Thank you, China

I’ve been shopping at Aliexpress.com and Alibaba.com for a while now. It’s an adventure. It’s full of surprises and it can save me quite a bit of time and money.

Recently I ordered a bunch of items including mousetraps, a multimeter and parts for an inverter I intend to use to supply my home with backup power in bad times. I ordered the mousetraps on Dec 1 and they arrived today, December 17. I have no idea how they can provide such good service, deliver such sturdy product and still make money. Those traps were $1.70 delivered to my mailbox. I could buy the old-fashioned wooden ones for $1 locally but it means driving the car 20 miles or so. What’s the cost of that? And my time. A few clicks versus an hour of my life? Anyway, these are sturdy plastic and steel. The mouse doesn’t stand a chance. They are already baited with peanut butter and scattered around the garage where mice like to invade every winter because it’s warm in there. They made a nest on the engine of the car using the hood-lining for insulation plus some dried leaves they found at the base of the windscreen. I hate mice in my home. They don’t belong…

Another thing I bought from China months ago was a couple of electronic thermostats, costing just a few dollars. They run on 12VDC and I just hooked one up to an old floppy drive connector on the PSU of Beast. I doubt I will ever see a floppy drive again, so I cut off the yellow and black wires and stripped a few mm to put under screwed terminals on the tiny thermostat. I placed a cup with some water and an avocado pit in it on top of one of Beast’s hard drives and put the temperature probe in the water… 27.5C, about what avocados like best. My room temperature is way too low, about 18C. So, finally I have a use for Beast’s wasted energy.

All but two of the items I’ve ordered in recent weeks have been shipped. I think Alibaba is rapidly overtaking the bricks-and-mortar retailers for many kinds of goods. They certainly have a winner for small, easily mailed consumer-items. I’m officially a pensioner this year and I have to spend money wisely. Alibaba helps me do that because there is competition in the world and it works for me.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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10 Responses to Thank you, China

  1. oiaohm wrote, ” This is why in Australia you are not going to make a inverter 4 times cheaper let alone with the charge for testing.”

    Thank Goodness I don’t live in Australia. One of my ancestor’s relatives did move there ~1860 and they survived but now look at the mess they are in with firearms and electronics regulated to death…

  2. oiaohm says:

    DrLoser please don’t get ahead of yourself. You can buy items claiming USA/Australia/,,, made when you do a disassembly turn out to be 90 percent china.

    Yes there are problems inside China indentured labor by China own laws is illegal. China has the same problem as the USA has with people coming across the boarder from Mexico and not working to USA employment regulations only catch is this is Provence to Provence. Something people are not aware in China you only get government support when you are in your registered Provence. Of course just like Mexico people from Provence with low employment options go across boarders in china and work illegally. Yes there are migration permits required to move between provinces in China legally. Of course just like the USA there are companies that take advantage of this. Sad reality in China is how hard it is to find companies that in fact always employ people as per China own laws let alone to the standards we would like to expect. Yes every Provence in china has 49 hours a week including overtime as the max number of hours any person should work any more is in fact illegal unless equal amount of time is given off at full pay inside the next 4 weeks(China law has in this regard should be very good for workers so past 49 hours is effectively paying twice). There is even a min pay rate per hour that you find companies not paying. Most cases like the Apple-Foxconn mess you find out that the companies involved are not even conforming to China own laws. Yes it is in fact illegal to be employing people form other Provence that have not put in a Migration request.

    Robert Pogson I would double check CA regulations. I know after a few house fires and campsite fires(that started a bush-fires) Australian regulation on items like Inverters is the same if they are connected to the grid or used on a camp site or anywhere else in Australia. Only place you can use uncertified Inverters here is in like a school/university lab demonstration under controlled conditions with no intention of long term operation.

    That is the problem with using uncertified even if CA regulation allows it now. CA regulation could be or come into alignment for how Australia regulation is.

    Building a regulator from parts here in Australia the certification testing is on your head. Worst annoyance is the destructive testing. If you don’t have a certified PCB design for inverter the board has to be destructively tested. So you have to make at least 4 to have 1. This is why in Australia you are not going to make a inverter 4 times cheaper let alone with the charge for testing. Now if you buy a certified inverter and do a few repairs(ie replacing lower grade parts with better ones) the device only has to have non destructive electrical testing to confirm it operating still inside spec. Still most cases it just works out cheaper to buy them assembled at the correct quality at least inside the Australian regulation framework.

