November 20, 2015 by Andrew Minalto - 2 Comments

Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered #46

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questions-answers-46Welcome Back!

What a week it’s been…

On Monday we started with the Trademark Scam warning article and I’m really happy that I published it, even though I did already post a similar one earlier this year, during the summer. I have received many emails from my blog readers with the info that they have also received the same letters from the same companies!

The most worrying thing is that many of those people said that they almost PAID THEM!!! YES! Luckily they had that small doubt in their head and decided to search for these companies online which led them to the article on my blog.

It’s a good feeling to know that the post saved people literally thousands of pounds! I really hope that this blog post ends up ranking no.1 on Google so that everyone sees it!

On Wednesday I published an interesting guide on how to spot genuine Chinese brand products and what the difference is between Chinese brands and “Western brands”.

It’s now Friday, which means it’s time for our weekly Questions & Answers blog post! If you want your question to be featured in one of these posts, all you have to do is contact me via my help desk here. As easy as that!

Today we’ll be covering the following questions:

  • Samsung batteries in Chinese electronics – are they legit?
  • Do you have to pay anything extra when using couriers for shipments from China?
  • Are freight forwarders’ fees all the same?
  • How much more complicated is it to use a freight forwarder vs a courier?
  • What additional costs will you face when importing children’s clothing from China?
  • Do you have to find a NICHE on eBay?

Let’s get started!

Hi Andrew,

I received an email today that may be of interest to you and your subscribers. I recently asked for a quote for Electric Self Balancing Scooters, as despite the recent slightly negative publicity in the UK press they still seem to be a hot product.

I inquired as to whether the battery in the unit was a Samsung unit as I notice that the top sellers are using this as a selling point.

This was the reply that I received.

“Dear Mr. Michael,

Really thanks for your kindly inquiry very much!! I appreciated it a lot.

Hi Mike, if you place an order for 100 units. The FOB(shenzhen) price is 138$. The battery is made in China. But we can sign a Samsung sign on it. (A photo was displayed here, see attached photo)

If you need the real Samsung battery, the unit price is 150$ a unit. But Dear Mike, our battery quality is real capacity A grade. The quality is similar to Samsung battery. Thanks!!

Really hope to hear from you and any questions just feel free to contact me
Thanks and Best Regards
Tony Wu”

It’s the phrase ‘The Battery is made in China, but we can sign a Samsung sign on it’ that really starts alarm bells ringing for me. Now, I am aware of the strict rules for importing batteries and the paperwork that the manufacturer would have to provide to the freight handling company on my behalf, but I still can’t help wondering that they are encouraging me to commit fraud.

What do you think?


Hi Mike,

Unfortunately this is quite common with Chinese manufacturers – they don’t really care about IP rights and will do anything you want in terms of branding (e.g. put fake products on logos, etc.). Not all companies are the same of course, but many will do this without batting an eyelid.

Obviously, you DON’T want to do this! Either get their generic batteries with NO SAMSUNG logo/label or pay extra to get genuine Samsung batteries.

In this case you’ve actually been very lucky as the supplier was at least honest and let you know that there are two versions of “Samsung” batteries. Most would simply put the fake one in and tell you it’s genuine.

Hey Andrew,

I just read your blog post “How to import products from China!” and I have to say you did a great job of covering the different shipping avenues. It helped answer most of the questions that I had and alleviated many of my fears, but I still have some questions with regards to the courier/air/sea methods of importing. If it is not too much trouble on your end, could you please elaborate on these for me:

When I pay for a courier, am I just paying for shipping overseas and transportation to my door since FOB already covers shipping from the factory to docks/airport?

Are there different air/sea freight companies that charge different rates, or is it one unified system? If there are, do I tell my supplier which one I want them to use?

How do I pay for the air/sea shipping costs? Do I pay the company that does it directly, or my supplier?

How much more complicated is it to use a freight forwarder vs a courier? It seems like they both do the same service, i.e. get the shipment to your doorstep, except the courier is more expensive.

Sorry for asking so many questions, any help would be appreciated. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,

Hi Kien,

Sure, I will try to answer your questions one by one:

1) Yes, courier shipping covers EVERYTHING – right up to the goods being outside your door. The only further charges you have to pay when using a courier is the customs processing fee and any applicable taxes (VAT and import duty).

