AliExpress Review: Is it Always Bad?

Jason Miller
January 16, 2017

Run! AliExpress is a scam!

This is the glaring and not so favorable message that is blasted across numerous review sites such as Trustpilot, Resellerratings, Sitejabber and many more. But how much of it is true? This post seeks to make it clearer.    

What is AliExpress?

To get started, AliExpress is a subsidiary of Alibaba. It is a marketplace where mainly goods produced in but not limited to China are sold. It's common practice for goods found in AliExpress to be found in shops across the world with private labels selling at a far higher cost. Put differently, AliExpress is Alibaba’s online retail marketplace aimed primarily at international buyers. Which gives small businesses in China the opportunity to sell to customers all over the world.

AliExpress Home Page

What is the difference between and

Recent data in the first quarter of 2016 puts Alibaba as the world’s largest retail platform before Walmart. is one of the world’s largest online business to business marketplace with access to OEM Manufacturers, suppliers, and exporters/importers from all over the world. Deals available on ranges from machinery, electronics, clothing, medical supplies, the list is endless. Payment on ranges from PayPal, western union, and bank transfer. Only a few traders offer escrow as a payment plan on Alibaba.

Alibaba Home Page, on the other hand, is a retail arm of Alibaba. It offers retailers and consumers all over the world the opportunity to purchase goods from China. For emphasis, AliExpress is the most visited retail site in Russia. Buyers are protected via an escrow payment system and funds are only released to the seller when the buyer acknowledges receipt of the goods.

Why is AliExpress products so cheap?

A quick tour on the AliExpress website would give you products that are far cheaper than most listings in other shops both online and offline. This can be attributed to two main possibilities.

Firstly, sellers on AliExpress are either Manufacturers or major suppliers who source their products directly from manufacturers there in china. The cheap cost of man power, low cost of production and lack of payment of import and related taxes makes this the case. A lot of products available in other retail shops are made and sourced in china. Through AliExpress you have the opportunity to buy directly from china. 

Another possibility which exists is the possibility that the said item is counterfeit or poorly made. Just like every online marketplace, there exist fraudsters who try to lure unsuspecting buyers with too sweet a deal to ignore. Same has been reported on EBay, Amazon and others. For example, a cruiser Bicycle which ought to sell for around $150-$200 selling for $40 should ring a bell of caution with respect to it being either a fraudulent deal or a counterfeit product.


Why do buyers seem to get scammed on AliExpress?

Is AliExpress a scam site? NO! Do buyers get scammed on AliExpress? Just like most online marketplace, a fraction of buyers do. How does this happen? The majority of the scam cases/complaints reported about AliExpress fall into the listed category below.

1. Poor quality of item
2. Failure to receive goods
3. Products not being as described
4. Sellers not sending items on time
5. Failure to get refund on bad products

The majority of this complaints can best be avoided by following the tips outlined below.

How to have a favorable AliExpress experience?

The first thing to note when aiming to have a favorable AliExpress experience is understanding that your purchases are from a seller (or multiple sellers as the case applies) on the AliExpress Platform and not from a Privately owned vendor site, hence you would be interacting with different sellers on each trade attempt on the platform.

Searching for a product:  The array of products available for sale on AliExpress is huge and it keeps increasing. Many sellers offer the same item at different prices. If you are having a problem searching for a particular product. Check out this guide. Always devote time when searching for products, there’s often a better deal lurking around. But be wary of prices that are too good to be true. While searching for products put into consideration the following things:

1.   Sellers who offer an array of products. These sellers are often trading companies and not manufacturers and may not offer you the best deals.

2.    Check out for seller’s rating. Sellers with good ratings are often trustworthy although that doesn’t always mean sellers without diamonds and crowns can’t be trusted.

3.    Send seller’s a mail with regard to any question you may have on the product. If a seller fails to respond, search for another seller. You could chat instantly with sellers using the instant messaging system available on the seller’s profile.

4.    Brand items are not always available on AliExpress. Where available like in phones and other electronics, they have majorly refurbished items. A seller offering a new iPhone 6 for $150 is definitely selling a counterfeit product. AliExpress do not allow the sales of branded items by other sellers certainly not by the branded name. The Chinese government imposes high taxes on Genuine branded goods (to support local business), so contrary to popular believe, an iPhone definitely costs a lot more in China than in the UK or the US.

5.    Check out products rating and feedbacks. As a rule, if a product does not have up to 30 ratings and feedbacks. I do not order from that seller. The benefit of ratings and feedbacks cannot be overemphasized.

AliExpress Product Feedback Section

•    With feedbacks, you can tell the quality of a particular product from buyers who successfully purchased the items.

•    Feedbacks enable you to tell the rough duration it takes for a particular buyer to receive the product. Some buyers state this in their review.

•    Feedbacks can tell what buyers from your own country think of the product.

•    Where available, feedbacks contains real buyers photographs of the item different from the perfectly edited photos put up by sellers.

Making an Order: In the case, your order requirement differs from that available on the site, contact the seller before placing your order. State the colors, sizes, shapes, specifications clearly before making an order and be sure he acknowledges your instructions. In case a problem arises, you have enough proof to open a dispute.

Payment: Never ever agree to purchase goods and pay outside the AliExpress platform. If a seller promises to offer you more discount if you choose to pay direct to his PayPal account or other payment providers, Report him and RUN! Alipay Escrow service offers you safety with your funds. The seller only gets your fund when you acknowledge that you have received the item. 

Delay in delivery:  Some buyers complain that it took their items 60 days to get to them. The intricacies of International mail is hard to predict. The duration it takes a particular item to clear is often unpredictable, sometimes there may be Chinese holidays and this would delay the time it takes for certain items to be shipped. Some sellers may not have the purchased items in stock and would await its production before sending. It’s often wise to chat with the seller before making a purchase. Ask if the seller has the desired item in stock and if not available, go with a seller who does. Most products are offered by numerous sellers. I always advocate that buyers insist on a seller providing the tracking number to items purchased which can be tracked online on various product tracking sites. This gives an assurance that you know where your item is at any particular time


What do you need to be aware of before making purchases.

1.    AliExpress is not a scam site. Some fraudulent sellers can be found on the platform.
2.    Your payment and card details are safe on AliExpress Alipay platform and Escrow service.
3.    You can get the best deals and avoid being a victim of any fraudulent practice if you thread on the path of caution
4.    AliExpress offers you a money back guarantee if you do not get your items.
5.    Stay away from top branded products when found, the chances of being a counterfeit is high.


We can safely say AliExpress is not a scam site. This AliExpress review shows you ways of playing it safe to get the best deals. When in doubt or have a question with regards to a product, always consult your seller. Be sure to check out our other AliExpress resources. Happy buying!

Jason Miller

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