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$5000 products imported: damaged packaging and not meeting what I requested

Discussion in 'Product Creation, Inventing, Importing, Sourcing' started by LPPC, Mar 30, 2019.

  1. LPPC
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    LPPC Bronze Contributor

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    Hello people,

    Entrepreneurship comes with its obstacles to be overcome, and this is one of them. I would greatly appreciate your opinion/view on this and I hope @Walter Hay can chime in on this too. My inventory that came from China arrived in my home country and I found a couple of things wrong with it and I might apply for Alibaba's trade assurance (I'm not getting my hopes up that it will succeed).

    1) I designed a custom packaging and choose black as the background color, not realising that it would get scratched easily. The packaging of the product look damaged like this (click on the picture to enlarge):
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I wonder whether this happened during transportation (via railway), since it was not wrapped in protection foil or something and I haven't asked for it to be. Is this something that is my fault and can not hold the supplier accountable? Or is this a good reason to apply for a refund or repair?

    2) I was traveling in Brazil while sourcing this product, a table lamp. It is very hard to get samples into Brazil, so I stupidly decided that the sample would get sent to my parents in another country for me to inspect. I skyped with my parents to inspect the products and because video is not the same as having it in your hands, I did not see and realise that the product does not have warm yellow light. It only has plain yellow (among the other colors) which is not suitable as a table lamp. Also the esthethics of large version of the product is far worse than what the product page images promise, which makes it a far more inferior product than what the competition provides. The medium size version I got has the correct aesthethics somehow.

    On top of that I did write in the PO that one of the colors should be warm yellow (maybe warm white is the correct term?) and supplier told me that she would attach the PO to the Alibaba order, but she never did. I do have proof that she said she would. But she also has not put a signature onto the PO.

    Is it reasonable to ask for a repair or refund for this? Or is it my fault that I didn't expect the sample correctly, although she did say that the sample would also have warm yellow LED and I expected the aesthethics to look like the picture on the product page?

    3) So my supplier is a trader who got the products from a factory. She has been good to me and I hate the fact that this problem comes between us now and I would like to work with them in the future. Do you think that if I apply for a repair or refund, that they will not want to do business with me anymore? Or will they accept my business because my complaints might be legitimate? Do they have to pay the refund out of their own pocket or can they hold the manufacturer also responsible?

    Looking very forward to your opinions to solve this difficult problem. Maybe you have some other advice on how to deal with this.

    Thank you!

    -LPPC
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2019
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  2. Walter Hay
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    Walter Hay Legendary Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    I am sorry to see what a big problem you have, and will offer the best suggestions that I can.

    Trade Assurance: In my 2019 revision I mention rule changes that were made at the end of December 2018. There is now a 30 day limit for lodging a claim "after the Date of Confirmed Receipt of the Products.” You will need to act quickly if making a claim.

    Unfortunately, you cannot make a claim based on your own inspection, even if supported by photos. They will only consider claims supported by an inspection by one of their authorized Inspection Services. You can only use ones that advertise their services on Alibaba.

    I think that unless you can arrange an inspection in time, your best hope is to work with the supplier without making a Trade Assurance claim.

    In answer to your questions:
    1. Packaging for shipping is generally regarded as the responsibility of the supplier.

    The damage appears to me to be a result of the goods simply rubbing together, rather than rough handling. Tissue paper between the items would be the most common method of protecting them. I think most buyers would expect that to be done without asking.

    2. I think you have every right to ask the supplier to remedy the problem. The question is how can that be done? Was the freight cost substantially less than the cost of goods? If so, they might want them returned at their cost. In any case, as I always advise, try to make the situation a win/win.

    By that I mean you both lose something, possibly by offering to accept a refund of 50%, or replacement at their expense, but you pay 50%.

    If you think it is reasonable to expect more from them, ask politely, and assure them of your continued business once this problem is fixed.

    You did slip up badly in not making sure the contract was formalized with a signature - and a chop.

    3. If the supplier's relationship with the manufacturer is good, they should be able to get some compensation from the manufacturer. It appears to me that the manufacturer is the one at fault for the damage, because they were the ones that packed the goods.

    Best wishes with your negotiations.

    Walter
     
  3. LPPC
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    LPPC Bronze Contributor

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    Thank you so much Walter for your time and energy. I really always appreciate your input. It is indeed a big problem, but also a huge lesson to always do pre-shipment inspection for big orders and always inspect the samples myself. +rep

    In this case shipping via sea is much less than the 4200 USD product cost but shipping via air might cost 1000-2000 USD (0.8 cbm, 175 KG gross weight).

