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Are quality control agencies inflexible?

Some importers don’t work with third-party inspection companies because they can’t find a way to cooperate. They think these agencies are not flexible enough.

But I want to explain why some requests need to be turned down.

Here is a list of examples.

1. Not an inspection somewhere in the morning and somewhere else in the afternoon.

In general, 1 booking is for performing 1 type of service in 1 factory.

2. No special calculations for invoicing

Inspection services are sold per man-day (1 man-day is 1 worker for 1 day), not per hour or per half man-day.

3. If possible, no fully customized services

A handful of standard services are proposed. They are what the staff is trained to perform.

Some customization is possible (e.g. adding some checkpoints that are specific to the product or to the client’s requirements), but the structure of the service and its deliverable will be unchanged… Except if the volume of work is high enough to justify a special training program.

4. If possible, no client-specific report template

Some large buyers have their own report template, and ask third-party QC firms to use it.

The same logic as point 3 applies: it is manageable if they represent a certain number of man-days per month. For small clients, it is not worth the pain to train people to get familiar with it.

5. No bookings over the phone or through IM

Emails, faxes, or online bookings are necessary. Booking a service over the phone or over Skype is not welcome (it is the best way to make mistakes… and QC people like written instructions anyway).

6. Little transparency on the identity of inspectors

Inspectors and auditors are supposed to be trained the same way and to perform services in the same way.

A client may indicate a preference for (or a refusal of) a certain inspector, but it would be unmanageable if every client indicated who should work on his products.

7. If possible, contact with a sales team rather than 1 individual

QC firms can offer a single point of contact. But it is not optimal when timing is tight. If you need responses fast, you’d better get used to dealing with several people.

8. No bookings for tomorrow!!

The schedule must be arranged in advance. If every client requests an inspection for the following day, it is impossible to handle. The number of inspectors/auditors is fixed or semi-fixed (in the case of freelancers).

Therefore, a certain advance notice (from 2 to 5 days) is absolutely necessary.


What do you think? Is this level of rigidity justified or not?

Renaud Anjoran is the founder of Sofeast Quality Control and helps importers to improve and secure their product quality in China. He writes advice for importers on the Quality Inspection blog. He lives full time in Shenzhen, China. You can contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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