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How do I send defects back to China?

by Mike Bellamy

How does one return faulty watches to China?  I want to return the defects to an alternative factory who is willing to assist with the repair, not to the original supplier who walked away from their faulty goods. We have been warned with horror stories about returning watches through Chinese customs.  Is this possible and will I be charged import duties on returning goods? I have also heard about gray channel returns where one sends goods to a third party in Hong Kong, who then ground deliver the goods over the border to China. Is this a viable option?

Your question was forwarded to my attention as I have experience with the re-export/ re-work you are looking into.  Here is a blog post I wrote on the subject.  I think you will find the last few paragraphs of interest as it lays out the pros and cons of gray channel re-import.  It also explains the realities of getting hit with an inbound duty, even when returning defects.

What is the style, cubic size and $ value of the goods to be re-worked? Based on that info, I’ll offer some ideas.

As a lot of watches can fit into a suitcase, using an overland expediter could work. If the style of watch is luxury and you have a lot of them, they are going to jump out in the x-ray as PRC tax man at customs is watching for smuggled items like jewelry.

BTW, any chance you can go after the supplier who caused this mess?   Please post them to and warn other buyers.

Question answered by Mike Bellamy, an Advisory Board Member & Featured Blogger at the not-for-profit China Sourcing Information Center. Mike is also the author of "The Essential Reference Guide to China Sourcing" and founder of PassageMaker Sourcing Solutions.

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