    I have read the rules for Trade assurance fully and if I have understood it correctly, article 10.2.4 states that first I can provide evidence myself (pictures for example) and if Alibaba doesn't find it sufficient, they will order me to do an inspection like you said. I quote the article:"

    ''In case of failure by both Buyer and Seller to reach any agreement regarding the inconformity of delivered products with the Purchase Contract, the party trying to establish a claim shall provide effective, complete and accurate evidence, like photos and videos, to prove its claim. If any of such evidence is determined by Alibaba to be insufficient, the parties shall submit an inspection report issued by a designated inspection company;In case of failure by both Buyer and Seller to reach any agreement regarding the inconformity of delivered products with the Purchase Contract, the party trying to establish a claim shall provide effective, complete and accurate evidence, like photos and videos, to prove its claim. If any of such evidence is determined by Alibaba to be insufficient, the parties shall submit an inspection report issued by a designated inspection company;''

    Is it correct what I am saying here? If yes, then this would mean that I would at least get sufficient time to do the inspection.

    My supplier shipped the product to my forwarder in China on the 25th of january and my forwarder shipped it to us on the 5th of february. 5th of february +30 days of shipping time + 30 days to inspect the goods means that deadline for applying for Trade Assurance is around 5th of april. I have post-shipment inspection coverage.

    Isn't it wise to already apply for Trade Assurance first and after that go talk to the supplier? This way I will make sure not to let trade assurance deadline expire. Maybe the supplier will promise to for example refund it and pay before 5th of april as a trick to let Trade Assurance expire, leaving me powerless.

    Thank you!
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2019
  4. Walter Hay
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    Walter Hay Legendary Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Congratulations on having the mental strength to read all the rules, and what is more, to be able to correctly interpret them!

    Your final paragraph is important. It would pay to commence both processes at once due to the tight deadline. You might find it difficult to arrange an inspection in time, so I expect that you will be relying on Alibaba accepting your visual evidence. 10.2.4 only comes into effect if you have negotiated and failed to reach agreement. My suggestion of starting both processes is not provided for in the rules, but could save you the inspection cost if your supplier is reasonable.

    Sadly, the "trick" you refer to in which suppliers make promises in order to keep you happy until Trade Assurance expires is commonplace.

    This is why it is probably worth trying both claim processes at once.

    In negotiating with your supplier, keep in mind that the product cost to them could be as low as 1/5 or even 1/10 of the price they have charged you, so they most likely have plenty of room to make concessions to you.

    Walter
     
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  5. biophase
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    biophase Legendary Contributor I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    1) So are you saying that the black boxes were stacked on a pallet and shipped that way? Or were the black boxes put inside some larger cardboard boxes, which were then put on a pallet.

    In my opinion, either way, I don't think this is the supplier's fault. Because the suppliers don't know if the box you made will be your shipping box or your nice packaging box. You would have had to tell them to put your nice boxes inside larger cartons. But this may differ depending on what you are shipping.

    With the black scratching easier, that may be an issue with the box manufacturer. That is probably where I would complain about the box. Maybe they used cheap ink, low quality printing.

    2) I don't think you have a case with the lamp. Warm yellow light can mean anything and is subject to wide interpretation. And since you say that maybe warm white is what you wanted, the problem is that you really didn't know yourself what you wanted. I think the lesson learned here is to always get the samples in hand.
     
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  6. LPPC
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    LPPC Bronze Contributor

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    Hello Walter,

    Thanks again for the quick and helpful reply. Regarding reading the rules, it helps to have a background in Law ;)

    I am a bit confused here. So it is possible to apply for Trade Assurance with initially only showing pictures as evidence. But if I've understood your posts clearly though, I would have a much bigger chance to get it refunded via TA if I show them an inspection report (in case I need to rely on TA because supplier doesn't want to compensate). Am I correct on that one?

    Are you saying then that if I had more time, I would be better off to do the inspection first and after that apply for TA, because then I would have a better chance to get it refunded via TA then if I had started the application with only pictures as proof? Or would it not matter if I started the TA with only pictures as proof, because in case Alibaba finds that evidence not sufficient they will order me to do an inspection? This would then mean that it would not matter for the chance of getting a refund whether I started the TA now with pictures to meet the deadline versus applying for TA with inspection report from the beginning?

    The reason I ask this is because I might have more time than deadline of 5th of april, but to be sure of meeting the deadline it is safer to take 5th of april as the date. For explanation on this if interested, see the text in blue below.

