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For those that use Alibaba Trade Assurance

Anything related to sourcing or importing products.


Platinum Contributor
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Jun 24, 2014
Hey guys. Hope everyone is doing well.

I know there's a lot of fastlaners that use alibaba for their businesses. I can imagine a lot of you use trade assurance as well, because it's 100% safe right? Well, no, it's not. As @Walter Hay mentions, there's A LOT of loopholes in the system and they generally tend to favor the seller. Here's our recent story.

One of my brands is a beauty brand. We sell accessories, tools, etc. Anyways, I was out looking for a supplier to replace my current supplier as they boosted prices on us for no apparent reason. Found a great "manufacturer". 5 year GOLD supplier on Alibaba (by the way, GOLD supplier status doesn't mean sh*t on alibaba), trade assurance limit of $45,000, and a transaction level of over 4 diamonds! The prices were great. We discussed everything through email/trade manager. I told him to make the trade assurance order so we can make the payment. Anyways, we got the product last Monday, and to my surprise, the MAIN part of the product is NOT what we bought, material wise. Without going into specifics, let's assume we were buying GOLD and received BRONZE instead. So, I email the supplier, send him a message on whatsapp, call him a couple of times, and guess what? No replies... I'm like it's okay, we paid via trade assurance, we're covered right? I opened the dispute last Monday, submitted evidence of what we discussed on trade manager/whatsapp/emails, and how the product does not meet the requirements that we discussed.

This is the suppliers response to the case; "The Alibaba trade assurance contract/order details mentions nothing about the GOLD part."

And guess what? Alibaba closed our case. We weren't refunded. The supplier got their money and we got a product we can't sell. So, we're out $6500. But, I thought trade assurance was 100% safe/secure as advertised all over Alibaba???

Tip for you guys. Make sure the contract/order page contains EXACTLY ALL YOUR REQUIREMENTS WORD BY WORD. DO NOT LET THEM LEAVE ANY CRUCIAL ASPECTS OUT. Color, size, material - make sure you tell the supplier to mention them ALL when creating the order. Make sure they list the EXACT date they will ship your products out. Don't leave behind any CRUCIAL details, else, you will be burned. If you read the terms on trade assurance, the buyer is NOT covered if the dispute is over details NOT mentioned on the order contract. So make sure they don't "accidentally" leave any details out.

Hope this help's someone.
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Walter Hay

Legendary Contributor
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Sep 13, 2014
World citizen
I hate to read stories like this, but sadly @MoneyDoc you are not alone by a long shot. I have received many, many reports of failure on the part of Alibaba to enforce the Trade Assurance rules if just one "i" is not dotted and one "t" is not crossed.

The rules are complex and confusing, time limits are tight, and loopholes are there for the benefit of vendors, rather than for the protection of buyers.

One of the worst aspects is that even if you do get recognition of your claim, you will be pressured to accept less than a full refund or full replacement.

I have seen too many people give up under the mental torture being applied by their suppliers, and accept a partial refund even when there was no loophole for the supplier to exploit, and the product was clearly proven to be faulty. They win by exhausting the buyer.

I will put a link to this thread in my AMA, because it saddens me to say that people somehow don't see the posts or maybe don't appreciate the seriousness of warnings posted, so if more such posts are at least available to find in searches, more members might be alerted.

I am convinced that the various claims and disclaimers on Alibaba's website are cleverly constructed to provide a false sense of security. Trade Assurance looks great on the surface, so I don't blame buyers for thinking it gives real security.

Suppliers are told that they should buy Gold Supplier labels in order to attract more customers, but they have disclaimers tucked away almost out of sight, telling buyers how worthless Gold Supplier badges are.

The sale of Gold Supplier badges is a goldmine for Alibaba, particularly since they have banned suppliers without Gold Supplier badges from receiving sales inquiries via the system. You are very unlikely to get a response from non Gold Suppliers unless you find them outside the Alibaba site and contact them direct.

I could go on...... For example, even Assessed Supplier reports must be read carefully. I checked one today and the "Manufacturer" had 5 -10 employees, yet production capability is stated as 10,000 bicycles per month!!!

Finally, about the only protection you can really rely on is a Quality Inspection report by a trusted service, based on precise specifications and linked to payment by Letter of Credit if the shipment passes.


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