These days online shopping has created a rage among the consumers. People are sitting at home and purchasing different products as per their requirements. They get enchanted by this online world of choices, variety, convenience and comfort. However, this enchantment often leads them to fall prey to frauds and scams.
Therefore, you must do thorough research about a particular site before availing its services. It would make you not only cautious about the products you buy but also help you detect fraudsters and scammers.
Let us take the example of AliExpress, the e-commerce arm of Alibaba group. Even though it is a part of one of the most notable technology giants in the world, it often proves to be unsafe for the first time buyers. Some sellers supply products of poor quality and rob customers of their money.
However, such illegal and deceitful sellers can exist in any online shopping sites. Therefore, it is upon you to prepare yourself accordingly. If you do your research meticulously and understand the rules of online shopping, all marketplaces would be safe for you, even AliExpress.
Some facts about AliExpress
AliExpress is one of the many offerings of Alibaba, the Chinese tech giant. It is the online retailing arm of Alibaba that extends services and products to consumers from all over the world. Launched on 26 April 2010, its objective is to bring about small businesses from diverse domains on a single platform. Diversity of products and low prices are its notable features.
It is equated with eBay as the platform is primarily used by independent sellers to provide products to the customers. On the other hand, it differs from Amazon insofar as its only purpose is to serve as a platform for e-commerce. It does not serve consumers directly, and its services primarily target international buyers. Customers from mainland China do not have permission to purchase from this platform. However, the sellers in this platform are mostly Chinese.
It is one of the most popular e-commerce sites in Latin America and the most favoured site in Russia.
How to avoid being scammed in AliExpress?
From the facts mentioned above, it is very much apparent that AliExpress is one of the most sought-after e-commerce websites. It must be an excellent place for online shopping to be so popular. Therefore, it is your responsibility to be alert and take the necessary safety precautions before heading for any purchase. Here are the ten significant safety precautions you must follow to protect yourself from frauds and scams:
- Check the store’s opening date: This is the first thing you should do before heading for purchase in AliExpress. A store’s opening date says a lot about its reliability and credibility. Always purchase your products from a store that has been there in AliExpress for not less than two years. This precaution is especially relevant when you are planning to buy an expensive or technology-related product. A store that has been in existence for less than one year may offer you cheaper products, but its products are not verified yet.
- Look for reviews and ratings: This is a constructive way of getting an idea of the quality of the product you wish to buy. Read the reviews of the previous customers thoroughly. If you want to get a more detailed analysis, click on the “With Pictures” option. You would get an idea of what the products look like in real and whether the quality is excellent. You can also get a detailed analysis of customers’ feedback by navigating to the “Seller Feedback” page. For that, you need to go to the “Sold by” section and select the diamond sign.
- Read the “Buyer Protection Policy: To protect the interest of their customers, AliExpress has set out several protocols for the sellers. One of them is “Buyer Protection Policy”. You must read this policy when you are planning to purchase something. Make sure that the seller from whom you are purchasing the product must provide you with the following two guarantees: a) Full reimbursement if the product fails to reach you. b) Partial or full reimbursement if the product doesn’t meet the quality standards. You can also look into the section on “product description” for other guarantees that the concerned seller is offering.
- Pay attention to the store’s purchase frequency: You can do it by just noticing the date of the last customer’s review. If it is of recent time, then it is a positive sign. It is an indication that customers are buying the product. It would be best if you also observe how frequently people are purchasing the product. If the purchase is regular, then you should go for the product. But if you find that the last customer’s review is almost six months old, then don’t buy the product. It is an indication of the product’s unavailability, or the store’s shut down.
- Contact the retailer before purchasing the product: Before buying a product, you must confirm that all the information mentioned about it is real and valid. AliExpress provides an option for contacting the retailer. Avail this service and communicate with the seller to verify that the information they have mentioned in their page matches with the answers they give. Remember, a good retailer would provide with all the details of the product and not just advertise it.
- Avoid “free shipping” for expensive products: The desire to save money may lure you to avail offers for “free shipping”. But it is better to not give in to your temptation when you are purchasing an expensive or frangible product. The option for “free shipping” is satisfied by availing the postal service where your product’s safety is not assured. Therefore, it is better to spend some extra money for the sake of your product’s safety.
- Be cautious while purchasing cheap items: Again, you may desire to save as much money as you can. But you must be careful when you see something perfect for a surprisingly low price. There is no wisdom in getting charmed by the product’s outer appearance. It may turn out to be fake.
- Calculate the customs and duties: Since most of the products are coming from China, custom duties are likely to be charged. Consequently, the cost of the product may increase. Therefore, it better to calculate the customs and taxes and purchase your products accordingly.
- Do not involve in any dispute: File a complaint only after you have received your product. AliExpress provides only one attempt to file a dispute regarding a particular product. It would help if you used that attempt judiciously. If you file a complaint about not receiving your product and the product by any chance arrives at your place, you won’t be able to give your feedback. Also, you won’t be able to file another complaint if your product by any chance turns out to be faulty.
- Do not confirm the receipt before using the item: AliExpress provides an option for validating the receipt. Please do not do it unless you are satisfied that your product is right and of standard quality.
There are a lot of stereotypes concerning Chinese goods and services. The most prominent of them is that Chinese products are not durable or are of lousy quality. Such stereotypes also determine people’s mindset when they are doing online shopping in AliExpress.
But one must understand that these are only stereotypes and not a “gospel truth”. Most of the products available in AliExpress are of standard quality. They are economical as well. If you are alert and smart enough, AliExpress is as safe as any other e-commerce website.