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DraconicAcid
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[*] posted on 9-3-2021 at 22:35
Alibaba


So I've been looking at Alibaba, since they carry a huge number of chemicals, some of which are being offered at extremely low prices.

My latest interaction was an attempt to buy tetraethylammonium bromide. I found one company which offered it at $2-3/kg, which is amazingly low.

Them: Our company has this product in stock, purity: 99% or more, and the quality is very good!
I quote the price for your reference:
2 kg: USD 50 per kg (excluding international shipping)

Me: What happened to the $3/kg price on the website?

Them: thank you for your reply! The 3 dollars per kilogram you see is our advertising price. The advertising price is automatically generated by the computer. It is incorrect. Subject to our actual quotation. Thank you

Apparently, false advertising is perfectly legal at Alibaba.




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[*] posted on 9-3-2021 at 23:01


The really low prices are obviously false, but if you ask for a sample from a supplier who doesn't list a strangely low price you can often get a nice deal. For samples you can often get a smaller quantity than the minimum order amount.

[Edited on 10-3-2021 by Tsjerk]
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[*] posted on 9-3-2021 at 23:07


Yeah. I'm pretty sure some Alibaba prices are unrealistically low.

Also, to be considered.... Is it really the advertised stuff?

I've been cruising the site, but I'm just window shopping so far.

I have trust issues.

Also to be considered; I have a pretty good idea what I can legally buy from US suppliers.

US authorities aren't very clear about buying Chinese Chemicals. Glassware? Fine.

Chemicals? Ummmm. Might be considered importing. Maybe even "illegal" importing.

I'm not sure what the rules are.
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draculic acid69
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[*] posted on 9-3-2021 at 23:26


Quote: Originally posted by DraconicAcid  
So I've been looking at Alibaba, since they carry a huge number of chemicals, some of which are being offered at extremely low prices.

My latest interaction was an attempt to buy tetraethylammonium bromide. I found one company which offered it at $2-3/kg, which is amazingly low.

Them: Our company has this product in stock, purity: 99% or more, and the quality is very good!
I quote the price for your reference:
2 kg: USD 50 per kg (excluding international shipping)

Me: What happened to the $3/kg price on the website?

Them: thank you for your reply! The 3 dollars per kilogram you see is our advertising price. The advertising price is automatically generated by the computer. It is incorrect. Subject to our actual quotation. Thank you

Apparently, false advertising is perfectly legal at Alibaba.


That is the price per kilo if U buy a ton.also trying to get a price out of them for a kilo takes a few days you can ask for a kilo price very clearly and they'll fukcaround and try saying U have to buy ten etc etc.the whole process takes time and they all keep pushing the hard sell for a bigger amount.
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[*] posted on 10-3-2021 at 00:33


Quote: Originally posted by DraconicAcid  
So I've been looking at Alibaba, since they carry a huge number of chemicals, some of which are being offered at extremely low prices.

My latest interaction was an attempt to buy tetraethylammonium bromide. I found one company which offered it at $2-3/kg, which is amazingly low.

Them: Our company has this product in stock, purity: 99% or more, and the quality is very good!
I quote the price for your reference:
2 kg: USD 50 per kg (excluding international shipping)

Me: What happened to the $3/kg price on the website?

Them: thank you for your reply! The 3 dollars per kilogram you see is our advertising price. The advertising price is automatically generated by the computer. It is incorrect. Subject to our actual quotation. Thank you

Apparently, false advertising is perfectly legal at Alibaba.


I have had the same experience. You see the listed maximum price and minimum buy and assume that will be what you can purchase. Then when you ask to purchase the minimum amount at the maximum price either the minimum buy goes up by two orders of magnitude, or the price does, or both.
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[*] posted on 10-3-2021 at 00:39


The listing prices are indeed not even referential but just.. some random price number. The higher the number is, the likely it's true, but in general the low bulk prices only apply when buying in larger amounts. It's just not worth the time to sell a few kg of something for few $ a kg, this is the same reason it costs hefty to buy smaller amounts of reagents. A common price scheme, which just came up with sulfuric acid:

1L: 50€
5L: 150€
10L: 250€
25L: 350€
1000L: 800€

For ordering chemicals overseas, it's good to check if it is somewhat restricted and if some specific restrictions apply to either individual or company customers. For example, some stuff cannot be imported at all without special declaration (mercury in EU), some stuff can only be imported as a company with some proper paperwork, and fancy enough, if a company imports some stuff, it must be analyzed and documented and the customs can perform tests on it at there orderer's cost starting from 500€/test, but if an individual orders it, no problem and any tests are free, if done by the customs' decision. Some stuff also falls in specific categories, for example some substances can be classified as pharmaceuticals which need completely separate importation schemes.

