Aliexpress honest review/opinion after more than 100 purchasesCategory: Shopping experience
Aliexpress is one of the world’s biggest shopping web site, Aliexpress is the commercial name of Alibaba the Chinese tech giant. Aliexpress is often compared to Amazon because they are both very big but the comparison ends there, Aliexpress has a completely different business model. Why would it matter to you? With Aliexpress you deal directly with the seller in China while with Amazon, you mostly deal with Amazon. On one side it’s good because it drives the costs down but on the other side you have to deal with small Chinese companies or Chinese individuals.
Official site: Aliexpress
I made my first purchase on Aliexpress in 2014 and today I’m above 100 products ordered. I’m globally very happy with Aliexpress but to be honest sometimes it doesn’t go very well, that’s why I wanted to share my experience to help you get the best out of Aliexpress.
What/who is Aliexpress?
Aliexpress is a website from the powerful Chinese group Alibaba. Aliexpress acts as a gateway to the Chinese market for consumers around the world. In less than 10 years, Aliexpress has become the largest Chinese e-commerce site and is now one of the most visited sites in the world. If something is manufactured in China, you can probably find it on Aliexpress. You won’t find any well-known products from brands like Apple, Samsung or … Lego but you will find many Chinese alternatives.
Unlike Amazon, when you buy a product you are in direct contact with the seller of that product. Aliexpress only provides the environment and payment solution between you and the seller. It is the seller who defines the warranty conditions, the sending of the package, the follow-up, the customer service,... In case of problems, you need to contact the seller first to find a solution and only if it doesn’t work out, you can contact Aliexpress. Most of the sellers are Chinese natives, they don’t always speak English very well and sometimes the communication with them can be complicated.
Aliexpress offers three types of guarantees:
- conformity guarantee: if the purchased item does not match its description, you are entitled to a full refund. Before this happens, you need to initiate a refund request with the seller to see what they are offering without Aliexpress' intervention. If that doesn’t solve your problem, you’ll need to escalate the issue to Aliexpress.
- delivery time guarantee: if the delivery takes longer than originally announced, you are also entitled to claim a refund (total or partial). Be careful, the delivery time limits are generally 60 days, so the vast majority of items arrive before the expiration of these 60 days.
- product warranty: the warranty is offered by the seller, so it can vary greatly from one seller to another. It is sometimes possible to buy an extended warranty or a local warranty (European or American) but again it depends on the seller.
Aliexpress operates from China which means that it doesn’t have to follow the same rules as companies selling the product in Europe or USA. Warranties are real but they don’t protect you as much as if you had bought something in Europe or in the US.
My opinion on the Aliexpress.com website
Aliexpress supports a multitude of languages but these translations mainly apply to the Aliexpress interface. Product descriptions are mostly available in English with sometimes very poor machine translation in other languages. If you are not fluent in English, you can order without any problems but if you want more information about a product or contact a seller, English is very important. You can always use any online translator to communicate with the seller, they probably do the same to communicate with you but it’s always better to understand English.
Those who are used to using Amazon will find their way around very quickly. Aliexpress works the same way. The interface is not the most modern but this is often the case for this type of site. You can find a product by browsing the categories or by using the search engine. You can then sort the results by opinion, sale, price,... The search engine does not always perform very well, sometimes you need to be creative with the keywords you are using.
Aliexpress uses an evaluation system like Amazon and this system will allow you to distinguish good from bad products. However, don’t be fooled, there is a catch.If after buying a product on Aliexpress you have not given any review, the seller will receive a default (positive) evaluation and this will slightly distort the final result. If you’re looking for a product, don’t make your choice based on stars, you should also read comments. If the proportion of 1 or 2 star ratings exceeds 5%, you should avoid the product. I do the same on Amazon to avoid bad surprises.
Aliexpress offers a wide range of payment methods, you can even pay with a local debit card (in Belgium anyway).
From the moment you buy something outside Europe, you are eligible for customs duties if the price of your item exceeds 22 EUR. What you buy on Aliexpress is no exception to the rule, sometimes you will be lucky, sometimes you won’t. Customs duties usually correspond to VAT plus processing fees. For an item worth 25 EUR you could very well find yourself paying more in customs fees than the price of what you are buying. Some sellers will offer you solutions to reduce the chances of going through customs by changing the declared value or avoiding certain carriers, but the risk will always exist. Customs also know this and for known product, they also know the real value. I have had a case where I had bought a phone for 90€ (for real) and they considered that the price was probably fake, they charged me as if the phone was around 200€. I had to prove that I really paid 90€ to avoid paid additional taxes.
I have ordered more than 100 products in Aliexpress and I estimate that it fails in 2-3% of the cases.
I had bought binoculars for my father and the binoculars I received were of poor quality, it did not offer any magnification. I gave the seller a bad evaluation because for 14 EUR I didn't want to start a complaint procedure. The seller literally harassed me for months to change my assessment in exchange for a refund. I refused.
