AliExpress is one of the largest ecommerce marketplaces in the world and extremely popular among businesses and consumers alike.
For small business owners, AliExpress dropshipping has become a cheap and easy way to start selling online.
Meanwhile, consumers all over the world can purchase inexpensive merchandise from China that can’t be found anywhere else.
But despite its popularity, nearly 12% of AliExpress reviews are 2 stars or less. In fact, AliExpress has developed a bad reputation over the years for selling worthless junk.
This post will provide you with the facts behind the poor AliExpress reviews and whether AliExpress is safe to buy from.
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What Is AliExpress?
AliExpress is an ecommerce marketplace offering a wide range of products that can be purchased from anywhere in the world. Most AliExpress sellers are from Asia and as a result, you can buy merchandise at very low prices.
Because AliExpress is a business to consumer marketplace, you will not find any factories on the platform. Instead, most sellers on AliExpress are either trading companies or small business owners offering pre-made products for immediate shipment.
Editor’s Note: Read this post for more information about the differences between AliExpress vs Alibaba
Is AliExpress Legit?
AliExpress is a legit company and a reliable marketplace to buy from. While some of the sellers on the platform offer poor quality merchandise, AliExpress does a great job of providing a safe purchasing environment.
For example, AliExpress will provide you with a full refund if your product doesn’t arrive on time or if it is not as described.
A comprehensive buyer protection program is included on all purchases made on AliExpress and you are covered no matter what.
Here’s how buyer protection works.
- If you are unsatisfied with your product, you must first contact AliExpress to report the problem.
- If the seller is not willing to rectify the situation, you can open a dispute.
- If the seller does not respond to the dispute, AliExpress will refund your purchase in full.
Once AliExpress settles the dispute, you will receive your money back within 2 weeks.
Basically, the AliExpress buyer protection program protects you from getting shipped junk and prevents outright fraud. As a result, AliExpress is 100% legit and safe to buy from.
The Truth About AliExpress Reviews
Because AliExpress acts as a middleman and does NOT sell any of their own products, all 1-2 star AliExpress reviews should be taken with a grain of salt.
Anyone in the world can sell on AliExpress and there are over 10 million sellers on the platform. On large marketplaces like AliExpress, there are bound to be good sellers and bad sellers and it’s impossible for AliExpress to police every listing.
However, AliExpress has put many measures in place to fight scams and fraud. Buying or dropshipping from AliExpress isn’t risky as long you are careful and understand how to distinguish the good sellers from the bad.
Below are the most common AliExpress reviews that you’ll find on the Internet and how you can avoid being a victim of fraud.
AliExpress Review #1: Shipping Was Late
Most products purchased from AliExpress are shipped from overseas. As a result, delivery times will be long and never guaranteed.
You might receive your products within 1 week or 2 months depending on the carrier.
However, AliExpress guarantees the delivery of your product to the last day of the published estimated delivery time.
For example, if AliExpress provides you with a delivery estimate of 30-50 days, you can ask for a full refund if the product is not delivered within 50 days.
To file for a refund due to late delivery, you can use the “Eva” customer service bot.
On your “Order Overview” page, choose the option “Not Received Goods”. Then, Eva will check on your order to see if it’s eligible for a refund.
If the delivery window has been exceeded, you can open a dispute and get your money back.
How Long Does AliExpress Typically Take For Delivery
Most products on AliExpress will take between 14-60 days for delivery. However, the exact shipping time depends on the shipping method used.
When ordering from AliExpress, you might be tempted to choose Cainao Global Economy because it’s often the cheapest shipping service. However, it’s also the most unreliable.
Cainao Global Economy is Alibaba’s own shipping carrier that was launched in 2018. It’s inexpensive but horribly slow and the savings aren’t worth it.
Instead, you should use AliExpress standard shipping which is delivered by airmail to the end destination. If you have the budget, DHL and UPS are the most reliable carriers to use for AliExpress purchases.
AliExpress Review #2: No Refund Was Given
AliExpress provides a small, limited window to file a dispute for a refund. According to AliExpress, buyer protection is only active for the duration of your delivery window.
For example, if the estimated delivery date for your products is within 30-50 days, you MUST file a dispute within 30-50 days.
If you receive your product on the 50th day, then you must file a dispute on that exact same day. As a result, you must check your purchase for quality problems right away.
Because shipping takes so long, buyers often forget about their order by the time it arrives. But if you want to take advantage of the AliExpress buyer protection program, you must thoroughly examine your goods immediately and take prompt action.
AliExpress Review #3: Shipped Poor Quality Merchandise
The standard of quality in China is far different than the United States and many products on AliExpress are cheap and poorly made.
Low prices often come with tradeoffs in the form of quality control and materials. When you shop on AliExpress, make sure you read all of the reviews on both the merchandise and the seller.
Here are some guidelines to follow.
- Check the seller feedback rating – Only work with sellers with a 4.5 rating or higher
- Check the number of orders shipped – Only work with sellers who have shipped at least 500 orders or more
- Check the number of reviews – Only work with sellers who have at least 100 reviews
- Read all of the 2-3 star reviews – Pay attention to the negative reviews for complaints of quality
- Avoid branded products – Almost all branded products on AliExpress are fake
- Avoid buying electronics – Many electronics and computer products on AliExpress are poor quality. Be especially wary of memory cards, batteries and PC equipment.
