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7 Tips to Avoid Scams on AliExpress

7 Tips to Avoid Scams on AliExpress

Have you ever dealt with a case of “What I ordered vs what I got?” If yes, you know how harrowing and disappointing it can be. The case of ordering something and getting something different or not even receiving anything at all is rampant on AliExpress. With several Reddit, Quora and Nairaland users sharing their ordeal, it begs the question, “How do you get to avoid scams on AliExpress?”

Shopping on AliExpress can be a great way to find deals and unique items, but it's important to know how to protect yourself from potential scams. To help you navigate this online marketplace safely, we have compiled a list of seven essential tips. These tips will guide you through identifying scam tricks and ensuring your shopping experience is secure and satisfying. 

Let's dive in and learn how to avoid scams on AliExpress.

1. Be Particular About Seller Ratings

One of the things I subconsciously do when looking for a new app is check the app ratings to see if it is worth downloading. eCommerce platforms commonly use these ratings to show buyers the sellers are likely to be more reliable and provide a good customer experience. Paying heed to these ratings can help you avoid scams.

When considering seller ratings and reviews, you want to check for the following: 

Overall Rating: Look at the seller's overall star rating. A rating close to 5 stars is usually a good sign.

Number of Reviews: Check how many reviews the seller has. A seller with thousands of reviews is more reliable than one with only a few.

Detailed Ratings: AliExpress often breaks down ratings into categories like items as described, communication, and shipping speed. Pay attention to these details, as they can help you discover more.

Recent Reviews: Look at the most recent reviews to get an up-to-date picture of the seller’s performance.

Many Negative Reviews: If a seller has a lot of negative reviews, it’s a clear warning sign.

Consistent Complaints: Look for patterns in the complaints. For example, if multiple reviews mention poor product quality or items not arriving, it’s best to avoid that seller.

Fake Reviews: Be cautious of reviews that seem too good to be true. Sometimes, sellers use fake reviews to boost their ratings. Fake reviews often use generic or overly positive language and lack specific details.

No Response to Complaints: Check if the seller responds to negative reviews. A seller who ignores complaints or gives unhelpful responses might not be reliable.

2. Compare Prices

One of the allure of AliExpress is its low price appeal. This has caused a lot of people to get fake or counterfeit products while also falling into the hands of scammers. One of the ways to avoid scams is to compare prices–look at the cost of the same or similar items from different sellers. By checking multiple listings, you can get a sense of the average price for a product. This helps you avoid overpaying and ensures you're not falling for deals that seem too good to be true.

How to Compare Prices on AliExpress

Search for the Product: Use the search bar to find the item you want. Use specific keywords to get accurate results.

Sort by Price: Use the sorting options to arrange the search results by price, from low to high or high to low. This helps you quickly see the price range.

Look at Multiple Listings: Open several listings of the same product. Note the prices, shipping costs, and any additional fees.

Check for Discounts and Coupons: Some sellers offer discounts or coupons. Make sure to factor these in when comparing prices.

Consider Seller Ratings and Reviews: Sometimes, a slightly higher price from a well-rated seller is worth it compared to a lower price from an unknown or poorly rated seller.

When doing your price comparison, you also want to factor in checking the website of the original producers of the product. For example, the iPhone 15 starts selling at $999 in the Apple store. If you find someone selling that same phone on AliExpress for $500, something smells fishy, and you should run away from such a deal.

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When a deal is  too good to be true, it has:

  • A much lower price than the average price for the same product.
  • Unrealistic discounts that count from 80% upward.
  • Limited information to help you make an informed decision.
  • Pressure tactics–"limited time offer" or "only a few left" to cause you to rush your decision. 

Related: Top 10 Affordable Products To Import From China

3. Establish Communication with the Seller

Another way to avoid scams is to communicate with the seller before purchasing. It helps you ensure you get exactly what you want and deal with a reliable seller. When you communicate with a seller beforehand, you get to clarify details about the product and the shipping information. 

Some questions to ask at this stage include:

Product-Specific Questions:

  • Quality and Materials: “Can you confirm the material of the product?”
  • Sizes and Dimensions: “What are the exact dimensions of this item?”
  • Colour Options: “Is this product available in other colours?”

Shipping and Delivery:

  • Shipping Methods: “Which shipping methods do you offer?”
  • Delivery Time: “How long will it take for the item to arrive?”
  • Tracking Information: “Will I receive tracking information once the item is shipped?”

Policies and Guarantees:

  • Return Policy: “What is your return policy if the product is not as described?”
  • Warranty: “Does this product come with a warranty?”
  • Extra Fees: “Are there any additional fees I should be aware of?”

A reliable and trustworthy seller is most likely to respond to your inquiries with speed, politeness, and detail. They will give clarity and even go the extra mile to talk about other things that could help you make a decision. But when the seller is edgy, avoidant, and trying to convince you to buy without answering you in detail, it is a red flag, and you have to walk away.

4. Watch Out for Price-Switching

Price-switching is a deceptive practice some sellers use to lure customers. They list a product at a low price and switch to a higher price later in the purchasing process. This means you must always be vigilant as this tactic also includes hidden fees you might not notice until you check out. Whenever you encounter a price-switching issue, it is always best to cancel the purchase. You can also go the extra mile by reporting the matter to AliExpress and giving a review so other buyers can be aware and not fall victim to such scams.

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Here is a list of common scams to watch out for on AliExpress.

