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Taobao | China Shopping | Online Shopping China | China Expat Taobao | China Shopping | Online Shopping China | China Expat

The Expat’s Guide to Taobao Part 5: Returns & Exchanges

***This post may contain affiliate links.***

Table of Contents

You are currently reading post #5 in the 5 part series: The Expat’s Guide to Taobao

  1. Taobao Explained
  2. How to Set Up Taobao
  3. Making Your First Taobao Purchase
  4. How to Use Taobao
  5. Refunds & Returns

Occasionally on Taobao, as with life, shit hits the fan.  Your item never comes, the store doesn’t have what they listed, or you simply don’t like what you ordered.  Regardless, the outcome is the same, you need to make a return and get your money back.  Luckily, Taobao makes this process really simple, allowing you to return your item for any number of reasons from “it never shipped” to “I don’t like the color”.  The site really does a great job of protecting its customers.

How to Make a Return

Step 1

Go to My Taobao 我的淘宝 in the menu at the top of the Taobao homepage. In the drop-down menu click on Previous Purchases 已买到的宝贝.


Step 2

Find the item you want to return and click the Return Money/Return Goods 退款/退货 link located directly under the blue raindrop icon.

Step 3

You’ll be shown two options.

  1. Only return money
  2. Return money & Return goods

Click on which option you want.

Step 4

1) Clicking on option 1 takes you to this page where you will need to fill in the required blanks marked with a red star.

  1. Only return money
  2. Return money and goods
  3. Never received goods
  4. Already received goods
  5. Reason for return

Refund Reasons

Beside #5 above, Reason for Return, there is a drop down menu.  Click the drop down menu and select from the choices translated below.

  1. Clicked on the wrong item/didn’t want to buy it.
  2. Item was never delivered.
  3. Item took too long to ship.
  4. Delivery company lost the package.
  5. Package was empty or missing items.
  6. Other

When done, click the orange button.

2) Clicking option 2 takes you to a slightly different looking form where you will, again, fill out the required options.

  1. Only return money.
  2. Return goods and money.
  3. Reason for return.

Refund Reasons

You will get a slightly different set of choices in the “Refund Reasons” drop down menu depending on the item you are sending back.  Taobao’s refund forms are actually pretty smart and will tailor your reasons based on the type of good you’ve clicked on.  The reasons below were the ones that showed up when I went to return a bag of sugar.

  1. Ordered the wrong item/wrong amount/don’t like it.
  2. Item is not as described.
  3. Bad quality
  4. Manufacture or use by date is wrong.
  5. Picture/place of manufacture/item number/specifications are wrong
  6. Seller sent the wrong item
  7. Fake brand
  8. Received the wrong item/item was damaged
  9. Other

Obviously, if you are returning something like clothes, Taobao won’t come up with “manufacture/use by date” but instead will show an option that has something to do with material/color/pattern. Most of the choices will stay the same regardless of what type of item it is though so this should give you a good idea.  If your reasons look different you might have to copy and paste some words into a translator.

Step 5

If you’re going to ship the item back to the seller it’s best to message them using the Taobao chat room and let them know.  To do this click on the company’s profile image who sent the product and send them a message letting them know that you will be returning the item and why.

This is also a great way to negotiate an exchange.  For example, if you liked the product but it simply didn’t fit and you need a different size, just message the company and ask them to send you another item in the correct size.  Once they receive your original item back, they will send you a new one.


How to Return Goods in China

The best way to return goods in China is to use Express Delivery or Kuai Di 快递.  This is the same service that delivered your item to you, although it is made up of many different individual companies.  You don’t have to use the same company your item originally shipped with.  Anyone will do.

To ship your item you can either find a delivery man in person, i.e. when someone delivers another item to your door, or, what we do a lot, is simply walk around the basement of our building until we find a delivery man.  There are always tons of Kuai Di carts around, and the delivery men will be happy to ship something for you.

Just bring your item and the name, address, phone number of the place you’re sending it to and money to pay the delivery fee.  To find this information you can either message the seller and ask for their return address or find the item in your Previous Purchases tab 已买到的宝贝under My Taobao 我的淘宝 and click on the orange tracking link.

Circled in red at the bottom of the screen are the seller’s address, name, and telephone number.

Your third option is to use and search for kuaidi dianhua 快递电话 which means express delivery telephone.  Right at the top of the search results will be a list of telephone numbers for all the different express delivery companies.  Call any of them EXCEPT FOR EMS and you will get an automated system with an option for English. You’ll get patched through to an English speaker to whom you will tell what you want to be shipped and when you will be home for a delivery man to come to your house a pick it up.