  3. DrLoser says:

    Incidentally, Robert. This idealized “China” you wish to thank.

    Would it be the PRC? Or the military? Or the “little princes (and princesses)” who comprise the Han equivalent of the Soviet Nomenklatura? Or the State-controlled Media, Judiciary, Police, etc, etc?

    Or the distinctly iffy characters in China’s “shadow banking” system?

    Or even the poor sods on a giant production line somewhere in the Pearl River Delta, often hundreds of miles away from home and on contracts that amount, basically, to indentured labor.

    I mean, seriously, Robert. Which, of any of these aspects of the monolithic abstraction you call “China” would you most wish to thank?

    Never mind. Coming soon to a Spratly Island near you!

  4. DrLoser says:

    Speaking further, now that Bitcoin has surpassed Western Union. The usefulness of Ebay, Alibaba and even Amazon will be changed when OpenBazaar becomes widely available. No more fees to anyone, as you will be selling directly the the buyer.

    – Ebay is 9% fees + 3% paypal fees
    – Amazon is 15% fees + $40/month
    – OpenBazaar is 100% free

    Aaaahh freedom!

    I presume you have never heard of Gresham’s Law, Dougie.

  5. dougman wrote, “the The Canadian Electrical Code does apply, so does the local electrical authority and your electrical inspector reviewing the work as done by the permit you supposedly applied for.”

    This thing will be sitting on a cart out in the yard and won’t be connected to my electrical system so the electrical code does not apply. No building permit is required although there may be a certificate of importability or whatever they call it. They do export this stuff to Canada regularly so there’s no problem.

  6. dougman says:

    Re: I used to drive a luxurious car.

    I thought it was a walking tractor?

  7. dougman says:

    First you state: “Canadian law requires standardized testing for electrical equipment for resale or use in homes. Neither applies to me.”

    But you forgot your previous statement: “Recently I ordered a bunch of items and parts for an inverter I intend to use to supply my home with backup power in bad times.”

    Uhh, the The Canadian Electrical Code does apply, so does the local electrical authority and your electrical inspector reviewing the work as done by the permit you supposedly applied for.

    I can say that Canada has a more stringent electrical safety in place then does the U.S. has, so by means RObert do not burn your home down!

  8. DrLoser says:

    I used to drive a luxurious car.

    Yes, I remember that, Robert. From your recent post, it was a Cadillac or a Lexus, I believe. Possibly the result of two Category D insurance write-offs, welded together, either by an expert or by your own fair hand.

    Anyhow, I seem to recall that it was either a Lexus or a Caddy. You never quite got round to the rest of the anecdote, did you?

    Please do so. It would make a charming Christmas tale.

  9. dougman wrote, “fraudulent items”.

    I haven’t seen any on Alibaba. Of course, China copies what works but everyone does that. I used to drive a luxurious car. Now every box with wheels looks just like it except for the trademark. Moves to regulate fuel consumption and pollution pretty well require cars to be small and aerodynamically efficient. The alternator I plan to buy is a copy of a well known brand but they name it after the location of that company, not its brand. That’s not counterfeit. The response of that company is to develop newer models. Further, the Chinese copies are not exact copies. The Chinese use different colours and substitute parts. The buyer certainly does not consider the copies as equivalent to the original, just cheaper, a lot cheaper. One concern is electrical safety standards. The Chinese claim “CE” but that’s not necessarily so. There could be problems for businesses to import them but it’s easier for a consumer who’s not distributing the things and not hooking them up to the grid. To them it’s just a machine. Canadian law requires standardized testing for electrical equipment for resale or use in homes. Neither applies to me.

  10. dougman says:

    Jack Ma is no Jeff Bezos.
    https://www.techinasia.com/jack-ma-jeff-bezos-amazon-alibaba-billionaires-ecommerce

    Alibaba purchased the South China Morning Post, shades of Amazon no doubt.
    http://techcrunch.com/2015/12/13/alibaba-confirms-it-is-buying-the-south-china-morning-post-for-262m/

    Owning a business that hocks fraudulent items is no place I would shop
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-warns-alibaba-again-about-selling-counterfeit-goods-1450406612

    Speaking further, now that Bitcoin has surpassed Western Union. The usefulness of Ebay, Alibaba and even Amazon will be changed when OpenBazaar becomes widely available. No more fees to anyone, as you will be selling directly the the buyer.

    – Ebay is 9% fees + 3% paypal fees
    – Amazon is 15% fees + $40/month
    – OpenBazaar is 100% free

    Aaaahh freedom!

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