2) Yes of course – there are many such companies offering this service and their fees can vary greatly. Usually suppliers have long term relationships in place with particular companies so if you do decide to just go with air/sea freight, ask your supplier for a quote as they will most likely be able to get you the best rates.

3) Usually the supplier will add this to your invoice, as they’re the ones who organise it.

4) Yes, if you’re using a freight forwarding company (and not just “plain” air/sea freight which is just shipping from port to port/airport to airport) it’s basically the same thing as using a courier company as the freight forwarder will deliver the goods to your country, clear them through customs and then arrange delivery to your door (provided you opted for door to door delivery of course). The only difference is that delivery times will be much longer.

Hope this helps!

Hi Andrew

I hope you’re well. I’m hoping to import children’s clothing from China to the UK and just wanted to get a heads up about what costs I need to be aware of when looking at my selling price? I have the obvious ones such as shipping.

Thanks in advance for your help.


Hi Imani,

The biggest additional expense when importing anything from China is import duty & VAT.

Import duty for children’s clothing is 12% and VAT is 20%. But some groups of children’s clothing are exempt from VAT (0%) so you should find out whether the items you’re planning to import are included under the 0% rate or the full 20% (the best and easiest way to find out is to call HMRC directly).

Hi Andrew,

I have been reading all of the articles on your blog and they are brilliant! I will shortly be purchasing some of your courses.

I previously started an eBay business with £55 of my Christmas money and after 4 months had a turnover of £750. I set up a professional looking shop, and really focused on customer service massively. Unfortunately I then reinvested all of my money back into the business and ordered a large amount of stock from China, only to lose all of my money and be left with no products to sell! A lesson well and truly learnt.

This previous model seemed to work for me, however I have seen you say that to start an eBay business you need to find a niche market. My previous business wasn’t a niche as I was just selling products that I could make good profit on, backed up by a professional looking shop/listings. However I now want to make a start again, do you think I should try to find a niche or do what I was doing previously? In your opinion can you build a very successful business on eBay by doing what I did previously or do you have to have a niche to allow it to grow?


Hi Greg,

Great to hear you made progress so fast and from such a small budget, well done! 🙂

To answer your question – no, absolutely not! On eBay you can of course sell various products that you find are profitable for you. You can do this and still make tons of money.

The problems with this concept are mainly in regards to the long term viability of your business, such as:

  • you have to look for new products all the time,
  • you’re usually just competing on price,
  • you can’t build a successful online shop outside of eBay.

The last one is probably the most important as in the long run you will want to have your own shop so you’re not relying solely on eBay. And the only way to build a successful ecommerce shop is to do it in a niche market. With a general, all in one type of shop it will be very, very difficult to get qualified traffic cheaply and have decent conversion rates.

So in the long term, a niche based business, with a strong brand and your own online shop, is a better choice. But in the short term, just to gain experience and build your buying power, it is perfectly fine to sell whatever you can get your hands on and flip for a profit.

In my EAB course I cover various business concepts and go over both niche markets and the all in one approach, as well as much more, so be sure to check it out:

Hi Andrew,

Just wanted to say that I recently made contact with a local council funded enterprise support company about raising finance for a new eBay and online venture. After spending months working on a business plan I had an initial meeting that was very positive. Although not perfect I was told that my plan was one of best that they had ever seen.

As a result, the organisation think that, with a little more work, funds could be secured and I can launch my business and change my life for the better.

A lot of my knowledge has been learned from your highly informative blog, and I have made contacts with great companies like Woodland Global that I’m sure will become useful business partners.

I can’t thank you enough for the invaluable help your blog has been.



Always nice to receive emails like the last one – it really makes all the hard work worthwhile! 🙂 I wish Mike all the best with his venture, which I’m sure will be a big success!

Next week it’s BLACK FRIDAY on November 27th! If you’re an online shop owner, make sure to check out my guide on How to Handle Black Friday Orders!

I will be back next week with more posts of course! We’ll start on Tuesday with another scam guide where I’ll show you how to avoid Alibaba gold supplier scams! And then of course I will be back next Friday with the 47th installment of our Questions & Answers series! Keep me busy and send in your questions via my helpdesk here.

Hope this helps & have a great weekend everyone!


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  1. I bought my husband a guitar from America we do not believe it is genuine and are returning it. Can we claim the import duty and vat back. Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jackie,

      Yes, you can. You need to contact HMRC and they will provide you with info on next steps to get this done.


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