Have you ever ordered something from Amazon, then waited weeks for it to arrive? This was probably because it came directly from a supplier in the Far East, i.e. China, Hong Kong or Taiwan.
Given that Christmas is coming, and we’re currently in lockdown (again), it’s likely that many of you will buy your Christmas shopping online. Amazon will be a popular choice given its apparent ease and speed of delivery. But you will want to be sure that your items will arrive before Christmas!
It isn’t always obvious where the supplier is based, or how long it will take for an item to arrive. But Amazon does contain the information; you just have to know where to look for it. There are obvious clues, and subtle clues. We’ll show you how to work it out.
So before you place your order, and help Jeff Bezos pay for his next yacht, consider the following:
Is the item available with Prime delivery?
Yes: the item is most likely in the UK and will probably be fulfilled by Amazon.
No: the item may not by in the UK. To find out, you should check the estimated delivery time and cost.
The image below shows the price and cost of delivery in yellow on the middle, and the estimated time for delivery on the right. Both of these things are a total red flag.
1. The delivery cost is higher than the cost of the item.
2. The ‘Fastest delivery’ is a week away.
3. The ‘Arrives’ date range is at the end of the month (probably more accurate).
Click the blue ‘Details’ link to go to the Supplier’s page. This should provide the Supplier’s business address and delivery policy, like this:
As you can see, the Supplier is clearly based in China.
Checking the ‘Delivery Rates’ section, there are no actual rates given. You have to add the product to your basket before seeing those.
Here’s what happened when I added the product to my basket:
You can see two delivery options highlighted in yellow. One is ‘Express Delivery’ at £40.79, and the other is ‘Standard Delivery’ at £14.98
So you can get the product within 5 days IF you’re prepared to pay over 3 times the cost of the dress! At that price, it must be coming by AirMail.
Would you really pay £40 delivery for a £12 dress?
More subtle clues to location
There are more subtle clues to the supplier’s location, even before you get to the point of viewing the item.
Many of the Far Eastern suppliers advertise their products on Amazon using Western-sounding, nonsense-word names. For example: ‘Moent’, ‘R. Vivimos’, ‘Comeon’ and ‘Metme’. The Amazon platform is absolutely full of them.
Take a look at this sample of ‘Sponsored listings’ when searching for ‘black sparkly dress’:
Of the 8 listings, 3 are available on Prime Delivery (UK-based suppliers or order fulfilled by Amazon). They’re probably safe to buy.
These companies’ products will be sent from China and will probably take 6 weeks to arrive.
Chinese suppliers, fulfilled by Amazon in the UK:
These companies’ products are fulfilled by Amazon and are available on Prime. But you don’t see that until you actually view the product.
- ‘Belle Poque’
- ‘Roman Originals’
6 of the 8 listings are Chinese companies. As you can see, they absolutely flood Amazon.
Read the product description
These are often badly-written, containing multiple spelling errors, odd grammar and phrasing. Paragraphs are often badly-constructed with little or no punctuation.
These are symptoms of machine-translation from Chinese, or written by someone who does not have English as their first language (but not always the case!).
Check the Reviews
Reviews can often tell you a lot about an item. For example, they often mention “delivery took much longer than expected” or “Absolutely disgraceful delivery took about 6 weeks or more to come.”
Then you often get comments about the quality of the item “It was not as nice as it appeared on the photos” or “It felt cheap and tacky, and looked like it had been cut with scissors.” Photos are often altered to make the items look better!
Check the returns policy
These are often non-existent, or meaningless. If a £12 product has taken 6 weeks to arrive from China, and it doesn’t fit, you’re unlikely to be able to send it back or get a refund. It’s hard even to get a response from these suppliers. Most people don’t even bother trying.
It is becoming extremely difficult to tell which suppliers are based in the UK, and which are in Far Eastern countries, however with a little detective work, you can save yourself a lot of time and money in sending for second-rate cheaply-produced products.
Don’t get caught out this year!