[Edited on 10-3-2021 by Fyndium]
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[*] posted on 10-3-2021 at 06:31


A lot of the times they're fake prices. But, remember some of these sellers are very high volume and are advertising to larger consumers. I wanted to buy one thing, listed price is 30 usd/kg, actual price for me would be 150/kg. Not because the seller is disingenuous, it's just that 30 usd/kg is the price if you come pick up 200 kg from his warehouse in India. Sounds crazy to me but I'm sure it's normal for him. I just open with something along the lines of "Can you tell me more about your pricing for x product" every time.



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[*] posted on 10-3-2021 at 13:35


Quote: Originally posted by Fyndium  
For example, some stuff cannot be imported at all without special declaration (mercury in EU), some stuff can only be imported as a company with some proper paperwork, and fancy enough, if a company imports some stuff, it must be analyzed and documented and the customs can perform tests on it at there orderer's cost starting from 500€/test, but if an individual orders it, no problem and any tests are free, if done by the customs' decision. Some stuff also falls in specific categories, for example some substances can be classified as pharmaceuticals which need completely separate importation schemes.


Alibaba sellers are very flexible with declarations, sometimes by default. I ordered some solid reagents that were imported as "model clay" or something along those lines. If it saves you some red tape, good. If it could potentially get you in deep shit then it would be best to tell them, explicitly, to put the true name of the chemical on the declaration.
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[*] posted on 10-3-2021 at 14:17


A question just out of curiosity, how often do you order chemicals from China/India/other countries, what chemicals and what amounts, and have you ever got any inquiries with customs?

The only instance I was dealing with the officials in a chemical matter, they only made tests that they were not a) drugs b) energetics, and they said you're good to go - they really did not care further what the stuff actually was.
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njl
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[*] posted on 10-3-2021 at 14:24


I do not order often. When I do, it'll be something I want in a large quantity, not specialty chemicals or anything like that. One time I got a a delivery that was taped up a lot, when I opened it there was a big hole in the packaging bag from when somebody from customs presumably poked it to see inside.



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DraconicAcid
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[*] posted on 10-3-2021 at 14:33


I haven't yet ordered any chemicals from overseas, although I did get a bit of vanadium from AliExpress for Xmas (and I did order some gallium which hasn't arrived yet).



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[*] posted on 11-3-2021 at 08:26


Ummmm. Take care not to order anything "restricted". Though most things are not, some stuff really is.

And, just because the Chinese will ship it to you, that doesn't mean the deal is "kosher".

If I can find a US seller, to supply me with a product; generally speaking, it's his responsibility.

My buying the that same product from China... Most likely, would be MY responsibility.

Importing. Maybe even.... Illegal Importing. A very, very, serious offence.

I reviewed the "lists" recently. Some things are on there, that I hadn't recalled. Maybe they are newer additions. Mostly, just the same old stuff, I never use, and have no interest in.
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[*] posted on 11-3-2021 at 11:57


I purchased 1 kg CoCl2 hexahydrate 98.5% a couple years ago. The advertised price was extremely low (5€/kg) but I was informed that the advertised prices are, indeed, only for big orders in the ton scale. I ended up paying 100€ for it. The main issue is the shipping, though; for some reason nobody will ship their items or samples via ordinary mail, but instead use a 48 h courier that costs roughly 40-50€, so half of my price was shipping. I believe I got my parcel in a little more than 24 h.

Like on Aliexpress, the people there are very flexible. Unlike Aliexpress, they speak good english and can explain to you how things works. Just make sure to choose from a certified seller with all the little Alibaba badges so you have some customer protection and assurance. I feel a leech even just asking for free samples in a store, so there's no way I will ask for free samples there.

[Edited on 11-3-2021 by valeg96]





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[*] posted on 11-3-2021 at 12:50


Geeze, I bought lots of Lab Glass from China. Very inexpensive. Shipping included.

Sometimes it shows up bullet fast. Sometimes it takes weeks. But, it has never been expensive.

Perhaps, this is a global thing. I am close to China here, and the US and China, may have a special postal deal.

I have had friends tell me, shipping from the US to Italy may not be easy.
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[*] posted on 11-3-2021 at 13:05


I believe that China has special customs restrictions on chemicals that prohibit them from being shipped by the inexpensive couriers that typically carry our glassware. So unless you're buying by the ton, the shipping fees for chemicals will be a lot higher than you would see for similarly sized packages of non-chemical items.



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[*] posted on 11-3-2021 at 15:01


You get samples. Be careful with alibaba, there are MANY scammers. I would only order from suppliers with 6+ Years on the site , and gold membership(it costs a lot so scammers are less likely to have gold memberships). Also they should be verified. If all those are met, then ask if it would possible to a “small sample”(50-200g), lol. Sneaky sneaky chemists, we are ;)


They’ll make you pay shipping, which is expensive, but the sample is free. Of course some suppliers don’t offer this courtesy, but most do.
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[*] posted on 13-3-2021 at 18:15


I avoid asking for samples or anything under 1kg just as a curtesy. Oh you want a kilo of xxx ok, $150-250 including shipping.