5. Scrutinise Product Listings

One of the reasons I love the word scrutinise is that it denotes a thorough investigation/ examination. Reading product listings thoroughly gives you an idea of essential details like size, colour, materials, and features, reducing the risk of unpleasant surprises.

A trustworthy seller will provide a thorough description with all relevant details. Ensure the product’s features align with your requirements. High-quality photos from different angles should also match the description. If the text mentions features not visible in the photos or if the listing uses generic stock images, be cautious.

6. Do Not Accept to Pay Extra Fees

One of the most common scams on AliExpress is sellers telling you to pay an extra fee when you’ve added an item to your cart. These extra fees can be a scam to get more money from you. This can occur through various tactics:

Additional Shipping Fees:

The Scam: After you place an order, the seller contacts you, claiming that the shipping cost was calculated incorrectly and asks you to pay more.

How to Spot It: Check the shipping cost listed on the product page and compare it with what is shown at checkout. If they don't match, be cautious. Legitimate sellers won't change the shipping fee after the order is placed.

Handling Charges:

The Scam: Sellers may tell you there's an extra fee for special packaging or handling.

How to Spot It: Look at the product listing for any mention of handling fees. If it’s not mentioned upfront, it’s likely a scam.

Customs Fees Upfront:

The Scam: Sellers ask you to pay customs fees directly to them, claiming they will handle the customs process for you.

How to Spot It: Legitimate customs fees are typically paid to your country's customs office upon delivery. If a seller asks for these fees upfront, it’s suspicious.

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Price Adjustment Requests:

The Scam: After you’ve paid, the seller asks for more money, claiming the listed price was incorrect.

How to Spot It: Once you've paid the listed price at checkout, you should not be required to pay more. If a seller contacts you to adjust the price, report them.

If you are asked to pay extra fees, you can decline, and if the seller insists, you can cancel your order. In cases where you’ve already made payment, you can start processing a refund through AliExpress.

Related:  How to order on AliExpress and Ship to Nigeria

7. Using Secure Payment Methods on AliExpress

You are done shopping and ready to pay. Just before you proceed with that, you need to be extremely sure you are protecting your financial information. Using secure payment methods protects you from fraud, unauthorised charges, and potential scams. 

Alipay: AliExpress' payment platform, Alipay, is a highly secure option. It offers buyer protection and allows you to dispute transactions if issues arise.

Credit/Debit Cards: Major credit and debit cards like Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted on AliExpress. They offer strong fraud protection and chargeback options if needed.

PayPal: While not available for all transactions, PayPal is a well-established and secure payment method many buyers trust.

Virtual Cards: These prepaid cards offer an extra layer of security by allowing you to load a specific amount for your AliExpress purchases. Virtual cards limit your exposure in case of fraud.

Risks of Using Unsecured Payment Options

Identity Theft: Sharing your bank account or credit card information with untrusted sellers increases the risk of identity theft. Scammers can use your information to make unauthorized purchases or open accounts in your name.

Financial Loss: If you send money directly to a seller through methods like wire transfers or gift cards, you have little recourse if the transaction goes wrong. There are no buyer protection programs to help you recover your funds.

Data Breaches: Unsecured payment platforms may be more vulnerable to data breaches, exposing your personal and financial information to hackers.

Phishing Scams: Scammers may pose as sellers and try to trick you into providing your payment information through fake websites or emails.

What to do if You Have Been Scammed

Stop Communication with the Seller: If you suspect you've been scammed, immediately cease all communication with the seller. Do not respond to any further emails, messages, or requests for additional payments.

Gather Evidence: Collect all relevant information, including order details, communication with the seller, payment records, and any evidence of the scam (e.g., screenshots of fake tracking numbers or misleading product descriptions).

Contact Your Bank or Credit Card Company: If you paid with a credit card or through a payment service like PayPal, report the fraudulent transaction to them. They may be able to initiate a chargeback to recover your funds.

Change Your Passwords: If you shared any login credentials or personal information with the scammer, change your passwords for AliExpress, your email account, and any other relevant accounts immediately.

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How to Report the Scam to AliExpress

Open a Dispute: AliExpress has a buyer protection program that allows you to open a dispute if you encounter issues with your order. Go to your order details, click on "Open Dispute," and select the reason for your dispute (e.g., "Did not receive the item" or "Item not as described").

Provide Evidence: Submit all the evidence you've gathered to support your claim. The more detailed and comprehensive your evidence, the stronger your case will be.

Communicate with AliExpress: AliExpress may request additional information or ask you to communicate with the seller through their platform. Cooperate with their requests and provide any necessary details promptly.

Escalate the Dispute: If the seller cannot resolve the dispute, you can escalate it to AliExpress for further investigation. They will review the evidence and make a decision based on their findings.

If your dispute is successful, AliExpress may issue you a full or partial refund, depending on the circumstances of the scam.

Conclusion 

This article explored 7 ways in which you can avoid scams on AliExpress. From checking seller ratings and price comparisons, communicating with the seller, watching out for price switching, thoroughly looking through product listings, and using secure payment methods. We also looked at immediate action you can take if you suspect that you’ve been scammed.

Following these tips can reduce your risk of falling victim to scams and enjoy a safer shopping experience on AliExpress. 

If you found this article helpful, be sure to subscribe to the Heroshe blog for more tips, guides, and updates on how to shop smarter and safer. 


Ilaya Teejay

Ilaya Teejay

Ilaya Teejay is the Content Marketing Associate at Heroshe. She believes words can shape user experiences, and she's turning this belief into a career that helps people and businesses succeed.