It's impossible to search for vaping products without seeing the ads from vendors based in China. The most common ones are Fasttech, Focalecig, Vapor Ocean, Health Cabin, e5Cigs, Vapor Global, and it seems like countless others.
The prices are attractive. When you calculate the shipping, it's still SEEMS like a deal.
Here's a few caveats though, that you may not have considered:
- Getting your order will take you a minimum of four to six weeks unless you pay for priority shipping.
- If you pay for priority shipping, the price ends up fairly close to what you would pay in your own local community, and you don't have to wait at all
- If you order from vendor based in China and the product does not work or is DOA (Dead On Arrival), YOU have to pay to ship it back.
- The warranty is effectively void ... sure, there is a warranty, but by the time you pay for shipping to take advantage of the warrranty, and the return shipping, it's cheaper to buy an entirely new product
- What you see in the ad is not necessarily what you will end up with – here's an example: Vapor Global is advertising a Foggatti mechanical mod. The pictures of the product are not very clear or complete. The description of the product says it has a 510 thread connector – I ordered one of these and was extremely disappointed in (this was my first mechanical mod) the entire unit: it is all one piece, no 510 thread connector, the rebuildable atomizer is built in as part of the battery tube. Guess what? I can return it for a refund, shipping is at my cost. It's cheaper to keep it and try to find a use for it or someone else that wants it. My loss, a new experience, and a lost customer for Vapor Global – plus I get to pass on how horrible their website and marketing practices are. And, by the way, this isn't the only problem with Vapor Global: they also told me BEFORE ordering that a GS Matrix Telescoping unit would work with 18650 batteries – guess what? it won't! And, try to complain using their published and public email addresses: they don't work either ...
- Instructions and language barrier. Most of the vendors based in China may have some english language skills, but it is at a very basic level. Their written instructions are so horrible to render them useless. There is no guarantee that you won't end up with the same instructions from a local supplier (a lot of their products are from China too), but at least you will have someone with english language skills that you can discuss this with. Deal with a vendor based in China and try to get clarification on the instructions and you just get more and more of the same.
- No recourse. We're not talking about warranty, DOA, or repairs here ... what about total scams. If you don't get your product, what do you do? Nothing, these companies pop up out of thin air and disappear just as quickly.
- READ THE WEBSITE CAREFULLY ... there are some basic standards followed by online vendors in your own country. If they are out of stock, they usually tell you right on the website. Out of stock on a vendor based in China means you just wait, and wait, and wait ...
- Total lack of consistency. One day you look at an online website and notice that the product you were planning on ordering is no longer listed. The vendors based in China are resellers for the most part. They source the cheapest product around and that's what they sell while they have them in stock. When they run out, they switch to the next thing ... now, this isn't only an ordering issue, but it's also a support issue. What if you need parts? a replacement? And ... by cheapest, I don't mean just the lowest price. There is no quality control, nothing ...
There will be some that take exception to my remarks, of that I have no doubt. However, if you order regularly from vendors based in China and haven't run into any issues yet, you are bound to. And if you wonder why the vaping vendors aren't giving you great deals in your own community, look at yourself first. They are in business to make a reasonable profit. If they can't make a reasonable profit, they fold. So, get used to ordering out of country with the log wait times ...
To others that would prefer to support their local vendors: CONGRATULATIONS! Your local vendor may cost you a buck or two more, but it also means that you are supporting more than just the local vendor, you are supporting the entire local economy. Your local vendor buys locally too, and it is quite likely that some of the money he spends makes it back into your product when his needs reach into your supply chain.