Wednesday, November 8, 2017

How To Successfully Shop Ali Express And Avoid Being Scammed

This is going to be another LOOOOONG post. So grab a drink! I will go over shipping, payments, sizing, and everything else here so that you can hopefully learn from my mistakes and have success from the start!

I often here people ask questions such as "what is the sizing on AliExpress like?", "What is the quality of the merchandise like?" or "How safe is shopping on the site?". And lets just get this straight. There is no answer to any of those questions. Replace the word AliExpress with Ebay and you can understand those questions don't have singular answers. You can find a great Ebay seller that has fantastic merchandise at a great price just as easily as you can be scammed and end up with a piece of crap. Well, AliExpress is the essentially the Chinese version of Ebay. So all the rules of ebay apply. Each store is pretty much its own unique entity that is simply using the Aliexpress platform to host their business. And to the answer of sizing, lets be honest, brands are all different even if shopping in a department store. My two favourite brands for skirts and dresses are Tory Burch (I wear an 8) and Alice and Olivia (the largest size which is a 12 sometimes fits perfectly and sometimes is too snug) So sizing is a gamble anywhere.

Now that the nitty gritty of WHAT the site is has been established, what about the actual merchandise? Lets start with the basics. Now, as we have already established, AliExpress is the Chinese version of Ebay. And as such, its core consumers are mostly Chinese. Which means the majority of the clothing is going to be geared towards that consumer. I say majority because not all of it is. So myself, a size 8/10 can translate into and XL or even an XXL for some items. Now that is not to say that I have not purchased M or L items that has fit me perfectly. As to quality, for the purpose of this post I will stick to my clothing experiences.

I have never received any article of clothing that was spectacular in quality. That doesn't mean bad, but certainly not high end. A skirt I get a thousand compliments on each time I wear it came with one hanger loop properly sewn on the inside of the waist and one sewn on the OUTSIDE. Literally OUTSIDE the skirt!! A pair of nail clippers allowed me to remove it and its not noticeable, but still... I have gotten crooked sewing and sometimes slightly off proportions. In the last two years since I have found my groove on the site though, 99% of the time I have had no issue that is not easily corrected though.  It took a LOT of trial and error though before I started to get consistently acceptable items that I could actually make work.  So below I will go in to all the ways to make sure the items you get are what you expect and will fit you.

I would say there are 2 major rules to getting something that actually fits and is what you expected in terms of quality and sizing and length etc.

FOLLOW THE SIZING GUIDELINES!!!!!!!! This one seems obvious but you would be surprised. Put your pride away and go with the sizing. You normally wear a size 4 and its telling you to buy an XL? Buy the XL. Seriously. Do not just buy a size because "it's your size". Now most of the time the sizing is in CM. Remember, everyone in the world outside the USA is on the metric system. So if you aren't familiar with CM and M, google is your friend. Google "40 inches in cm" or "100cm in inches" and google will happily spit out the translation. Once you find the size that fits you best, also check the next size up. If your perfect size says it should be a M but the large is only an inch or so bigger in each measurement, I go up a size. For the low cost I often find it better to purposely by a size too big now knowing I can have my tailor do easy adjustments if need be.

READ the feedback. Seriously. Don't just see it says average 4 out of 5 stars and buy. There might not be a single review written. So what if it says 6353 purchased. What if everyone purchased at the same time and only 2 people have gotten the item so far? I insist on seeing at least 3 legit reviews and at least one actual picture of the merchandise. Odds are the pictures people post will look night and day different than the actual website pictures. That doesn't mean the item will be bad.

Take this cute swing dress for example. Comments say its shorter than expected, but otherwise they like it. It has GREAT reviews. It is not until you see the picture posted below that you realize just what it is you are getting. Its cut straight down. No swing to it. And you can see a big difference in what the material looks like in reality compared to what I would have otherwise expected.

I ordered this dress that had only one picture. It was this Eli Saab dress pictured. It had 40 or 50 reviews all positive.

It was the only picture in the listing when I ordered it. The listing has now been changed to have the real images of this dress. Mine was ordered more than a year ago.  I laughed out loud when I saw the picture and the price. I looked at the reviews just to see the suckers who thought they were getting this gorgeous Eli Saab gown for $50. But I actually really liked the pictures of the dress and since it looked NOTHING like the original I felt ok buying the knockoff. Had I not seen the pictures though I would have been livid since they are night and day different and all the written reviews of it were great. So once more, the pictures tell you far more than anything else. They have since replaced the above picture with the one below. Underneath it I will post a picture of me wearing it. AND YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE OR CHECK OUT THIS DRESS ON ALIEXPRESS. I purchased it in an XL and it fits great. I had to get about 3 inches cut off just to be able to wear it with 3 inch heels.

