3 Hard Lessons Learned from Buying Chinese Phone Cases Online

March 31, 2016

3 Hard Lessons Learned from Buying Chinese Phone Cases Online

What I wish I’d known before buying that awesome looking $7 case online.

I was lying in bed one Saturday night, mulling over everything I had to get done in the coming week and what little money I’d have until Friday. My thoughts shifted into “buy mode.” I needed a new phone case and some sunglasses for spring break—and I didn’t feel like spending very much.

I quickly Googled “cheap luxury phone cases” to see what was out there. I came across some delightfully designed leather wallet phone cases. I decided to buy one since it was only $7, plus shipping. To my amazement I also found some designer-looking sunglasses for less than half their normal cost. The quality looked great in the pictures and the product descriptions were very well articulated.

Full disclosure: Places like Aliexpress and other online marketplaces that sell goods from China are not all bad. However, you must be extremely cautious and understand what you are getting yourself into.

snail shipping

Lesson 1: Shipping from China is glacially paced.

The shipping cost for the items I bought was only $1.50. The ePacket delivery promised two weeks so I figured this was the equivalent to the U.S. postal service’s economy shipping. I was dead wrong. It took four weeks for the items to arrive. I already picked out a different pair of sunglasses as spring break was over by the time I got the ones I ordered. As for my wallet phone case, the nightmare had just begun.

phone case comparison

Lesson 2: Pictures of phone cases from China will often have exaggerated quality.

The leather wallet case I bought was not real leather. Me being nice, would call it synthetic leather. More accurately, it was cheap plastic leatherette. It was also not the color of blue I was expecting. The stitching came apart after a week. My justification for paying $7 was that this was a wholesale item from China, so somehow the quality wouldn’t significantly suffer. While this may be the case with some suppliers, not all of them are forthcoming with the level of quality—even on major retail sites.

Lesson 3: Customer service and refunds are practically non-existent.

customer service checklist

I asked my friends what they thought about my phone case dilemma. They said I should contact the seller—so I did. Receiving a response occurred quicker than I expected, even with the time zone difference, however the seller was very argumentative. Explaining that the case was not real leather didn’t motivate them to refund my money or send a free replacement. Instead I was offered the opportunity for a full refund with one caveat—I would have to ship the item back. I thought “no problem” until I realized it would cost me more than what I had originally paid to ship the wallet case back. Essentially, it wasn’t a refund; I wasted money on a poor quality case. A call to my credit card company to dispute the charge could get my money back, but not my time. Time is too precious to waste; I’m sure many of you can relate.


My takeaway:

Sadly, this happens to many unsuspecting consumers as more people become trusting of online retail. They forget or don’t notice they are buying from overseas sellers. Items like phone cases and sunglasses, in general, are probably still best ordered from U.S. retailers. Quality is rarely hyped in the U.S. and you avoid return-shipping hassles. Overall you gain a higher quality product and it’s shipped quickly! With online retail being more competitive in the U.S., many businesses like Classy Case and Zappos have adopted easy hassle-free returns to keep customers happy.

I hope you enjoyed my blog post and the advice which will hopefully save you a headache one day. Happy shopping online to you all - Stephanie.

-About our guest blogger:

Stephanie is a recent University of Kansas graduate student and blogger hailing from Kansas City. She thinks everyone should laugh at least once a day and believes that elegant women can achieve everything. She enjoys blogging about following passions and celebrating life.



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