor/GPS tracking/ANT+ Combo sensor( Speed/cadence)/Altimeter/compass/ pc software analysis, etc.

    LINK for 180p (http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/Free-shipping-DCY-180P-Professional-GPS-cycle-bike-bicycle-computer-with-heart-rate-monitor-Speed-cadence/314079_1225248124.html)

    2) Pls cancel the order first, once the item is in stock, we will e-mail to you, and if you make order that time, we promise to send you a Heart rate monitor or pedometer as a gift. Pls choose “i have made a wrong order” when you cancel the order, that is very importand for us, thank you very much for your understanding!

    Sorry again about bring you so much inconvenience. If there is anything we can do for you, pls feel free to contact us, we will try best to help you. Really sorry about that. Thank you so much for your understanding in advance.

    BTW: If you choose solution 1, pls do inform me to change the price for you. It can ship in 2 days!

    Looking for your reply soon. Wish you a nice day!

    Thansk and best regards,

    Lucy Liu

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Andrey,

      Thanks for stopping by.

      I wouldn’t order anything from Ali Express with a processing time of 70 days, no way!

      Just do as they say – cancel the order and buy another item with quicker processing time or shop from a different vendor.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Andrey

        What a fast reply! thanks! So you think that store truly passes your tests and can be _reasonably_ trusted?

      2. Andrew

        That store looks ok to me, yes – feedback is good and if everything else fails, you still have Escrow.

        Thanks,
        Andrew

      3. Andrey

        Andrew, thanks so much for your quick replies!

        in teh meantime, I have found some news that probably support the “fire” case:

        http://bestmag.co.uk/industry-news/lithium-warehouse-fire-near-shenzhen

        http://www.best-news.us/news-4600141-Shenzhen-warehouse-plastic-foot-14-hours-from-the-fire-caused-no-casualties.html

  31. Hi Andrew

    I have been looking for extra ordinary chandeliers for a while now and after exhausting all possibilities in the UK I started to look further a field and stumbled across ali baba, which I had never heard of before.

    After looking through the listings on there, it has made me realise either ive been missing out or its just too good to be true. So I decided to do some online research on alibaba – and your article has helped.

    I have selected a supplier which is both the most competitive (unbelievable competitive) and is offering an amazing product at a good price. I have followed your guidance – it is a supplier which has a gold supplier status, accepts escrow, has had its legal status confirmed and shows pics of the company.

    However one thing which is confusing and slightly concerning me – is the fact that the gold supplier status is showing the company is in its third yr however company profile states the company was established 1 yr ago.

    Also as dumb as it sounds, although I am in negotiation with the supplier what is the process for taking the transaction further. i.e. will I get an invoice, am I required to pay a deposit followed by a final payment, is the transaction completed via alibaba (like ebay/amazon) or independently … any advise?

    thanking you in advance
    sam

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sam,

      Thanks for your comment.

      The product – I hope it’s nothing branded and/or with characters/logos on them? Alibaba is only good for un-branded stuff. Anything branded and it will be fake. This also would apply to a back pack with Ben 10 on them.

      The Gold Member status – that sounds suspicious to me… it could be that they have bought that Gold member account from another company, but not sure. You should get in touch with them and ask – see what kind of explanation they come up with and then use your common sense.

      You can also do a search for this “company name + global sources” on Google to see whatever they have an account on Global Sources too – and check how long they have been there.

      If you’re still un-sure about the company, get company audit done by one of agents listed here:

      http://inspection.alibaba.com/

      This will give you added piece of mind for roughly $150.

      When company is verified and you’re happy with everything, place a small sample order to check goods quality, how fast company ships them out, how well they’re packed etc.

      If you’re happy with samples, place your real order – yes, you’ll receive an invoice (Proforma Invoice) from them and if you use Escrow as the payment method, transaction will happen on Alibaba’s Escrow platform.

      Usually there’s a 30-50% deposit before production starts and you pay rest before goods leave manufacturer.

      Hope this helps Sam!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Sam Ilyas

        Hi Andrew

        Thankyou once again for your advice and guidance.

        The product is not branded. I have checked the gold member account a bit further and it appears that the parent company was established in 1999 and in 2010 they obtained the gold supplier status. After this point the sales department was established in 2012 – and hence there is a discrepancy. But this is all through my research as I have not been brave enough to ask the question – it seems that the company deals with orders way over the amount of my order with is aprox £4,000 so I don’t want to look stupid by interrogating the supplier too much.

        Ive done a search on global sources and although the search facility finds the company it is listed as an unverified supplier : ( in addition the address on the contact details on alibaba and the invoice do not match : ( however this could be due to the fact that the company has several offices etc.

        The supplier does accept escrow and I have insisted that the contract is drawn up and payment is exchanged via this method. Is this enough assurance that the supplier is guanine and that by xmas I will have my sparkling crystal chandeliers!!! I have never used this payment method before but am I right in saying that my payment will be held in a alibaba pay account. The supplier is notified in order to start the manufacturer process, and once I have rcieved the item and have confirmed this, will the escrow payment be released?

