Anyone ever bought something internationally off of Alibaba.com?
Any advice on how to purchase goods from Alibaba.com? Does FOB mean I am guaranteed the correct items are put on the shipping vessel and headed my way or just that a box arrived with unknown contents that are being shipped to me?
What's the best way to find a reputable seller? If they won't send a free sample if the item is too expensive is it common practice to ask for a reference in your country to verify the seller? Even then is it common that they're in cahoots with someone to screw me?
What are duty and import fee's like? I've heard if the total value of the shipment is under $2000 USD then you're exempt from many fee's. Do I have to physically be at a port to pick up my items or can someone from UPS pick it up for me?
Anyone got any advice?
Does FOB mean the total price of the goods and getting them on the ship or is that just the shipping price to get the goods on the ship and the cost of goods is in addition to that?
Depends. There are many ways to determine based upon what the company thinks.
Is a good (very basic) explanation.
Basically, FOB means they are responsible until you take possession. However, you taking possession might mean until it is safely in possession of your contracted carrier which may be the shipping boat, or when it is put on the container that takes it to the boat.
In any case, you'll have to read the contract to understand what is expected. Sometimes they will expect you to send a container to their factory and they will forklift it on the container for you. That is when they have washed their hands of the matter.
Typically FOB includes the goods and the cost of transfer of possession which you can loosely define as their part of shipping.