As promised, a review of an AliExpress shop — Forest Girl’s Store — to soothe our anxieties.
I ordered the scarf pictured above in green, just before the Chinese New Year (my bad). I contacted the seller in a Live Chat to make sure the scarf was in stock and that I would receive the right color. From the beginning, the seller was helpful and genial.
The scarf arrived very quickly, especially considering it was holiday time for them. The quality is excellent — completely true to the photos. That gave me great confidence in the shop.
However, it came in the wrong color. A small detail maybe, but I found it sort of unacceptable considering I had taken the time to try to confirm it, and because the mistake happened only because they were rushing. It’s unfair for a customer to receive a wrong order on account of someone not paying attention.
As politely as I could, I explained all of that to the seller, and let them know that this is a common fear for their customers far overseas. We often hear/read about wrong orders, bad quality, things never arriving, etc. I let them know that I’d have to be honest about this in my review, even though the quality was great and it shipped fast. We can’t be confident shopping on AliExpress if it’s a gamble every time.
The seller handled the problem calmly and kindly, despite some minor misunderstandings due to the language barrier. We were able to reach a conclusion quickly.
In the end, I’m happy with the order despite the mistake. It’s important to note that I’ve only ordered one item, so I can’t be sure of consistency. However, I would definitely recommend Forest Girl’s Store. They have a great selection of unique, cute, mori-style clothing and shoes that’s hard to find elsewhere, and for totally fair prices.
If you do shop there, please let me know about your experience so we can “compile data”.
All that said, please keep in mind some GENERAL TIPS for shopping on AliExpress, eBay, or other Chinese retail/wholesalers:
- Some people report being unable to contact a seller via messages — I suggest always trying Live Chat. Check the current local time in the region. You may have to stay up a little bit later to get someone.
- Research. Do a reverse image search on photos. See whether other sellers have the same item, for less. Check if the images have been taken from a different site, if logos are removed, etc. I’ve mentioned this before, but if you see the same thing for $40 and $20, either way you’re going to get the $20 thing. Don’t expect it to be better for $40.
- Hold the seller accountable: contact them and ask if the item is true to the photos. If you’re still not sure because of multiple photos shared by many sellers, sometimes they’ll be willing to take a picture of the actual product for you, if you explain this and ask nicely.
- Save your chats! (You can hit “print” and choose “PDF” under the small “save as” menu in the print dialogue box). If something does go wrong, you’ll have proof that you did your best as a buyer.
- Shipping from Asia is SLOW. It’s one thing if you haven’t received something for 2 months — ask the seller about it. But expect it to at least take a few weeks. Don’t leave someone a bad review based on that.
- Be kind and polite! DO NOT make ridiculous claims if nothing was actually wrong with your order. AliExpress and eBay will usually take the buyer’s side in a dispute, and sometimes it’s unfair to the seller, who is likely working long hours and not being paid much as it is. They take a risk and probably aren’t trying to screw you over, so don’t try to screw them over just for a refund. Please try to contact them before opening a dispute, and remember that there can be misunderstandings because of the language barrier. Be patient, explain your qualms, and ask for what you think is fair.
- Help other buyers: leave thorough reviews. EBay makes this difficult with their word limit, but you can say more than “nice!”. Remember how unsure you felt when purchasing? Write what you would’ve wanted to know about, however succinctly. E.g.: “Shipped fast, good quality, seller solved my problem.” On AliExpress, the word limit is HUGE. So, it’s frustrating to see people who don’t bother to review (thus granting the seller an automatic 5 stars due to the site’s system) or just say something like “Excellent”, which makes me question whether it’s a genuine buyer.
- And of course, learn how to look for quality.