        They have requested for full payment and not a deposit again something which is making me slightly uncomfortable.

        Thanks very much
        sam

        BTW the email thread by Andrey is interesting – its so hard when you are trying to establish whether the seller is real, esp with them being located on the other side of the globe. Sometimes you have to trust you gut instinct I guess.

      2. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Sam,

        Yes, that’s how Escrow works and in general, it’s the safest payment method available when dealing with Chinese suppliers on Alibaba.

        Still, do the factory audit and inspection of product quality so there are no surprises when you receive stock.

        Thanks,
        Andrew

  32. Hi, thank you for your article it was a really great read. Im currently looking to start a women’s clothing boutique & came across aliexpress/alibaba I was skeptical at first soI ordered A jacket as a sample. The quality was great the jacket was very thick quality of jeans so I do plan on ordering again. my question to you is, how do I find wholesalers that I can use to stock my upcoming boutique Im fairly new to business but this is something I’ve always had an interest in (owning my own business that is) thank you ever so much.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Empress,

      If you’re new to importing, product sourcing, supplier research etc., check out my EAB video course here:

      https://andrewminalto.com

      It covers product sourcing in great detail + many more topics related to eBay/eCommerce business.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  33. Hey I;m trying to start my own sock line and been looking for suppliers on Alibaba but only find ones with their own design already in them…Have you ever or know if any suppliers provide a service to custom make socks with your own company logo/design?? Have chatted with a couple of suppliers but seems they don’t know follow exactly what I’m asking…(a lot of fake branded socks on there as well)…any help would be appreciated

    Thanks!!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jay,

      Thanks for your email.

      99% of Chinese manufacturers on Alibaba will happily do OEM/white label for you! Maybe you’re asking it the wrong way? Or it could be that you have been contacting trading companies and not real manufacturers?

      Anyway, this shouldn’t be a problem if you can order in true bulk directly from manufacturers.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  34. This is the first time I have purchased goods from Alibaba online. The seller is very dishonest and deceive, I was very disappointed. I ordered a carbon monoxide detectors, but received smoke detectors. Following discussions with the seller, the seller asked me to mail back the goods, not only agreed to pay the freight from the U.S. to China, and also agreed for a fully refund. I also got the pre-approval before I mailed back the goods to China, but after I returned the good, the seller ignore my message and reject the refund. I spent total of US $ 193.05(include merchandise, shipping from china to US, shipping from US to China), lots of energy and time. Very bad experience.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Amy,

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Do you have a link to this supplier?

      Let me know,
      Thanks,
      Andrew

  35. Andrew Minalto

    Hi Lucy,

    Usually suppliers organize shipping via courier companies as they get cheaper quotes than you would.

    As for taxes – VAT is 20% for most products (there are some exceptions) and import duty depends on the product but usually is around 3% mark.

    Thanks,
    Andrew

    1. So if your order is worth £1,000 you’ll be taxed £200 then another 3%. Seems expensive but i guess you just have to make sure to price things so they’ll cover this.

      1. Andrew Minalto

        Yep, roughly.

        You can’t really avoid VAT & import duty – that’s part of this importing business and everyone pays these taxes.

        Just make sure you count in them when making calculations – I usually just use a 25% and that will cover most products.

        Thanks,
        Andrew

      2. Mustafa Mahmoof

        Hi Andrew
        I am in talks with this Auto Parts Company based in ningbo
        I have recieved the PI but they insist 30%TT and remaining 70%TT before shipment
        The company is a7th Year gold supplier and they have been verified by TUV rhenland. They have a video made by Alibaba.
        Their brand trademark certificate
        Export Licenses on their company name
        Tax registration certificate
        Assessed supplier Report written by TUV
        Complying with ISO9001 Certificates and even the bank account is their company name
        They also have a website
        Do you think they worth to trust

      3. Hi Andrew

        Why can’t you use an independent Escrow service to pay Suppliers?
        Why must you use Alibaba’s?

        Regards
        Peter

      4. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Peter,

        You can do that IF supplier agrees to that.

        Usually they don’t.

        Andrew

      5. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Mustafa,

        This is totally normal/common way of payment when dealing with suppliers in China. If you have verified them, ordered samples and all looks good to you, then you should have no problems placing bigger order with them.

        For added peace of mind, you could ask whatever they can do Escrow payment via Alibaba?

        Thanks,
        Andrew

      6. Mustafa Mahmoof

        They want the money to be transfered into their company bank account

  36. My Case was too Simple i have Order a Mobile Phone $98 and with in 5 Days i got reply we will partially refund the $5 for Delay in Shippment as we cant sen u by DHL so plz Accept the Partiall Amount.

    I ask for $20 which they Accept and Refund and Closed my Order. and Then there was no response from Seller and i submit compliant to AliExpress too about the fraud happening..They did reply after 2 days and said we are checking the issue are we are getting the fraud compliant.

