Risks with AliExpress ordering – payment, shipping, customs

The Chinese shipping site AliExpress is also very popular in Germany due to its low prices. TECHNOLOGY BUTTON reveals who is behind the platform, what advantages and disadvantages there are and what you should definitely not order there.

Business for online retailers is booming, especially in the run-up to Christmas. There are a large number of shops on the net and good comparison options for customers. This is exactly why the providers are competing for buyers with ever lower prices. A competitor from the Far East is becoming increasingly important. AliExpress calls out competitive prices for items from all possible categories, such as electronics or fashion.

What is AliExpress and who is it?

The Chinese platform has been around since 2010. AliExpress specializes in the sale of goods to private customers and is often compared to Ebay in terms of its system . Even the Chinese only provide a platform for individual sellers and shops who sell their goods all over the world on this platform. Unlike Amazon, AliExpress has nothing to do with the manufacture or shipping of products, but merely creates the framework – like a marketplace.

The Chinese group of companies “Alibaba Group” is behind AliExpress. With around 117,000 employees, the Alibaba Group has a turnover of 60 billion euros in 2020. In comparison: Amazon achieved around 230 billion euros in 2019. Nevertheless, Alibaba makes more profit than the US giant, which is probably also due to the lower personnel costs. The Alibaba.com website, which is also part of the Alibaba Group, works in a similar way to AliExpress, except that it offers goods in a large scale and, above all, in large quantities and at low prices for companies.

In the meantime, AliExpress also has a German homepage. In some cases, this contains only very poorly translated product texts.

What is the quality of the goods on AliExpress?

In forums, many customers report that the majority of deliveries arrive flawlessly with them. For them, AliExpress is a cheap alternative to the well-known online retailers. Nevertheless, even with satisfied customers it happens that goods occasionally arrive defective. AliExpress is not alone with this problem. The products that are sold through Amazon and Co. occasionally have defects. With the latter, however, it is easier to send back the defective goods and get new and faultless replacements.

However, you should be careful with clothing. In this area, reports from western buyers are increasing that sizes are often much too small.

Ordering on AliExpress: why are the prices so low?

Only merchants based in mainland China are allowed to sell their products on both AliExpress and Alibaba. A lot of goods are produced there. In this way, the dealers can get the goods quickly and inexpensively and then offer them low prices for our circumstances. In most cases this does not apply to branded goods, but to Chinese products. Last but not least, some goods are so cheap because they are simply not original.

Do I get original goods?

Most of the products on the huge platform are original. Nonetheless, counterfeits are always offered on AliExpress. Certain product categories are particularly often affected. In the electronics sector, for example, there are numerous counterfeit memory cards and batteries. Fashion fans should watch out for sneakers like the limited Yeezy Boost models. The same applies to products from popular fashion labels such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton.

Pay attention to the prices of such products in order to expose counterfeits. A shoe that costs 220 euros in this country and is only available in limited numbers can realistically not be listed on AliExpress for around 40 euros, at least not original. Basically, if the offer seems too tempting and cheap, keep your hands off it.

Should I avoid certain dealers?

At AliExpress, you should definitely look at the reviews of the merchants. This minimizes the risk of receiving defective goods or none at all. Avoid small traders who enter the market with rock-bottom prices. It is better to pay a few euros more and be satisfied with the product – you still usually save. In most cases, you can even see from the ratings whether the goods are genuine or not.

How do I pay on AliExpress?

In addition to credit card and instant transfer from the current account, AliExpress also offers the internal payment service AliPay. Paypal is not supported by the market place. AliPay includes its own buyer protection, called “Buyers Protection”. This works flawlessly, as the transferred money is temporarily stored at AliExpress until the buyer confirms that the product has been received and is free of defects. Only then does AliExpress transfer the money to the respective retailer from China.

Are there any problems with customs when importing?

Basically, the goods go past customs – and completely legally. For goods from around 26 euros there is an import sales tax of 19 percent, which corresponds to the local value added tax and can be paid directly to the parcel deliverer. The prerequisite for this is that the seller has correctly declared the shipment. As a customer, however, you have no influence on this. If this does not happen, customs are interested in the package from the Far East and will inform you by post about import duties and collection options.

If the value of goods exceeds 150 euros, there is also a customs duty that must be paid in any case. This percentage always depends on the type of product. Fortunately, many electronic products such as smartphones, digital cameras, USB sticks, game consoles, notebooks and tablets are exempt from customs duties. For e-book readers and GPS devices, for example, 3.7 percent is due.

Benefits of AliExpress at a glance

  • Own buyer protection called AliExpress Buyers Protection
  • Cheap prices
  • Good customer service for defective goods (refund, partial refund and return of goods possible)
  • Partial shipping from Germany possible, as certain dealers in this country have warehouses

You have to accept these disadvantages

  • Counterfeit products on the platform
  • Products such as clothes sometimes differ from the description
  • Import tax of 19 percent applies from 26 euros and customs duties from 150 euros
  • Paypal is not offered
  • Long delivery times of several weeks are possible


“AliExpress is a good alternative to well-known platforms such as Ebay and Amazon. If you are careful and take our tips to heart, you can safely throw the stigma of dodgy Chinese traders overboard. Due to the delivery times, the poorly translated homepage and the lack of PayPal, however, you cannot expect the same shopping convenience as with other trading platforms. ”

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1 Comment

Ethan Andrews  -  4 October 2021 at 12:10

How long does ali express take to ship? I ordered 3 months ago and still not delivered. https://letracking.com/toll-tracking/ says your order in process from 1 month.

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