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If you’re an avid vaper who’s constantly searching for new vaping gear online, you’ve probably noticed that there are a number of Chinese vaping suppliers competing for your business. The majority of vapor products are produced in Asia, so it should come as no surprise that you can buy low cost vaping supplies from Chinese vendors. And it’s certainly appealing! Chinese vapor suppliers almost always have lower, sometimes significantly lower prices than their US-based counterparts. But is it worth saving a little bit (or a lot!) of money to purchase your vaping supplies from Asia?
It’s normally not a difficult decision when the prices are close (say within 10-20%); but when you can save 30-40% by buying your vapor products from overseas, it can certainly be tempting.
The Risks of Buying from Chinese Vapor Suppliers
There’s no doubt that you’re likely to get your vaping supplies much cheaper if you order from China, but is it worth the risk? If you’re looking for the absolute best vaping deal online, Chinese vendors are tough to beat, but be aware of the potential issues that you could face:
– Long Delivery Times: The first, and most obvious issue when ordering vapor products from China is the long wait and extended delivery times. Not only is the distance much further, but items being shipped from China need to pass through Customs, and in some cases this can create long delays. In general, you can expect your order to take at least 10-14 business days (2-3 weeks) to arrive using standard shipping. That same product from a US vendor could take less than a week.
– Poor Customer Service: Don’t expect to be able to call someone up and ask about your order, or to get any technical support; most Chinese vendors don’t even have a phone number listed on their website. There’s a 12 hour time difference between the US and China, so even if you email them for assistance, expect it to take hours to get a response. Plus, the language barrier is sure to complicate things even further when you do get a hold of someone. Expect multiple emails… and plenty of frustration.
– Difficult Returns / Exchanges: Distance becomes an issue once again when dealing with returns or exchanges. Depending on the vendor, the process can be quite complicated and often requires you to pay return shipping charges. You’ll also be responsible for filling out all of the appropriate International shipping documents. Fun!
– Product Knockoffs / Clones: Most Chinese vendors are clear about which products are authentic, and which ones are not, but I’ve definitely heard about people ordering (what they thought) were authentic vapor products, only to receive a cheap knockoff or clone.
When Are The Savings Worth The Risk?
Even though there are some risks involved with ordering vapor supplies from China, there are a few situations where I’m personally willing to take the risk. With items taking 2-3 weeks to arrive, an obvious situation where you’ll want to AVOID purchasing from China is when you need an item fast. If you’re down to your last coil or had an unfortunate mishap with your device, you’ll definitely want to buy local or find a US-based vendor who can send what you need quickly.
I’m also unlikely to purchase an expensive variable wattage mod or anything that has a greater chance of breaking, since it’s just not worth the hassle of dealing with Chinese technical support. It certainly isn’t easy communicating with someone who speaks poor English, and returns are often difficult and time consuming. Assuming that you get the support you need and are approved for a return, it could take weeks for it to be processed and even longer for a replacement item to be sent in its place.
For me personally, I limit my Chinese purchases to DIY supplies, replacement coils and low-cost mechanical mods. I’m not a huge fan of cloned devices (which is a completely different debate), but if you’re on a tight budget then they’re definitely an option. All of these types of products are less likely to break or arrive with issues, and since all of these items are relatively inexpensive, you won’t suffer a huge loss if something goes wrong or they don’t live up to your standards. Tanks and RDA’s are also less likely to have problems, so I’ll risk it with these items as well; if the price is right.
Many people see a moral dilemma with purchasing vaping supplies from China, but the truth is, a huge chunk of the profits are going back to Asia either way. Buying from a US supplier is always my first choice, and I’m willing to pay a little extra to support local and American-based businesses, but sometimes it’s just smarter to purchase some of your vaping supplies from overseas.
BIO: Jeremy Salter is an avid vaping enthusiast, chief marketing strategist and one of the founders of CigBuyer.com. He is passionate about electronic cigarettes and enjoys sharing tips and advice, along with the latest vaping news and deals.