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How Unscrupulous Sellers Mislead on Shipping, Country of Origin

In his quest to find protective masks after Amazon and eBay removed most of their listings on account of price gouging, MrConsumer turned to AliExpress — the eBay/Amazon of China.

While masks there were likely double or triple their pre-pandemic prices, some third-party sellers on the site offered fast four to seven day delivery from sources in the United States (at a higher price than the same masks if shipped from China).

AliExpress Mask Ad

So MrConsumer ordered these masks on April 11. The package was shipped two days later with a USPS tracking number from New Jersey and should certainly arrive in Massachusetts in just a matter of a day or two, or so I thought.


Shipping confirmation

While the USPS tracking number was issued on April 13, two days after ordering, as of May 4 – three weeks later – the post office still had not received the package from the company.

The tracking information screen showed that the item was being shipped from one United States location to another, however, a hidden tracking number indicated the real origin was China. See that inconspicuous link at the bottom that says “Data Provided by CAINIAO?” That takes you to a Chinese shipping company with the real tracking information.


Chinese tracking

The package was actually shipped from Shenzhen, China on April 21 — 10 days after the order was placed, and three days after it should have already been received.

What is going on here? It appears that this company and others that play this game on AliExpress, eBay, and perhaps Amazon Marketplace, make customers believe their shipment originates domestically when in fact it is coming from overseas. A USPS shipping and tracking number is issued at the outset to further mislead customers about the shipping timing and origin. At some point, either in China or when the package arrives in the US at the transfer point, the USPS label is slapped on the package indicating the final leg of its journey to the customer.

MrConsumer used the AliExpress dispute process because the goods had not been received during the buyer protection period. The company authorized a full refund on May 2.

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11 thoughts on “How Unscrupulous Sellers Mislead on Shipping, Country of Origin”

  1. Very sneaky, and interesting, but I would never order from AliExpress anyway. I try to avoid all dealings with Chinese sellers. There have been some availability of masks popping up on Slickdeals for regular US retailers and reputable merchants

  2. I think we’re going to see lots of tricks used. I had ordered masks from Amazon back in March, and a couple weeks ago received notice that my order had been “confiscated.” Not knowing what that meant for me, I requested a refund. Now the order shows as “missing” and my refund has not been processed.

  3. It’s risky business to buy anything from China, no matter what the platform. I recently bought a ten-ream box of copy paper on eBay for $22 with free delivery. Wow, such a deal! The dealer was listed as being located in California. it turned out, though, that he was in –drum roll please — China. I got a notice from eBay that the seller had been removed from its rolls. I filed for a refund.

  4. This is particularly disgusting. Especially with reports coming out that China has been stocking up on PPE since January when it was still saying that human to human transmission wasn’t possible!

  5. I ordered toilet paper–thought from somewhere in the US. However, it is from China. When I finally canceled it they told me it was in transit and couldn’t recall it. I had it taken off my charge card after talking to them about it. “China” then said they would take 10% off if I would keep it. I told them that if it was delivered, I would send them an email. Then I would give the company 10 days to have it shipped it back to them (free for me). If not, I would keep the toilet paper and give it to a worthy cause.

  6. Whenever I am thinking of placing an order on amazon I am asking the seller the country of origin. Fingers crossed that I get the truth. If I get the item and find it is made in China I am/have been returning. Amazon is very good about refunding. Not so with eBay who I will no longer make purchases with.

  7. Very interesting! I ordered a dozen washable masks from 4 different places on Amazon. One said it was a small company in GA that would ship in 3 weeks… The other 3 said they were also shipping from the US. Two arrived within the delivery date. The third has changed the delivery date several times so I’m now wondering if they will eventually come from china.

  8. Facebook is the worst of the bunch. The best way to check is to look at their refund policy. All the products have “sale price markdowns”. They state that they will not refund sale items. Pure overpriced garbage from China. Be smart and do not order anything advertised on Facebook, but if you must, use your credit card. You can dispute the charges and you will get a refund. Facebook has zero vetting!

  9. Same with Sophgent.com where there are ties and vests I like and ordered five ties, it took more than a month to arrive. I found out that it came from China and the company used the website, OrderLookUp, (orderlookupapp.com) to hide where it shipped from. The seller refused to tell me where he located. But the package I received was written in Chinese. So never again with Sophgent.

  10. With drop shipping you never know where the product you’re ordering originates from. The seller you pay isn’t even in the same country with the item and it ships separately from them often from a wholesaler or manufacturer overseas. It’s misleading to begin with.

    My suspicions are always high when I see mixed reviews online about a company. Some prolific user review sites rate AliExpress highly while it couldn’t be rated lower on others. Also I would assume that pretty much anything I ordered from that site at some point originated in China. That’s where all our stuff is made anyway so why should it be a shock that if you go back far enough most things at some point were sent here from China.

    I personally think AliExpress is a shady company and won’t be doing business with them again after a bad experience a few years ago. I ordered a necklace and had no problem getting it. It was when I tried to place a second order that I had trouble. The site kept canceling my order and sent insulting messages to me accusing me of being a scammer or something. I could not find any phone customer service to complain to and even when I wrote to them the answer was unintelligible and worth nothing. Even after creating an entire new account I could not order from them and never got a satisfactory explanation. I even switched credit cards. And I have never had that kind of trouble with any other site.

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