Here is a dress that got fairly good reviews. Average was about 3.5. The first two are the stock photos and the third is a picture from one of the actual reviews. When you read the reviews it turns out many people complain it is sheer and very different than the listing suggests.

So again, LOOK AT PHOTOS. If you love an item but there are no photos at all what do you do? It depends. I then weigh the price along with how much I want to try it. And if I still want to try the item, I first go to the store selling the item and organize the items based on the amount of purchases. I then look at the photo reviews of their most purchased items to get a sense of how accurate their photos are and how their quality seems to be.


Now again I will compare them to Ebay. Just as Ebay forces you to use PayPal, Aliexpress forces and insists you use something called AliPay. Now dont worry, you automatically create the account when you pay. And while I hear some say that its not secure and that your cc info can be stolen, your cc info can be stolen anywhere. And in 50 plus purchases I have never had an issue. That being said, I have had my PayPal account hacked once before, so as far as I am concerned, online shopping is a risk in itself.


I kind of want to simply say you are SOL. But that really isn't accurate. You can file a dispute. There are some cases where you will automatically win .First is if you get an illegal knockoff. You have to upload pictures but you will automatically win. That being said, the odds of the stores actually listing its a brand item are slim to none now a days so its a rare situation these days. Sellers have gotten smarter and dont list it as a Kate Spade bag anymore, they tend to now say "KS" or famous brand and therefor they aren't actually claiming its Kate Spade. So lets move on.

If your item doesn't arrive in its guaranteed time. Its usually 45 or 60 days and trust me, it sometimes DOES take that long. But if they cant prove tracking says delivered you win.

Most every other scenario, I have to say, good luck, You can try and you can fight, and sometimes they will side with you for a partial, ridiculously small refund but its unto something to count on. So again, I go back to my golden rule of BE CAREFUL and look at photo reviews and size charts.

But the MOST IMPORTANT MOST IMPORTANT MOST IMPORTANT MOST IMPORTANT MOST IMPORTANT MOST IMPORTANT MOST IMPORTANT MOST IMPORTANT MOST IMPORTANT MOST IMPORTANT (have I made myself clear here?) point I can make is do NOT cancel a dispute. I mean, by all means, if they refund you or your item arrives, cancel. But do NOT cancel until the item or money is in your greasy little hands. Once you cancel a claim, its over. NO going back. And sellers are infamous for promising to resend or refund if you cancel. Then you cancel, and they ignore you and do nothing. Once you cancel, its OVER. DO not let them promise anything after you cancel. They fix or refund, and THEN you cancel.


I really hope this post hasn't scared you out of trying it out. Here are just a few more of the pieces I purchased that are still available and have pictures and links. Let me know what you have ordered if you have ordered anything and what your experiences are!!!

Remember the skirt I said I got that had a hanger loop sewn on the OUTSIDE of the skirt? This is it. Below is my wearing it. The quality isn't great. The seems don't line up pattern wise at all. But I get a ton of compliments when I wear it and it works for an easy shabbos skirt when needed. Its $17 and I ordered it in the XL and it fits me just fine. For the price I cant complain. YOU CAN FIND IT HERE. 

This dress.... it came with a tear down the seam. It was right down the seam, an easy repair. My tailor told me it would cost $15 to fix and when I filed a dispute and asked for $15 back to cover the fix along with a picture of the tear the seller actually agreed immediately. Surprised me. Its an XL and the skirt part fits wonderfully. The top part is a knitted ribbed sweater (all one piece) and its far tighter on me than I prefer or that I feel comfortable with but it does fit. I use a big belt over it but it is without a belt but with pockets. I feel like if you are a size 8 or 10 the XL would be perfect. For $26 the quality is better than expected AND YOU CAN FIND IT HERE!! Pictures below:

This is the dress I was most surprised by. It is without a doubt the best quality item I have ever found on aliexpress and I am still kind of amazed. It is super snug on me (I got the XL but I probably need an XXL which they dont have) but it does fit and I can and have worn it. The material is lovely, the embroidery gorgeous and the length is good for me. The neckline is perfect and I love it. Same seller as the dress above with the metallic floral skirt. It is $39.99 and I cant recommend it enough. YOU CAN FIND IT HERE.

This skirt has since been given to a friend. It was an XXL, probably could and should have gotten an XL but truthfully its not my style or colour to start with. I had an event to go through where it said to wear a rose and I decided this skirt fit the bill.  Quality wise its fine. Not impressive at all, nothing to write home about or get excited about but for $16 it was worth what I paid. And the seller has tons of other listings for different patterns and designs. THIS VERSION CAN BE FOUND HERE. 


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