How To Deal With Taobao Refunds and Problematic Sellers

Don’t get me wrong – I love Taobao as much as the next shopaholic, but sometimes there’s that ONE bad egg who ruins your otherwise happy shopping experience. Here’s how to deal with problematic sellers on Taobao.

The problem: The seller hasn’t shipped out your item, even after a week.

Most sellers on Taobao (especially the ones with Crown ratings) are usually quite efficient, so you can expect them to send out your item(s) within 2 to 3 days. However, it’s not uncommon for sellers to take a bit longer than that, so don’t abuse that “Remind The Seller To Ship” button just yet.

If the seller still hasn’t shipped out your order after a week, send them a chat message to find out what’s happening. Sometimes it may be that the item is out of stock, or that they can’t decipher your forwarder’s warehouse address and/or contact information. Some sellers get freaked out when they see an English name and foreign address in the delivery details, but just reiterate to them that you are using a China forwarder (转发).

At this point, you should have some sort of recourse about your order. However, there are some unfortunate cases where the seller completely ignores your messages, which brings me to the next point.

Computer TableFoldable Laptop Table (Source: 韩米家品质家居/Taobao)

The problem: The seller is not responding to your messages, AT ALL.

This is probably one of the worst things to encounter while shopping on Taobao. I mean, it’s not like you can march over there and demand a refund right? Plus, getting snubbed by a seller is really frustrating to say the least.

If you encounter a seller who isn’t responsive to your messages, just forget about receiving your item and try to get a refund instead. Chances are, the seller will probably drag your order on and keep you in Taobao limbo, so applying for a refund is the quickest way to get recourse.


To be fair though, Taobao does extend a reasonable amount of protection to its buyers – especially if it has to do with dodgy sellers. To apply for a refund, go to your Order History (已买到的宝贝) and click on the Refund (退款/退货) button. You will then be prompted to choose a reason for your refund (see below for translations). If the seller doesn’t respond (either accept the refund or reject it and respond with a course of action) within 48 hours, Taobao will automatically refund the buyer.

Refund Reasons

买家缺货  Item is out of stock
排错产品   Ordered wrong item
产品缺少所需样式   Desired style or size is out of stock
无退款原因   No refund reason
未收到货   You did not receive the goods
与买家协商一致进行退款   Mutual agreement with the seller to get a refund
卖家为及时发货   The Seller did not deliver the items on time

Remember to use Google Chrome as a browser for this, so that the page is automatically translated to English. It makes things much easier when trying to navigate the refund application page.

Taobao Decorative Jars(Source: 艺美家居软装饰品馆/Taobao)

The problem: I applied for a refund but the seller is still being dodgy. REALLY dodgy.

This is probably quite uncommon, and I’ve only ever experienced it once…but wow was it a real pain to get a refund. Applying for a refund on Taobao is usually quite straightforward when the seller is reasonable, but there are the rare few who will go out of their way to get your refund rejected. This is where the headaches start.

One particular seller didn’t send out my order for over a week (and was making up excuses/ignoring my messages), so I applied for a refund and stated that the seller did not send out the item. The next day, after a week radio silence, the seller miraculously changed the order status to “Contacting courier company.” Hence, my refund request was cancelled.

Contact Courier Company

When I saw the updated status I was like, OMG FINALLY THANK THE LORD…except, after a few days I realised that it essentially means nothing without a valid tracking number.

I waited for a few more days (and the seller conveniently did not respond to any of my messages) but there was still no sign of the package being sent out with the courier.

I applied for a refund yet again, this time stating that the seller did not provide a tracking number. At this point I thought that I finally had him cornered – it’s either the seller provides proof of delivery, or Taobao will automatically refund me after 48 hours right?

Wrong. The seller rejected the refund request yet again, this time uploading a screen shot of a fake tracking document. I mean, ARE YOU KIDDING ME BRO. *flips table wtf*

The problem: I feel like murdering the seller and/or crying in frustration.

There, there. Wipe up those tears and put on your big girl panties because it’s time to take down some dodgy Taobao scammers.

