It’s a dilemma that I find myself in often, and we constantly field questions about whether or not it’s safe to buy vaping gear from a China. We list deals from Chinese companies almost every day, and even though they’re from reliable suppliers that we trust, we also list US-based companies whenever possible. The most obvious and difficult issue to deal with is the difference in pricing. Chinese vaping suppliers almost always have lower, sometimes significantly lower prices, since most of the products are manufactured in Asia. But is pricing everything? There’s also the moral dilemma about whether or not purchasing from Chinese suppliers is the right thing to do.
For me personally, I always choose US suppliers if the pricing is close – say within 10-20%. It gets more difficult when you can save 30-40% by buying from China. This is where I have to weigh the pros and cons of purchasing from overseas.
Downsides to Buying from China
There are some clear differences between purchasing an item from China vs. choosing a local or American-based vendor. Here are some of the main problems you may have to deal when ordering vape supplies from China:
Longer Wait Times: The first, and most obvious issue that you may run into when ordering from China is extended or delayed shipping. It takes much longer for an item to be shipped from Asia vs. across State lines. Not only is the distance further, but items being shipped from overseas have to pass through Customs, and in some cases this can create long delays. In general, you can expect 10-14 business days (2-3 weeks) for an item to arrive from China using standard shipping. That same product from a US vendor may take 3-7 days – or less.
Customer Service Issues: Unlike most US-based companies, you’ll be lucky to find a phone number listed on a Chinese vape supplier website. Don’t expect to be able to make a quick phone call to ask a question or to get more information. To top it off, there’s roughly a 12 hour time difference between China and the US, so even if you send an email, it could take hours to get a response.
Poor Communication: To make customer service matters even worse, the language barrier can make communicating extremely difficult. Trying to ask a question or convey a problem doesn’t always go smoothly, and you may not get the response you’re expecting because of the confusion. What may take a simple call or email to a US customer service rep could take multiple chats or emails. And the end result could be less than satisfactory, depending on the vendor.
Cheap Knockoffs / Clones: Although most Asian vaping suppliers are very clear about which items are authentic – and which ones are not – I’ve heard plenty of stories about people ordering (what they thought) was authentic vaping gear, only to receive a cheap knockoff or clone. I’ve never had this happen personally, but it’s something that you should be aware of when ordering from China.
Difficult Returns / Exchanges: Most Chinese vapor suppliers will list return / exchange policies on their websites, but don’t expect it to be a simple or smooth process. Depending on the situation (and the vendor), if returns are possible you’re likely to be responsible for return shipping costs, and you’ll also be required to fill out extra documentation to ship the item overseas. Once again, this process is sure to move slowly due to distance and International shipping procedures, and the language barrier will continue to make things frustrating.
Reliable Chinese Suppliers That I Trust
Although you certainly need to be aware of these potential issues, and I’ve read horror stories posted around the Web, there are a number of reliable Chinese vaping suppliers that have a pretty good track record. In the three+ years that I’ve been vaping, I’ve placed dozens of orders with only one major issue so far, along with a few longer than expected delays. The one major issue that I experienced was a problem with Customs, and after almost 2 months of miscommunication and confusion, a replacement item was eventually sent in its place.
Here are some of the most reliable Chinese vendors that I trust:
- Fast Tech – Well-established company with huge selection and extremely competitive pricing.
- Efun.Top – Rock bottom prices with zero issues to date. Limited DIY supplies and accessories.
- Gear Best – One major delay, but otherwise very reliable. Wide selection with low pricing.
- Heaven Gifts – Fast shipping with reasonable pricing on most items.
- 3FVape – Very low pricing… no issues thus far.
Debating Between US & Asian Vape Suppliers
I’ve placed my fair share of orders with Chinese vaping suppliers, but I don’t always chase after the lowest price. Everyone loves to save money, but are the headaches really worth it? If I run out of supplies and need something fast then Asian vape suppliers are definitely out – some items just can’t wait! And if I’m purchasing a regulated device or something that’s more likely to break, I typically go for a US-based company so I can get quick, reliable technical support.
Personally, I like to purchase replacement coils and DIY supplies from China since you can buy in bulk for less. The chances of having an issue are very low, and I don’t mind waiting if I order in advance. I’m OK with tanks and attys, but I rarely risk it with mods. They’re more expensive, and even if they arrive without issue, something could go wrong and I’m stuck with it – or dealing with a huge hassle.
No matter what, I always search for American vaping suppliers first, since a portion of the proceeds will stay right here in the Untied States. The truth is, a huge chunk of the profits are going right back to Asia (since that’s where most of the products originate), but if the pricing is reasonably close and I can support a local or US-based operation in the process, that’s always my first choice.
What’s been your experience with Chinese vapor suppliers? Is it OK to buy from China? Which vendors are the most reliable and would you order again?