Gi2C Guide for China Travelers: How to avoid the scam of overpaying for fake products

Gi2C offers an important warning and advice on how to avoid scams in China

Traveling in China is exciting and interesting, yet every year thousands of tourists and expats get taken advantage of while shopping in China. At Gi2C, our goal is to make sure our Gi2C interns and China expats have the best experience possible in China. The last thing we want is for Gi2C interns or any foreigner to fall prey to scams while out and about in China.  Here is some advice from our Gi2C staff and long-time Beijing and Shanghai expats about what to look out for in order to avoid being scammed while shopping.

  1. Avoid buying well-known brands being sold on the street or tourist markets. Products that are expensive because of their brand, but not expensive to manufacture are often ripped off and reproduced illegally. Don’t think that just because a company may have their manufacturing base in China (such as Apple and other famous brands) that Chinese people can somehow get the legal products for cheaper than what they are in your home country. Oftentimes, legit foreign brand products are more expensive in China than anywhere else.
  1. Stay clear of antique markets if you’re looking for real, ancient Chinese artifacts.

Most of the antiques in tourist antique markets such as Panjiayuan in Beijing, will have a large amount of fake products. You’ll find “ancient” coins, jewelry or ceramics that were made to look old but aren’t actually old. If you’re interested in ancient Chinese items, ask around and find a trustworthy, legit source.

  1. Don’t buy anything from someone who approaches you.

While in China, you may have someone come up and try to sell you an iPhone or other expensive item for a reasonable price. This iPhone is most likely stolen or a knockoff. Stay clear of people who are overly aggressive or persistent in making a sale.

  1. Be careful at electronic markets.

The computer industry is extremely fragmented in terms of distribution. You might walk into a computer shopping mall in Zhongguancun, Beijing and find all the famous computer brands such as Acer, Samsung, Lenovo, Dell and HP competing right next to each other in four levels of endless computer stalls. While the computers might work just fine, the operating system and MS Office will be pirated. Make sure they don’t charge you extra for any English versions and if you ask, they should be able to find a legal version of MS Office from Singapore or HongKong. You will know it is a legit version if they ask for at least 700RMB.

What else to look out for?

Besides the warning sign of a very low price for a brand name product, check the quality. If you’re buying clothing, turn the item inside out and look at the seams. Also, be aware of overly friendly sales staff. Chinese people know foreigners are usually kind-hearted and think the best of everyone. As a result, certain scams are prevalent to take advantage of this naivety. You should be wary of anyone who approaches you for anything other than wanting to take a picture with you. People offering you a hotel, transport, or entrance tickets may deliver, but you will never know how much more you paid for that service or product than a Chinese person paid.

This how-to guide in avoiding China scams is brought to you by Gi2C Group. Gi2C has been an internship provider in China since 2008 and has become a leader in the internship industry. Gi2C’s goal is to help students and young professionals not only safely get into China without falling prey to any scams but also to help them understand China and Chinese business culture. Gi2C interns write honest reviews of our programs which can be read on a variety of online third-party sources. Gi2C provides tailor-made opportunities for interns to work for a variety companies in multiple industries based in China.

  1. Chase

    I once bought an ipad that runs android from there, I know what you are talking about.

  2. Greg

    Not buying things from people who approach you is common sense!

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