    The Big Question was when u Book any Order there is a ststus of Finished which was to be submitted by Client after recieving the Goods. But in my case after seller pay me partiall amount he Close my Order Status which he has to deliver the goods to me.

    When i ask Ali Express they say we have ban the user as get fraud compliant.

    My Question with AliExpress was that when we buy any Product Company says it will issue the funds to Seller until the product is Delivery and client submit the Finish Order. if its TRUE the how Seller can close my Order and without delivering the Product Company has Transfer the Fund to Seller and it Gone away with it.

    So it Show the Company is Fully envlove in this FRAUD SCAM….

    Plz Never buy any single product its all FAKE if still u wan to GAMBLE then Dont Cary after loosing ur Money………

    BAD Experiance……….BAD FAKE ChEATED People like any given Negative Feedback will not seen on AliExperess.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Tejinder,

      Thanks for sharing your experience with Ali Express.(this blog post is about Alibaba though, not AE).

      This is exactly why I always recommend buying ONLY from reputable sellers on AE with tons of feedback and ideally an Alibaba account too (Gold one). This way, chances of getting scammed like this, are greatly reduced.

      Also, a lesson to be learned from your experience – NEVER accept partial refund as this automatically closes transaction as completed! If there’s a need for a change in order, cancel it, get full refund and then place a new order for new amount.

      Lastly – fakes….it’s a well known fact that you CAN’T get any genuine/branded goods from China! You shouldn’t even look at them in first place! China is only good for un-branded goods, this is rule #1 when dealing with importing from China.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Aussie Spud

        Yes, so many shoppers get scammed by the “partial refund” fraud at Aliexpress sellers. Aliexpress profits by it, releasing your payment to the scammer and pocketing a percentage as their cut. The safest way to shop at Aliexpress is to negotiate with and PAY THE SELLER DIRECTLY USING PAYPAL. PAY NO OTHER WAY. If the seller does not accept PayPal, shop elsewhere. PayPal offers some protection against non-receipt of goods, faulty goods, and goods not as advertised.

      2. Andrew Minalto

        again, this is how escrow works.

        There’s actually similar scam going on with PayPal – if seller sends partial refund, and buyer accepts it (during a dispute), buyer CAN’T open another dispute.

        So PayPal can be as dangerous as Ali Express escrow system.

        The most important thing people should learn from all of this is that they MUST READ THE RULES before making any payments, placing orders online etc. Yes, even small print as that’s the only way to avoid situations like these.

        Thanks,
        Andrew

      3. Hi Andrew,

        I am currently looking into purchasing quite a substantial amount of stock from some suppliers listed on alibaba so I am very happy to have found your post as this has been very informative. I have one or two queries and wondered if you could help me. I will be purchasing jewellery and will be making sure I get sample orders first. Do companies normally provide these free of charge if they are reputable?

        Also, i will not be looking for brand names so thankfully that is not an issue for me but I wish to put my own company name on some products…is this usually legal?

        Also, I live in the UK and because I have never traded before, I am a novice and unfamiliar with the rules around importing and exporting. Do we, as the customer have to pay VAT on our orders upon arrival into the UK or is this all something takem care of by the courier/ sellers used?

        Finally, do you know anything about the E-credit option? Is it recommended to a small business? Is interest very high?

        Apologies for the numerous questions….I’m just adamant that I know all I need to before taking the plunge and ordering as it is a big step.

        Kind Regards

        Lucy

      4. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Lucy,

        Thanks for stopping by. I’ll try to answer your questions one by one:

        1) Samples. This depends on the value of samples. If those are very cheap products (like few pounds each), often companies they give away for free, you just have to cover shipping fee ($30-$50 for most small items).

        If items are more expensive, you’ll probably have to pay for them. Sometimes you’ll have to pay full/retail price for samples but supplier credits you back for this amount when you place your real order. Suppliers do this just to protect themselves from people buying in retail directly from them with no intention of making a wholesale order.

        2) Putting your brand name on items is totally legit and if you ask me – the best way to go to build a business around importing from China concept.

        3) Yes, you’ll have to pay VAT and import duty on these imports. If goods will be sent via courier service (such as DHL, TNT etc.), they will take care of taxes and documentation and simply invoice you for that amount + small processing fee (10-15 quid).

        4) Sorry, nope – haven’t heard about such e-credits….

        Hope this helps Lucy!

        Thanks,
        Andrew

      5. Apologies for replying twice…just not sure you noticed the last one.

        🙂

      6. Thank you, that’s all very helpful. Do the suppliers organise couriers or does the customer do this? (Sorry, may seem like silly questions). I was wondering if these taxes are extortionate and will defeat the whole purpose or if they aren’t too bad? My initial orders won’t be huge…not until I know more who to trust and have built up my capital a little.

  37. Hi!

    Thanks for this informing post!
    I was doing business thorough Aliexpress, buying clothes then selling.

    However in may past 10 shoppings the Aliexpress closed by transaction. They said I had to make claim: submit my id, credit card statement and so on.
    I did and did not get any response from them. It says i need to make a claim because my bank hold the money yet I spoke with my bank and they did not see any problem?

