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New Alibaba SCAMs Exposed: Tips and Tricks for 2021!

August 2, 2021 by Andrew Minalto - 1513 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. Hi Andrew,

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

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

    Thank you for your help!
    Regards
    Matthew

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Matthew,

      Thanks for your comment & questions.

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

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Matthew

        Hi Andrew,

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

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

        Thank you for your precious time.

        Matthew

      2. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Matthew,

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

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

        https://andrewminalto.com

        Thanks,
        Andrew

      3. Matthew

        Hi Andrew,

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

        Kind regards,

        Matthew

      4. Andrew Minalto

        No worries, you’re welcome Matthew! 🙂

        Andrew

  2. Thank you for the guide!

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

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

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Misha,

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

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

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

      Andrew

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

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Len!

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

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

    Hope for a reply !
    Regards, Tomas

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Tomas,

      It’s a scam.

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

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

      Stay away!

      Andrew

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

    Thank you!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, of course you can do that! 🙂

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

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  6. Ilyas Hussain

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

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Ilyas! 🙂

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

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

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

    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

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

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

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

      And pay for it via Alibaba.

      Andrew

      1. Brittany

        Great thanks.

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

      2. Andrew Minalto

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

        WU is NOT an approved payment method.

        Andrew

      3. Brittany

        Amazing!
        I’ll go credit card

        Thanks so much for your help!!

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

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

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Kirstie,

      Please take a look @ these two articles:

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

      Thanks,
      Andrew

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi John,

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

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

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

      Andrew

  10. Hi Andrew

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

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

    Should I be worried?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Geaven,

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

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

      Andrew

  11. Great post Andrew,

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

    I will appreciate any help from you.

    Tnx
    MArtina

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Martina,

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

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

      Thanks,
      Andrew

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

    1. Andrew Minalto

      And what do you think Sonny?

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

      I would run and run fast away from them!

      Andrew

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

      2. Andrew Minalto

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

        Thanks,
        Andrew

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

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Melanie,

      Thanks for sharing this with us.

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

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  14. John Goode

    Hi, Andrew.

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

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

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi John,

      Defects are common thing, especially with clothing items.

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

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. John Goode

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

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

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Sebastine!

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

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Sounds like 100% SCAM, stay away!

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

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

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

    1. Andrew Minalto

      huawei mate 8 for $100? Are you serious?

      It’s a 100% SCAM!!!

      That price is way, way too low.

      Andrew

  18. Mark Wells

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

  19. Cara Birch

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

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Cara!

  20. Hello Andrew,

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

    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Tiffany,

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

      Please clarify.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Tiffany

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

        Hi Caro,

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

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

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

      2. Andrew Minalto

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

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

        So it is totally different procedure than buying small items.

        Andrew

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

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

      1. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Kieran,

        Sorry, not sure I understand your question…

        Can you please clarify?

        Thanks,
        Andrew

    2. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Peter,

      I’m sorry to hear about your bad experience.

      How did you pay for your order?

      Was it personal bank account or Western Union?

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

      Andrew

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

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Shawon.

      How did you pay supplier?

      1. shawon

        western union this was my first time using this site.

      2. Andrew Minalto

        Lesson learned I guess…

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

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Nafisha,

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

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

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  24. Hello

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

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sammy,

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

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

      Andrew

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

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Caro,

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

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

      Andrew

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

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Harsh,

      It is as safe as Trade Assurance system is.

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

      Andrew

  27. Hello Andrew,

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

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

    2. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Nicolas,

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

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

      Thanks,
      Andrew

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    2. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Karen,

      Thanks for your comment.

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

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

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

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

      Thanks,
      Andrew

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

      2. Hi Andrew,

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

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

        Do you still think I should be ordering retail?

        – kv, Karen

      3. Andrew Minalto

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

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

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

        Andrew

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      5. Andrew Minalto

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

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

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

        Thanks,
        Andrew

  29. Hi Andrew,

    I have received my first Proforma Invoice from a supplier.

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

    Thanks
    Oli

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Oli,

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

      Andrew

  30. Hi Andrew,

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

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mel,

      Thanks for your comment.

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

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

      http://inspection.alibaba.com

      Hope this helps!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew,

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

      2. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Mel,

        To be honest, it does sound fishy, yes…

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

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

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

        Andrew

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

  31. Nrupen Patel

    Hi Andrew,

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

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

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

    once again your guidance will be much helpful.

    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

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

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

      Andrew

      1. Nrupen Patel

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

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

        thanks once again for your guidance .

        Nrupen

      2. Andrew Minalto

        Not go to China, no.

        Just order factory inspection:

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

      3. Nrupen Patel

        Thanks, Andrew,

        I’ll surely use your service

        Kind regards,
        Nrupen

      4. Andrew Minalto

        No worries, you’re welcome Nrupen!

  32. Nrupen Patel

    Hi Andrew,

    It’s Nrupen here again.

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

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

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

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

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

    what is your opinion on this Andrew??

    Regards

    1. Andrew Minalto

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

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

      Andrew

      1. Nrupen Patel

        Thanks very much Andrew

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

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

        cheers

      2. Andrew Minalto

        No worries, you’re welcome! 🙂

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

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

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

    Take care and keep up the great work.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks for your support David! 🙂

  34. Hi Andrew,

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

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

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

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

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

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    Tom

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Tom,

      Thanks for your comment.

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

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

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

      Have you done factory inspection on them?

      Andrew

  35. Andrew,

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

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

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

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

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks for your comment Jon!

  36. Hi Andrew, Your website is amazingly helpful.

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

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

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

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

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

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Daniel,

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

      Andrew

      1. Daniel

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

      2. Andrew Minalto

        Why not try them out via their Ali express store?

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

        As there you get Escrow payment protection by default.

        Andrew

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

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

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

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

    -Tori

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Tori,

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

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

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  39. Joseph Kafwanka

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

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Joseph,

      Do you have Trade assurance contract in place with them?

      Andrew

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

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Can’t agree more!

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

    1. Andrew Minalto

      They’re 100% FAKES!

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

      Andrew

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

    Lena

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Sorry to hear that Lena….

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

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

  44. Parker Mead

    Hi Andrew,

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

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

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

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

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

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Haven’t heard of this, no.

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

      Andrew

      1. Parker Mead

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

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

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

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

      2. Andrew Minalto

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

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

        Andrew

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

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Marilyn,

      100% agree with you!

      Andrew

  46. Hi Andrew.

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

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

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

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

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

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jel,

      DON’T EVEN think about it!!!

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

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

      Hope this helps & I stopped you at right time.

      Andrew

      1. Thanks Andrew.

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

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

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

        I guess I am surprised at how genuine they look.

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

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

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

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

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

        Anyway Andrew, your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

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

        Cheers Andrew and fellow posters, have a terrific weekend.

        Jel

  47. Marcus Aurelius

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

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Marcus,

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

      Andrew

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

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

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

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

  49. Hi andrew

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

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

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Rajiv,

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

      Thanks,
      Andrew

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

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

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

    Regards,
    Elliot K.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Elliot,

      I think it’s still too risky….

      What payment methods do they accept?

      Andrew

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