First things first, get Taobao to intervene and mediate the situation. If the seller has already rejected your refund, go to 已买到的宝贝 (Order Summary page) > find the item you want to get a refund for > click 申请售后 (Aftermarket Application). From there, you should be able to find an option to get Taobao to mediate (要求淘宝介入处理).

Taobao Apply Refund Intervention

There are two types of Taobao refund mediation processes – 绿色通道 (a panel of 31 Taobao experts will review your case and come to an objective conclusion, usually within 24 hours) and 淘宝小二 (Taobao’s internal team will review your case and take action).

绿色通道 is usually an easier process, but it also means that Taobao can’t really intervene if the process is taking too long (i.e. during peak periods like Double 11). I used this option once and it took about 2 weeks for them to come to a final conclusion. When I called the Taobao helpline, they said that they couldn’t intervene because the 绿色通道 option involved external partners (and not their own internal staff).

淘宝小二 is a slightly more tedious process, but you have the assurance that Taobao has more control over your case. When you apply for a refund (已买到的宝贝 > 退款中), you’ll have to fill in a form with an appeal (limited to 200 characters) and upload any necessary evidence.

Taobao will give you and the seller 3 days to upload any proof (tracking documents, screen shots of chat messages etc.) before reviewing the case.

Taobao Bowl and Glass SetGlass and Bowl Set (Source: inza 一宅幻享家/Taobao)

If all else fails, call the Taobao helpline at 800 188 6018 or access the help chat function (you have to type in Chinese though). The Taobao helpline has an English option but erm, you might have to speak a bit slower and clearer. Also, as frustrated as you may be, try not to vent your anger on the call operator. It’s really not their fault that the seller is being a dodgy rat. Also, nobody wants to help a rude person, so yeah.

See here for a list of problems and issues that Taobao will deal with.

The problem: I got my item, but it’s the wrong one.

Yup, it happens. You think you’re getting a nice new dress, but receive a pair of men’s skinny pants instead (true story – and the saddest part was that the pants were too small for me someone kill me now).

Most sellers would probably tell you to return the item for a refund, but let’s be real here – the international return shipping fees would probably cost more than the item itself.

In cases like this, chat with the seller and explain that you’re an international buyer. Most sellers will either agree to a partial refund (which is unfair yes, but then again the item still has re-sale value no?) or to refund your shipping fees. Anyway, you can always sell or give away the item.

Taobao Water Pitcher(Source: inza 一宅幻享家/Taobao)

The problem: I got my item, but it’s defective.

If your item is defective, take a video or photo of it as proof and send it to the seller. Let them know that it makes no sense to return the defective item, as you’re an international buyer. In most cases, the seller will either refund you or send you a new item. If the seller refuses to do anything, get Taobao to intervene on your behalf.

Taobao Wooden Plates(Source: 淘杂物ZAKKA生活杂货/Taobao)

The problem: I got my order, but there’s an item missing.

Contact the seller and let them know which item is missing. Most sellers state the number of items on the packing slip, so they can check if an item was missed out from your order list. If that’s the case, the seller will usually issue you a full refund for the missing item.

Taobao Wooden Serving Board(Source: 淘杂物ZAKKA生活杂货 木/Taobao)

See here for Taobao’s Refund FAQs.

Taobao Helpline: 800 188 6018 (English option available)

Still want more? Check out these other articles:

How To Shop On Taobao

Taobao Hacks You Need To Know

Buying Furniture On Taobao

Taobao Wedding Guide

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23 Responses

  1. Urgent I wan you to. I wan cancel and stop the account for transfer please call me back asap. Thank 96447297

    Miss CHIA.

  2. I ordered an item just days back. And Merchant sent the wrong item. I requested they return back the money but they rejected and advise us to ship the item back to them before money can be return.The return shipping fee was expensive. Help anyone ? *Urgent*

    1. Try calling the Taobao helpline at 800 188 6018! If not, you can try negotiating with the seller to do a partial refund.