    Biophase raised a good point about the packaging. I replied to him below and perhaps you can also give your opinion about the below finding?

    Although factually the shipment departed in China on the 5th of february, on the Alibaba order page it says shipped on 17th of february, with a document attached of my forwarder stating departed on 5th of february. On top of that the supplier marked the shipment as sea shipment, giving me 45 days of shipping time (even though it was shipped via train). These two factors lead to me still having 3 days to confirm the receipt of the goods from today on and after that 30 more days to inspect it, according to the order page. According to article 6.5.1 of the contract on the order page, the date of clicking on ''confirm receipt'' counts as the day of receipt, unless I haven't clicked it; I quote:

    6.5.1 Where the Buyer complains the Seller of breaches sections 6.3.1 (1) and/or (2), the Buyer shall lodge a dispute claim no later than 30 days (inclusive of the 30th day) after the Date of Confirmed Receipt of the Products Date of Confirmed Receipt of the Products means either (1) the day when the Buyer clicks “Confirm” on the order system to confirm the receipt of the Products or (2) if the buyer did not click “Confirm” in the order system, then depending on which shipment method, should be no later than the following days after the Actual Date of Shipment (i) e cargo:15 days; (ii) by land transportation: 30 days; (iii) by sea freight: 45 days. Where there is only partial shipment of the Products, the Claim Period shall base on the Shipment Date of the Products.



    Hello @biophase,

    Thank you very much for chiming in on this, I could use all the help right now. +rep

    The yellow warm LED description is a tricky one indeed. In my mind yellow warm is a more appropriate term, but I think the industry standard is indeed warm white. Also the PO never got signed, so that makes it even more unlikely to be something that Alibaba would consider to be a legitimate reason for refund.

    So I custom designed this packaging box. It is the packaging for the product itself. It has my logo on it and some other designs printed on it. It should be very clear for the manufacturer that this is the product box, because it is made to put the product in it. The black boxes were put in larger carton boxes. For example 30 pieces of them in 1 single carton, without any foil or tissues protecting them from rubbing against eachother. (I hope I understood your question correctly)

    Knowing this, would you say that I can get a refund/replacement for the packaging via Trade Assurance?

    You also raise a very good point about the cheap ink/low quality ink, which made me realise something which might be very important. The package printing looks good and high resolution. I also tried to scratch the packaging with my nail to see whether I would get the white-colored scratches that I can see on all the packages. I got this result:
    [​IMG]

    The bottom image is how the package looks like with the factory/transportation damage. As you can see I did not succeed in making it look like that. To me it seems unlikely that the scratches are because of the packages rubbing against eachother. The packages also have almost no space to move in the cartons. It makes me question whether the package damaging is because of transportation. It looks more like bad handling in the factory. What also makes me think that it is because of bad handling or not being careful with the quality in general is that the aesthethics complaint I have also seems to be the result of not caring much about the end result/quality. Basically a part of the product is made from Tyvek paper. That part should be straight and not wavy. The picture on the product page shows that it is straight. The medium size (also in the shipment) of the product though has the part straight, only the big size has it all wavy. There is also another irregularity that indicates not giving much about the end result (only on large size of this product). Also some have 1-2cm thin scratches on the product itself.

    Aesthethics is very important factor in the buying decision with these kind of products and mine is now much worse than what the competition offers.

    All in all, it looks like just hurrying up the batch and not being quality-oriented in general. Knowing this, would you think that Alibaba would find this a reason that would justify a refund of some sort?


    @Walter Hay , could you also chime in on this and give your opinion?
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2019
  7. BookwormMitch
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    BookwormMitch Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    You may be able to try and file a chargeback with your credit card company as a last resort
     
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  8. Walter Hay
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    Walter Hay Legendary Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    1. Yes, you can start a claim with pictures as proof, but as is the case with much of the Trade Assurance rules, there seems to be some conflict between clauses. It does seem to me that a claim with pictures as proof can work, but only if Alibaba accept the proof.

    An inspection report is undeniable evidence and is your best line of attack.

    There is a risk that if the pictures are not deemed to be sufficient, they might simply dismiss the claim. Alibaba appear to have a tendency to err on the side of the supplier if there is any doubt.

    My hope is that the supplier will be agreeable to your claim.

    2. If you have an inspection report it is very difficult for your supplier to dispute responsibility, and also for Alibaba to support them in that.

    I would start the TA claim with the pictures in order to be sure of meeting the deadline, which might not happen if the inspection service can't do it in time, but I would try to get the inspection done before the deadline, whether or not you start the process with the pictures as proof.