    So now I can’t shop on the wesbsite because my credit card does not go through? Is this a scam?? I am really worried. I have tried with three other different credit cards, yet still does not work?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jane,

      Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

      I know that they do such verifications to avoid/minimize charge-backs but have personally never been involved in a such verification process.

      Can’t help much with this one – you just need to get in touch with them and sort this out. Don’t use email! Login into your AE account and use direct contact form there (under Help section)

      Also, make sure it’s actually Ali Express that contacted you and not some scammer trying to get CC details from you for fraud.

      Sorry, not much of a help.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  38. Hi Andrew,

    great step by step guide.

    please explain why a supplier on alibaba is rated as a 5 year gold rated supplier yet when you look at their company profile it states that they were established in say 2011?

    Regards
    Mark

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for your question.

      I’m not sure but it could be that they have bought that Alibaba profile from another company and then changed details to their own. This doesn’t happen very often but still – I have heard of such thing going on.

      You should ask that supplier – why they have an Alibaba 5 year gold account while company is just 2 years old and see what their response is.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  39. hi Andrew

    thanks for share..its very nice to filter scams step by step.
    i want to ask you if i pay through paypal is it ok?
    i asked them and most of them does not accept paypal but i find some suppliers who accepted but now i checked and they are 2nd year gold supplier.
    thanks for help

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Kozi,

      PayPal usually is a good sign, yes.

      When you pay via PayPal – fund transaction with your credit card. Then if something goes wrong you can always initiate a charge-back with your credit card company and get your money back.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  40. Hello Andrew,

    Your postings are very helpful to people who are going to start a business, It highly appreciated. Sir i have a buyer who wants to buy USB flash drives in Bulk. I did some research on Alibaba filtering with your 10 steps on avoiding a scam. I found 2 Suppliers but they didn’t fulfill all your criteria points but they have been Gold suppliers for 10 & 9 years respectively & they both have been verified by Alibaba & a third party (TÜV Rheinland). The company video also has been verified by (TÜV Rheinland).

    I hope those information will be more than sufficient to make an order. But to get a expertise advice could you please check their stores. I’ll provide you the links.

    http://xianhedz.en.alibaba.com
    http://jmdeast.en.alibaba.com

    Please kindly look in to my matter
    Thank you
    Andrew

    1. Hi Prasad,

      I’m interested to start a business with the 2 suppliers you listed below. Have you dealt with them so far? If so, how was your experience? Any further recommendations?

      Thx in advance.
      Yassine

    2. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Prasad,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Both companies look legit to me, apart from branded memory cards they have in their listings (don’t buy those!).

      For un-branded memory or your own brand memory they should be fine.

      But be very careful with memory products – first, always start with a small, trial order. Check quality and most importantly memory size (you’ll need a special software for this as quite often Chinese will fake it).

      If the real order is big enough, you’ll definitely want to hire a product quality inspector to randomly check products before dispatch. Just so you’re 100% sure you get what you paid for.

      Check out this post by Dan from YMC on this topic:

      http://www.youngmoneychina.com/2012/07/how-to-lose-20000-in-one-day/

      It’s about HDD but the story is same!

      Hope this helps!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Prasad

        Hello Andrew,

        Thank you very much for your prompt reply. I highly appreciate your concern for me. I want to order Iron man USB flash drives from http://xianhedz.en.alibaba.com.

        Here is the product link,
        http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/1125988181/Iron_Man_usb_flash_drive_gold.html

        If it doesn’t bother you could you please check link sir. I have a lot riding on this deal.

        Thank you
        Andrew

      2. Andrew Minalto

        I don’t know for sure but it COULD be that the iron man head is a registered and protected design which means you can’t buy and sell these without a license.

        But I’m not 100% sure – you’ll have to do some research on your own and try to find this out.

        Thanks,
        Andrew

  41. Hi Andrew,

    thank u so much for this useful article.

    im new on alibaba, and i never bought any online product before.
    i want ur advise is it safe to buy an evening dress and deliver to egypt. ? and if i cant buy through escrow, is it safe to pay through western union??

    Thank you and waiting fro your kind reply

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Riham,

      If you need just one evening dress, you better use Ali Express:

      http://www.aliexpress.com/

      It has a built in Escrow system for all transactions which will protect you in case of problems.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew,

        I was hoping you had a chance to look at the supplier we were talking about. Please look at earlier posts. We just don’t want to get scammed. The carts cost around $1200. Thanks, James

      2. Andrew Minalto

        Hi James,

        Sorry about that – didn’t saw that post until now.

        The company looks totally legit to me from what I can see. Just make sure you pay directly to company (not a person) and you should be fine.

        Thanks,
        Andrew

  42. Hi Andrew
    Dear Sir your post is very very very very good.Sir i want to start a import business from china to pakistan.i searching about it and find a blog which says

    Escrow: Escrow used to be the safety net you could rely on. Then crooks began setting up fake escrow services and continued on stealing as happily as before.
    Here’s reality. Real sellers don’t use escrow. They take your money up front. Then they ship you the package. That’s the way it’s done. They have the goods so they make the rules. If you want to use escrow and they agree to it, beware!!

    this is th blog addrees
    http://resources.alibaba.com/topic/303036/How_to_Not_Get_Scammed_on_Aliaba_or_Online.htm

    Please can you explain me why this person not support the ESCROW method?

    And one thing more i chat a chines about lower price and he said me a line
    ORDER MORE SAVE MORE

    is it true?
    please kindly explain.
    Hoop you replay soon
    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Bilal,

      Thanks for stopping by,

      I totally disagree.

      Escrow is still MUCH SAFER than making payments directly, before the shipment goes out. While it’s true that you shouldn’t use dodgy escrow services, Alibaba’s Escrow service is quite good and generally reliable.

      If you’re not dealing with high risk items/fakes, in 99% cases Escrow will be a sure sign that supplier on Alibaba is totally legit.

      I have also used Escrow.com when selling websites and domain names and it’s totally legit company that does exactly what’s said on the tin.

      As for buying more to get lower price – that’s true of course! In the wholesale business, buying power really drives the price. The more you buy, the less you pay per unit. Also, buying in bigger quantities means you’ll pay LESS in shipping fees PER ITEM which even further drives final price per item down for you.

      Hope this helps!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  43. alibaba will take your money and never send you a product. they will give you no way to respond. our government allow people like this to work the internet.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi John,

      Alibaba is just a B2B platform – they don’t sell products, they act as middle man. If a supplier scams you, supplier is a scammer, not Alibaba.

      It’s exactly like with eBay – you don’t say eBay scams people when you receive a fake or seller doesn’t send you what you ordered…

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Mea Cadwell

        Except that Ebay helps whereas Ali does not. Ali does everything it can to be un-contactable – the only way you have to contact them anymore is via a robot chat box. If someone contacts you back you are very lucky!

  44. Hello Andrew

    I have tried on a couple of occasions to make an order on Aliexpress and it says for security reasons my order cannot be processed.

    I am not a business just a Londoner who Iikes to purchase online with my debit card. What am I doing wrong?

    Regards

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Josie,

      Thanks for your question.

      I’m not sure really – it could be that your card is not accepted?! Or that your billing address is different from your shipping address?

      Contact AE to find out what exactly causes this.

      And check out accepted cards here:

      http://help.aliexpress.com/payment_methods.html

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Sandra

        Hi Andrew

        I ordered some items from aliexpress and got emails saying payment successfully made. Later I get another email saying order has been closed. Payment could not be verified. So I went to my account thinking I did something wrong so I clicked on re-add to cart for one of my orders and ordered the other item from another vendor. And the same thing happens. I then click on veiw detail and it shows ‘Your order has been cancelled for security reasons. The fund for this order hasn’t been deducted by AliExpress. However, some banks may hold this payment, and the bank will reverse the payment for up to 7-10 working days before releasing back to the card holder. To avoid order cancellation in the future, please submit a claim for payment verification.” I clicked on claim and they wanted a copy of my ID, credit card statement and a copy of my credit card front and back. To me this is a red flag and I didn’t want to submit those things so I decided to order from ebay. Then 2 days later I get another email saying my payment was successfully paid. The order number was for the very first order that was cancelled by them. What’s up with this???? I’m calling my credit card company to file a dispute with them if they took any money out from my credit card.

      2. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Sandra,

        Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

        But I’m not a representative of Alibaba or AliExpress – with such issues you have to contact AE support and find out what’s going on.

        Payment verification is a normal process that Ali Express carries out to protect themselves from scammers who order something and then do a charge-back. When you send scanned card, you can (and SHOULD!) hide the full number and back 3 security digits.

        If you’re not comfortable with verifying your identity/payment this way, then just don’t do it.

        But for this specific case, as I said, you just have to get in touch with Ali Express – I can’t help with stuff like this.

        Sorry, not much of a help – I know…

        Thanks,
        Andrew

  45. CHEATING ON ALIBABA DISPUTE CENTER

    I think maybe alibaba cheating our dispute. I had a case where I am required to reply within 3 days or the case will be canceled by the administrator. But there is no limit to the administrator that do not take care of the case that I asked. example Case Number: 412830501 till date there is no handling of the administrator. Last answer of the administrator is dated 20/08/2013. I even can not find any chance to contact the Aliexpress administrator to say: What’s going on with my claim!? Actually I can not contact Ali if the status is not “Waiting for my response”. Ali administrators but sometimes seems to forget there is a claim not finished.

    I would not care, even if it takes a year I still would take care of this case and will not close it, before the case was settled. I also suspect that this is a collaboration between alibaba and the seller to gain time and cheat the buyers.

