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What Should I Ask a Taobao Seller?

Before you buy any product. It is good practice to contact the seller and ask a few questions. When you do, you might also uncover other issues that you had not originally considered. You can also try and see if the Seller can chat in English. Many do.

The First Question

 …is always: “Is the product in stock?”
有现货吗Do you have the goods?
You will be surprised how many sellers listing certain products do not have that product in stock. (Listing products on Taobao is free, so there is little incentive to take products down when they run out.)  You can always get your money back, but it’s a little bit of hassle and delay that you can avoid.
Once I ordered a digital camera on Taobao, and waited eagerly by the door for it to arrive. But after several days, it still hadn’t shown up. I asked the seller what was up. The seller revealed that he was out of stock. So I found another seller who had posted the same product, but this time I asked him if he had the camera in stock first.  He didn’t.  Over and over, it seemed to be out of stock.  Finally, the fourth Taobao seller had the camera, and turned out to be a great help.

Ugh… Pink?!

Another important question is: is it exactly the same as the photo? If the photo shows a black water bottle, you might not even think of the possibility of receiving a pale pink model. And the Seller might not consider why you might be particular about the color.
我收到的产品会不会和照片一模一样? Will the one you send be the same as the photo?
颜色跟照片一样?  Will the color be the same?

The Warranty

For electronics and some other products, the warranty may be of particular importance. Ask the Seller what warranty protection is offered, and for how long.  
有没有保修服务? Do you have a warranty policy?

Anything Else?

Finally, here is the catch-all to bring up other issues that you might not have considered. 
还有什么要先确认吗? Is there anything else we need to confirm first?
Well, that should get you started for most types of transactions.  Are there other questions that you ask Taobao Sellers?


  • aloha said:

    -How long will it takes to arrive ?
    -is the product genuine ?

  • Alec said:

    Thanks for this advice. Usually I don’t ask anything beforehand and then have to deal with the sellers’ phonecalls the next day which are a hassle when I don’t understand Chinese that well or have bought a lot of things and don’t remember what.

  • The Field Guide (author) said:

    Yes – I usually do the same thing counter to my own advice.

    But the more urgent / expensive / important the purchase is, the more necessary it is to contact them first.

    Keep it real, Alec!~

  • Alex said:

    How to tell

    what size is available of this item now ?

  • aloha said:

    How about a small section with key sentences written in Chinese so we can just copy/paste when chatting online with the seller ?

  • Donita said:

    Nowadays chatting board don’t be looked at my computer. How to solve this problem? Is there anybody who had faced such a problem?

  • Natalia said:

    Cannot create an account on TAOBAO or TradeManager for TAOBAO. It asks me for a PHONE NUMBER where they will send a verification code to OPEN the account!

  • tart said:

    Since I like browsing the different clothes there, I would like to know how to ask a seller if it’s possible to customize or modify an outfit.

  • kelvin said:

    when goods arrive and they are not genuine can the seller refund your money

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