By ChinaTechNews.com Editorial Team
One of the most common types of user-generated comments left on ChinaTechNews.com comes from angry buyers of electronics sold via the Internet by companies in China.
In August 2007, ChinaTechNews.com ran a story titled "Chinese Mobile Phone Manufacturers Fighting Counterfeits", and it has since gathered dozens of comments from global buyers of fake phones made in China. A common refrain is that the buyers purchased what they thought were real phones, only to receive junk in the mail. Many other commenters paid for their phones via a bank transfer, but they claim they never received their phones.
And on a news brief originally published in 2004 titled "China's Consumers Can Now Complain Online", one user succinctly stated a common gripe: "i was robbed". He, along with others on the comment thread, left details of their predicaments. They provide names of the alleged thieving companies, bank details of the culprits, and some have left concise address and phone information of the Chinese companies who apparently have wronged buyers around the world.
Hundreds of comments freckle ChinaTechNews.com with information about online sourcing scams in China. Buyers are almost as frustrated with their experiences as the editors at ChinaTechNews.com are bewildered by the naivete of these people buying products on the Internet. People have shared stories of buying laptops for their companies in the United States from sellers in China, only to never receive those laptops after they wired full payment to a bank account in China. With so many people complaining, an injection of reality is necessary to help solve some of these problems.
One solution is to use a respected middleman to buy products in China. Services like Alibaba.com or Dhgate.com provide payment escrow and qualified seller options. The rationale behind using these types of websites is that they are thought to be a buffer to filter out any illegitimate sellers. But sometimes Alibaba and Dhgate have their own problems.
On September 14, 2007, tokziebee leaves a comment on ChinaTechNews.com: "i transfered money $1000 to dhgate.com and uptill now i have not gotten my goods,how come china cant do something about his scam people?" Exactly two years later, on September 14, 2009, Uri comments: "I have complaint about DHGATE.COM in such they fails to give feedbacks on BAD sellers! Suggests you contact they see already when they can not give back detail for BUYER!!"
And on May 7, 2008, a ChinaTechNews.com commenter ridicules Alibaba.com: "Alibaba don't doing anything to help customers because China suppliers paying a good money to Alibaba. Hundreds and hundreds complain about that Gold Alibaba members stolid money from customers. Allibaba site don't have any feedback policy."
Alibaba.com and Dhgate.com both have feedback loops and online forums where they collect data on bad seller experiences. Building a credible marketplace is key for these types of online services to continue operating and to retain the trust of buyers around the world. But buyers must still be wary whenever conducting any transaction with a company located overseas.
Another solution then is to use a credit card, rather than a bank transfer, when paying for products purchased online from Chinese merchants. Credit card companies can sometimes help to recover lost goods, insure damaged products, or reimburse money to buyers for products never received. But when making online payments with a credit card, buyers must still be careful to not provide their personal details to fraudulent websites or to websites that lack secure payment options such as Extended Validation SSL Certificates.
Finally, the best solution is for buyers to trust their own research. Buyers must always conduct their own due diligence. Do other buyers also complain about this seller in China? Does the deal seem too good to be true? Is the Chinese seller soliciting business through the use of spam email? If the product breaks, can the buyer easily get the product fixed?