Chinese suppliers are often quite flexible when they want a new customer’s business. But they often refuse small orders, or orders with a low price, if they are afraid they will be “problem orders”.
One thing that frightens them is the word “inspection“. They had bad experiences in the past — for example customers that found poor quality products and cancelled orders, or very time-consuming re-work. And, generally speaking, no one likes to be controlled.
So, how can small importers make sure quality is acceptable before shipment if the supplier writes “we accept your visit, but no third-party inspection company”?
Here’s an alternative to a formal inspection…
An alternative to formal “inspections” is the simple “visit”. It works this way:
- The client tells the supplier that a technician from [company XYZ] will come and visit them
- The inspection company does not send them any email before or after the visit
- The technician goes to the factory
- The technician counts the products that are ready
- The technician looks at the products (he does not follow statistics, or the supplier will think he does an inspection… but he needs to check enough products to have an idea about average quality) and takes some photos
- If there is a golden sample in the factory, the technician checks production against that sample
- The technician notes the defects he finds and takes photos for the client’s review (while in the factory, he does not talk about ‘critical’, ‘major’, or ‘minor’ defects)
- The technician gives a spoken summary to the factory manager (but no decision — he does not say “you can ship now” or “you must rework the goods”
- The technician leaves the factory
- The technician sends a report with photos to the client
What if the supplier throws out the inspector if they start to find problems?
Is there still a risk that the factory throws the inspector out if he starts to find many problems and takes them in photos? Yes, definitely. But by then the importer’s goal is achieved — he knows there are problems and he has photos in hand to understand them. He can then discuss future steps with the supplier.
What do you think? Have you had similar experiences? Let me know in the comments, please.