Buyer beware on AliExpress


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  1. #1
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    Default Buyer beware on AliExpress

    Got some very good deals recently, some others, not so good.

    Now when you're a hobbyist, it's not a big deal to put a dab of adhesive on a shaft, but if my project does go into production, average of 50% failure rate on these knobs is not going to be funny.



    And then there's the packaging failures; rotary encoders and potentiometers in a plastic bag, wrapped with a paper envelope with a coating of tiny air bubbles; something like 90% of those air bubbles are busted. Most of the pins on the rotary encoders are bent, they're weaker. You can actually see on PC the hundreds of puncture marks in the plastic bags made by the pins.





    The pins on the potentiometers aren't that badly damaged, but will still need alignment to some degree.



    They only reason I buy these parts from them is because Digikey, Mouser and Newark sell them 5-10 times the price. There is the occasional success stories, like that set of 30mm knobs and the set of 10mm knobs (perfect for rotary encoders); so far those are all perfect.

    I'm just hoping my orders of 7-segment LEDs arrive in better shape. The last time I bought some, they were pinned on styrofoam; perfect condition considering this was eBay 15 years ago.

    Robert

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Buyer beware on AliExpress

    The fun starts when you order CMOS CD4000 series chip and they are sent on a piece of expanded polystyrene! Absolute ESD protection!

    Ioannis

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Buyer beware on AliExpress

    Quote Originally Posted by Ioannis View Post
    The fun starts when you order CMOS CD4000 series chip and they are sent on a piece of expanded polystyrene! Absolute ESD protection!

    Ioannis

    I never really thought of the static properties of styrofoam, but yeah, once broken into tiny fragments, those suckers will stick to everything, but they do make great protectors for pins.

    My LED orders in on this pink or white foam, rubbed it against my hair and doesn't seem to build a charge.

    My rotary encoder order arrived in molded clear plastic trays; 2 encoders head-to-head in each slot. It seems to make a really good transport system , none of the pins got bent. And once here, I can cut with scissors between the slots to a size that fits in my storage bins.

    Received an order of toggle switches yesterday; 5 per tiny plastic ziploc bag placed flat side-by-side in opposing manner. Then 6 ziplocs in a larger ziploc bag; it made for a flat configuration, very little movement between switches. The 3 large ziplocs were sandwiched between multiple rows of tough bubble wrap in a cardboard box. You could probably drop that from the top of my house without damaging the switches.

    And then there's the economical potentiometers in plastic bags with a decent foam protection all around the box; no damage at all. They were better protected than that more expensive variety that I received in a ziploc held in a paper envelope with tiny bubbles; except all bubbles were burst.

    Overall, the shipments from Alibaba (manufacturers) tend to be much more professional than AliExpress (wholesalers, distributors and liquidators). Buying from Alibaba is more tedious and slow, but the quality and specifications are top notch. Buying from AliExpress is often very good, but you don't have a wide selection. I see a lot of repetition in product selection; like rotary switches in DIP configuration are all on their side. I can't find the same switch, but in a vertical config. I'm forced to use larger round rotary switches that can't be used directly on breadboards.

    And then there's communication; oooh boy. I understand that both sites probably use translation in their messaging, but there are times when I wonder what mental state the salesrep is in. You clearly identify certain characteristics in a Request For Quotation, you specify you DO NOT want a certain thing, and roughy 50% offer you that very thing right off the bat.

    And then there's the pressure; they really want to make that sale and will hound you for an immediate response or commitment. I just keep saying I'm waiting for replies and quotations from other suppliers. Or, they insist for your email; again, I just say I give my email to the supplier I select for the order.

    Most prices will vary around a certain average; like this rocker switch I'm shopping, about $0.70USD each for a minimum of 500. There's this one guy out in left field with $2.60 with
    MOQ of 1000, who eventually came down to his rock bottom $2.00 for his "internationally accredited" rocker switch.

    And there's this other lady at $0.25; her Minimum Order Quantity was 2000, but agreed to lower it to 1000 for this first order (essentially I'm buying for a first production run of 30 units - I need 210 gray and 60 red rockers). Most suppliers offer only black, but she offers practically any colour (black and white are her standard colours), I just pay a reasonable fee (I assume to cover time and energy of gooing up their plastic injection machine with a different colour plastic beads).

    I'm most likely going to go with that lady even if it's more than I need for this first batch. The price per unit is 3 times lower than nearly everyone else, but it'll be more practical and economical in the long run; I will need different colours on future instrument panels (I know Boeing has white switches, and she supplies those as a stock colour).

    Robert

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    Default Re: Buyer beware on AliExpress

    I hope they are of decent quality and long lasting.

    The price difference is such that you cannot ignore.

    Ioannis

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    Default Re: Buyer beware on AliExpress

    Quote Originally Posted by Ioannis View Post
    I hope they are of decent quality and long lasting.

    The price difference is such that you cannot ignore.

    Ioannis
    All the suppliers on Alibaba seem to have the same model. The only major differences are price and rocker colour. Some do offer different casing colour, but I couldn't care less.

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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Buyer beware on AliExpress

    I just realized something. Look at the gray switch, the pins just stick out, there aren't any corners on the case to keep it perfectly upright. If it wasn't for the support bracket, the switch would be unsteady in a PCB.


    I have toggle switches that don't have 4 corners on the underside. I could ask my rocker lady if she can also include an extra batch of those brackets. The toggle switches have threads, I might be able to screw them on for extra stability, and strength.
    My Creality Ender 3 S1 Plus is a giant paperweight that can't even be used as a boat anchor, cause I'd be fined for polluting our waterways with electronic devices.

    Not as dumb as yesterday, but stupider than tomorrow!

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