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Chinese sellers on Amazon with poor service manipulate search results

By Chris Dawson October 16, 2018 - 9:00 am

The scourge of Chinese sellers on Amazon is starting to dampen the buying experience in some categories, in a similar way to how they have impacted eBay. Chinese sellers tend to offer products at knock down prices, but for customers used to Amazon Prime and next day delivery, discovering that a delivery date can be three weeks away can be a bit of a shock.

Even worse, Chinese Sellers on Amazon are gaming search results by offering express shipments but with a sting in the tail of exorbitant carriage charges. An example is a product offered for “£6.36 & FREE delivery” in search results with a message “Get it as soon as 10 – 12 Oct. when you choose Express Delivery at checkout”. Choose Express Delivery and you’re in for a shock as the charge is £60.00 and free delivery is extremely slow estimated between 15 and 20 days for the item to arrive.

There is a certain amount of xenophobia in the ecommerce world towards Chinese sellers, from merchants who fear their low cost products and ability to undercut prices. We shouldn’t allow that to colour our opinions but, sticking to material facts, the service that they offer is way below expected retail standards for UK consumers and countering their skill in manipulation search results to get their products highly placed is where the marketplaces themselves need to step in.

eBay have already changed their requirements for eBay Premium Service, and now express shipments within two days have to be offered with a cap of a reasonable £10 carriage charge cap to qualify. What eBay haven’t done is enable buyers to search for products shipping relatively fast from the UK and exclude products from China which will either take weeks to arrive or will have exorbitant shipping fees.

Amazon don’t appear to have a carriage cap for express delivery and that’s a hole that are enabling Chinese sellers to offer goods which appear to have fast delivery but in reality they never expect consumers to pay and merely use it as a hook to get clicks on their products.

Amazon have a fantastic reputation for service and convenience and, whilst not all products are Prime Eligible and will arrive within a couple of days, are not known as a venue for slow service. If Chinese sellers flood the market with cheap products but slow or exorbitant shipping prices this could lead to lowering consumer trust and ultimately prove Amazon’s undoing if they don’t take steps to address the problem.

Our view at Tamebay is that there is no room in the ecommerce world for xenophobia and Chinese merchants should be free to trade on Western marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon just as UK merchants sell on German, French, US and Australian marketplaces. However we firmly believe that marketplace should put steps in place to prohibit Chinese sellers from masquerading as local sellers manipulating search results to suck buyers in and then provide either a slow service or an overpriced express service.

Ultimately it is the consumers who will decide and if they get tired of sifting through pages of search results from Chinese sellers on Amazon offering poor service then they’ll simply start shopping elsewhere.

  • Darren
    4 weeks ago

    Amazon is rife with problems at the moment. Some drop shippers have hundreds of fake positive reviews and have all their negative feedback removed each day.

  • Mark
    4 weeks ago

    Yes but eBay want to spend more time bullying UK sellers into offering 30 day returns and dictating shipping times than enforcing anything that will effect their money they get from these Chinese sellers.
    They just want to mimic Amazon and bleed as much out of the UK sellers as possible knowing they can enforce whatever they like. Hopefully the ever growing sales on the new ON BUY platform will start to lure sellers away. Then maybe we can all have a week where we suspend all sales on eBay and make them sit up and take note.

    We all know multi million pound multinational companies can offer all sorts because they buy at such low prices and we all know they look at their balance sheet and dream up new strategies such as 30 day 60 day and maybe in the future 1 year returns.
    But it seems eBay know our balance sheets better than us and feel we can afford it also. We now sell an expensive item on eBay and dare not buy a replacement item to stock until a month has passed because the money is not actually ours after all we may just have loaned the buyer the item for a month. We also cannot afford a 50% refund if its now not fit for resale.

    But it seems eBay think we can all afford it. So come on everyone put items on other platforms and then we can all arrange a switch off eBay day followed by a switch off eBay week.

    • 4 weeks ago

      Thank you for this information, I have now registered with onbuy x

    • ifellow
      3 weeks ago

      I have a return after 18 Months on Amazon, Amazon refunded the buyer and simply charged me to get the product back.

      30 days is nothing compared to what Amazon can force onto sellers.

  • M870
    4 weeks ago

    To be fair to them, I have used chinese sellers quite a few times on both ebay and amazon. I have found their service and products to be good. If you accept the long delivery date and be patient what you get is nearly always just the same as what you would get from a uk seller because they buy it from china wholesale anyway and sell it at a higher price. On the rare times I have had something duff I just get a refund or discount easily because they dont want bad feedback. Where they really excel is in electronic components where they are good quailty and so cheap I dont know how they do it with free or very low postage. If you can wait for them to arrive on the banana boat then there’s no problem.
    The place to absolutely avoid chinese sellers is facebook, there are some proper scammers on there, I got stung once but got a refund by paypal

  • paddy
    4 weeks ago

    I don’t mind Chinese sellers on Ebay or Amazon for that matter but I do object when I want to buy from a UK seller and I can’t because the whole category is flooded with them. Even when you select UK only, you still get dozens of Chinese sellers who are all apparently based in Portsmouth.
    It begginging to really sour the buying experience on Ebay and will do the same on Amazon as well.