2. House alarm system
I bought a complete set of detectors for a house alarm and the sensors did not communicate well with the central box. After many exchanges of emails and videos to demonstrate the problem, the seller sent me another box for free.
3. Mini PC
I bought a Chinese mini PC for about a hundred euros. The mini PC was not working when we arrived. Here too I had to exchange many messages to find a solution. I had to send the mini PC back to China at the seller's expense and I received a new mini PC in exchange (and this one works).
In all 3 cases I never had to use Aliexpress to intervene, everything was settled with the seller directly. When there is a problem it always takes time and patience but you should never give up.
How to resolve a conflict?
When you buy on Aliexpress, you have two people involved. The first is the seller from whom you are buying. You should always contact the seller first and find a solution with him. If you escalate directly with Aliexpress, they will tell you to contact the seller first anyway. I was able to solve all my problems without Aliexpress. I was sometimes really nerve wrecking but in the end it worked.
What to buy or not to buy on Aliexpress?
You can buy everything on Aliexpress but don't forget that what you buy is covered by small sellers who sometimes disappear after a few months. So do not buy valuable items from a new seller, the risk is too high. I mainly bought items of max 200-250€ with a good guarantee.
I bought clothes on Aliexpress, the prices are probably the best in the world, I bought for example beautiful shirts for 5 EUR delivery included. The shirts were of good quality, I don't see any difference with the ones I bought in Europe. When buying clothes you’ll need to be careful with sizes. Chinese sizes are not the same as in Europe, so you must find the equivalent size before buying. I found shirts adapted to my size (XL in Europe, XXXXXL in China), only the sleeves are a little too short so read carefully the description before buying.
Aliexpress is a huge shopping mall for small electronic items made in China. I bought an alarm system, memory cards, hard disks, mini PCs,... The price is almost unbeatable. For example, I had bought a 128Gb Compact Flash memory card for 55€ while a card of equivalent capacity and speed cost more than 200€ in Europe, the card is a little less fast than its brand equivalent but for the price difference, I could not do the difficult. I’ve been using this card for more than 4 years now and it’s still working fine.
I never imagined one day buying my son's toys in China and yet the idea is not so bad because most of the toys are made there anyway. On Aliexpress you will find a large quantity of cheap toys such as remote-controlled cars, superhero figures, Lego replicas … With Aliexpress you’ll be able to buy more stuff for your kid and they won’t see the difference with toys bought locally.
I bought many LED bulbs and even decorative lamps. You can find LED bulbs for one euro, hard to find better around here. They have a shorter life than the ones you buy locally but still it’s so cheap that you shouldn’t care.
If you use Aliexpress for products where the brand or manufacturer is not important, you will find what you are looking for and pay less than the equivalent product in local stores. Chinese manufacturers also manufacture premium Chinese products like Xiaomi for phones for example. In that case too you can find very good phones for a much lower prices than in your country but don’t forget that you’ll probably have to pay custom fees.
Promotional codes/coupons/discounts Aliexpress
Every day Aliexpress highlights certain products through coupons or discount coupons. You can find all the offers on one page:
Aliexpress Exclusive Coupon
As I mentioned above, Aliexpress doesn’t manage the sending of products, it first comes the seller. Unlike Amazon, you don’t receive an Aliexpress box at home, you receive a package wrapped by the seller. As a result, delivery times can vary greatly from one seller to another. I have sometimes had deliveries in a few days as well as deliveries that took up to 2 months to take the most extreme cases.
Aliexexpress is not a scam, it's a very good site. However, as the site shelters many sellers, you will always find some that are not recommendable. Common sense prevails, read reviews, check how long the seller has been active, ask questions to the seller,...
My opinion / review on Aliexpress
If I had a shopping residence, Amazon would be the first one and Aliexpress would be the second one. I always check a lot of things before buying, I only buy things when it’s worth buying and on Aliexpress I was able to find many products at a much cheaper price than Amazon.
I use Aliexpress to buy small value electronic equipment (
I didn't expect to receive so many visitors on this page, I figure I can probably make the page more useful by listing the stores on Aliexpress with which you had a problem. This way you will be doing a service to other visitors.
For those who are interested, could you give me the address of the store you had a problem with and a brief description of the problem? I will list the different cases below. Thank you for your help!
I'm at 127 orders and not a single conflict:
I get a lot of negative reviews on this page and this is normal because my page appears in Google when dissatisfied customers are looking for help. I do not have a contact at Aliexpress to help you, I am a customer like any other. The best recommendation I can give you is not to rush, follow the few tips listed on this page.
I am at 132 orders and on the last 5, the delivery times for small items were incredibly long. I waited at least a month to receive the last orders and two orders didn't arrive after 2 months. I contacted the two sellers in question and they agreed to return the products to me. This problem of delivery time seems to be generalized because I made my last orders with different vendors with different transport companies, so everything seems to slow down (probably because of the global health crisis). I therefore advise you to extend your delivery time because after a certain period of time, Aliexpress will consider that you have received the delivery.