    The weakness in your situation is that you did not specify any type of packaging, but a good inspection service will not rely solely on your order specifications, but will take into account normal industry standards, so don't let Alibaba or your supplier bluff you into accepting liability because of failure to specify packaging.

    Walter
     
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  9. Walter Hay
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    Walter Hay Legendary Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    1. Yes, you can start a claim with pictures as proof, but as is the case with much of the Trade Assurance rules, there seems to be some conflict between clauses. It does seem to me that a claim with pictures as proof can work, but only if Alibaba accept the proof.

    An inspection report is undeniable evidence and is your best line of attack.

    There is a risk that if the pictures are not deemed to be sufficient, they might simply dismiss the claim. Alibaba appear to have a tendency to err on the side of the supplier if there is any doubt.

    My hope is that the supplier will be agreeable to your claim.

    2. If you have an inspection report it is very difficult for your supplier to dispute responsibility, and also for Alibaba to support them in that.

    The weakness in your situation is that you did not specify any type of packaging.

    I would start the TA claim with the pictures in order to be sure of meeting the deadline, which might not happen if the inspection service can't do it in time, but I would try to get the inspection done before the deadline, whether or not you start the process with the pictures as proof.

    A good inspection service will not rely solely on your order specifications, but will take into account normal industry standards, so don't let Alibaba or your supplier bluff you into accepting liability because of failure to specify packaging.

    Walter
     
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  10. LPPC
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    LPPC Bronze Contributor

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    @BookwormMitch Unfortunately I paid via T/T Wire transfer. So I don't think that would be possible.

    @Walter Hay

    Thank you very much for clearing that up! I have talked to the supplier today and explained my position and offered her two solutions she can choose from:

    1) 50% refund
    2) They repair the products and I help by paying 1000 USD.

    I will see tomorrow whether I will book an inspection. It depends on their answer.

    Thanks again Walter!
     
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  11. LPPC
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    LPPC Bronze Contributor

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    Hi all,

    I thought I would post an update and note the things I learned for future readers. Special thanks to @Walter Hay . He is a legend!
    Also many thanks to @biophase and @BookwormMitch for their contributions to this topic.

    In the end I was able to get 33% refunded by coming to an agreement with the supplier and also get new packagings sent to me. It was hard to determine what was fair, I also tried to keep the trader and manufacturer in mind.

    It was also emotionally taxing, with the trade saying that she got cut from her salary because the company made losses because of this order. I don't know how much of it is true. If true though, then I think she didn't deserve that. She was really helpful and honest.

    For the future, I will make sure to thoroughly inspect the samples and after that order a test batch. If test batch is okay, then I will surely do an inspection in China before the big order leaves the country. Communicating your wishes very clearly is very key for both the manufacturer and for being able to communicate what the inspection should pay attention to. Draw a PO and think of every little detail that needs to be correct.

    Also for the packaging being damaged, next time I will not choose black background because the scratches will be more easy to see.

    Hope this was helpful.
     
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  12. Walter Hay
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    Walter Hay Legendary Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    I'm glad you came out of this so well.

    Don't stress about the cut in salary. That would be typical emotional blackmail.

    Walter
     
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  13. LPPC
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    LPPC Bronze Contributor

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    Thank you Walter, I think the refund is not too bad. Good to know that for the future! She did succeed in making me feel bad by saying that.

    Maybe there is more to it....She has sourced 2 products for me. Let's call them product A and product B (small batch). The refund was for product A.

    At one point she said that she got fired by her boss because this made the company lose money. After the negotiation was over, I asked whether her boss had changed her mind about firing her. She circumvented the question by saying that she got cut in her salary and that she would leave her job, partly because of this refund.

    She is still saying that she is leaving the company. Although the date of departure has been different for 3 times, today she said that she would leave the company tomorrow. During the negotiation she gave me the contact person of the manufacturer (she herself is a trader) so that I could conversate about the defect with the manufacturer themselves. Right before making a deal about the refund, she said that in the future, after she has left, I can order directly from the manufacturer for a lower price by contacting that person of the manufacturer. This enhanced her negotiation position. Today I sent an email to that manufacturer to ask their selling price in the future.

    She also said that she would give me the phone number of the manufacturer of product B too. Right now I have to order more inventory for product B. Today I asked her whether I can already get the contact number of manufacturer B. She said yes and she said that she would contact them to arrange an English speaking person from the factory, because most of them can't speak English.

