Sciencemadness Discussion Board

Multiple bad experiences with AliExpress

woelen - 21-1-2024 at 10:21

In the past, I purchased quite some things from eBay, but recently, the number of interesting items on eBay has reduced, although sometimes still interesting things appear.

For this reason, I also looked at AliExpress recently, but my experiences with that are bad to horrible. I just want to warn about the crap products and crap services.

1) Fake orpiment:
I purchased a nice looking big crystal of orpiment (As2S3). The description tells it is As2S3. Weight was approximately 100 grams. I ordered this in order to have a nice larger crystal for my collection of special chemical compounds. On arrival, though, the crystal appeared to be pale yellow, like sulfur. And indeed, it is sulfur. Dissolving it in a hot solution of NaOH gives a yellow solution of polysulfide, which on addition of acid produces a very fine, almost white precipitate of sulfur. Also, a smell of H2S can be observed. No As2S3 at all.
When I notified the seller about this, he said that I was wrong and that it is genuine. When I opened a dispute, AliExpress took the side of the seller. According to them, I could not prove things were wrong. Only option offered by them was shippinh back the crystal in its original package, and the cost of shipping to be paid by me (which was EUR 20, while the order, including shipping was EUR 14 or so).

2) Exploding USB charger:
I had such a charger in the wall outlet, and after a few weeks of usage, it suddenly exploded, giving a black burnt wall outlet, a power outage and a loud bang. Fortunately, the load, attached to the adapter was not damaged.
I tried to contact the seller, but he did not respond at all. I did not take the effort to get my money back, it just is not worth the effort.

3) Not working computer:
I ordered one of these. Just to be sure that I had compatible hardware, I also decided to buy 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB NVMe SSD. On arrival, the system did not work, it was very unstable, crashing every few minutes. I told the seller, and then he asked me to install Windows 11 to check, whether that works. When that also did not work, I had to use another USB stick, and he also wanted me to test with other disk and memory. I had no other memory, but tried with other USB stick and other SSD. Still no luck. Next, he asked me to contact the manufacturer of the small PC. That manufacturer told me, that the memory module most likely is off-spec, or right out faulty. The seller then asked me to buy new memory, and told me he would pay it. I had my doubts, but I could buy some for 53 euro's and I took the risk. With the new memory, the system works flawlessly. I have stressed it, ran memtester on it, and it is a great system now.
But the seller now tells me that I should not have installed any other OS on the system, that these OS-es are not compatible with their supplied memory. This is 100% bullshit. I opened a dispute on AliExpress, providing them with the full transcript of my chat with the seller, and invoice of the memory. But AliExpress again told me that the seller has done a good job, and that I should not have modified the software on the PC. So, I can say goodbye to the EUR 53 I had to spend on new memory.
Lateron, I investigated the properties of the memory module. It has a so-called XMP readout of 4800 MT/s, CAS latency of 40 cycles. However, when the memory is operated at 4800 MT/s, it does not work. Memtester then reports errors every few tens of seconds of running. In the BIOS I can override the XMP-values manually, and I set the transfer speed at 4400 MT/s. At that setting, the memory worked better, but still having errors occasionally in memtester, once per hour or so. Next, I set the speed to 4000 MT/s and with that setting I had no error at all. I already ran several cycles of memtester with this setting and then it is stable.
So, the memory module is off-spec, it simply reports a higher speed than it can handle and BIOS-es of mainboards then use that too high speed. My new memory stick has the same XMP readout, but that works flawlessly at 4800 MT/s, even at 5000 MT/s. That was purchased locally. So, buying memory sticks with these small PC's is not recommended, they sell off-spec crap.

I will not get in trouble due to this loss of money, but it is very disappointing to see how AliExpress-sellers and AliExpress itself are acting. I would suggest to buy on other platforms. Amazon is not holy, but at least they have better customer protection. eBay also has its quirks, but I never had such horrible experiences with sellers.


Fortunately I also had a few positive expriences:
- (the red one is real realgar, although I doubt it is of natural origin, it looks too homogeneous and is amazingly pure)
- (the yellow one is real orpiment, also almost certainly of natural origin)
The red compound is amazingly pure, but from a crystal-collecting point of view, it is not interesting. It just is too uniform, probably synthetic, or distilled. The yellow compound has some grey pieces in it, probably some silica-based rock, but it has nice glittering crystals, albeit somewhat small.