  3. Hi can u help me..i buy 50 pieces of items from taobao…but the seller put it in 3 different package..i only received one package with 17 pieces item in the package…i have contact the seller and the seller show me the proof that they already post the 3 package and all the package is arrived at dongguan warehouse..the problem is people in warehouse did not ship all 3 package..but only ship one package only…how can i contact warehouse or solve the problem

    1. @mazni that’s easy. Since your seller shipped 3 diff parcels to you , hence there are 3 tracking numbers, just submit the other 2 tracking numbers to your warehouse. ( hopefully your seller still keep informations on the other 2 tracking numbers. )

  4. hello…i am just wondering if you have dealt with situations whereby after 15 days (no refund options available and also cannot report the seller)? seller has mentioned he shipped out the item but after that no updates… 🙁 and exceeded 15 days!

    1. Hmm does the tracking show if the parcel has been received or signed for? Try sending the seller a chat message to ask what’s up. They might be busy because it’s peak period (for the Taobao Double 11 sale), so sometimes parcels can get delayed. If not, try calling the Taobao helpline at 800 188 6018 and explaining your situation.

  5. Hi. Thanks for your informative post. I recently managed to got a successful refund from a Taobao seller. I paid by credit card but instead of refunding back to my credit card, it refunded to alipay. However, I have tried but failed to verify the alipay account and as a result, I cannot use the credit in alipay for future purchases.I tried to add in my SG credit card to alipay but couldn’t. Any idea how I can resolve this?

    1. Yikes, Alipay can be a bit tricky. Try calling the Taobao helpline at 800 188 6018 to ask them about it – they have an English option too.

    2. hi, may i ask how is ur refund? Do u manage to verify ur alipay acct.. cz im facing the same problem too.. need help..

  6. what happens if I accidentally clicked the received item button but the seller hasn’t shipped it yet? 

  7. Hi, can I ask where will the money be refunded to? It’s used to be your Singapore credit card account but now, they send it in alipay. And we can’t possibly get that money from the account without a proper china bank account. Let me know if your have any experience with this. Thanks.

    1. I think Alipay credits it back to the credit card tied to your account? I got a refund on an item that was out of stock and Alipay issued the refund back to my account, which was then credited to my Singapore credit card.

  8. hello,seller didn’t ship my item then i request for refund and seller hasn’t responded me. there has been passed 48 hours but refund proccessing haven’t completed yet. what have i to do?

    1. Was your refund rejected by the seller? If so, the seller should have stated a reason. If the refund is still pending (i.e. the seller hasn’t approved or rejected it), maybe give it a few days. From what I understand, if the seller doesn’t respond with action, Taobao will automatically issue the refund to you anyway. Anyway, if you’re still stuck, try calling the Taobao helpline at 800 188 6018.

  9. I bought an item around 20 days ago. I’ve checked back every now and then to see if the seller had shipped the item. Today I checked on the item and the seller still had not shipped it. Curious, I clicked on the item name to redirect me to the item page on taobao, but I got redirected to a page telling me the item does not exist. I immediately went to request a refund. I am unsure as to what category for a refund this would fit under, but I’m also concerned because I wrote the refund description on English. Will this be a problem?

    1. Hey Alex, not sure if it’ll be a problem, but I usually use Google Translate to translate the refund description to Chinese.

  10. Hi, I tried to follow your instruction above. Once i have scrolled down to the item that I want to refund, I unable to find the ‘Aftermarket Application”. Its more difficult since i dont understand chinese and cant find it in english either. Can you describe to me where can i find the button?

  11. Hi all

    May I know when then am I able to apply for the mediation?

    I’ve been going back and forth with the seller regarding refund without return but it still couldn’t route me to mediation.

    Similarity is that I have to wait for 72 hours but whether is it at the point of my application for refund or at the time when seller rejects it is the cause of confusion.

    Please advice if any of you have been through and know what I can do next to bypass the process of return or refund and direct to mediation. 

    Thanks so much!

  12. Hi all

    May I know when then am I able to apply for the mediation?

    I’ve been going back and forth with the seller regarding refund without return but it still couldn’t route me to mediation.

    I’ve also called up their singapore customer service team and sad to say, different officers advise me differently on the route. 

    Similarity is that I have to wait for 72 hours but whether is it at the point of my application for refund or at the time when seller rejects it is the cause of confusion.

    Please advice if any of you have been through and know what I can do next to bypass the process of return or refund and direct to mediation. 

    Thanks so much!

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