    NEVER TRUST ALIBABA OR ALIEXPRESS

    1. Hi

      We have had the same experience on aliexpress. We have had refund for one dispute but took almost a year and could not contact them to see what was going on, you can only click on once to raise dispute, then you can never contact them again so wait for months on end until they decide to get hold of you, they are obviously also making interest on your money as they hold it for so long.
      We have done alot of business on aliexpress and have learnt some leasons. Always ask for original picture of product, they do start to hide the tags then you recieve branded forgeries but they have covered up label on tag. also some of the pictures differ so much from the product so ask them for original picture, some products are still good but different colors has they choose to photo shop them, there are so many brands out there that some items we did not even know was a brand until we came to sell and found it was a forgery like teddies and stuff brands we had never heard about so i do not know how to protect against that and what was very surprising was when we found it was a fake so we couldnt sell it aliexpress asked us to take a photo of original postal packaging, well we did not have it, 1. they sent small quantities separate for free postage reasons and we did not find out straight away, the suppliers will never refund, they dont understand about repeat business, Its not all doom and gloom we have got some very good suppliers now with quality clothing but everytime we find new products we ask for pictures and click the button to report before your time runs out as supplier says theyve sent it but there stalling for time because once the time is up you can not complain and your money is released. so in all aliexpress need to do much more for the customer and get rid of all sellers that are not reputable. I am know looking for much larger quantities of other items and we are now looking on alibaba, I hope we get a good supplier, i will be taking all the steps.
      Thank you all and good luck

      1. Brittany

        Angela, I hope your still on Here since it’s been a year. But I am looking to buy good quality clothing from alibaba and aliexpress. Do you mind fixing me thr names of the companies to save me time and money. Also, did you ever end up ordering through alibaba and if so reputable companies from them? Thank you so much. Anyone else feel free too answer if they’ve had good experience from a clothing supplier.

        Thanks,
        Brittany

      2. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Angela,

        Thanks for your sharing your experience with other readers.

        Your comment and dozens of others only prove that free shipping is really not the way to go on Ali Express. If you’re using a courier, it’s just 4-6 days and you know for sure you have received your order or not, is it all in order etc. Regular mail can take up to 30 and sometimes more days. That’s not a viable business practice.

        As for branded goods – I usually just search for that item/brand on Google and if I see that there’s a company in USA/UK/EU/outside China, making those goods, chances are those in China are fake.

        But yes, it’s not that easy to tell, especially if you’re not familiar with that niche. Patents is another thing we can’t verify easily, but that’s another topic.

        Thanks again Angela & Good Luck with doing business on Alibaba!

        Andrew

    2. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Erwin,

      Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

      I don’t really think Alibaba would want to scam you or anyone else – it’s in their interest to keep buyers happy as otherwise soon no one would do business on Alibaba.

      Of course, I don’t know the details of your case and chances are they’re slow on responding etc. (I have never had an opened case on Ali Express) but to blame them for being scammers is probably not the best way to describe this.

      Try contacting Ali Express directly to resolve your case.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. MARK VECCHIO

        hello. I just wanted to point out that not only does alibaba use that robot to help online, as someone referred to it as in a comment that I read, but even when you call the California contact number for Alibaba, there is not an option to even speak to an agent or rep. the only option they provide is to email them, and the statement was that Alibaba would respond within 24 hours. well that has been a week now. truthfully I personally don’t feel too comfortable dealing with anyone handling my money that I cant pick up the phone and call them to ask them a simple question! but they wont even return emails! that is pretty sad! so unfortunately ALIBABA has left a bad taste in my mouth for their service sir.I work too hard for my income. At this point I wont be using Alibaba any longer

  46. pls i am new to alibaba and i have read your article on scammers on alibaba. I would like to u to explain ‘brand name’ and recommend some VERIFIED and TRUSTED suppliers. Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ayo,

      Thanks for your question.

      Brand name – when talking about sourcing products from China, by Branded products we mean any products that have Western brand on them, such as, Sony, Apple, Ralph Lauren, Nike, Adidas and so on. Not only these large, highly popular brands but also smaller, lesser known niche brand names.

      Any goods with such names coming from China will be FAKES/copies! With branded electronics, like Apple and Sony, very often you’ll get scammed and won’t receive anything at all, even not copies.

      Also, goods that carry any trademarks (logos etc.), characters (Disney, Smurfs etc.) are also classed as FAKES and you cannot import them from China! Those will be un-licensed products, illegal to buy and re-sell.

      Hope this helps!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  47. […] how to avoid scams, how various shipping and payment methods work and so on. You can check out this guide on how to filter out scams on Alibaba (as that’s really the best platform to start […]

    1. Hi andrew,

      I have seen a gold suppliers from USA that sell branded Iphones with affordable prices. In addition, there are suppliers from Hong kong and brazil for supplying APPLE products. please tell me that this suppliers are safe to communicate especially the one from USA as golden supplier in ALIBABA website

      1. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Layth,

        No, it’s not safe. Apple products are never safe unless you deal directly with Apple.

        I wish I could tell you something else, but products like iPhones, iPads etc. are scammers paradise with very, very few legit suppliers.

