Once I was a regular customer buying through DHgate.com since 2014. I have purchased numerous Feng shui statutes and Chinese cloisonné vases. I never received the wrong merchandise. No items arrived damaged or unreasonably late. The items I received were as described by the merchant. Sometimes there were minor and understandable differences in the color pictured on the internet and the actual color, but nothing I would make an issue about. The quality was often better than expected, especially for the purchase price. I rated merchants highly. I had no cause to contact customer service. My purchases had earned me a DHgate V4 “loyalty level” score. I had even opened a free DHpay account which gave me the option to pay by bank transfer or Western Union. I recommended DHgate to friends. I could not understand how anyone would say anything negative about DHgate.
My streak of luck ran out when I ordered a digital camera through DHgate.com to use during a family reunion. The digital camera had the features I wanted. The price was very good. The shipment would arrive two months before the event. The merchant had a 100% review rating. I had trust in DHgate and reasoned that I was one of their valued customers. I paid by credit card. So easy. What was there not to like?
As it turned out, everything.
For the first time, I could not track the shipment because (I discovered after receipt) I had been sent the wrong tracking numbers. (The merchant would later claim the shipment was held up in customs.) Finally, the shipment arrived 23 days after the latest advertised arrival date. On inspection, it was shipped from China after the latest advertised arrival date. No sweat, I still had a month before the family reunion.
The package was delivered where I worked, but my work had sent me out of state. Several days later, I returned to my desk and opened the package. It was not the camera I ordered! There must be some reasonable explanation. I messaged the merchant. After two days and no response from the merchant, I decided it was time to contact DHgate customer service. My DHgate “loyalty” level “V4” promised faster and personalized customer service.
I was introduced to DHgate’s mechanized chatterbox, Tang Tang. Frustrated, I clicked live chat. I chatted with a very polite customer service rep. I gave my name and order number and explained what happened. The customer service rep was so shocked this could happen but said I would need to talk to a supervisor.
There was no further typing, no supervisor and finally chat ended. So much for being a valued customer. I really had no idea what to do next.
I assumed all I had to do was return the package to the merchant and the merchant would send the camera I had ordered. I was wrong.
I started searching the internet for DHgate reviews. I gained some comfort and faith in the positive reviews I found. But then I found some negative reviews, and one reported exactly the same events as I had experienced myself. This could not be a coincidence. The reviewer advised that I call my credit card bank right away.
I called my credit card bank. I was too late. Payment had been processed the day my package arrived. I filed to dispute the charge and believed that would take care of it. I was wrong again.
I went to my DHgate message board and saw my camera had been delivered and the merchant paid. I sent a second message to the merchant explaining that I had been shipped the wrong camera and needed to return it and I needed the merchant to ship me the right camera without delay. I also sent a message to DHgate explaining, again, my predicament.
I now believe reviewers who warn not to purchase jewelry or clothes, or anything electronic, with moving parts, with a motor from a DHgate merchant because the buyer cannot discern its quality, workmanship, functionality or suitability until the merchandise is delivered. In my case, notice of delivery triggered payment to the merchant.
Any illusion that DHgate was like the “big E” internet auction site or the “big A” internet retailer evaporated when I realized they are an advocate of their merchants, not their buyers. The next day I checked my message box. I had a nice message from a customer service rep who sent a rather detailed set of instructions how to submit a “Return and Refund” proposal … that’s correct … proposal to the merchant and an explanation of DHgate’s timeframe: seven days for the merchant to accept or decline my proposal and, if necessary, to request DHgate mediation. They had 90 days to accept or decline! That’s stacking the deck against the customer, to me.
As my family reunion grew close I decided I would have to use the camera that the DHgate merchant had sent. There were no batteries, no warranty, and no instructions! I took the camera to several stores before someone could read the Chinese and install what was required. But to my shock and dismay, the camera did not work. Months later a camera technician discovered one of the boards had a manufacturing defect. The camera was so “off brand” that replacement parts were not, and probably never had been, available.
Anyway, I purchased a brand name digital camera before the family reunion, the pictures are treasured memories.
My credit card bank reported that DHgate had proof that I had received the merchandise ordered. I sent the bank photographic proof that I had been shipped the wrong item and, later, receipts the camera sent did not work. The credit card bank kept the disputed charge open. I shudder to realize that I would have not had anyone to advocate for me if I had made payment through my DHpay account. Now I clearly see that paying through a DHpay account authorizes the same bank wire and Western Union payments that internet scammers demand. I am confident that DHgate is not a “scammer”, but I have no doubt that DHgate supports their merchants whether they are honest or dishonest.
The merchant never replied to any of my messages. DHgate policy does not require a merchant to reply.
Requests to the merchant for refund and permission to return the wrong merchandise went unacknowledged. I have learned the primary purpose of DHgate customer service is to protect the public image of DHgate. I was so foolish to believe the hype that my DHgate V4 loyalty level membership meant improved customer service and expedited handling of a member’s issue with merchandise or a merchant because loyalty membership is mostly about sales promotions. Requests for DHgate customer service help only resulted in polite messages to stay in communication with the merchant, go chat with Tang Tang, continue to renew the “Return and Refund” proposal, review DHgate policies, understand DHgate mediation system generated timeframe, and keep checking the message board regularly. Now I realize these were just distractions because customer service is not empowered to do anything for the customer except send repetitive messages.
The system policy, not customer service, controls the “Return and Refund” outcome. Two examples:
If item is not received and fault lies with the seller - DHgate Resolution Center will decide to give a full refund to buyer.
If a received item differs from the item listing's photos with regards to color, appearance, style—including model and/or material type, the Customer must provide clear proof, such as by photo or video, to DHgate’s Resolution Center who will then determine if a refund will be issued. If a return and refund request is opened, options available to the customer would be partial refund or merchant credit. (And here’s another potential opportunity to scam) If the item is returned, buyer will pay for the return shipping cost first and the seller will be responsible for reimbursement.
I could have saved myself a lot of time and effort if I had realized sooner that it is not that DHgate customer service refused to help me, the system policy is set up so customer service CAN NOT help me, or any buyer. All customer service messages to “facilitate assistance” contained steps on how to conform to their inflexible system protocol to submit a “Refund and Return” proposal, personally contact the merchant to reach agreement, or request DHgate mediation.
Then the mean-spirited antics began. Recent messages were deleted from my DHgate message box (they usually are available for a year). Fortunately, I had copied and pasted DHgate messages into a document. Links I needed to reply to DHgate messages were removed, DHgate could message me, I could not respond. I received emails to falsely notice that the merchant had replied to my message. Four times I received an “Access Denied” notice when I tried to open my message box or send a message. Twice my requests for customer service help received threats to suspend my DHgate account (which would have ended the “mediation”). By now DHgate’s dirty tricks only strengthened by resolve to obtain justice. But someone crossed the line when a fraudulent DHgate charge appeared on my credit card. That got nipped in the bud, but I had to get a new credit card. I hate to write this, but I can no longer trust DHgate with my credit card number. If DHgate is that dishonest, then they would, as some reviewers claim, reward their employees to post hundreds of positive reviews on scam alert websites.
Understandably, DHgate mediation asked for video proof the camera the merchant sent was not the one I ordered and did not work. I took the camera to a photo shop owner who I videoed explaining, in colorful language, everything she found wrong with the merchant’s camera. Then, unreasonably, DHgate mediation asked for proof that I had “adequate communication” between myself, the merchant, and DHgate customer service (that had been removed from my message box.) I like to imagine their surprise when I sent them my document containing all my messages and DHgate customer service responses. I think their second request says a lot about the corporate ethics of DHgate.
73 days after I received the package containing the wrong camera, DHgate messaged that they had decided through mediation that I would not receive a refund. Instead I was awarded a credit from the merchant to use on my next purchase from that merchant and I did not have to return the wrong camera that will never work. Within two weeks, the merchant could not be found on DHgate. I believe the merchant, whose address turned out to be an apartment complex and is probably a family working out of their home like on auction sites, just changed their business name and continues to sell the worthless camera through DHgate’s web site.
Afterwards DHgate emailed, “In order to improve the shopping experience on DHgate, you may take one or two minutes to review the seller’s service. Please be assured that your responses will be kept strictly confidential. Thank you for your participation. Yours sincerely, DHgate Resolution Center.” When I clicked the review the seller’s service link I received this message: “You are temporarily unable to evaluate the dispute!”
Because I had been offered a credit from the merchant, my credit card bank could not continue to dispute the charges in my favor. The case had been resolved and my account was charged. I closed my DHgate account which only resulted in a barrage of emails and advertisements from DHgate that I was forced to block, then change email address.
I feel so betrayed and deceived by DHgate. They did nothing to help me and in the end DHgate and the dishonest merchant took my cash in exchange for junk too ugly to be a paperweight. The one thing I need to do is tell others my story so they won’t make the mistake I made.
Product or Service Mentioned: Camera.
Reason of review: Return, Exchange or Cancellation Policy.
Monetary Loss: $143.