My recent article on Tradekey has sparked many questions and messages about scams, how to avoid them and particular websites, so I thought I would carry on the theme and review the Alibaba wholesale directory.
Just like TradeKey, Alibaba is simply the middleman, a gateway for sellers to find buyers and vice versa. They operate a legitimate business, but there are many scammers lurking in the shadows of Alibaba just waiting to relieve you of your hard earned cash.
All the tips I mentioned in the TradeKey article apply here so I wont cover them again, but here are a few more that you might find helpful, hopefully you can use all this info to piece together a better picture of your potential supplier.
1. The Amazing Deal! – If an honourable gentleman in China offers you a simply amazing deal on a consignment of Playstation 3 consoles or Apple iPhones, say “no thank you sir” then run for the hills!
Honestly if you loose your shirt in a deal for a load of high end branded equipment from some guy on Alibaba you almost deserve it! OK that may be a little harsh but there is no such thing as an amazing deal like that, ask yourself where did the supplier get the ipods from? Where did he get 500 pairs of the latest Nike Air Max? Do you think that Nike International like to make special deals with guys in China? No they don’t. They only sell via registered retail channels under very strict agreements. If you’re lucky you will get fake trainers from that guy, if you’re unlucky you will get zip.. Nada.. Nothing.. And the honourable gentleman in China has just bought his wife a new car!
2. Funny Websites and Hotmail Addresses. – If you have ever looked to import goods from China and the Far East you will have come across websites called www.jenyiu889.com or similar that load veeeeery slowly and look like your gran built the site in 1993.
Tacky low res images and very bad English, does this sound like a business that successfully does trades with the international community? Does it sound like they are used to dealing with English speaking clients and know what they expect? Na ah.. They have no idea because they have never made an honest deal with an English speaking client. Also if you are given a contact email address of cherryblacksmith@hotmail .com or something similar and end up speaking with a man with very bad English then alarm bells should be ringing very loudly! Right? I do hope so! There should be no reason why an operating business with an ecommerce website do not have their own email addresses. Especially not using their own name. Stay clear if you spot any of these warning signs.
3. Payment via Westen Union or T.T – Seriously now people! We all know that Western Union is just a transfer method for scammers and thieves, I can tell you right now that not one honest business will request payment via Western Union, stay away! That also goes for nuns in Nigeria wanting to give you £1000,0000 to donate to children’s charities. Just say no people!
4. Business address Putian City, Fujian Province – As Alibaba has a great deal of suppliers from China the chances are good that you will come across a company operating from Putian City in the Fujain Province. This is an easy one. It’s fake! Whatever they are selling its fake, if it’s not fake it doesn’t exist. There are quite simply no trustworthy suppliers from Putain, it’s rife with scammers and fake goods traders so if it carries that address you at least it’s an easy decision.
5. Use Escrow. Escrow is a safe way for two parties to do business, you pay a middleman who will hold your money safely until you receive your order and approve the transaction, then the money is released to the seller.
If you have done your research and decided that the supplier you want to use is for real then ask to use Escrow for the first few orders, if they are really on the level they will be quite used to this request and happy to oblige. If they start to make excuses then walk away.
I hope these additional tips will be of some help, honest buyers are losing their money every day on platforms like Alibaba and TradeKey, the directories are not doing enough in my opinion I think they could be doing more checks on the sellers to cut down on the numbers of scammers, you can never get all of them but I would like to see more being done to protect the buyers, after all if more trade result in profitable transactions more buyers will return for more stock, its good business.
Stay safe out there people!