Is Alibaba Safe?

by 72 comments
Hi,
I want to buy large amounts of products from alibaba and I'm looking for some advice from someone who already has alot of experience buying from alibaba because I don't want to get scammed.

From the looks of it it all looks very safe because most of the suppliers offer escrow service, have there legal status checked ( A&V check ) and are a gold member for more than 3 years. So does this mean there is a 0% chance I will get scammed by these supplier, or are there any other things to look for?
Because the minimum order for most supplier is 100 units which is ~$2000 and I don't want to lose that on my first order just because I picked the wrong supplier.

I know the basic stuff that most of the products are fakes and you should buy brands, and that the quality for tech products are bad. And I'm fine with that, I have been buying this product from dealextreme and know that 1 out of 10 products break, and that's ok as long as I can send them back and receive a new one.
#internet marketing #alibaba #buy #safe
  • Profile picture of the author pietpatat
    For example I found this company: Shenzhen Keda Technology Co., Ltd that I want to buy from, but there are 2 things I'm worried about:
    1. They use a free gmail account ( sales2.keda[at]gmail.com ). Not very profersional and many scammers use free accounts.
    2. In their company info it sais they have established their company in 2012, but they have been a gold seller on alibaba for 4 years??? kedasz.en.alibaba.com/company_profile.html

    Can someone who has experience in buying from alibaba tell me if it's save to buy from this supplier?
  • Profile picture of the author Perrymma
    Stay far away. Lots of my friends have been taken for lots of money on that site. Alibaba does nothing about it.
  • Profile picture of the author E. Brian Rose
    I have been lucky on Alibaba. Spent thousands and never got burned. I did a lot of due diligence before buying, though. I asked for U.S. based references and called them all before sending a penny.
    • Profile picture of the author ryanmilligan
      Originally Posted by E. Brian Rose View Post

      I have been lucky on Alibaba. Spent thousands and never got burned. I did a lot of due diligence before buying, though. I asked for U.S. based references and called them all before sending a penny.

      A man with a brain. You'd think that people spending thousands from their business capital would do enough background checking to pick up a phone and call their potential supplier.

      Just ask complicated questions over the phone, ones that only someone running/or was part of a business specializing in whatever it is you are buying would actually be able to answer properly.
  • Profile picture of the author Randall Magwood
    Alibaba is good. Use the website escrow to pay for your items. Anybody not willing to do so, i wouldn't mess with them.
    • Profile picture of the author zacharybarden
      Originally Posted by Randall Magwood View Post

      Alibaba is good. Use the website escrow to pay for your items. Anybody not willing to do so, i wouldn't mess with them.
      Use the escrow option, only stick with gold suppliers with 2 years or more with a high response rate and high general rating. Do background checks on the companies themselves (I actually have contacts who get more in depth information on these companies), and ultimately make sure you always request a sample.

      Also, don't forget shipping costs.
  • Profile picture of the author GforceSage
    I would follow Randall's advice. With so many vendors, there's going to be good and bad. Always cover your @ss.

    Try a sensible order at first to test out the reliability of vendor and get as much personal info as you can on them.
    • Profile picture of the author Horny Devil
      There are a lot of shady traders on Alibaba. I've got my fingers burnt a few times and - as many have said - there's next to no buyer protection.

      I would estimate that as many as nine offers out of ten could be classed as "dodgy", to put it mildly. With that in mind, pay nine times the due diligence when considering a purchase from an Alibaba vendor.

      There are other feasible, overseas wholesale purchasing options about.
  • Profile picture of the author Bill_Lawrence
    I've purchased several items from alibaba/aliexpress. I use paypal to complete most of my transactions there.
  • Profile picture of the author GlobalTrader
    While I know there are billions of dollars worth of legitimate transactions that have taken place through buyers and sellers who have found each other on Alibaba, that still does not negate the fact that you are not buying from Alibaba nor if you are an exporter are you selling to Alibaba.

    Alibaba is nothing more than an international trade platform to help potential buyers and potential sellers connect with one another. Unless I missed it, Alibaba does not manufacture nor wholesale any products.

    With that said, there is an article at the Wall Street Journal website that you should read about what went on with 36 of their employees in early 2011 - here is the link:

    Police Detain 36 in Alibaba Fraud Probe - WSJ.com

    Once you read that article it may help you in your due diligence efforts to realize that being a "gold supplier" may not be all that you are hoping it will be.