        Thanks,
        Andrew

      2. David N

        Hey Layth, it’s common courtesy to thank a person who goes out of their way to answer nicely your dumb question!

  48. Hi Andrew,

    I know you are getting plenty questions on here. Could you please tell me what you think about wheels purchased through Alibaba? I am looking to purchase replica wheels and China is the only one who makes the ones I am searching for. I have chatted with the seller in the last 2 days and they have told me PayPal is fine. It is my First purchase after signing on a couple months ago and I am not sure to proceed because of that. They are a 2nd year Gold supplier though.
    Here is the link, in the case you have time to check them out. I’ve also put the link in the Website space up above in the Speak Your Mind slots.
    http://skyauto.en.alibaba.com/company_profile.html

    Many thanks for your help,

    Winston

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Winston,

      Thanks for your comment.

      It’s hard to tell, I would recommend you first doing FULL factory audit using one of these services:

      http://inspection.alibaba.com/

      This will cost you roughly $100-$150 but will give you added piece of mind that company is totally legit and actually do what they say they do.

      I have never dealt with alloy wheels before but those designs they’re copying – there could be some issues if those designs are protected by a IP? I’m sure you know that you can’t have any brand names/logos on as I saw there are some sets with Mercedes etc. on them.

      So you should probably start with this – how legal is actually to import and re-sell such replicas.

      Hope this helps!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. I am thinking of buying branded goods from Pakistan, they only accept Western Union, Money Gram and TT, but they want me to pay with Moneygram. Does it sound dodgy do you think?

      2. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Joe,

        Thanks for stopping by.

        DON’T DO IT!!!!

        It’s a 100% SCAM and you’ll never see your goods or money again.

        Thanks,
        Andrew

      3. Hi Andrew,

        Looking to buy a flambe cart. Been emailing a Alibaba company. They say they only take bank to bank transfers for money. They show a picture of their business license. They say they have 30 locations. What do you think? They don’t take any escrow payments.

      4. Andrew Minalto

        Hi James,

        Please email me with the supplier link and I’ll take a closer look.

        Thanks,
        Andrew

      5. Hi Andrew,

        Just checking to make sure you received the information.

      6. Hi Andrew,

        Here is their information. Your help is appreciated!

        Chutong Kitchen Equipment and Hotel Utensil
        My MSN/E-mail:gzcheers0531@hotmail.com
        skype:maysharonlee
        Tel:86-020-31178802 86-13711670489
        Fax:86-020-34529899
        website:
        http://gzchutong.en.alibaba.com/

  49. Hi Andrew, is it safe to buy a poker table from one of these suppliers especially if the supplier passes your 10 steps filtration process? I did some review research on Alibaba and found nothing but negative feedback. Your blog did give me a hope. Thanks in advance.

    Desi

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Desi,

      Thanks for your question.

      Poker tables are totally fine as long as they don’t have any brand names on them.

      If the supplier has passed my 10 step filtration process, you have already minimized your chances of getting scammed to minimum. But to be 100% safe, you can always do a factory audit using following services:

      http://inspection.alibaba.com/

      AND use Escrow for the payment!

      If you do your research properly and deal with un-branded goods ONLY, Alibaba is a perfect place to be and there are actually very few scams along 3 year + Gold Suppliers.

      Good Luck!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      P.S. Feel free to email me the link to that supplier and I’ll personally check it out.

  50. I ordered a jabbawockeez mask shipped thru DHL today. I paid thru Western Union here in Philippines.
    It is my first time to do online shopping. I don’t have any bank acct.
    But I am planning to do buy & sell business and get supplies from Ali.
    I really thought that this would be fun because there are various items and discounts there.

    Pls give me advice regarding financial aspects if I were to venture
    buy & sell business with suppliers coming from Aliexpress.

    thanks

    1. hello jao, i have also ordered a jabba mask. how many days did it take before you received the package? Im worried cause, I ordered the mask 10 days ago and still doesnt arrived yet. any advices?

    2. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jao!

      On AliExpress it really doesn’t matter which payment form you use as long as it goes through the Escrow system. I hope that WU transfer wasn’t direct to the seller? Then you don’t have any protection on your transaction.

      Best way to make orders on Ali Express is by getting a bank account and a credit or debit card. Then you can pay easily/instantly via Escrow system and get maximum protection from scammers.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. bagudu

        Hello ,
        EsCROW is hollow, my order was frozen, I could not complain anything, anywhere and in violation of Aliexpress buyer protection they already released the payment to the seller,
        before any confirmation of delivery.
        I paid via credit card so I will reclaim at Mastercard.

        17-4-2014
        Dear M Bagudu,
        With regard to your claim for the Order 61xxxxxx, seller has already been restricted from AliExpress due to fraud.

        However, since the order has been finished with the payment released to seller, we feel sorry that we could not assist you in recovering the fund.
        hope the above information will be helpful to you.
        Best regards,
        wujunjun
        Online TradeSecurity Department of Aliexpress.com

      2. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Bagudu,

        How many days after the order you opened your claim?

