I work as an agency in for foreign buyers for many years.
That is why I have so many business stories and lessons to share here.
The following story is about a shipment pre-inspection.
I have worked for one of my buyers from Europe as his agency in for years.
I help with coordination, order fulfillment, production management, pre-inspection and shipping assistant on his behalf.
Months ago, my buyer placed a ceramic order with a ceramic trading company which my buyer and I found in the Canton fair last autumn.
The whole progress of the mass production went on smoothly.
2 weeks ago, the seller informed us the goods were ready to ship.
In the meanwhile, the production samples we received from the seller looks nice.
We supposed it would lead to a pleasant ending.
The seller also ensured us they would do their quality control and we do our inspection just for double checking.
Later, we did the inspection in the warehouse of the seller.
We found many quality problems, like watermark, un-straight graphics (decal), black dots, pin holes, poor printing.
The major problem was the water marks and un-straight graphic.
The minors was black dots, pin hole, poor printing.
It was random check. As my buyer expected this shipment would be high quality and no need to make 100% checking.
According to AQL 2.5-4.0, the overall result of this inspection was failed.
My buyer and I were shocked to see such a result.
The seller said the water marks were happened because of the humid weather in the South of China recently. The products were not dry/clean enough before they went into oven. So the watermark was happen and it won't be able to wipe off.
My buyer asked me about my comments and solutions about this order.
In the meanwhile, my buyer instructed the seller immediately as follows:
"I have received the QC report from Jasmine – and I am very unhappy to see the many faulty items being reported.
The container can NOT be loaded and shipped with these Faulty items aboard. No faulty items must leave ."
I talked to my buyer as follows:
"In my view, a few amount with black dots, dent point, and poor print of decal are acceptable. It is hard to achieve 100% perfect in most of the real productions.
But the watermark makes the cups looked dirty. Maybe it is not obvious if you don't pay attention to it carefully. The ceramic container should be clean and hygiene at least. And this is a basic quality standard for ceramic products. Please give them time to see how to solve together."
The seller replied us as follows:
"First of all, please accept our apology for the inconvenience caused to you. The major problem is watermark and uneven graphics, we will try to erase the watermark by professional cleaning agent &sort out the defected items. For porcelain items, it is impossible to avoid any black dots and pin hole.Anyway, we will re-work all the items and provide you nice products."
I realized this issue can be a headache for both parties.
It might cause the seller's big problem. As the seller’s cooperated factory is in another province.
It was difficult for them to return for improvement.
1) I guess they have paid their factory before delivery. No factory will be happy to take the products back after delivery.
2) The transportation costs for round-trip would increase their cost. Nowadays the profits are so small. Round-trip costs will run out their profits.
3) They are ceramic products and can’t stand the long trip transportation and pack/unpack twice.
4) The watermark, un-straight graphic, pin holes, poor printing won’t be able improved or clean unless re-production.
Once again, my buyer stressed to the seller as follows:
"I can not accept that you ship the goods without re-checking the products and omit the faulty items from the shipment (uneven graphics, holes, scratch marks and watermarks) – pls. unpack all boxes and omit bad items. I will not pay for bad quality."
Last week, the seller informed us they already picked and chose the good ones.
They gave us the quantity after selection. And they asked my buyer if he would like them to produce more up to a full 20" container. My buyer said no and he will consider the repeat orders when goods are arrived and find the quality is ok.
The seller updated the quantity by several emails later and said they found more good ones from the defectives. That means the quantity for shipping is more.
Then another random checking was needed with the quantity they first informed.
So I asked my buyer again about his inspection requirement.
My buyer replied: "As a ground rule, I can not accept any faulty items (why should I pay full price for faulty items- I will only have to credit my customers once they receive faulty items. So faulty items are not accepted) "
My buyer’s words made me felt it would be a disaster for the seller.
As my QC told me the average quality of this shipment is between class A to B.
They were not class A products at all. If the buyer asks too high, the whole shipment was not passed.
I forwarded the above comments to my buyer and he was upset. And he asked me if he can get a refunding or refuse the order?
I said to my buyer: “I don't think the seller would allow you for refunding and you paid the deposit there, this would put you in passive situation also. Maybe just ship what the good products they have there."
My buyer realized he really expected too high for this order so he informed the seller he would only accept the quality standard between class A to B.
The re-inspection was made.
The sales lady from the seller was nervous about the result and asked my final comment online.
She complained my QC worker was too particular.
She said our standard of inspection was class a) but my buyer required quality between class A to B.
So I informed her clearly.
1)We did the inspection according to my buyer's requirements of inspection.
2)My buyer never said he require the quality is between class a) to class b)
When we were in the fair and discussed with her colleague, her colleague didn't inform us that their products has several grades.
The samples they displayed there are perfect items class A and this was what my buyer really required for his customs-made products.
If your colleague clarify there are several grades, I believe no importers will ask lower grade products.
The lady still quibbled that my buyer approved their samples which is not class A samples. They produced to that standard.
She also asked, if this was the first time for my buyer to buy ceramic products? It is impossible to have 100% perfects products in real production.
I told her I didn't want to argue with her, and I can also translate all our dialogue from Chinese into English now for my buyer's judgment.
Then she shut up her mouth.
I think I was fair. I realized it is hard for the factory to avoid some minors in real production.
If the buyer expect high and don’t state that before ordering, now he ask higher for the quality level when inspection, it will give both parties of the problem. Samples are always samples, they are the best.
After sending my buyer the re-inspection report and I also summarized in my email that this shipment can ship out. But their level is between class A and B.
My buyer asked me “presumably” this can not be avoided in any production?”
He has to take it and fully awarded that this shipment is between class a and class b
We thought the story was ending. When we instructed the seller to load the container 3 days ago and we found the seller shipped more quantity with the defectives. The seller gave some excuses and said they found more good items.
After several stiff discussions with the seller on phone on my buyer’s behalf, both parties came into the final conclusion: my buyer will pay the balance for the quantity we both confirmed. And my buyer will pay the extra when the goods are arrived and approved.
So this was a good ending. It was fair to each party. I played an important role as quality control party and did my responsibility also.
Sum up: To avoid such case happen, if you require high quality products from , you should inform the sellers about your standard, and state everything in the sales contract. Even you need to state that you will make 100% checking before shipping.
Thus the seller will consider if they have the capacities to produce the quality you required and work out a proper prices (to cover the higher production cost for better quality)
Because some minors defectives are hard to be avoiding in real production.
If the buyer asks high for the quality, the factory would pick off the defectives and leave the good ones which will increase their production cost.
maxinderwelt wrote:"The question I would have is that if the supplier knew about these problems WHY do they intend to ship out these goods???"
The supplier knew these qualiy problems for cetain.Why do them intend to ship out these goods???Because they had to protect their profits and lower the lost as much as they can.
thanks for your reading and sharing also. It is helpful.