I’ve bought many items from AliExpress over the years and in time their consumer portal has gotten better. Previously there was no recourse to ever return an item that turned out to be defective or didn’t measure up to expectations, mainly because of the high return shipping costs. AliExpress would coordinate with the seller and if you could prove without a doubt that an item was defective (e.g. uploading a detailed video), you could get either a partial refund or full refund.
Some listings on AliExpress now feature a free return option. When you submit an issue, you can request to return the item “if approved.” AliExpress then generates a return label.
Well, I had a problem with an item that has what I deem a design flaw. And it’s not documented in the product page. That would be for an electronic item, and the user interface. If the page was adequately documented, I would have seen the limitation and not bought the item. Anyway, I started a return process. They actually required that a video be provided. So, I provided it. This was tricky, as recording a video on my phone results in a huge file (100Mb) and it’s something I can’t easily upload. I had to do a direct upload to YouTube. Once there, I could download it in a compressed format. That was now able to be uploaded.
The seller suddenly stepped in with a message to me. “Sorry to hear you don’t like the item my friend. Can you please give it as a gift to someone?” So… now you see, they’re trying to back out of honoring their stated return option. I declined. At that point, AliExpress continued processing and then issued me a return label. The address is for some kind of consolidation warehouse located in my own state, surprisingly. However, the label was generated incorrectly. Whoever entered the information in the database made an error of copying the entire address in the “Address 1” field. The other fields were correct, but when generated, the label looks like a mess. USPS would not accept this. So I had to contact AliExpress to get this corrected.
Meanwhile, the seller once again tried to stop me from returning the item. They opened up a dispute case, where I would select an option for a refund of $4 USD. The item was $20 USD. Once again, I declined. But in the interface, I am forced to provide images or videos. I just took a screenshot of the product page with the mouse-over of the “free returns” hotlink, showing “Not satisfied with your order? Send it back within 15 days after receipt.” And I reiterated my need for return on the product not measuring up to requirements, partly due to the product page not identifying the limitation.
I’m expecting to get a new return label from AliExpress by the next business day. But as you can see, trying to return something ends up with “haggling” from a seller, resistant to following through with their promises. And this weird address label problem… causes me to question if this was deliberate; if I had gone to USPS and faced the rejection, would that frustrate me into taking a refund? I wonder if this is what was hoped for from either AliExpress or the seller. Anyway, I’ll follow-up with the end result later on.