“Taobao doesn’t have fake products”- Taobao Purchases: Mindful and Pitfalls
In my previous posts, I’ve introduced Taobao (and other online purchases) as an excellent and handy resource for anything under the sun. Yes, online purchase is handy and great experience, you’d be spoilt with choices and the prices are so attractive. Yet there are many things one should mind – how to distinguish fakes, does guaranteed return/refund work, etc. Here’re my take….
- Fakes? – I don’t know how you’d interpret what Jack Ma said in his famous early 2015 speech in Hong Kong that : ‘Taobao doesn’t have fake products, they’re just web products’. When a Product A bears the same brand/logo, looks 99% the same as Product O, performs the same function but made of indiscernibly different materials/components, the maker may be creative but most categorise Product A as fake. All even said that most Taobao items are fakes, I don’t agree but unfortunately for now, I think many are and hence you’d be mindful before you click BUY. While many offer 7 days return/refund, you’d not rely on this in HK as in most cases, you have to pay the courier charges from HK to mainland (which is not cheap), and it’s cumbersome. So, best is to screen out the fakes, here’s my experience for sharing, of course you may not bother unless for highly priced items:-
- Price – if the price is too good to be true, say less than 50% of what’s in HK, it’s likely fake unless it’s second hand.
- Look at the photos – don’t just look for the fancy photos, ignore them if they’re just the official photos of the product (anyone can just copy from the official site), look for the ‘real’ photos taken of the particular product they’re selling (实物照片) with background of a desk/mat/floor. The fact that they’re willing to do this is a show of confidence. Some would even share photos of fake vs real! Use your keen eye to judge the workmanship and quality.
- Read the Feedbacks (for me, no feedback, no buy) – if you see that there are feedbacks saying that they’re fake, then you can forget it.
- Read their descriptions – again, official ad material can be ignored. How they sell that their are real would be interesting, also their claimed source, etc. If they said they got them from Hong Kong (yes, HK is famous for electronic consumer items) and is selling at half of HK’s price, then you know better. 假一赔十, 支持验证 is not a guarantee, but may be better than none. Some even claim “保证和专柜卖的货完全一样，支持专柜验货，如不是正品，可直接退货，来回邮费我们承担”, still you have to run all the checks I recommend due to the trouble involved even if you return the goods and they adhere to their promise.
- Ask them! – via Aliwangwang, not just the straight question of real or fake, but other particulars which may distinguish whether it’s real. So do your homework …
- Homework – go online and search for any info re fake vs real (yes, they are there especially for technical consumer items). In some cases, there are people who had been caught and shared their experience, sometimes, there are even Youtube videos showing fake vs real side by side with commentary!
- Packaging – some offer items at cheaper prices without packaging claiming they got them from the factory, this may be true and a good deal, but again the key is to apply the above to judge.
- Warranty – forget about what’s offered unless you travel a lot to Mainland and can take the items for servicing there. If you don’t return the goods (see above), they obviously would not refund.
Well, having said all these, is it still worth the hassles of buying from online/Taobao? My answer is an affirmative YES. There simply are so many items you can get online that you cannot get from stores locally. E.g. I recently bought a Chromebox from Amazon (will write a post on it) which is not yet available in HK (a couple of shops offer to buy it for me at 72% more than what I paid at Amazon, and with a 4 weeks wait!). There are also thousands of items in Taobao say which are incredibly value for money and serves the function- that you wouldn’t mind at all if it’s fake! So carry on happy online shopping!