    Granted I am sure they have put much in place to eliminate the type of problems outlined in the WSJ article, however, you have already listed several things that "just don't feel right" about them.

    The Gmail email address for one - I use plenty of gmail addresses myself, however, one question that comes to me is if they are a "gold supplier" and they have been in business for 4 years now, why did they not spend some money on having a website set up so they can display their products and have a valide email address?

    Last time I checked a gold supplier registration cost was raised to be several thousand dollars which would be more than enough to pay for a nice website, especially over a period of 4 years?

    I would also ask you what drew you to this company as a potential supplier? Prices?? If they are far better than other suppliers/manufacturers than I would be extremely careful and would continue to shop around and definitely use Escrow if you do ultimately go with them on a test order.

    GlobalSources.com (GS) is another company that I would suggest you visit and try to find a source through. GS has been around for over 41 years and they perform background checks on all of the companies that advertise in their trade publications, both paid and free.

    Here again, just because GS does background checks, it does not alleviate your due diligence requirements but from having seen the actions of both companies now for quite a few years I would send anyone to GS first before ever sending them to Alibaba.

    By the way, if you cannot find any of GS's free trade directories, PM me and I will send you a link. They have 18 free trade directories for 16 different product groups and also products from India and Korea.
  • Profile picture of the author TimShi
    In addition with escrow, pay with a credit card on Alibaba. That way, if they decide to rip you off, you can always chargeback and recover your money. When you're dealing with large amounts of money on the internet, it's better to be safer than sorry.
  • Profile picture of the author dc_publius
    Big problem is that you may end up getting what you ordered, but up close it ends up being super-cheap low-quality junk.

    You haven't seen what low-quality is until you've been to China/India. Things can be laughably bad over there and unsellable by our standards.
  • Profile picture of the author VegasVince
    Speaking from personal experience I would take a flame thrower to Ali and his Baba of thieves. I was blatantly ripped off twice by this "company" which has no checks and balances and yeah....u might get the phones u ordered but trust me.......you'll be lucky to give them away.

    Personally I'd go with DHGate.com.....I have made dozens of purchases from them.....and they don't release the funds to the seller until YOU receive your package and are satisfied. For you Pay Pal lovers.....they do take pay pal.

    peace, Vegas Vince

    p.s. if I have to waste time determining if some AliBaba seller is legit......why friggin' bother? It's rampant with fraud. Roll the dice at your own risk.
  • Profile picture of the author tofrar
    Ask for sample first. They will send yo one pcs
  • Profile picture of the author aizaku
    alibaba is a broker of sorts between u and a pool of companies (mostly from asia), THAT IS ALL.

    To say that they are no-good because of a handful of unfortunate experiences is not fair.

    Yes, they should do a better job of policing their site for scammers.

    No, u shouldnt go with the first company u find until you've researched that company thoroughly.
    -----------------------

    just my 64 cents...
  • Profile picture of the author Chris Worner
    If your actually serious about sourcing from China and they are a serious company, here is a tip, ask if they will allow you to visit the factory where the product you are considering ordering is made. If they say no, find another manufacturer.

    -Chris
  • Profile picture of the author MattStevens
    I have had good experience with purchasing through Alibaba. You have to be smart about how to go about it...Do your due diligence...ask for a sample...and make sure you use escrow.

    Also don't provide final payment without getting certified bill of laden
  • Profile picture of the author IMMer1975
    I've ordered from Aliexpress (same thing really) without any problems whatsoever. Of course, it's a market place so it's going to depend on the seller.
  • Profile picture of the author Importexport
    Originally Posted by pietpatat View Post

    Hi,
    I want to buy large amounts of products from alibaba and I'm looking for some advice from someone who already has alot of experience buying from alibaba because I don't want to get scammed.

    From the looks of it it all looks very safe because most of the suppliers offer escrow service, have there legal status checked ( A&V check ) and are a gold member for more than 3 years. So does this mean there is a 0% chance I will get scammed by these supplier, or are there any other things to look for?
    Because the minimum order for most supplier is 100 units which is ~$2000 and I don't want to lose that on my first order just because I picked the wrong supplier.