    Now I am uncertain about all of this and maybe you can help me with these questions?

    A) Do you think that it is true that she is leaving the company and that she indeed gave me the phone numbers of the real manufacturers? Or is this a common negotiation trick also? The price of the products would be a good indication which I will get soon hopefully, but I have to prepare for our conversation tomorrow.

    I have also told her that she can source other products for me as a kind of freelancer/own company. So the answer to A) will also impact this situation.

    B) Because I have already bought a small batch from manufacturer B before via the trader, they know I can pay a higher price. So if the trader introduces me to the manufacturer, then they may make their price higher than the usual factory-price because they know i have paid a higher price before. Do you think that this is likely indeed and that it would be better to not have me introduced to the manufacturer by the trader and instead email them myself to ask for the price and only after the quote tell them that I have bought with them before?

    C) It might be that she has already contacted manufacturer B about this. If she has and your answer to question B is that I might indeed get a higher price than usual, would you then say it is better to order now from my back-up manufacturer/trader instead and in the future (after 4 months) order from manufacturer B? In the future then I can introduce myself as a different company. This would give me a better price for the long-term. Although they will likely recognize my logo that has to be engraved on the product, it will be after the price quotation.

    Thank you so much for your time!
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2019
  14. Walter Hay
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    Walter Hay Legendary Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    I doubt that you can believe much of what she says. It still seems to me that she is applying psychological pressure.

    In answer to your questions:
    A) If she gives you the name of the manufacturers you should be able to find their telephone numbers. Yes, if the prices are very much better, that should mean she is actually giving you direct access to the manufacturers.

    It was a very clever move on your part to offer her the right to do private sourcing for you. You are learning to negotiate Chinese style.

    B) I would contact the manufacturer direct, otherwise you will have to bargain hard to get a genuine factory price. Agreed that you could tell them after the price is agreed, but after the event.

    C) This situation requires you to gamble, and I would only be guessing about the outcome. You are right in thinking that manufacturer B would recognize you, and it is not only the logo that would cause that.

    They would recognize the order details and your specifications, as well as your correspondence style.

    Walter
     
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  15. LPPC
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    LPPC Bronze Contributor

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    @Walter Hay

    Thank you for the helpful response again!

    I contacted manufacturer A about their future price if I order again. They have seen my message, but not answered. It seems that you are right about the trader not speaking the truth.

    I also asked the trader to give me the factory name for product B, the product I want to order another batch from. I told her that I wanted to contact them directly and hide my identity in the beginning in order to get a good price. She only gave me a Wechat ID, not the factory name. Tomorrow I will again explicitly ask her for the manufacturer company name.

    If she finds an excuse not to give me the company name I have to respond wisely. She can for example say that the Wechat ID is really of the manufacturer. Do you maybe know a good excuse/reason to require the company name?

    If she does give me the factory name, then I think the only option is to google it in order to find the phone number of the factory? or is there such thing as a manufacturer directory?

    I think that if I can not find it on google or this directory, then I can assume that she is not giving me manufacturer name?

    Sorry for all the questions! I just want to make the best decision. Sometimes I ask myself whether I am not being too perfectionistic. I also think ahead and think of all the possible scenario's. which take up a lot of time.
     
  16. Walter Hay
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    Walter Hay Legendary Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    I have no doubt that she is not being honest with you. In that case I would not even consider having her act as your sourcing agent.

    You might be better off starting again with your product search.

    There are no directories of manufacturers in the form we Westerners would be used to. I can locate something resembling a directory, but I must say that searching that is a painful process.

    If you can find a company that does supply your product, I would be happy to check them out for you.

    Walter
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2019 at 6:22 PM
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  17. caezlar
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    discuss with supplier, they can cover part of cost.
     
  18. LPPC
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    $964
    Hello Walter,

    Finally rounded it up and this was the result. She was hesitant, but she did give me the factory name and the link to 1688.com profile of this supplier/manufacturer B. On the profile page they listed the same WeChat ID as she gave me. The factory knew who I was from the beginning and they gave me the same price as was listed on 1688 profile. Their price was only 1.5 USD lower than what the trader charged me. It seems like a really thin margin for the trader.

    Whether it is a real manufacturer or just another trader, I don't know. They claim to be a manufacturer and said I would be their first foreign customer.

    She also gave me the factory name and profile page for product A on 1688.com.

    I am glad that this has ended and I can move on, for a big part thanks to you! Thank you for offering to check the supplier for me. As of now, it is not needed.

    Keep being great!
     
    Walter Hay likes this.

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