If you love a good online bargain, you’re probably more than familiar with AliExpress. This portal encompasses the majority of stores and small businesses in China that have ventured into the global market, selling their products to consumers all over the world… and always for the lowest price!
So, it’s easy to understand why AliExpress is one of the internet’s most popular marketplaces. But as usual, whenever money is involved, there are scams, and some dishonest seller is always ready to prey on unsuspecting shoppers with bait-and-switch schemes.
Did you purchase a brand-new iPhone 11 for a ridiculously low price, only to receive an iPhone-shaped cushion in the mail? Did you fall in love with an adorable stuffed seal but end up with something that looks more like Steven Seagal than the aquatic mammal of your dreams? Or did you simply purchase an item and never receive it?
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one who has felt scammed after buying something on AliExpress. Because unless you’re careful, you could easily end up frustrated with what initially seemed like the bargain of the century.
To save you from bad experiences on AliExpress, in today’s article, we’re going to teach you how to detect scams on this platform and give you some tips in case you have somehow been conned. We hope you find it helpful!
Is AliExpress a secure platform?
That’s the million-dollar question, something we all wonder when visiting AliExpress. This marketplace offers endless items we’d love to buy, but we seem to recall reading somewhere online that it’s not very secure. Is that right?
The truth is that AliExpress is completely secure as a platform, in the sense that your banking or credit card details won’t be stolen by the seller. Your payment information (credit card, Western Union, Paypal, etc.) is never shared with the seller and is also protected by a reliable security system, Verisign SSL.
But scams are another issue entirely. While you can be sure a seller won’t swipe your credit card info, you may never receive anything in the mail. There have been many cases where the seller plays dumb and never ships your package. Apparently, it’s also common to receive a pirated item instead of the original. Keep reading to find out about the most common types of scams on AliExpress.
The top scams on AliExpress
There are many methods of scamming, but fortunately, dishonest AliExpress sellers often have a modus operandi that is easily identifiable. Below we’ll share the most common ones, so if you’re a victim of any of them you can defend yourself before it’s too late.
The seller never ships your item
Imagine finding a Nintendo Switch on AliExpress with that special edition of Animal Crossing that’s so hard to find. And all for just 100 euros! Who could resist such a bargain? But after you purchase it, several months go by and your package never arrives. The seller claims they shipped your package as soon as they received the money, but your Switch never turns up. What happened?
If you find yourself in a situation like this, we have bad news: it’s more than likely you have been the victim of the classic scam of the package that was never shipped. The seller will claim over and over that your package is on its way, asking you to be patient, but the fact is, they never sent your merchandise, and your cool Nintendo Switch probably doesn’t exist. The scammer will try to make you lose the 60-day buyer protection period as you wait, and then you can’t open a dispute.
The seller gives you a false tracking number
Closely linked to the above scam is the false tracking number trick. After announcing that your phantom shipment is on its way, the rogue seller gives you a false tracking number so you rest easy and don’t get suspicious.
When you go to check the tracking number on the mail website, you’ll probably be informed that no such number exists in its database. The seller will claim that this is normal, as it’s common for shipments from China to experience delays in being recorded in the database. They’ll tell you to wait about two weeks for the number to work. But don’t be fooled, this one is never going to work!
Another common tactic: they give you a tracking number that works, but when you search for it, your package appears as delivered. That way, the seller is covered when you try to open a dispute. It will claim that you received the package and that you’re the scammer, when the situation is actually the opposite!
The products you receive are different from those advertised
This is the ultimate AliExpress scam. It’s fairly normal for any product you purchase online to look much nicer in the advertising photos than it does at home. Photoshop is the culprit in most cases. However, we all know China has a reputation for creating copies of products and selling them for a much cheaper price.
One of the biggest tricks on AliExpress is sending us products that barely resemble what we wanted and cost their seller much less to manufacture. In this case, photos of the original products are often used to trick the buyer, and once received, their quality leaves much to be desired. We’re talking about the classic Chinese fakes.
How to avoid getting scammed on AliExpress
Now that you know what kinds of scams you can find on AliExpress, we’d like to tell you how you can avoid them. Let’s get to it!
One of the keys to avoiding being conned is to do some research on the seller. Never, ever buy a product from a person or a store with bad ratings or complaints from buyers. If many people leave bad ratings or complain that they never received their item, you’ll be taking a risk by purchasing something from that seller, and you’ll likely fall into the same trap.
But what if the seller is new? Scammers often open new accounts on AliExpress when their old one has racked up too many bad reviews and nobody is taking the bait anymore. Should you always avoid new sellers, then? While our best advice is to stay safe and only buy from verified “reliable” users, you don’t necessarily have to avoid all new sellers. That said, please tread carefully.
To determine whether or not seller is real, it’s a good idea to scrutinize the photos they are using to advertise their product. If they use advertising photos from the manufacturer, you should be wary. If, on the other hand, they are real photos of the product, you should run a search on Google Images to see if they appear on other websites. Just go to Google Images (click here) and drag the photo to the box in the middle of the page. If the same picture appears on multiple websites, find a different seller. It’s probably a scam!
What to do if you’ve been scammed on AliExpress
So we’ve told you about the most common scams on this platform and how to avoid some pitfalls, but… what if you had a moment of weakness and some dodgy seller managed to rip you off? Don’t worry! Your money isn’t lost yet, and we can help you get it back.
Many users are unaware that AliExpress has a 60-day buyer protection period. During this time, if you’ve had some problem with the seller or never received your order, you can open a dispute on AliExpress. There, you can submit your complaint, photos and proof to the platform, explaining what happened and how you have been the victim of a scam.
In theory, the seller has the right to defend themselves in the dispute and try to reach an agreement with you, but if no solution is found, the platform itself will resolve the dispute. After reviewing your case, the messages you have exchanged with the seller and the proof that you have submitted for the dispute, AliExpress will settle the case.
If all goes well, your stolen money will be returned, and the seller will be reprimanded by AliExpress. So if fewer than 60 days have gone by since your purchase and you still haven’t received your order, don’t hesitate to open a dispute on AliExpress. Just go to “My Orders” and click the button that says “Open Dispute.”
We hope our tricks and tips for detecting scams and avoiding cons on AliExpress has been helpful to you. Have you ever been the victim of an online scam? Tell us about your experience in the comments section!