I have bought a number of things (mainly electronics) direct from China using AliExpress. I was encouraged to do so by their “Buyer Protection”:
Full Refund if you don’t receive your order
You will get a full refund if your order does not arrive within the delivery time promised by the seller.
I have twice now needed to invoke that guarantee—both times items shipped by China Post that did not arrive. I don’t know whether the problem is that shippers weren’t sending stuff, or stuff was getting “lost” in China Post.
The first time was a small order, and AliExpress followed through on their guarantee.
The second time was a larger order for my class (about $150 worth of resistor assortments), and the shipper sent me a tracking number that indicated that the shipment had been sent to Russia. I opened the dispute with AliExpress after waiting a month for the delivery, and after a long wait they denied the claim saying that they were satisfied with the evidence. I escalated the dispute, and the escalation was denied—in the denial I was sent a different tracking number claiming that the delivery had been made 2 months earlier.
I was not informed of messages from the seller, only of final decisions by AliExpress (for instance, the “corrected” tracking number was supposedly entered into the AliExpress system on 11 April, but I didn’t get informed of it until 20 April, when AliExpress denied my escalated claim).
The tracking claims that delivery was attempted on Feb 27 at 1:16pm and made on Feb 29, at 5:32pm. I was home both times and no such delivery was made. (Also our mailman never gets to our part of the route by early afternoon, and rarely even by 5:32pm—I believe that the tracking is fraudulent, which leads me to suspect China Post, rather than the shipper.)
Bottom-line: the AliExpress guarantee is not worth much if no delivery is made. In future, I will not order from AliExpress except when either
- the item is so cheap I don’t really care if it isn’t delivered (there seems to be about a 20% risk).
- the item is expensive enough that I’m willing to pay for a reliable delivery service like DHL rather than the free shipping through China Post.
Update 2016 June 9: AliExpress did refund the money for the undelivered goods—it took a while, and the process was murky, but I retract what I said earlier about their not standing behind their guarantee. I will still be using them only when I’m either willing to risk non-delivery or willing to pay a lot for delivery, as I still have no confidence in China Post, and I don’t want to go through the process of asking for refunds that take 3 months to receive.