[Edited on 21-1-24 by woelen]

Belowzero - 21-1-2024 at 12:17

I have to say that my experience with AliExpress itself has been quite good.
Quite a few things that I bought did not meet up to expectations or just downright wrong such as size, model etc.
However in all cases AliExpress did a full or partial refund which was somewhat surprising in fact. In most cases the seller did not agree and AliExpress stepped in to correct the problem.

A couple really silly cases where a standard industrial size would be off by a couple mm which made the product entirely useless. I got a full refund, something tells me that they have boxes full of this stuff and it's all wrong.
One of the reasons I don't fear that China will dominate the world anytime soon.
There is something clumsy about the whole thing, reminds me a bit of the USSR.

Twospoons - 21-1-2024 at 13:53

Aliexpress can be rather hit and miss. I've had good stuff and bad. Mostly it comes down to vetting reviews and checking prices are appropriate. Recently bought quite a few things and it was 95% good. Some sellers step up when things go wrong - had a ground glass adapter arrive cracked, and the seller immediately sent a replacement. Also bought some of those cheap "platinized Ti" electrodes, knowing they were too cheap to have even been in the same room as any Pt, but I was hoping for Ti. Nope. Stainless steel. I can still use them for something, but that earned a one star review for outright lies.
Mech parts seem to be pretty good. I've bought bearings, tubing, lathe and mill tooling, nuts and bolts, extrusion and accessories with no issues.

I've found quite a few Chinese manufacturers have a shop on Aliexpress, and they are usually good and reliable to deal with. Its the endless resellers that are a bit dodgy - the ones that sell everything from screwdrivers to underwear. If I see dog collars and bearings in the same shop, thats a big red flag for me.

[Edited on 21-1-2024 by Twospoons]

BromicAcid - 21-1-2024 at 14:13

I had a project where I needed a specific size of brass screw and I looked everywhere. The only place I found it was Aliexpress. I ordered and only like a week later got my package, it had 100 pieces of brass rod in it. No threads, no machining, nothing. I contacted the seller and they said they would fix it right away. New order arrived with the same thing in the box and a note saying "Please say nothing." Very strange.

Twospoons - 21-1-2024 at 14:31

Just want to add the one thing I'd never buy from Aliexpress is power semiconductors. Its too easy to laser off the part markings from a cheaper part in the same package and re-label as a more expensive part. Quick meter test usually seems OK, but then the part explodes in use.

Oh, and batteries. Its comical some of the claimed capacities for 18650 lithium cells. 10Ah? Not in this world!

[Edited on 21-1-2024 by Twospoons]

DraconicAcid - 21-1-2024 at 15:56

I've had pretty good experiences of AliExpress.

Morgan - 21-1-2024 at 15:57

I've had mostly good experiences with Ali. Some things are half the price as stuff sold in the U.S.

Rainwater - 21-1-2024 at 16:00

So far every order i made with them has never been delivered, or was not as advertised. Fake ic chips. 24/40 joints that are completely uneven, electronics with no guts. And every time ali sides with the seller.
Their almost as bad as google

Morgan - 21-1-2024 at 18:45

I saw an Applied Science video the other day where Ben mentions sourcing some of the material for a project from AliExpress.

You pay your nickel and take your chances.