That’s been my experience, and if I’m ordering vs just making it then it’s already not economical to make. Also they like to mislabel for shipping even when there’s no reason and I’ll lose the shipment before I falsify an import application. So anything less than a kilo, for me, is too much risk for not enough supply.
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[*] posted on 13-3-2021 at 19:16


Yeah, I would feel really awkward asking for a sample when I know very well I'm not going to order the hundrends of kg I know they're hoping to sell. I did find one of the chemicals I wanted on AliExpress, so I'll just stick with that. And learn to make tetraethylammonium bromide.



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[*] posted on 7-8-2021 at 19:00


I've ordered from companies in China several times now, and so far my experience has been very good. The prices are much much cheaper than from Sigma and such and it's just way less of a hassle in general, since they also cater to private individuals.

I think China is just generally more science friendly. My wife (who's Chinese) tells me that there are shops around most cities that specifically sell lab equipment etc...
This is probably also why they generally have good customer service and cheap prices since there's a lot of competition, unlike here, where specialized chemicals are usually only sold by a handful of de facto monopoly companies.

The one complaint I would have is that they often don't properly declare their shipments at customs. For instance I once ordered some LiAlH4, and few weeks later I suddenly find a random tin can in my mailbox with no label or product safety sheet - nothing. I only found out what it was once I opened the can!
Also, most retailers sell in bulk and frankly 2 metric tons of even the most useful reagent would probably last me for about 10 lifetimes. (Well not water or oxygen etc... but you know).

But overall China is like a candy shop for citizen scientists, both for reagents but especially for science equipment.

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[*] posted on 7-8-2021 at 19:06


Quote: Originally posted by Fyndium  
A question just out of curiosity, how often do you order chemicals from China/India/other countries, what chemicals and what amounts, and have you ever got any inquiries with customs?

The only instance I was dealing with the officials in a chemical matter, they only made tests that they were not a) drugs b) energetics, and they said you're good to go - they really did not care further what the stuff actually was.


I once had something held at customs, even though it was a completely legitimate item. They also didn't explain why. I think they were just doing it to harass me, because I guess to a customs officer chemical = ingredient for explosives and methamphetamine (rolls eyes)... Eventually they did finally release it. I guess the key is to not get greedy and order huge amounts at a time.
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[*] posted on 8-8-2021 at 10:50


Lab stuff from China is usually OK, I ordered several lab items via Aliexpress of Ebay (Chinese sellers). Once I had less luck: a 'platinized Ti anode' for $17 which appeared to be fake. I ordered another one from a USA seller for $70 and that was real.
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[*] posted on 8-8-2021 at 12:16


A lot of stuff is made in china and then sold by american companies.
There is usually some level of quality control on stuff sold by someone in america.
That is generally lacking on alibaba as you are ordering from a supplier and you don't have a nice contract to fall back on.
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[*] posted on 16-8-2021 at 07:47


Most things are made in China now, and that is also the good quality stuff.
Just because its made in China doesn't automatically mean its bad quality.

However, when looking at items from china in ebay and aliexpress most of those items are not grade A items, that why they are at pretty low prices.
It doesnt mean they are totally bad, it could just be a missing label or some measurement that was a bit off.
One can find chinese company websites that sell top quality stuff, but it isnt cheap, same prices as in Europe and US.
And most companys that care about their brand doesnt sell their quality rejects so they end up at ebay or Aliexpress.
Thats how my experience have been, chinese items at ebay or Aliexpress is mostly grade B items.
How many times have the glassware flasks i buy at Deschem have no labels at the neck or a label that is a bit tilted? almost every item.
They work fine anyway, but they are grade B items.
But that doesnt mean all chinese made items are grade B, just that much chinese grade B items end up at ebay or similar sites.
Many top quality brand companys from the whole world make their items in china too.
Maybe chemicals are different, i havent ordered chemicals from china.
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[*] posted on 16-8-2021 at 09:45


Fun story about Alibaba, I was looking to acquire an exotic oxidizer for use in my pyrotechnics formulations. I found a supplier who had good ratings and a great price, so I ordered this oxidizer. After I ordered it, I then began to wonder in what way they were going to ship it to me, as the oxidizer was fairly corrosive and semi-toxic. I received the package with a shipping classification that translated to "Orange Polypropylene Powder"....guess the duty inspectors must of missed that one :D:D
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[*] posted on 16-8-2021 at 10:22


Quote: Originally posted by Monoamine  
I think China is just generally more science friendly. My wife (who's Chinese) tells me that there are shops around most cities that specifically sell lab equipment etc...


What I've heard, everything stronger than carbonic acid solutions are restricted from individuals. Doing any real chemistry is next to impossible because what does not fall under narcotics, it's explosives precursor then and strictly prohibited. But as businesses, they can sell everything for export. Also, universally known fact is that low level street shops do sell all kinds of stuff if you know where to look, what to ask and have got some money.
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