Having been ripped off by a merchant on TradeTang, I'd like to pass along a ferw tips to prevent you from making the same mistake I made:
1. Do not rely on photos of the item you are considering to purchase - these can be easily copied from another site like e-bay and may not actually represent the item for sale but a poor copy instead.
2. Make sure that the individual or company that you are dealing with has a brick and mortar address and a hard line phone. Cell phones in china are not traceable and a merchant whose return address differs from his selling address means he/she is a gypsy operating from a remote warehouse.
3.Call the telephone number given to be sure it is not a payphone in Tianemen Square.
4. As in the case of electric guitars, ask for the serial number to chceck validity with the manufacturer - copyright infringement is a problem and clones will not have these nor will they have a country of origin stamp.
5. Ask if there is a manufacturers product manual. Clones may not have these either.
6. Ask to see a copy of the manufacturers warranty. Clones will not have these.
7. Inquire about the return policy and who determines value of the amount returned. When the merchant advertises free shipping, compare this to the return offfer and you will see the shipping fee you actually paid and the actual value of the item purchased.
8. Do not expect your credit card company to back you should the transaction go south. Nor will PayPal support you outside of e-bay even though this service is offered as acceptable payment.
9. U.S. customs never inspected the items that I received. They were cleared by an Agent in china without the package ever being opened. Why is this important? Had the contents actually been inspected, the copyright infringement laws would have prevented the contents from entering the country and the scam would have been foiled.
10. Thoroughly check out the merchant you intend to deal with. For large purchases, take the time to visit the factory first hand. There are seervices available to pay a representative to do this for you should you prefer not to travel. In any event, let the buyer beware. To some merchants, showing a photo of a legitimate item then shipping a poor clone is "Close Enough" but here it is called "Bait and Switch" and is illegal.
While goods and services by the Chinese are readily available, be cautious before investing. Do not spend more than you are prepared to lose since the return fees for the item may exceed the actual value of the item purchased and if returned, the only party that makes out on this deal is the merchant - he/she gets to sell the item to another unsuspecting customer at your expense.
Trade Tang has a customer service department with chinese staff using Americanized names to make you feel comfortable. They are the fox guarding the henhouse and do not represent the customer very well. Buiyer Beware - Be very aware.