Fery - 21-1-2024 at 18:49

woelen that's very sad news, especially scamming very skilled chemist with sulfur
according the computer - it contains N100 cpu, doesn't it?
recently I assembled a machine for development from these components: 90MB1F70-M0EAYC ASUS PRIME N100I-D D4-CSM, KVR32S22D8/32 Kingston/SO-DIMM DDR4/32GB/3200MHz/CL22, LNM790X004T-RNNNG SSD LEXAR NM790 PCle Gen4 M.2 NVMe 4TB, IX-03B-OP Chieftec cassis, CDP-085ITX Chieftec CDP-085ITX power supply, AK-FN078 AKASA Slimfan 120 x 15mm bound into the case manually with zip ties
the N100 cpu very likely does not support XMP, my ddr4 memory operates at base rate 3200 MHz using SPD, moreover the cpu officially supports only upto 16 gb ram so due to excess of my ram (I needed more than 16 gb) my cpu very likely operates at even lower speed (very likely at least its memory controller in my configuration)
please try some uefi setup menu settings to adjust the memory parameters - the chinese comrades very likely did not tune firmware properly but anyway they should not sell anything untested and unstable
my custom build is very stable due to picking components one by one and configuring all settings properly
btw I added there the big slim fan (12x12x1,5 cm into 22x20x6,3 cm chassis) and the cpu, chipset, disk temperatures dropped 15 C while it runs at 700 RPM and is very quiet, originally the CPU temperature on idle was 50 C without fan which is very good and now is 35 C which is even better and so on (also blowing air to the nvme disk is very good)
although I was originally thinking about assembling it fanless (HDPlex H1 V3 chassis + HDPlex GaN ATX PSU), at the end I decided to use much cheaper chassis + psu + 1 big silent fan rotating at low rpm

here the spec from intel:
it should work with ddr4 upto 3200 MHz and with ddr5 upto 4800 MHz
which kind of ram do you use - I expect the original config was with the cheapest ddr4 type ? or with newer ddr5 where you can go upto 4800 MHz?

[Edited on 22-1-2024 by Fery]

woelen - 22-1-2024 at 03:02

With the fake As2S3, I now see that I am not the only one. Another person added a 1 star review, telling that it is plain sulfur.

With the mini PC, I indeed purchased an N100 system. A small one, with a fanless design.
The system itself actually looks very good. Very good build quality, with a really heavy metal case, which does a good job taking away heat (idle, running at 35 C at ambint temperature around 20 C). At full load (all 4 cores 100%, running at 3000+ MHz) it stays below 60 C. The outside of the case only becomes luke-warm. For a fanless design, the case is quite big, there are much smaller systems, but these smaller systems also become much hotter.

The memory in the system is DDR5. The BIOS has options for setting the DDR5 speed. Standard setting is "auto". With this setting, I can see under Ubuntu that the speed is 4800 MT/s, but then it is not stable, with memtester reporting errors at least once per minute. Besides the auto setting, I can pick speeds from a picklist. I can adjust this in steps of 200 downward or upward (anything from 3200 up to 5600). At 4400 it still is not completely stble (memtester reports an error once per hour or so). At 4000 it is completely stable (I did not try at 4200). But I do not use that off-spec memory stick anymore, I purchased a good one locally, with the auto setting in the BIOS . The newly purchased module is a DDR5 Corsair Vengeance 4800 MT/s, CAS 40 module. The one from the Chinese seller is a Crucial 4800 MT/s CAS 40 module, according to the sticker on the module, but it only works correctly at 4000 MT/s (maybe at 4200 MT/s). Probably it is no real Crucial module, but some relabeled counterfeit.
I have another small mainboard, which I put to use with the crap module from China. In that BIOS I also can adjust the speed of the module, and that little mainboard I now use as an experimentation board. Stability is less of a concern on that one, but up to now, it still is running stable at 4000 MT/s.

Conure - 24-1-2024 at 10:13

I ordered boron for a decent price and got it with no trouble. Another time I ordered WO3 and got some yellow powder that was not WO3.

superreductant - 16-2-2024 at 23:19

This reads like a horror story, the note part gave me chills hahah. I wonder whether the note was written by the same person on messaging, or some underpaid worker terrified of their boss...

Quote: Originally posted by BromicAcid  
I had a project where I needed a specific size of brass screw and I looked everywhere. The only place I found it was Aliexpress. I ordered and only like a week later got my package, it had 100 pieces of brass rod in it. No threads, no machining, nothing. I contacted the seller and they said they would fix it right away. New order arrived with the same thing in the box and a note saying "Please say nothing." Very strange.

Raid - 18-2-2024 at 17:29

And this is why I don't order anything from China...

DraconicAcid - 18-2-2024 at 17:59

The only really bad experiences I've had are a) the seller who insists that I've received the order that never showed up, and b) the keck clips that pop off as soon as they are put on.

