Sunday, June 6, 2010

Caveat Emptor

This isn't packaging related in the strictest sense, but I thought it was pretty interesting as a lot of basic packaging comes from China. Over at the China Law blog they detail a few horror stories of how manufacturers don't get precisely what they ordered from China -- if they aren't precise about what to order. It all boils down to some completely different ethical standards operating in China versus here in the US:

One of the things we are always telling our clients who source product to China is to be specific. Always. I talk about how China has levels of quality five levels below anything you would even think possible and for Chinese manufacturers, those levels are normal.

I mention how you can buy shirts (unbelievably cheaply) in China that are pretty much ruined after one washing. I tell them of the company that sought our assistance after receiving USD $500,000 of computer bags whose handles broke pretty much every time they were used to tote a laptop. Or I tell of the company that contacted us when its massive order of Christmas tree lights would not be delivered until mid-December. In both cases, I blamed the US companies for having failed to be specific. In the laptop bag case, the Chinese manufacturer essentially said that if the US company had wanted the bags to have been strong enough to hold a laptop, they should have paid more for them.

I talk about the US company that came to us after discovering its Chinese manufacturer was selling its rejected and unsafe product around the world and had no legal basis to stop this. It had no legal basis to stop it because it had no trademarks in the key countries and because its OEM contract failed to require rejected product be destroyed.

I thought of all those things today after reading "Documents Unsealed in Chinese Drywall Lawsuit." The article's first paragraph says it all:

Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. LTD, a major Chinese drywall manufacturer, urged one of its main U.S. customers, Banner Supply, to sell thousands of sheets of foul-smelling drywall “overseas” after Banner complained about the tainted product, according to documents and depositions unsealed Friday by a Florida circuit court judge in Miami-Dade County. A Banner executive said the offer was refused.

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