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China product problems.Again.

by Dan Harris

I’ve been deleting old emails today and in doing so I have deleted far too many that relate to China product quality problems.  Here’s the most recent such email, with all identifiers removed to protect the victim:


My company purchased hundreds of _____ from a company in China for about $65,000. Most of these _______ were defective when we received them. They [the Chinese manufacturer] told us that they would make up for this on our next order. We made another order and we got more defective _________.

We then upgraded the _________ to what was supposed to be a better quality ________. Again, we have received defective ________. We are
now getting many returns from our customers who bought these _______ and
this is costing us tens of thousands of dollars.

I would like to know if there is any way that we can get our money back for
all the bad ________. We have all invoices, communications, and videos and

We also want to know if we can sue for attorney costs to resolve this matter
as well?

My response, which is pretty much pure template these days, was as follows:

I hate to have to tell you this, but you have probably set yourself up so that a good solution is very unlikely.
You say that you have all “invoices, communications, and videos and pictures,” but you fail to mention the most important thing of all, which is a signed AND sealed contract in Chinese that makes very clear exactly what the Chinese manufacturer was to provide you and the penalties it owes for having failed to do so.
Once you have the sort of problem that you had with a Chinese manufacturer, you run away.  Fast.  And you don’t go back for more and then back again.  Ever.
We typically charge a flat fee on these sorts of cases, along with a percentage of whatever we recover, with the fee and the percent based on how we access the case after reviewing all relevant documetns.
When we take on these cases, we review all the documents and try to get anything back for our clients by writing a letter in Chinese threatening to sue.  I don’t think that will work here and I would urge you not to retain us.
The other thing I would urge you to do is to not order anything from China again without a good contract in place. Good contracts usually work by driving away the bad Chinese companies and by forcing the good ones to toe the line.  China does not typically award attorneys’ fees unless that award is set forth in a signed contract. For more on what you can be doing to protect yourself by from China product problems, I urge you to read the following:


I am truly sorry this has happened to you and I am also sorry that I cannot be more positive about it, but the last thing I want to do is to add to your pain by taking more of your money on something that probably will not give you any value back.
Not surprisingly, I did not hear back.

Dan Harris is founder of the Harris & Moure law firm, a boutique international law firm focusing on small and medium sized businesses that operate internationally. China is the fastest growing area for the firm. Dan writes as a source of China legal and business information.

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