  • ME Porter
    4 weeks ago

    “xenophobia in the ecommerce world towards Chinese sellers”
    No I disagree, there is an anger that the UK is subsidizing Chinese sellers through the Post Office . Its under 30p to send something under 100g from China to UK but we are forced to pay Small Packet rates for anything of the same weight if more than 25mm WITHIN the UK so it can cost £2.80 to send something 1 mile down the road.. They have no similar size restriction. This give the Chinese complete market share on cheaper item.
    We just want an even playing field.

  • Toby
    4 weeks ago

    I have to agree. I am feed up with pages and pages of the same item just with a few letters added to the title to outwit the bots….. blue pool net X1R etc! It was bad enough with sellers flooding the listings with items with 1p price difference, or the car parts listing where it is a universal part but the do a new listing for every possible car model!
    It all kills the experience.
    I now tend to click on UK only as my only way to filter out the majority of chinese sellers, which isn’t good for the rest of the world. As for the Chinese pretending to be in the UK…. fat chance of that changing, i report loads of fake location sellers every week… yet not once have i seen one change or be removed. Same goes for private sellers who should be business sellers.
    Makes you wonder if they really care?

    • Rob
      4 weeks ago

      Agree with you regarding the private sellers running a business. If they don’t declare they are a business I very much doubt any of them declare tax on profits.
      Have reported loads to ebay but not one has been changed into a business account. Even thou some have listings with over 100 sales of the same item or over 600 listing selling similar new/new other stock.

      ebay usually mention VAT threshold as their excuse so think it is a waste of time reporting them to ebay. Think we are reporting the accounts to the wrong people and would be better off reporting them to trading standards and HMRC.

  • ME Porter
    4 weeks ago

    Paddy – Technically they are UK sellers because the goods are located in Portsmouth. There is a fulfillment company that has at least 15 user accounts in the Photo accessories category alone.
    However, I take your point about flooded categories. If list something and search to see if others have this item, there might be 250 the same with 50 plus ALL from the same seller. The our advert are completely crowded-out.
    Conversely, if I have 1 single duplicate I will be warned and threatened with closure by eBay within 24 hours.

  • Elisha
    4 weeks ago

    I often get sales because I am based in the UK and provide easy to reach customer services. If something goes wrong with a chinese order it can be to expensive to send it back for a refund. The location should be clearly stated on every listing. I have purchased on Amazon and thought the purchase was coming from the UK and I am a thrid party seller on Amazon, so its easy to be fooled. I don’t mind purchasing from China is I know I am doing so.

  • james
    4 weeks ago

    feel you’re being rather unfair on chinese sellers, i don’t think it’s “Manipulation” to offer a service for what it costs.

    if you buy on any Chinese site (alibaba etc) many of them have a free UK Royal Mail postage option, and then a dozen other options for postage, China gets subsidised Royal Mail, they don’t get subsidised UPS air mail. so the prices are significantly different, but it’s your choice.

    Considering it’s the 16th of August you posted this article, and the delivery date offered is the 10th of August, £60 doesn’t seem unreasonable to travel a week back in time and deliver your item before you order it.

    if you list an item and someone from China wants to buy it, you can provide free (slow) mail delivery, or fast and expensive delivery at £60, what price do you quote the buyer for express delivery?

    Flooding categories, duplicate listing, location mis-representation, fakes and frauds are all completely seperate issues, nothing to do with how much it costs to post things from China.
    neither do i feel it’s “Xenophobic” to notice a definitive pattern involving items from a specific country. it’s not racist to spot things that are actually happening.

    • 4 weeks ago

      I guess the big problem is Amazon itself advertising express delivery with no control of exorbitant delivery charges. This is the exact same reason that eBay capped express delivery at £10 to qualify for eBay Premium Service.

      On Amazon the issue is especially highlighted as Prime users are accustomed to express delivery for free and, whilst willing to pay, are all about convenience and delivery speed but not at sixty quid a throw.

  • Harvey
    4 weeks ago

    You read so often from buyers who get frustrated by having to work through pages of duplicate listings and false UK item location claims. As well as being frustrated with the sellers doing this the market place themselves should be interested in this negative buying experience and do something about it.

    In the past I have pointed out duplicate listings to eBay and nothing happened. The sellers have a work around which is they list on different eBay account id’s and eBay seem ok with that, even thought the company address details on all the listing are the same warehouse in China.

    Ebay should also police by doing searches of listings contents to stop overseas sellers who say they will under declare the item value to avoid import duties for buyers. This then makes UK retailers who have paid the duty look expensive in comparison.

    And the Universal Parcel Union needs to review the status of countries getting large postal subsidiaries, it creates an unfair platform to work within.

  • Alex
    4 weeks ago

    The market place should care that the item location details are correct. If an item had to be returned, the buyer would be very disappointed with a buyers remorse return, to be told to return the goods to an overseas address.

  • Lucy
    4 weeks ago

    We will be charged a penalty from February onwards for SNAD return requests. Because returns are a bad buying experience eBay say.

    Why then don’t ebay punish sellers who mislead on item location addresses?

    Why also do ebay allow duplicate listings using different user ids? Their system could flag up easily that the ids are the same seller.

    I presume it is all about how much money each listing generates.

    We get people writing to us asking questions and then saying, I only asked to see if you replied so that I could judge if your were a UK seller. It is really bad that buyers have to do this kind of thing because ebay don’t care enough to address the issue.

  • 4 weeks ago

    Right said

  • Allen
    4 weeks ago

    One thing that no one seems to mention about Chinese Sellers is Product Liability Insurance. If you buy off someone in the UK who is a registered business and you receive a serious injury from the product or your house burns down as a result of faulty goods they should have valid insurance to cover this. If not you can sue them personally.

    If the same happens with an item bought from a Chinese Seller you have no chance whatsoever of getting any compensation for the injury caused by their faulty product.

    My children often want to buy drones, phone chargers etc from Chinese Sellers because they are cheap but I have to thoroughly check who is the actual seller and it is not often very clear

    • 4 weeks ago

      A very good point. I purchased a water heater on ebay earlier this year. It came from China. Tripped every circuit breaker in the house.

  • 4 weeks ago

    I have moved over to OnBuy as well. In the process of applying listings over the last couple of days when we have the time. Sales already coming in so a fantastic start.

  • 4 weeks ago

    @Tony As well as Onbuy there is new marketplace called Ebuygumm

    With Onbuy do you have to jump through hoops to become a seller there ?

    • 4 weeks ago

      Cannot really say as only joined this week. Normally when we join new platforms we don’t get any sales so pack them in as it’s not worth it. Like I said getting sales already so practically at the end of day two was the first one. On setting up no hoops there and none since, but early days. At the moment it’s very stress free, and they use paypal which is good for us.
      Going to try ETSY again as last time we had nothing. But at the time ETSY was going through a transition so will give it a last chance once we have everything listed on OnBuy

  • Mark
    4 weeks ago

    At lat it seems more people are moving onto On Buy we have found it very good. At first it was a slow old thing with very little sales now we are up to roughly 30% of ebay sales and we only have 20 – 30 % of the products listed that we have on eBay so onwards and upwards.
    No enforced returns or anything. Hopefully enough people moving will make ebay sit up and take note.

  • 4 weeks ago

    Hmm checked out Onbuy fee’s, not much difference than Ebay

    Standard seller £19 p/month with unlimited listings. FVF 5-9% ( most categories are 9%) They also charge 9% on delivery.

    Partner fee is £39 p/month.

    • Mark
      4 weeks ago

      Hi you are right on cost except they are running the whole of 2018 for zero per month. just FVF never known ebay do an offer like that oh sorry the poxy £10 packaging voucher to spend at their hyper expensive company.
      But we currently pay nearly £70 per month for our eBay shop so £19 when it kicks in again next year is a good £50 saving. But being left alone to run my own business would be worth even the same fees.
      I am allowed to be a retailer and not a lending library only needing to offer the legal 14 days return policy for unwanted items not the 30 days ebay are enforcing.
      I do not get told i must offer free shipping.
      I do not get told my items have arrived late have a penalty.
      I do not get them jump in and allow returns when the customer is clearly taking the mickey.
      I do not have a least 5 messages per day asking silly questions which i also do not get on amazon.
      Just had one now “what size is the net?” answer i should have said was “read the description that we took time to write”

      So stress free and simple plus £50 per month cheaper for a shop.

  • 4 weeks ago

    We signed up a while ago and after you pay your first month you get 12 months free not sure if that’s still ongoing though . Also with the shipping commission I don’t see what the issue is? It works out the same commission if we incorporate the shipping in with the price of the product or if we have it separate. We are selling well at the moment, not Amazon scale but it means all our products are through google which is all free.

  • Terry
    4 weeks ago

    I would rather like to try OnBuy but without a proper integration of inventory with Shopify, its not something I can proceed with unfortunately.

    All in good time perhaps.

  • Darren
    4 weeks ago

    OnBuy does not have an integration with Magento so it is no good for us right now.

  • Harvey
    4 weeks ago

    An interesting tweet from vatfraud today, it sheds a whole new light on eBay and their interest in overseas sellers selling into the UK.

    Huge amounts of VAT Fraud coming out of Winit Fulfilment Warehouse in Leicester. Does
    @HMRCgovuk
    care? Will they raid the place
    @MelJStride
    or is that too much to ask? (link:
    https://t.co/Ks2WlbFPkM?amp=1)

  • Tom
    2 weeks ago

    Does anyone know if Amazon.com have updated the site to show the standard delivery lead time in the first instance and only show the expedited when the customer is at check out?

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