Should I trust Alibaba and AliExpress?

AliExpress: So you can safely order in China [Instructions]

Table of Contents

What is AliExpress?

AliExpress is a Chinese online marketplaceaimed primarily at international buyers. The website enables companies from China to sell their products to customers from all over the world, including in Germany. Just like at Amazon, you can find almost everything here, many products cannot be found anywhere else.

This means that AliExpress can best be compared to eBay. The sellers are independent and AliExpress only serves as a platform for the companies.

AliExpress is part of the Alibaba Group, a multi-billion dollar company that was originally a B2B or "business-to-business" trading portal. It now also offers business-to-consumer (B2C) and consumer-to-consumer (C2C) sales, cloud computing and payment services. The company has been preparing to expand its business to Europe for some time.

Why is AliExpress so cheap?

There are two main reasons for this:

  • Option 1: You ordered directly from the manufacturer
  • Option 2: The product is counterfeit.

You may have ordered the item directly from the manufacturer. Most of the products on the market today are made in China; the weak copyright laws and the low production costs ensure low prices there.

The second possible reason is that you ordered a counterfeit product. China is known to be a playground for manufacturers of counterfeit goods and AliExpress is no exception. You can also order all kinds of counterfeits there, from electrical appliances to clothing. Accordingly, caution is required Knowing the difference is extremely important.

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Is AliExpress legitimate?

AliExpress as a platform is just as safe and reputable as Amazon or eBay. AliExpress and Alipay also offer solid buyer protection. They're not infallible, of course - but statistics show that the two systems work well.

There is still a huge security gap: The verification process for retailers. To call this “negligent” would be an understatement. Only mainland traders are allowed to sell their products on the site and there have been numerous reports of scammers. So many, in fact, that the AliExpress Security Center has an additional section for fraud case studies and tips on how to avoid fraud.

Popular scams are:

  • Persuade customers to prepay and then refuse to deliver.
  • Offer products extremely cheaply and then not deliver after purchase until the buyer pays more money than originally agreed.
  • Selling counterfeit products.

Tips: This is the best way to buy from AliExpress

How do you protect yourself from fraudsters and counterfeiters when shopping on AliExpress? Here are some tips that will keep everything running smoothly when shopping online.

If the price is too good to be true, then it isn't

The price is the first scam that scammers use to lure you into the trap. They promise you an absolutely unique offer. Check other websites and compare the prices of the item you want to order. If the price on AliExpress is extremely low, the product may be counterfeit or the seller is a scammer.

Check out the seller's reviews

If a seller is known to cheat on their customers, they most likely have a lot of negative reviews. Be careful when other buyers say they did not receive their order or an inferior product was delivered. The vendors I shopped at had mostly positive reviews and I've never had a problem with the items I ordered. Nevertheless, you should be careful and keep your eyes open: As on all trading platforms, it can happen, for example, that trader accounts are hijacked.

How to best read the reviews

The best way to see the list of reviews is through the "With Pictures" option.

Many buyers upload pictures of the item they have ordered when they leave a review. This is a great way to find out if people actually received the right product and if the quality is satisfactory.

To see the full “Seller Feedback” page, click on the diamond icon in the “Sold By” section.

Also to note before buying: Ask if you are responsible for import duties and taxes. Before buying, find out whether the item can even be imported into your country. At some retailers you can choose DHL Express directly.

Buy safely thanks to AliExpress Buyer Protection

Thanks to AliExpress’s own buyer protection “Buyer Protection” you can shop safely, even if you cannot use PayPal to pay at AliExpress. Your coal does not end up directly with the relevant dealer, but first with AliExpress, where it is managed in trust.

As soon as the goods arrive and you have convinced yourself of their proper condition (and only then!), You signal that you are satisfied with the goods - then the money is released for the respective dealer.

AliExpress guarantees you will

  • the purchase price is fully reimbursed if the goods do not reach you in the announced time frame
  • The purchase price is fully or - after consultation with the dealer - partially refunded if the goods do not arrive at your place in the desired condition

In the case of goods that differ significantly from what you actually ordered, you can decide whether you want to send the whole chunks back, or whether you still want to keep them and get part of the price refunded.