    I know the basic stuff that most of the products are fakes and you should buy brands, and that the quality for tech products are bad. And I'm fine with that, I have been buying this product from dealextreme and know that 1 out of 10 products break, and that's ok as long as I can send them back and receive a new one.
    This newly revived thread contains such an amazing amount of misinformation, bad advice, and obsolete information that it needs updating. I will comment first on the OP's questions and comments. The matters I am dealing with I have shown in blue in the quoted posted

    Contrary to what the OP might think, it is not really safe without taking extreme care. In fact I advise my students to avoid using Alibaba, not only because of the risks involved, but also because of the fact that it lists many thousands of traders who are masquerading as manufacturers.

    Traders can't give you the best prices because they are buying from manufacturers and reselling to you at a profit.

    "it all looks very safe" But it is not. The Alibaba system and the similar systems used by most B2B sites are designed to make buyers feel secure, but it is all an illusion.
    "escrow" Now for legal reasons called Secure Payment, this system has huge loopholes that are regularly exploited by those traders who understand how the system works. The average buyer does not even bother to read how it works, and so they think they are safe but they can and do still lose their money if the supplier is dishonest.
    "legal status checked" This "verification" process simply checks that the business actually exists. Nothing more. They visit the premises that for all they know might be a room rented for the day. Leases are not checked.
    "gold member" Gold Supplier status is bought and not earned. They are ordinary, garden variety verified members who have been willing to pay as little as $299 for a Gold Supplier badge to trick people into believing they are more reliable. (Recently the cost has risen to $699. Still cheap if you want to fool people.)
    "the minimum order for most supplier is 100 units which is ~$2000" Only newbies believe the myth that you have to buy the Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ). I have taught hundreds how to ignore MOQs and get manufacturers to supply small orders.
    "you should buy brands" NEVER buy big brands. They will be fakes too, and they will be confiscated by Customs, you can be prosecuted, fined, possibly jailed, sued into bankruptcy by the brand owner, and at the very least have your name and address flagged by Customs so that every shipment onwards will be delayed for thorough inspection.

    I will every day or so post my comments on other important issues raised in this thread, because now that this thread has been revived and will be read by newbies, I don't want them to be led astray by the wrong advice, misinformation and obsolete information that is in some of the posts.

    "If you think education is expensive - consider the cost of ignorance."
    • Profile picture of the author henryw1981
      Alibaba is expensive so be careful. Be sure to find a product that are selling well before

      rebranding. You should also be sure to buy from US suppliers. Also be sure to check the

      feedback on these suppliers before ordering
  • Profile picture of the author Amonmag
    100% recommend buying from there. Its really safe!
    • Profile picture of the author talfighel
      Originally Posted by Amonmag View Post

      100% recommend buying from there. Its really safe!
      I have seen their ad in many places and if I am not mistaken, they were featured in the news as being a really good and honest company. So I don't know why people would call them a scam.
  • Profile picture of the author alambd1963g
    Originally Posted by pietpatat View Post

    Hi,
    I want to buy large amounts of products from alibaba and I'm looking for some advice from someone who already has alot of experience buying from alibaba because I don't want to get scammed.

    From the looks of it it all looks very safe because most of the suppliers offer escrow service, have there legal status checked ( A&V check ) and are a gold member for more than 3 years. So does this mean there is a 0% chance I will get scammed by these supplier, or are there any other things to look for?
    Because the minimum order for most supplier is 100 units which is ~$2000 and I don't want to lose that on my first order just because I picked the wrong supplier.

    I know the basic stuff that most of the products are fakes and you should buy brands, and that the quality for tech products are bad. And I'm fine with that, I have been buying this product from dealextreme and know that 1 out of 10 products break, and that's ok as long as I can send them back and receive a new one.
    I was searching on ALIBABA & madeinchine.com to get good products, I found there are many suppliers, who are willing to sell their goods below the real price. Then I went CHINA in 2013, I found there are many both Original & fake Suppliers in the both online platform. After reaching CHINA, I called them unfortunately most of the Fake people did not pick their phone. Then I determined the fake people. So you should not buy anything from the online platform without see their status & reviews by the general people. If you paid to the fake suppliers, you will lost everything. Thanks
    • Profile picture of the author Importexport
      These posts show that most people don't bother reading previous posts before they reply. I have dealt with all these points in my post yesterday. If people disagree, I would be happy if they would say so, but to simply post uninformed comments is not helpful to those new to this important subject.
      Originally Posted by henryw1981 View Post