Dr.Bob - 18-2-2024 at 18:05

I have been able to buy Keck clips (for work) via ebay at $2 each a few times, and they were fine. I have had some luck with Ebay and Amazon (less often), but the few times I tried Alibaba, I got nowhere.

woelen - 21-2-2024 at 13:43

Another bad experience from AliExpress. KI, which is mixed with something else. The "KI" I ordered is a mix with KCl, with just a few percent of KI.
Really, AliExpress is full of bad sellers, whose only goal is ripping off your money.

At the same time, I also purchased something from eBay, a set of MMO electrodes and a set of PbO2 electrodes. Both are very well constructed and well packaged. If you want to make a nice chlorate-cell or perchlorate-cell, then I can highly recommend this:

woelen - 25-2-2024 at 13:06

Beware of these:

Now look at the real thing:

I fortunately did not order one of these things from Fruugo, but it seems that quite some people step into this. They look very much like the real Samsung devices, but frequently do not work at all, or just work for a short time and then break down. The Fruugo website is notorious, it's full of fakes or alikes. Buyer protection is more or less non-existent over there!

I came into these, because I am looking for a nice SSD for setting up a home media server, based on one of those cheap Intel N1 systems.

Raid - 26-2-2024 at 12:19

I just bought some reagents from AliExpress! I will let everyone know how it goes and if the packaging quality is good.
Note to people who might buy from AliExpress:
1. Expect to pay loads on shipping and handling.
2. ALWAYS buy with Escrow and/or PayPal.
3. Expect poor packaging.
4. Sellers don't like to give refunds.

Sir_Gawain - 26-2-2024 at 12:25

Quote: Originally posted by woelen  

At the same time, I also purchased something from eBay, a set of MMO electrodes and a set of PbO2 electrodes. Both are very well constructed and well packaged. If you want to make a nice chlorate-cell or perchlorate-cell, then I can highly recommend this:

That guy (Feanor Forges) also has a YouTube channel were he shows how he makes the electrodes and how to make ammonium perchlorate with them.

Morgan - 26-2-2024 at 16:03

I've bought a fair amount of specially made fused quartz test tubes and 5 sizes of clear quartz crucibles from Ali and the prices were very good and the packing so good it took time just to open the package.

KoiosPhoebus - 12-3-2024 at 04:18

Interesting. I've had reasonably good experiences with Aliexpress, with a few bad experiences. Even in the bad experiences, I got my money back, though for fake chemicals, I did have to go to some effort to demonstrate that they did not have the properties that the listed chemical should have (e.g. solubility, reactivity to certain chemicals etc).

Generally, some common factors for good experiences have been:
  • If the seller is labelled as a "Choice" seller on Aliexpress. (this is more for equipment/glassware sellers than chemical sellers)
  • Positive reviews with images and details about the product. I typically take a glance at the % positive review and average rating, but I usually don't let it affect my decisions that much. A lot of the time, sellers with 100.0% positive reviews have, upon closer inspection, reviews whose text say "This user has not filled out a review" or the review is just on how it's great that the product arrived on time and in one piece without any info on whether the product is actually working.
  • If the product is from a bigger brand which I can find outside of Aliexpress, as opposed to being some obscure brand or a seller generic.
  • If the product has common uses outside of science.
  • (related to above) If the product has lots of different sellers.
  • If the seller is knowledgeable about the product. I have bought genuine amino acids from Aliexpress sellers before, and a very useful differentiator I found was to give them the names of the thing I was actually looking for, and that of a very close derivative. For example, if I was looking for L-cysteine free base, I would ask them if their listing was "L-cysteine" , "N-acetyl-L-cysteine" or "L-cysteine HCl". Another question which has been useful in the past is to ask them how to dissolve the product - what solvents or conditions (acid/alkaline) should be used (though I typically reserve this for certain organic compounds where this is more relevant).
    I assume that those who don't answer are probably scammers anyway. Those who answer but who contradict their product listing or give incorrect information (e.g. saying that ethylmaltol dissolves in water) are either also scammers, or they don't know much about their own product, which raises the risk of them getting scammed themselves.
  • If the seller specialises in a particular field. In the past, I have gotten excellent seller-generic gibberellic acid from a seller which specialises in plant growth regulators and fertiliser.

I do wonder if it might be that I don't use Aliexpress for things like electronics/electricals, which also seem to be where the worst sellers/scammers are concentrated?

