Good interior design and renovation need not be expensive
It’s been nearly ten months since I first placed an order on the world’s biggest online store AliExpress. Some readers have asked me how it has been so far, after installation. So here goes my list of accolades (and disappointments)….
Best value-for-money purchase: Kitchen faucet
I wrote about this beauty here almost 10 months ago. Installation went perfectly well. I had a very good plumber (albeit a grumpy one), and the product lived up to my expectations. No leaks, no water spraying, no bases coming lose, so far. We cook regularly, so the faucet has gone through some heavy duty usage. Yet it is still standing well. At a very reasonable price of US$60 (SG$75), this is one of my best investment around the house.
Best service ever: LED downlights
These are almost a staple for all modern homes now, but they are expensive in Singapore. I bought these can LED downlights for the bathrooms and kitchen (see post here), and all have been working excellent. Contractors warned me never to buy LEDs from China because they don’t last more than 6 months. That’s BS. Mine have lasted 10 months now, and still not showing any signs of distress. My contractor unfortunately destroyed one of the LED driver in his attempt to do some reverse engineering, and it has been a challenge to find the same driver here in Singapore. So I emailed the supplier six months after my purchase (yes a lot of procrastination) asking them to sell me a replacement driver, being totally honest with them that my contractor destroyed it. To my surprise, they replied to me, and said that they can send a replacement – FREE OF CHARGE! They did request that I pay for the freight charges which cost only $3. The LED downlight under the cabinet on the far right needs a replacement driver.
Most disappointing no-show: Vintage galvanized pipe shelf racks
This was such a beauty when I first set eyes upon it, but sadly, the supplier was unable to ship it out of China. He said there was a clamp down on certain types of exported goods (not sure what he meant) so he can’t ship it to me. I was of course disappointed, and still haven’t found anything close to what I want for that space in the master bedroom. I did receive a full refund, and no hard feelings about the supplier. But boy, what a bum! What could have been my vintage pipe rack….
Most faulty appliance: Undersink garbage disposal
This was my first online purchase, and on hindsight, I should not have bought appliances such as this online. The purchase arrived within a week of my order placement but I wasn’t able to install it until our kitchen was completely done, which turned out to take another 3 months or so. By the time I could install it and tried it, we discovered it is not working at all. Despite the setback, the supplier didn’t play defensive. I emailed them to report that I simply can’t get it to turn on, and suspect it must be a fuse that’s blown inside the appliance. We troubleshooted over an email exchange lasting for a few days. In the end, I offered to ship the damaged goods to China in return for a full refund. They agreed, but the freight charges would have cost as much as the damaged goods itself. So we mutually agreed for a 80% refund and I do not have to spend a cent sending them damaged goods. Overall good service, it’s just a pity the appliance was faulty. We have been pretty pleased with our online purchase overall, and so far there hasn’t been much to rant about. The process wasn’t nearly as nerve wracking as I had expected. On hindsight, I could have planned and timed the purchases better, so that I can install almost immediately after receiving the goods. This is to ensure thorough QC and report any problems before a supplier (or myself) forgot about the purchase. Still, I have no qualms in buying online from China, if I ever had to do it all over again. For the quality, price points and service levels (which is much better than what I get in Singapore), our verdict is: JUST DO IT!