      Alibaba is expensive so be careful. Be sure to find a product that are selling well before rebranding. You should also be sure to buy from US suppliers. Also be sure to check the feedback on these suppliers before ordering
      Feedback can be bought. Some B2B sites, but not Alibaba who have now stopped doing it, publish default feedback, which is always positive. This is how it works: If the buyer does not provide feedback, the B2B site does! Anyway if you can buy good feedback what is feedback worth?
      Originally Posted by zacharybarden View Post

      Use the escrow option, only stick with gold suppliers with 2 years or more with a high response rate and high general rating. Do background checks on the companies themselves (I actually have contacts who get more in depth information on these companies), and ultimately make sure you always request a sample.
      Also, don't forget shipping costs.
      It is no longer escrow. It is Secure Payment. Similar rules, but the changes have not eliminated the loopholes that enable scammers to avoid allowing you to get your money back.

      Originally Posted by Amonmag View Post

      100% recommend buying from there. Its really safe!
      I repeat: The Alibaba system and the similar systems used by most B2B sites are designed to make buyers feel secure, but it is all an illusion. A few years ago Alibaba admitted that 2236 Gold Suppliers had scammed buyers. Those scams continue. See alibabascam.com/ So far 683 scams by Gold Suppliers reported, and more are added daily.
      Originally Posted by talfighel View Post

      I have seen their ad in many places and if I am not mistaken, they were featured in the news as being a really good and honest company. So I don't know why people would call them a scam.
      You are no doubt referring to their float on the NYSE. Their shares are probably a great investment, but buying from suppliers listed on their B2B site is more like a lottery than an investment.

      "If you think education is expensive - consider the cost of ignorance."
  • Profile picture of the author brotherZ
    There is never 0% chance that you won't be scammed. Start by buying small quantities to limit your loss and also evaluate the quality of what you are buying. I wouldn't spend $2000 like that to an overseas seller.
  • Profile picture of the author BradCarroll
    E. Brian Rose has the best advice I've seen so far in this thread.

    If you want to go all-in, consider using a similar vetting process to procure an agent of your own who can inspect your supplier's factory or warehouse, etc. and represent you on your behalf.
    • Profile picture of the author Importexport
      Originally Posted by BradCarroll View Post

      E. Brian Rose has the best advice I've seen so far in this thread.

      If you want to go all-in, consider using a similar vetting process to procure an agent of your own who can inspect your supplier's factory or warehouse, etc. and represent you on your behalf.
      The advice from E. Brian Rose was "I did a lot of due diligence before buying, though. I asked for U.S. based references and called them all before sending a penny."

      Most genuine manufacturers won't provide references from customers in the US. For a start, if they do that, they are revealing your potential competitors' sources. That is not ethical. Second, they don't want buyers colluding to bargain for better prices. Would you be happy if your supplier told your competitors where they buy the product you sell?

      The best due diligence is to start with suppliers who have been thoroughly vetted by trustworthy B2B sites. Please see what I wrote in my post #19. Here is some that is relevant to the issue of due diligence:

      "The Alibaba system and the similar systems used by most B2B sites are designed to make buyers feel secure, but it is all an illusion.
      "legal status checked" This "verification" process simply checks that the business actually exists. Nothing more. They visit the premises that for all they know might be a room rented for the day. Leases are not checked.
      "gold member" Gold Supplier status is bought and not earned. They are ordinary, garden variety verified members who have been willing to pay as little as $299 for a Gold Supplier badge to trick people into believing they are more reliable. (Recently the cost has risen to $699. Still cheap if you want to fool people.)"

      I agree that it is desirable to have an inspection service, but not an agent. Inspecting the factory or warehouse does not guarantee that the business is a genuine manufacturer or that the goods produced and being dispatched to you are of the quality you specified.

      There are well established inspection services, some of whom have been in business for well over 100 years. You don't need to use a vetting process to choose one of them. Their reputation lasting over 100 years speaks for itself. If you want to use one of the countless Chinese opportunist agents - best of luck.

      I would just ask - who polices the policeman? They invariably work on a commission basis. Do they also get a secret commission from the supplier?

      I have vast experience in dealing with China, having visited countless times since 1978, and I can tell you they do.


      "If you think education is expensive - consider the cost of ignorance."

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