Horror Stories (important lessons)
Things aren't as they seem...
I was helping a friend of a client to check that a factory they planned to use was legit. I got to the destination trin station and was collected by a driver and 3 women. Usually so many resources wouldn't be wasted on a simple tick-box factory audit... I spoke a few words of Chinese, did not hide but also did not fully disclose my level of fluency. Within 5 minutes of being picked up from the station, I knew the following:
The factory was a separate entity from the people with whom I was sharing the car. This is quite the opposite of what they had told the client.
They did not want me or my client knowing this.
They openly discussed how best to manage the lie in front of me. By this point I was already sceptical about what they could offer. Why was it a problem if they do a good job you might ask? It is a lie. What else are they lying about? How do you know you money will be safe once the order deposit is paid to these random women and not the the factory itself? Can you trust they are financially responsible when they cannot even admit they are a small sales outfit masquerading as a factory? No, you cannot and should not trust these liars.
The factory was fine, but being shielded completely from developing a genuine direct relationship with them was the end of it. Interesting, but an ultimately wasted afternoon!
1.) You need someone who understands the language or can sniff out a liar. You must always consider whether or not your money is safe being paid to the recipient.
2.) Visit in person. A factory visit is so very valuable. Do not pay anything to anyone you have not first validated.
3.) Trust your instincts and be skeptical when something smells fishy.
Our main factory was having problems. At the time it was confusing, as they were a large supplier with orders flooding in from us, and more vitally; from Target, Walmart and all the other big boys.
In hindsight it became clear. They had over-invested on premises that were too large for what they needed. Orders were placed but the larger customers and their intermediaries have a habit of holding payment for the tiniest infractions (or even when no infractions exist). Buy a few BMW 7 series, invest in a couple of villas and the cash dries up.
This left us and our client with orders unfulfilled. They basically had only the most loyal workers left who we had to nonstop bother and plead with to get them to finish our orders. I don't quite know how we managed it, but we did. My wife was at an injection moulding factory we were using whilst 8mths pregnant in the height of China summertime (40*C and humid) to move the tooling.
1.) Things can go sideways. Be prepared for the risk.
2.) Monitor closely. Any odd behaviour needs on-the-ground in person clarification FAST. (odd behaviour may include request for early payment, production delays, odd excuses)
More to follow...
Tom was a lazy boy. He was an overseas rep for the large Chinese factory in which we were touring. It was a hot day. Everyone, including the Chinese office staff were sweating. No one really wanted to be there, but all of us, except Tom were trying. Tom sat down, when the rest of us stood. Tom had his phone out, when the rest of us were in discussion. Tom drew some derogatory comments from the office manager, but her comment was also aimed at me!
I got tarred with the same brush, being a white, youngish foreigner. This riled me. I was a third party being paid a day rate, but I knew the importance of the meeting and was contributing helpfully, as a third party observer should. I did not feel the comment directed at me was in any way justified!
I know that Tom's reputation for a dependable colleague and future partner is shot.
1. Respect the job, work hard or you'll definitely be singled out in China. (If you don't work, you don't eat - no benefits).
2. Work harder when on a tour with Tom and keep your distance.
3. Stand up for yourself. I let those women know I was not to be confused for a lay about.
More to follow...
More to follow...