If you have any difficulties with the goods, you can apply for a conflict resolution - similar to what you might know from PayPal. You should definitely take into account that you are submitting your complaint, before you confirm receipt of the goods. After that, this option is no longer available! If the goods are wrong or faulty, you can first try to get rid of this in the direct chat dialog with the retailer - otherwise you can settle this via the conflict resolution of AliExpress.

Check your order carefully after you receive it

Because the escrow system makes it possible to withhold payment until the order has been delivered, you can first calmly check whether the order actually corresponds to the information before the merchant receives your money. Not only does this check whether everything has been delivered and whether the product looks the way it should, but also, when buying a branded product, whether it is a counterfeit.

Guarantee and warranty

Since AliExpress is an international trading platform and the dealers and manufacturers in the vast majority of cases come from non-European countries, no German or European warranty or guarantee provisions apply. Anyone who has ever ordered something in the USA should know the differences. Each individual retailer defines its own regulations, there are no uniform or legal regulations for returning items or for reimbursing amounts for defective products.

However, AliExpress offers a manufacturer-independent insurance for different countries, with which this lack of guarantee is to be compensated. The model is similar to the cell phone insurance that you can take out in this country against falls, water damage and the like, but should not be confused with it. Rather, you acquire an exchange guarantee, with which a new device is made available to you free of charge within 20 days in the event of damage. The specialist in such services for this insurance is "The Warranty Group" from Frankfurt.

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How to order from a German warehouse and not from abroad

If you order something on AliExpress, you often have to expect long delivery times. Fortunately, many products can also be delivered from a warehouse in Germany.

Let's assume you want to order a cable on AliExpress and want to find out whether it is also available in a German warehouse. First go to the official AliExpress website and then enter the word "cable" in the search bar. Then click on the "Search" button.

In the options bar for the search results you now have to select “Germany” as the item location.

All products that are now displayed can also be delivered from a German AliExpress warehouse. Now all you have to do is choose a cable that you like!

In addition, AliExpress can deliver goods from the following other European countries:

Great Britain, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Ukraine, Turkey, Czech Republic.

Things you shouldn't buy on AliExpress

It is of course possible that you have already ordered the following products on AliExpress and have had no problems with them. However, we recommend that you do not order any products from these categories, because even if you think that the item is okay, there are a disproportionate number of fraudsters on AliExpress.

Memory cards

It is extremely easy to falsify the storage capacity of SD cards and without a tool it cannot be determined whether or not you have been scammed in the purchase. Here are 4 tools you can use to test whether a USB storage device is counterfeit or not.


If you buy clothes on the internet, you probably already know that "XL" often only corresponds to size "M". We consider buying clothes to be a gray area; while we are not completely against it, we feel that it is better to buy them from websites that sell their products in sizes adapted to western buyers.


I have also already ordered batteries for digital cameras, smartphones and laptops on AliExpress and have not had any problems so far. But if something goes wrong, it is usually right!

Sought-after branded products

If you order a handbag from Louis Vuitton, you can be sure that it is a fake. Almost all items from well-known brands are counterfeit. When I talk about brands, I mean things like: Nike, Apple, Samsung, Coach, Sony, Segway, etc.

Companies that have their products manufactured in China agree strict distribution guidelines with the manufacturers; Nobody can just walk out of the Foxconn factory with 10 iPhones in their pockets and then sell them on Alibaba. That's why iPhones cannot be ordered directly from Foxconn, even though they are the manufacturer.

Products protected by copyright

You should also be VERY careful with licensed products. These include products such as:

  • Disney cartoon characters
  • Pictures of famous people
  • Sports team logos
  • Olympic Games logos, etc.
  • Video game characters (Angry Birds, Pokémon, etc.)
  • Car brand logos, etc.

In order to be allowed to manufacture such products, the manufacturer would have to enter into a special license agreement with the author and pay a fixed or ongoing license fee. MOST manufacturers in China do not have such license agreements and use these designs WITHOUT the consent of the originator. This is of course illegal and can get you in trouble if you order such products.

The best thing to do is to stay away from any copyrighted product when ordering on Alibaba or in China in general.

It should also be a matter of course that you do not order any items that may be prohibited under the Narcotics Act, as well as avoiding products that come from endangered species. Basically, if you want to use AliExpress to get things that are forbidden in this country, then don't do it. Either the customs confiscates the delivery and initiates investigations against you or you sit on fraudsters in these areas as well. They rely on the fact that you cannot file a complaint against them for goods that have not been delivered.