If you follow the guidelines above, your chances of receiving poor quality merchandise will be mitigated. But in the event you are not happy with your purchase due to quality, you have 3 options.
- Give the seller a bad review and never buy again – If your order was delivered and the photo and description are accurate, AliExpress buyer protection does not apply and you will not receive a refund. At this point, you don’t have many options even if the product was a piece of junk. Chalk it up to experience.
- File a dispute – If you plan on filing a dispute, you may be able to negotiate a partial refund with the seller. Never leave a 1 star review if you plan on disputing a purchase because your review can be used as leverage to get your money back. In general, a high quality seller will be more likely to negotiate with you to protect their rating.
- Return the merchandise to the seller – Sometimes a seller will give you a refund if you ship the product back to them. However, be aware that shipping to China is expensive and can be more than the cost of the product. Shipping is also unreliable and there’s no guarantee that you’ll receive a refund.
AliExpress Review #4: Merchandise Is Counterfeit
AliExpress does not sell brand name merchandise. If you ever see a seller on AliExpress that claims to sell Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Nike etc…, the product is guaranteed to be counterfeit.
In addition, you should exercise caution when a seller claims to use expensive materials like gold or silver at prices that are too good to be true.
Shopping on AliExpress is much like shopping on Ebay except the products have zero brand recognition and no track record of quality. As a result, buying products on AliExpress can be a crap shoot.
Not too long ago, the Better Business Bureau revoked AliExpress’ accreditation due to an excessive number of poor AliExpress reviews and complaints of counterfeit merchandise.
The key to buying from AliExpress safely is to go in with the proper expectations and not to expect high quality merchandise.
In general, AliExpress buyer protection will rarely refund your money in the event of a counterfeit claim because it’s difficult (or expensive) to prove authenticity in a dispute.
If a product listing sounds too appealing, it’s probably a fake.
AliExpress Review #5: Never Received Merchandise
There are many negative AliExpress reviews from buyers complaining that they never received their order. And of these reviews, many failed to receive a refund.
In the event that you have not received your merchandise on AliExpress, you must first wait until the estimated delivery window has passed before filing a dispute.
Recently, AliExpress extended the delivery window for most purchases to 90 days which means you can not file a dispute for missing merchandise until 3 months have passed.
The fastest way to file a missing product claim is to use the automated bot service “Eva”. By selecting the “Not Received” option, your dispute will quickly be routed to the proper department.
Any other means of communication with AliExpress for “Item Not Received” claims will not be as efficient as Eva.
The only time “Item Not Received” disputes can get problematic is when the seller sends you product with missing parts or accessories.
If you receive an incomplete shipment, AliExpress will often rule in the seller’s favor unless you have proof. As a result, you might want to film an unboxing video as evidence should this ever happen.
AliExpress Review #6: Received Incorrect Merchandise
If you receive incorrect merchandise from an AliExpress seller, you should never negotiate with the seller directly.
Instead, file an official dispute with AliExpress and allow AliExpress to act as the middleman in your negotiations.
All correspondence and promises made outside of AliExpress can not be enforced.
In general, AliExpress is pretty good about providing a refund when the product does not match the listing description. But you must be prompt and thorough when explaining the discrepancies to AliExpress support.
Always file a dispute as soon as you receive your product and take detailed photos for AliExpress to review. Never listen to the seller or make any special deals outside of AliExpress.
Are The Negative AliExpress Reviews Legit?
As with everything on the Internet, you should take all AliExpress reviews with a grain of salt. AliExpress is a multi billion dollar company which could not have become successful by ripping off its customers.
If you follow the proper guidelines and precautions, buying from AliExpress is extremely safe and reliable.
Below is a summary of the action steps you must take to make sure you never get scammed.
- To prevent getting sold counterfeit goods, only work with sellers that have a solid track record of 500 orders or more with an average rating of 4.5 stars or higher.
- To prevent getting shipped poor quality goods, be extremely skeptical of deals that sound too good to be true.
- To prevent excessively long shipping times, never use Cainao Global Economy. Instead, choose AliExpress standard delivery or UPS, DHL or FedEx.
- To protect yourself from fraud, always pay directly on the AliExpress website. If you are not happy with your merchandise, file a dispute immediately before the buyer protection window expires.
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Steve Chou is a highly recognized influencer in the ecommerce space and has taught thousands of students how to effectively sell physical products online over at ProfitableOnlineStore.com.
His blog, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, has been featured in Forbes, Inc, The New York Times, Entrepreneur and MSNBC.
He's also a contributing author for BigCommerce, Klaviyo, ManyChat, Printful, Privy, CXL, Ecommerce Fuel, GlockApps, Privy, Social Media Examiner, Web Designer Depot, Sumo and other leading business publications.
In addition, he runs a popular ecommerce podcast, My Wife Quit Her Job, which is a top 25 marketing show on all of Apple Podcasts.
To stay up to date with all of the latest ecommerce trends, Steve runs a 7 figure ecommerce store, BumblebeeLinens.com, with his wife and puts on an annual ecommerce conference called The Sellers Summit.
Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses.