Mobile Technology News & Mobile Fun

Don’t buy iPhone from China!

Have you ever Googled “don’t buy from China”. Well, I must say I haven’t and it still freaks me out.

Once in a while, I am a victim of “impulses buys” and this time I found a chinese webmall that sells anything electronic from tvs to mobile phones, digital cameras and without second thought I ordered an 16Gb iPhone, without knowing if it was a fake or if making online buys with China is secure. The web site is

After the initial order they send you an confirmation email and propose three ways of payment, western union, money gram and bank wire transfer to the Bank of China, PayPal was only for orders of more than 3,000 Euros. My iPhone had a selling value of 280 Euros, not bad for the 16 Gb, 3G latest iPhone. Then they sent me an email with the shipment and insurance cost, 15 Euros + 5 Euros. I’ve decided to do a wire transfer to the Bank of China, but China banks have no IBAN so there is already an extra 14.70 Euros charge from by bank to do the transaction. Here’s their first email:

Dear friend:
> > Thanks your purchase from our company. The follow is your order : *New
> > Unlocked APPLE IPHONE 3G Black 16Gb in SEALED BOX *
> > <>*,order No:
> > 0810233249 *. you need to pay 280EUR for the item, 15EUR for shipping
> > cost ,5EUR for insurance, all of cost you need to pay total:300EUR to
> > have it .
> > In order to congratulate success of 2008 Olympic Games. Our company
> > have a favourable campaign in 7days . if you can buy more 3 items,
> > your shipping will be free.

So 300 Euros it was.

5 days later they sent me an email saying that they’ve send my mobile phone but the chinese customs blocked it and asked them to pay export taxes on it, 50% of 300 Euros (not even on the actual value of the item which was 280 Euros, I guess to round up things…). After sending them an email explaining them that if a customer will have to pay taxes on an item he bought from outside his country of residence it would be import taxes and certainly NOT export taxes. Here is their answer:

“Dear friend ,
> >     thanks for your purchasing, I want to tell you that ,Yesterday I have sent your items on time,but > >today afternoon Chinese CIQ gave me a call to tell me that the item still on CIQ of China now,
> >need to pay the item exports  tax 50% of 300eur =150eur now, before item arrive in CIQ. I don’t > >know how much is customs. when item arrive in CIQ , I can know that how much is it.
> >different item have different  custom.
> >  –  Category I enterprises: batch inspection rate 10-30%;
> >  – Category II enterprises: batch inspection rate 40-70%;
> > – Category III enterprises: batch inspection rate 100%.
> > sometime don’t pay custom fee,but this time, our customshouse checked your package and they > > asked you pay it.
> >    our company cann’t pay,because our item price is so lower. so you need to pay the taxes by
> > yourself,so ,I am very sorry.
> >     if you understand me, you may pay for custom to our company, our company can send it to
> > customshouse. after you payment,you can receive your item in 5days.hope you can understand .
> >       Best regards”
After this I was finally sure that this was a scam and I was really pissed off especially at myself for not having smell it before. And nothing made them understand that they have to pay for their export taxes and not their customers or at least mention it in the final prices. So here’s an other email from them:
>>Dear friend.
>> I am very sorry for this problem, we had sent your items on time, when it arrived in
>>customhouse,  The Chinese customhouse checked your package ,and called us to pay taxes, our price is >>so low,  and don’t include tax, so you need to pay it for your items by yourself.
>>  it is free in customhouse in three days, but over three days , you need to pay storage
>>expenses , it is very expensive, so I hope you pay  it on time.
>>  as a friend, I dare to ensure :after you pay, you must to receive your items in 5days.
>>  Every success in your business; thanks
Now they’ve become my friend and feel really sorry for this unfortunate situation. And since I’ve already paid 300 Euros and I was sure I was going to lose my investment as we had a huge lack of communication, I’ve made the transfer of 150 Euros + 14.70 Euros transfer fee. We are now at 479.40 Euros, not bad huh!

I sent them a confirmation email for my wire transfer and asked them a free bonus gift for compensation. Their answer:

>>Dear friend:
>>  Thanks for your reply, we will send a gift for soon as make sure your taxes ,we can send it to >>customshouse and tell them to send your package immedaitely.
>>   Thanks

So now I am waiting for my post office to notify me about my order and probably also from my customs authorities for any import taxes, even if it was sent as a gift (clever chinese!). Two weeks later and still no iPhone from China. So I sent them a new email asking them about the status of my order. Imagine, I’ve had no news from my new friends from China who felt so sorry for me for 14 DAYS. Here is their answer:

>>Dear friend:
>>     thanks for your reply, but I am sorry, I had received your money, and sent it to customhouse on time, >>but they told me  your package has been kept in CIQ for a long time, the CIQ tell me that you need to pay >>Storage costs and fine total:100eur now., and our items price is so low,  you need to pay for them by >>yourself, this is lastest payment, hope you can pay on time, after you pay,  we can send it to >>customshouse  immediately,  and tell them to send your package on time, so I am sad and very sorry.

For your information CIQ is “China Inspection and Quarantine”, go figure!

It looks like the end of the story for me. I have to know when to stop calling a bluff.

So one piece of advice DON’T BUY FROM CHINA and certainly not from or buy from them if you’d like to talk to a wall and lose your money.

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