A couple times a year there are big holidays in China which mean massive sales from Chinese sellers. Later this week is 11.11, also known as singles day, which is basically China’s equivalent of Black Friday sales. It is the biggest sale day of the year so this will likely be the cheapest prices on import tech until 2018 and Chinese New Year.
In honor of the sale I decided to make a quick video with a few tips for buying from overseas sellers. Hopefully this will help you get a great deal when buying from overseas and not get ripped off.
1) Do your research:
The most important thing is to do your research about any product you buy. For example, with action cams I recommend only buying cameras if they are a well-known brand name, or explicitly state what sensor and processor is in them because otherwise you’ll get the cheapest possible. It is important to do your research because if you get a bad product and want a refund, chances are the seller will require you to return the product to them, and shipping costs back to China often exceed the cost of the item in the first place.
Since returning items is often out of the question, it is imperative to know exactly what you’re buying and why you’re buying it beforehand.
2) Buy from a reliable source:
Aliexpress has pretty solid buyer protection and you can use PayPal on both Gearbest and eBay. I have found from personal experience that you’re most likely to get a fake product from eBay and from 3rd party overseas sellers on Amazon. AliExpress has a strict policy against selling fakes so they are more rare. I don’t recommend buying from eBay unless you are very confident in the seller.
3) Buy with buyer protection:
The problem with buying cheap tech is that quality control isn’t always as good, and there’s always the possibility of getting a product that doesn’t function properly. So look for sellers with a good policy on this. I’ve dealt with Quality Control issues after buying things on AliExpress a few times and almost every time the issue was resolved in my favor. I’ve also dealt with Gearbest’s Dead on Arrival policy before with success. Although it might take a little pressure sometimes, don’t be afraid to push for customer service. When in doubt, buy with Paypal, which has a good claim system for buyers.
4) Warranty may not apply:
If you buy a product from an overseas seller and it is not a well-known brand name, the chances of getting warranty support if the item dies after a few months are slim. You may be required to send it to China for repair. A quadcopter I bought had the camera die for example, and I sent a few e-mails to the brand name’s “support” and never heard back. Even on Amazon, there are so many trash 3rd party products. This is why I recommend buying products from 1st party brands like SJCam, Gitup, Viofo, Eken. Any brand that has a moderately active social media presence will usually have more responsive customer service and warranty.
5) Be careful of scams:
It is a good idea to act like everyone is out to scam you – if the price is too good to be true, chances are you’re going to get an inferior item. Some sellers like to increase prices in the weeks before sales to make it seem like the items are a huge discount. Be wary of fake products from unreliable sellers.
6) Be ready for long shipping times and customs fees:
Depending on your country, shipping can take forever, and there can be customs fees upon import. If you ship any of the faster carriers, like DHL, you will almost certainly be charged customs fees if the value of the item exceeds the minimum threshold for your country. In Canada, that threshold is $20 Canadian, and shipping carriers will charge a minimum $25 fee, which can make a cheap item suddenly more expensive and not worthwhile. Usually, if you choose standard and slow shipping it avoids customs fees.
7) Do not trust reviews:
Overseas sellers are not bound by the code of ethics and advertising laws that domestic sellers have to abide by, and many of them prune negative reviews on their site to make their products seem better than they are. Reviews from independent 3rd parties are usually more reliable, but this isn’t always the case. Due diligence is necessary to separate the shills from the legitimate reviews.
Now, if that didn’t scare you off, you can save a ton of money buying stuff from overseas. Just make sure you do your homework first and buy from a reliable source. Hopefully this helps you have a positive shopping experience and save a bit of money on 11.11.
If you are uncomfortable with buying from overseas sellers, black friday sales are almost here. Check it out on Amazon: