Experiences with Chinese Box sellers

I think there is some, suspicion about buying from Chinese sellers. So, I thought people could post comments on some of these sellers, be it positive or negative.

Ali Express. I have bought a few small items, one didn’t arrive, I opened a dispute, & was refunded the money.

Gearbest. I purchased a “surprise xmas package” it basically consisted of a Android TV box. I wasn’t happy, it was old, Android 6. I suppose it was my own fault. To my surprise, I contacted them, & I was told to keep the box, & they refunded my money.
I also bought a Mecool M8S Plus. After a few days, the wifi stopped working in Android, luckily I was within the 45 day? return period. They refunded the money & told me to keep the box.

Perhaps I have been lucky, but my experience so far has been good. Note, I use Paypal, for an extra layer of protection.

I bought from Gearbest without problems.

Previously I had two problems - both with IP Cams - both of which were sorted to my satisfaction.
One was a full refund for supplying an incorrectly specified cam. They refunded me and told me to keep the incorrect cam.
The second was slight damage to a cam for which I got a partial refund.
I bought less from Aliexpress but never had a problem with the devices so have no experience of attempting a return.

Having read many a complaint over the years, including the responses given by supplier representatives, if all goes well, then the experience can be good.

If something goes wrong requiring after sales support, there is a tendency for them to try and fob you off, give you incorrect or misleading information, pretend not to understand English as well as they should or make a quite ridiculous offer of compensation.

If ordering direct from China or similar territories, always factor in the import charges that your country may levy, as you cannot ever guarantee avoiding them and if using express air mail using a popular carrier such as DHL, then you can count on import charges (and in some cases an extra carrier levied charge).

Always use a payment method that can give you independent protection, such as Paypal.

These days you may also find a local stockist on fleabay, where large quantities drop shipped to your country can be sourced where import charges will have already been paid and where the cost might not be much more then ordering direct from Asia.

Also, as we have seen with the Hardkernel N2 warranty, check that your supplier offers a decent one, in line with your own nations policies.

Having said that, the returns process for sending things back to China can be a pain, as some vendors will not accept express deliveries, so you have to use snail mail that may give you less protection.

Always remember that China’s (and others) trading terms are unlikely to be same as your countries and your rights may well be close to zero, which is another reason to have independent payment protection.

Ignore ALL reviews on a Chinese vendors site as they often only publish 4 and 5 star reviews, most of which are likely to be false anyway, so take purchase advice from users and respected review sites.

Of the dozens of devices and boxes that I have received over the years, the majority have worked correctly out of the box (save for crappy firmware etc) and have lasted well.

Places like Gearbest and Geekbuying do seem to me to be rather more reliable than Aliexpress, where trading can be more like the wild west.

Regarding customs duties, some retailers (I have used Gearbest and Banggood) offer a shipping option called EU Direct Line shipping. This avoids additional custom/VAT charges upon import into the EU (not sure similar opion exists for US or other countries). The products are shipped from China and shipping times are the usual 20-25 days.

Gearbest and Banggood also ship some of their products from EU-based Warehouses. Prices are higher vs shipment from China. The benefit is faster delivery and sometimes lower shipping costs.

I was unable to purchase from Spain or France (the last two I recall) because the seller would not send to Ireland.
Very strange if everything is legit.

which seller?

I’m in the uk, I can only ever order from China, European options not available.

from this store I see that it can be sent to Ireland, Shipping: US $ 6.32

Neither France nor Spain provide a UK style 3 pin plug on the PSU, but China does.
Rather strange is it not? … at least until the UK leaves the EU finally.

So cheaper price with the correct PSU from China … if one can wait for the long delivery time.

Does the UK not pay you a customs duty if you buy from Asia? We pay 19% on any product more expensive than 10euro. And in this case it would have been more expensive than it cost me from France with home delivery.
Yes, it is strange that they do not have a power supply for the UK.

So far, touch wood, I have not had to pay any customs duty.

The limit in Ireland is €100. Before vat and customs fall due. None of these cheap boxes should be paying customs.
Something like the VIMS and odroids will be subject to customs.



Goods imported from outside the EU with a value over €22.00, for VAT purposes, and €150.00, for import duty purposes, are subject to Customs charges.

Import duty is calculated on the customs value of a consignment. The customs value is the cost of goods plus postage, packaging and insurance. VAT is calculated on the customs value plus any import duty amount.
For further information visit www.revenue.ie

So anything with a value above €22 is subject to VAT, although in my experience I was never ‘caught’ for anything less than about €50 value.
The value for VAT purposes includes any duties payable (on items over €150).

Here is an example of a charge:

Total Value of Goods - €53.36
Customs Duty - €0.00
VAT @ 23% - €12.27
An Post Fee - €10.00
Total for Collection - €22.27
So the total cost of that package was €75.63

This makes ordering from China more attractive, as items can be separated to keep the value of each payment below the €22 ‘trigger’ value, without incurring large carriage charges per item. If say three items in the above delivery were sent separately, then there would be no VAT charge at all.

Does this have anything to do with Brexit?

No, first time I ordered from Gearbest was before the government decided to hold a referendum.

Maybe it’s safer to separate them out but I don’t think a seller has ever put the true value on any of my packages. They want you to avoid paying extra charges too. I ordered two boxes together a few months ago for about €65 and the seller even messaged me to say they will put the value as $26 so I didn’t have to pay any taxes.

A dangerous tactic since it is now Irish state policy to impound under declared goods.


I wasn’t aware of that, thanks for the info. Maybe that’s why they put the value as $26. In the past, I’ve had packages valued at $0.01 lol.

If the customs here ‘pull’ the packet they will want to see the payment details and not just the declared value or even the invoiced value.

I too have had some packages marked with a value lower than what I paid, but as I am not responsible for that, and that value might even be true cost to sender, it is meaningless.

They will still impound it even if you had nothing to do with the under declaration.Not such a big deal on small items (where they are less likely to kick off anyway) but if you were getting a €500.00 item it might be well for you to tell the seller to be honest.


I recently purchase an x96 Air, Amlogics S905X3 4G/32G box from Geekbuying, I received yet yesterday and I am in the UK, I had it shipped from their “Europe” warehouse, which is actually based in Poland, they do have Spain, Germany, Italy and of course China, not sure why their Poland one is labeled Europe, but was the cheapest location.

Now they sent it with a european power plug, no use to me, on questions about device, they had said they’d provide a UK one, however, their wording could have meant they’d just send a travel adapter, which they did send but of course this is also european plug, so unless I was taking a UK device to europe then it’s useless to me.

I contacted them stating the issue and they replied with the usual wanting details of the issue with pictures and/or video, since apparently clearly stating the problem wasn’t enough, seems Gearbest, aliexpress and others use the same blanket reply to waste time even though it’s clear and simple what the issue is.

So with my experience so far, very unimpressed.