The WFHW team recently completed a not-so-favorable review of the Alibaba.com website, due largely to unethical activity by certain suppliers.
Since AliExpress.com is owned by Alibaba.com, we felt it was important to let our readers know if AliExpress.com could be trusted or if suppliers are using similar tactics to those being used over at Alibaba.com.
What Is AliExpress.com?
AliExpress.com founded in 2009 is a marketplace offering products at factory prices direct from China. Orders can be as small as a single item.
The AliExpress.com website is actually featured on the main Alibaba.com website. When you sign up for a free membership with AliExpress, you are actually registering with Alibaba.com at the same time.
Unlike Alibaba.com (which has no payment tracking because they use Western Union), payments for products purchased through AliExpress.com are held by Alibaba.com in their Escrow Alipay system and are only released to the seller once the product is received by the purchaser.
This system was put in place to overcome one of the biggest challenges Alibaba.com was experiencing, the non-delivery of products.
However, it appears that the escrow system has not completely resolved the problem with products not being delivered.
There were a few customer complaints suggesting that even though the money was held in escrow, when they did not receive their product and requested a refund, the money was not released back to them.
One person, after waiting several months, still had not received their money back, nor had they received the products they purchased.
What Are The Main Differences Between AliExpress.com And Alibaba.com?
I had to take a real close look at these two sites in order to identify the main differences.
1) All the suppliers for AliExpress.com are from China whereas Alibaba.com has international suppliers as well as suppliers from China.
2) AliExpress.com payments are made online when the order is placed and funds are held in an Escrow. Buyers at Alibaba.com make payments offline via Western Union so there is no way to track where the money goes.
3) Unlike Alibaba.com which caters to companies with large orders, AliExpress.com provides products to both companies and individuals with no minimum order requirement.
4) Shipments on AliExpress.com are by air only, while Alibaba.com offers a choice of shipping by sea or air.
What Do You Need To Be Aware Of Before Making A Purchase Through AliExpress?
The use of an Escrow-based Alipay system to manage payments between sellers and customers may help to prevent the non-delivery of products – a concern of customers and one of the major stumbling blocks with Alibaba.com. However, there are problems that it won’t solve.
Buyers that purchase products through AliExpress.com will still be dealing with the same vendors that service Alibaba.com.
Because there are no regulations and quality control in place, some of these sellers have unethical business practices which have resulted in a large number of complaints issued by purchasers about Alibaba. The only difference is that sellers won’t get the money until the product is in the customer’s hand.
Sellers have also been known to replace items with similar look-a-likes that may not have the exact specification so you need to check merchandise very carefully when you receive it.
There have been a number of complaints that sellers were not able to deliver products on time. However, the time frame it takes for products to clear is an unpredictable variable that could cause product arrival delays.
Potential buyers need to examine vendors very carefully before making any purchases. The following are 5 warning signs that you should be aware of when researching a seller.
1) They Offer a Wide Range of Products.
If the sellers’ profile indicates that they sell a wide range of products, this is an indication that they are a trading company and as a result, you won’t get the best deals.
2) They’re Slow To Answer Or Don’t Respond At All To Pre-sell Questions.
If they don’t provide any pre-sell customers service, who is going to help resolve your situation if you have an issue after making a purchase and require customer service?
3) They Are Located in Fujian
While not all sellers from this region are unethical, sellers in this area have a reputation that is notorious for generating customer complaints.
4) They Don’t Use The Same Name Or Provide A Company Name Without A City
Sellers should always have a city attached to their name. Most Chinese companies do. If you come across a seller without a city attached to their name, you should be very cautious.
5) They Claim To Sell Brand Name Products
Brand name products are sold at brand name prices. It would be very unlikely that a small company like AliExpress could acquire brand-name products to sell.
AliExpress is not a scam, but there are unethical sellers so you need to be careful and do some research before considering making a purchase.
You may even consider testing the waters by making a small purchase before investing any significant amount of money in products.
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