Anatomy of a Scam: the tale of the £40 3D printer.

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When i saw this, I thought “£40 for a 3d printer?  Including UPS shipping? This is too good to be true!”

Though thinking about it a bit more, I couldn’t think of any way they could get away with the money.  Aliexpress offers full buyer protection if you buy through alipay, and money is held in escrow.  So I bought a couple to see what the dealio is. If it does arrive and its shit, just the motors would cost more then £40 to buy, and I can definitely reuse them.  I figured going into this paranoid, I might just about be able to figure it out before they run away with my money.

This morning, I got shipping confirmation, with a china post shipping code. “Wow, maybe its not a scam?” I thought. Then I received this message:

hi. friend. Because you choose courier suspended. We send you the goods by China Post Air Parcel. Give you cause delays receive the package, so we give you $ 15 in compensation. You may submit disputes. A partial refund of $ 15 agreement. We give you a refund in a timely manner. Thank you

Ok, yeah, thats a bit odd.  This is the penny dropping.

The way AliExpress works, you can open a dispute on any order for either the full, or part of the purchase price.  If the seller agrees, the refund is paid out to you right away.  But if I open a dispute for the shipping, maybe I lose the ability to open a dispute for the remainder if the item doesn’t arrive? The FAQs were unclear, so I set off to AliExpress customer support:

If I open a dispute for a partial refund (for the shipping), can I then open another dispute later if the item does not arrive

No, if the dispute has been agreed the seller with partial refund, the remaining payment will be release to the seller automatically

With this, I highly suggest to please ask a full refund instead.

So there it is.  Beautiful in its simplicity.  You ask for a dispute for the shipping charges, get your £8 shipping back, and lose the ability to claim back your £32 for the rest the item when it doesnt arrive.  Since I have 40 days of purchase protection remaining, I’m going to hold off claiming a full refund for a couple of weeks, and I’ll update here if I turn out to be wrong and something does arrive!

Update!

Another message is being sent to those of us who have ignored the first message, or replied that the refund is not necessary:

Friends. Goods are in transit. Do not worry. We give you a refund of compensation today. Tomorrow no longer compensate, please submit the dispute in a timely manner, thank you

Ahh, a time limit! Best get the refund quick, otherwise they wont offer it anymore! I’ve received this second message, as have others. I’m guessing it wont be long until aliexpress close their account, so they’ve gotta try and get as much cash out asap.

Update!

Just got an email from aliexpress:

Your order –REDACTED– has been frozen due to suspicious seller activity

We have suspended this seller’s account because we detected unsafe trading activities. All of your pending orders with this seller have been frozen for your security.

We have asked this supplier to provide supporting evidence, such as shipping documents and qualification certificates. If the supplier is unable to provide the evidence or if the evidence is insufficient, we will close the order and process the refund for you within 5 business days (In case of certain circumstance, the processing period may be extended).

We apologize for this inconvenience. At AliExpress we are committed to ensuring you enjoy a safe shopping experience. We will continue striving to improve. Your understanding and cooperation are highly appreciated, if you have any question or suggestion, please click here

Your understanding and cooperation are highly appreciated.

Sincerely,
AliExpress Trade Security Department
2015.10.07 02:24

I’m fairly unsurprised by this, hopefully the refund will be forthcoming fairly quickly.

Update

Your Order No:-REDACTED- has been closed because the supplier did not provide necessary evidence. The payment will be refunded to you within 7-10 working days.

AliExpress strives to continuously improve our trading environment. Thank you for your understanding and continued support.

Sincerely,
AliExpress Trade  Security Department

And its over. This experience has massively reaffirmed my confidence in aliexpress’ customer services and payment systems. Other sales websites should take notice!

16 thoughts on “Anatomy of a Scam: the tale of the £40 3D printer.

  1. Ahh – thats mean. I got the same message… I didn’t open a dispute because I didn’t fully understand what they meant … It still is possible that it’s just a trick to change the shippig method. But yeah, I think its a scam too. Goodby cheap printer … :-(

  2. looks like i have been had ,i ordered 3 of those printers so I’m going to wait 20-30 days and then report them to my bank and get the full refund.

  3. Hi, this is getting a big one, with hundreds of printers sold within a few days, and obviously a few people falling for the 15$… Lucky me, happened to think the same as @lab, so not to act may still be the best way to see if actually anyone will get a printer.

  4. Hi, I have te same problem, “yue shuang
    2015-10-06 09:44:40
    hi. compensation coming to an end. If you need to refund compensation. Please submit the dispute now. After the compensation no longer give you a refund. Thank you
    yue shuang
    2015-10-06 04:33:45
    Friends. Goods are in transit. Do not worry. We give you a refund of compensation today. Tomorrow no longer compensate, please submit the dispute in a timely manner, thank you
    yue shuang
    2015-10-05 09:58:26
    hi. We choose China Post Air Parcel for you to send the parcel parcel may be delayed 30-45 days to arrive. We give you $15 in compensation, please submit the dispute in a timely manner. We now give you a refund compensation. Thank you
    yue shuang
    2015-10-05 06:27:44
    hi. friend. Because you choose courier suspended. We send you the goods by China Post Air Parcel. Give you cause delays receive the package, so we give you $ 15 in compensation. You may submit disputes. A partial refund of $ 15 agreement. We give you a refund in a timely manner. Thank you”
    I will be waiting approximately 34 days, then i open dispute.

  5. Mmm good thing I didn’t get the 15$ refund. I smelt something fishy, but than again it was my first purchase on aliexpress. I’ll do the same wait it out then dispute it if it turn out to be crap. If not I’ll have my cc company take care of it.

  6. Happened just now: AliExpress has ‘frozen’ my order:

    “We have suspended this seller’s account because we detected unsafe trading activities. All of your pending orders with this seller have been frozen for your security.
    We have asked this supplier to provide supporting evidence, such as shipping documents and qualification certificates. If the supplier is unable to provide the evidence or if the evidence is insufficient, we will close the order and process the refund for you within 5 business days (In case of certain circumstance, the processing period may be extended).
    We apologize for this inconvenience. At AliExpress we are committed to ensuring you enjoy a safe shopping experience. We will continue striving to improve. Your understanding and cooperation are highly appreciated, if you have any question or suggestion, please click here
    Your understanding and cooperation are highly appreciated.”

    So, it was a scam, and it’s over now…

  7. @ everyone
    Yoy must file a complaint here: http://report.aliexpress.com/health/report.htm?type=trade
    Add as much photos and evidence as you can.
    If possible, ask for full refund. Or cancel your order.
    The store is suspended and the page is deleted for breaking trade rules: Influenced buyers to confirm receipt of delivery before the product arrived.
    So if you can, act now! There still is a slight chance to get your money back.
    Don’t wait for delivery and then open a dispute. Your package will never arrive.

  8. Just check AllExpress today (10-09-2015), there are a bunch of 3D printers kits for 76-82 USD… most from the same seller. Scam is still going..

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