        Andrew

      3. bagudu

        Hi,

        my order was frozen and 3 days later I claimed, and they emailed
        me immediately I could forget the refund, since was already
        transferred to the fraudulent shipper.

        i have been aggresively kicking around at fora and at all
        known communication channels of Aliexpress and accused them of credit card fraud. Now they confirmed me a refund, I did not receive that yet, But normally when the system is stating that , the refund really follows.

      4. Aussie Spud

        Andrew, as of late 2013, Aliepress no longer accepts debit cards. (Though, mysteriously, a few people still say they manage to have their debit card accepted for payments.) I believe Aliexpress would prefer that everyone used direct bank transfer–much easier to get away with scamming the customer where there is absolutely no consumer protection! I spent 3 months manning a help desk trying to assist people scammed by Aliexpress & its sellers, and in most cases all I could advise was to write off their loss, there was no way the customer would be able to recover stolen money. The biggest scammer is Aliexpress itself hiding behind its fraudulent escrow service. They profess to not release your payment to the seller until you have received the goods. This is a lie. In almost every case of fraud, Aliexpress has released payment to the seller after a set time has elapsed and without ever taking steps to verify with the customer that the goods have even been received. In 90% of scams, the customer is unaware they have been scammed by Aliexpress until many months have elapsed, all that time believing the goods were on their way by slow postal service and that their payment was protected by its escrow service. Their payment was not protected at all, it was handed over to the scammer. It’s a racket, and Aliexpress is part of the fraud in the way it allows and encourages continual scams via its methods. The best advice I’ve seen for shoppers at Aliexpress, is to gamble only with what you can comfortably afford to lose. Aliexpress had a forum where shoppers could talk about their experiences and exchange advice, but in 2013 Aliexpress shut it down because it was acutely embarrasing to have all these scams aired in public. (For months now, the site has been advertised as “down for maintainance”. Go figure!) If you are a customer who likes a gamble, Aliexpress is the site for you! BUT YOU SHOULD ONLY PAY BY CREDIT CARD, AT LEAST THAT WAY YOU WILL GIVE YOURSELF SOME DEGREE OF PROTECTION IF YOU ARE DEFRAUDED. Good luck!

      5. deborah

        i have shared the same negative experience with Aliexpress and their fraudulent escrow service. such a scam. they released the funds before i received the items which were never delivered. customer service was a joke. i will never order on their website again and tell everyone i know to avoid them too.

      6. Andrew Minalto

        Deborah,

        I’m sorry that you got scammed but you should really read how Escrow works before using it. There’s a set time frame it works, after which funds are automatically released to seller.

      7. Andrew Minalto

        Hi There,

        Thanks for your comment and sharing your experience.

        I haven’t personally been scammed on Ali Express so can’t comment on that but as far as Escrow service goes – this is clearly written in the description of it – money is automatically transferred to seller after the time frame for delivery has collapsed. And it only makes sense as otherwise, where would all that money go for all those transactions where buyers DO NOT confirm the shipment and release money manually?

        I’m sure the percentage of such transactions is huge.

        To avoid situations like these, always start a dispute BEFORE that time frame has collapsed, not after that.

        And as I have mentioned several times, use courier shipping services to minimize risks of such cases. In 99% of cases I use courier for Ali Express orders and maybe that’s why I haven’t been scammed.

        Thanks,
        Andrew

      8. I purchased some designer shoes. And contacted paypal to find out if the seller had a legit paypal account. And the paypal agent told me that they had a legit business account. I know it’s my fault I should have done research, but the seller told me goods will be delivered in 15 days yet I can’t track the package. I purchased on march 14th. I just hope my goods was shipped if not I will contact paypal again. Does this sound fishy? The name of the seller is “mens shoe ark”

      9. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Joshie,

        Designer shoes, from China? Forget about it! Either you’ll get fakes or you’ll get scammed. Either way you end up losing your money as even if you do receive stock, you can’t re-sell it as it’s FAKES!

        If you can, initiate a case with PayPal straight away and ask for your money back. Cancel transaction asap.

        Thanks,
        Andrew

      10. Joshie

        I bought some goods from Ali a few days ago but I paid using PayPal. Do you think I am safe? I am unable to track the package because it’s shipping through China Post. My friend told me China Post takes a wife to update the movent of the package. I really hope I am safe with PayPal. Thanks

      11. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Joshie,

        It depends on what kind of item you purchased, from what seller etc. The fact that you’r asking this question probably means that you haven’t done your home work and haven’t fully familiarized yourself with how importing works. Hopefully it will all end good but you should really do more reading before you buy anything else from Alibaba.

        Thanks,
        Andrew

      12. chris theard

        can u please give me info on the courier u speak of? I’m in isa and i just thought i use ems and it’ll come to my door from post office. any help appreciated

      13. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Chris,

        Any courier is fine really – EMS, TNT, DHL, UPS – they all are good, I have used all of them with no big difference.

        If you use EMS and are located in the USA, your package will be delivered by USPS.

        Thanks,
        Andrew

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