Ubya - 12-3-2024 at 08:03

As long as you approach eBay or AliExpress with the awareness of the high potential for scams, it's acceptable, given that you either limit your expenditure or invest considerable effort in researching before making any purchases.
I'm the type of guy that compares at least 4-5 sellers before even considering of really buying anything.
I generally get it right, but i get scammed too.
On ebay i bought some KI for a good price, not absurdly low so i thought i was on the clear, wrong. It was plain sodium chloride.
I bought 2 ZVS Drivers for my flyback transformer, i bought the same item from 2 different sellers because i knew the chances of getting what i wanted where low (electronics board easily fail because of fake components).
Well one never arrived, and the other arrived but in pieces. I somehow managed to solder back the broken off capacitors and join back the split traces on the pcb, and i got it working.
On aliexpress i bought a mini PC with an intel N5105 because i'm quite into self hosting stuff ( there are N100 equivalents now). The fan crapped itself after 1 month of usage, and i couldn't find anyone on the internet selling a replacement (a pwm 4-wires centrifucal 40x40mm fan), the seller of course was of no help, and i was too late to ask any refunds via paypal or aliexpress itself (after testing it for a week i let it on a shelf for 6 months, and when i decided to deploy it for good, it died after 4 weeks).

If you don't have high expectations (or normal expectations i should say) you won't be deluded that much.

a few tips?
stay away from common household electronics, chargers, powerbanks, LEDs, etc. You'd be lucky if they work at all as advertised, worst case scenario, as you experienced, they will blow up in smoke or flames.
i'd stay away from sellers that have sold just a few units of the item you are looking for. generally the same thing is being sold by tens of sellers, if you pick the one that sold the most, even if a bit more expensive, you can be a bit safer.
sellers that only sell items about the same "topic" usually offer better support. there are sellers that sell anything under the sun, from electronics to weird beauty products. if you buy some chemical from this kind of sellers, and something is off, they will probably have no clue about what you are saying. there are dishonest sellers, but it may also be a dumb chinese seller that got scammed himself by a fellow chinese scammer XD

generally still better than amazon. the only pro amazon has is fast shipping, but the same stuff you find on amazon is sold on aliexpress at a tenth of the price

woelen - 13-3-2024 at 00:44

My experiences with Amazon are quite good actually. But I must say, I only bought stuff from EU-based sellers, or sellers from Ukraine, the UK or the USA. I purchased stuff of very different kinds:
- DDR5 memory, works flawlessly, as replacement of the crap memory I had in my AliExpress-N100-system.
- A second N100-system, without SSD and memory. In this I put the crap-memory, but at 4000 MHz instead of the standard 4800 MHz. It works.
- Phosphoric acid, 85%. Nice stuff, clear and colorless like water, but somewhat syruppy, just as phosphoric acid should be.
- LiFePO4 ~13V batteries, two pieces of 8 Ah and 6 Ah, with battery management system, used for lighting purpose in my garden with miniature LED strings. Works very well, I am happy with these batteries. I have them nearly haf a year now and have them charged/discharged in use quite a few times already.
- DC power supply for my N100 system from AliExpress. After the burner with the 5V adapter from AliExpress (see one of my posts above) I decided to replace the 12V adapter for my N100 system by a Leicke power supply from Amazon (German brand).
- Two DC lab power supplies, CC/CV 30V 10 A. These are Chinese brand, Jesverty 3010H. I took a gamble with these, but both are fine and work as expected. Given the low price for these, I am actually positively surprised, they work much better and more accurate than I had expected from such cheap devices. The only "issue" I have is that the fans of these devices are quite noisy if a current of multiple amperes is drawn from them.

So, things can be quite good with online sellers as well, maybe I am just unlucky with the sellers I stumbled upon on AliExpress. Similarly, I also have quite good experiences with eBay sellers. I purchased many many things on eBay, chemicals, electronics and also things for use in or around the house. Never had such failures as on AliExpress. I sometimes had issues such as plain wrong chemicals (e.g. receiving KBrO3, while ordering Pb(NO3)2, another time receiving KCN, while ordering KOCN :o ), but in all cases, they were resolved, either by refund, or by a second shipment, while I could keep the first shipment.

[Edited on 13-3-24 by woelen]