EMS is highlighted as they are an international shipping company. Don’t choose them if you are shipping something within China.

We’ve used all of these methods very successfully so any one of them should get your item shipped quickly and easily.  In China, there is never any need to box your item or prepare it in any way.  Just hand it to the delivery man and he will do everything for you.

Confirm Refund Success

  1. Wait a day and then check your Alipay account to make sure you have been refunded.

This should be done almost immediately in a situation such as the seller didn’t have the item you ordered or the product never shipped. If you have already received the item and wish to return it, most companies will not refund the money until they have received the product back from you.

To see if you’ve been refunded login to Alipay.  Once logged in you will see your homepage dashboard like below.  The bottom half of the screen circled in red is an overview of your account transactions.

  1. Go to your previous purchases on Taobao by clicking 已经买的淘宝. Scroll down until you find the item you requested a refund for. If you have been refunded you’ll see a Yuan symbol underneath the blue raindrop icon.

To make extra sure the company refunded you the correct amount, click on the Yuan symbol and you should see a success screen with a green check mark like the one below.

Congratulations, you’ve successfully made a return on Taobao!


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Taobao | China Shopping | Online Shopping China | China Expat

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  1. Can you do a guide for returning an item from warehouse to seller? I am having trouble with completing the return logistic information page.

    1. Cara Crawford

      Hey Alexis, I’m not exactly sure what you mean. Can you explain the situation? Feel free to send me an email at with some screenshots of the page you need to fill out. Hopefully we can get it all sorted 🙂

      1. Hi I have been trying to refund my items from warehouse but I need a China number!

        1. Cara Crawford

          Hi Mel, I sent you an email about this. Hope you get it solved soon!

  2. Hi, wondering if you had shipped outside China? And whether you had paid for the China’s inbound custom duty? That is, for return goods.


    1. Cara Crawford

      We have not ever shipped outside of China on Taobao. We live in China so we haven’t had any reason to ship outside the country. Sorry I can’t be of help! If you try it, let us know how it works out 🙂

  3. Hello, my refund process currently is stuck at 卖家退款,but hasn’t gotten through to 银行受理. I’m not sure what to do now?

    1. Cara Crawford

      There will be a small yellow Yuan symbol next to the refund when it goes through. They have 3 days to respond when you submit for a refund. They can also decline, so make sure to go in and check in the 卖家退款。

  4. Hi, I am from Singapore and I wish to return the item to China for an exchange. Could you kindly advise?

    1. Cara Crawford

      Your best bet for an exchange is to message the seller using the Taobao chat room instead of going through the Taobao returns page. Click on the little blue raindrop icon above the item on your “previous purchases” page to download the chat if you don’t already have it installed. You can also download it as an app on your phone. I usually just message the seller directly and tell him what I want to exchange the item for. Then once they receive the original item back they’ll send you the new one.

    1. Kenneth Tham

      Hi Cara, the seller has received my item and is only sending my item to the collection centre in China. How do I arrange for the item to be shipped to my address?

      Is the process the same as consolidating orders before shipment? ie items get grouped together, choose shipping method, pay and good are released?

      1. Cara Crawford

        Honestly, I’m not sure what the process is for overseas shipments as we have never had items shipped from Taobao outside of China. Sorry I can’t be of more help. Hope you get it sorted!

  5. Hi! I from Malaysia, ordered a food suana from seller in China via taoboa. However, when the seller delivered to logistics warehouse. It was rejected, reason given because heavy and over weight and size. Asked me to seek for the refund from the seller. I did, but what happen to the product at logistics warehouse? Do I need to something or the product will automatically return to the sell4.

    1. Cara Crawford

      Yes, it should be automatically returned. You shouldn’t need to do anything 🙂

  6. Hello,

    I have issue with my refund item since im from malaysia and i cant register my debit card in the alipay. they required a china bank account. therefore i never get my money back to my account whenever theres a refund happening. is there any way for me to get it all back? like changing some setting in taobao to make the refund direct to my debit account instead of Alipay? Hope to hear your respond asap. Huhu

    1. Cara Crawford

      Try contacting the seller and asking for a refund directly from him. This is what we usually do, although we do have a Chinese bank account, which, of course, makes things a lot easier. Sorry I can’t be of more help. Hope you get your money back soon!

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