If you are a foreigner living in China for longer time you face several problems when shopping. If you want to buy online at Taobao you have to deal with the language problem, contect sellers and ask for any conditions, warranty (at least kind of), make sure what you want to order is not a fake or knock-off, and of course shipping times – you can be sure never a good from a seller located in Shanghai with the status “in stock” really means they have it in Shanghai already.

There are also other reason which make you sooner or later abstain from Taobao and focus on international online shopping in China:

  • Adidas does not offer sneakers in an adequate size for your westerner’s feet
  • The electronics you want to buy is not available on the Chinese market (e.g. Anki Cozmo, Sabrent ds-4ssd)
  • you want to buy something which does not need help from a Chinese – maybe a gift for your wife or something which needs some more privacy

In the past www.amazon.cn was on option, but now it turned out to by so extremly over-regulated that Amazon.cn is completely dead for foreigners in China.

If you want to order something from a foreign Country and let it ship into China you have to give it an address. If the receiver is a Chinese or not doesn’t matter for the customs a Chinese ID-Card number is required. So as a foreigner in China you have to bother a Chinese and make him/her responsible for the customs anyway. But even if you do so or you want to send a gift to your Chinese friend you will face the following problem:

You order, choose your Chinese friend or relative with Chinese ID-Card number a shipping address, and eventually you pay with your bank account or WeChat pay. Hurray! Every day you get updates and your goods are tracked and finally arrive at the Chinese customs –  until the big WTF-Moment. Amazon writes you that your goods are returened with the reason “can’t be delivered”. Well, through the disappointment the one and only question of every foreigner in China make its way to break though: Why?

Why first send out, transport by air, then return?

Again, you bother some Chinese to let Amazon call him/her (an option which is very very hidden in the returns options because Amazon gives a sh*t to inform you proactively with understandable reasons about a failed delivery). The reason is that the customs want that the payment channel used to pay some goods imported to China needs to be traceable down to the single Chinese person, who gave the ID-Crad number as the responsible person. So the goods needed to be payed with his/her bank account OR at WeChat-Pay the payment must be connected with that ID-Card.

This makes it of course unusable to send the stuff as a gift. I also see not the slightliest reason why they don’t check that in advance instead of shipping good through half of the world only to return them.

I say it as it is: Amazon.cn SUCKS!

… and never expect that you can contact Amazon directly or that they have a customer service which deserves that name. I guess if they had then at least 10% of China’s inhabitants were needed to work for amazon to explain disappointed customers why their orders fail. The other way round it makes by far more sense for Amazon to make money by let Chinese sellers sell every F**K on their platform to other countries.