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Old 23rd April 2007, 10:17 PM   #1
east2west
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Default Issues With Sites Like Alibaba

I want to firstly say that I am NOT trying to promote my business with this post, but I genuinely want to provide you guys with another opinion about sites like alibaba and the like.

Of course my opinion may be a bit biased, but I want to raise issues that could potentially protect your business from disaster, and issues that I know for a fact has happened to others.

I came on this site this morning (morning for me in China, night for the west) and right off the bat I seen two references to alibaba to people who are seeking goods. Let me start by saying that at least 60% of my existing clients (if not more) tried sites like alibaba before throwing their hands up in disgust and seeking another way to connect with Chinese manufacturers.

One of the biggest issues with these types of services is order accuracy. I personally order from Chinese manufacturers almost everyday, and I dare say that 20 to 25% of the time when I receive the order at my office there is some sort of problem, and 10% of the time itís just flat out wrong. When using these sites there is absolutely no way to tell what you are getting until it has already been shipped to you overseas, so depending on the method of shipping you could potentially be set back months, and some of the folks I have dealt with say they where never made right after a wrong shipment.

Two, with my dealings with Chinese manufacturers I have learned another potentially valuable tidbit of information. Most of the factory representatives that these manufacturers hire to deal with foreign buyers are at very best elementary level English speakers. The fact is, these manufactures pay their English speaking employees any where from about 1500rmb to at very most 3000rmb per month. Which is in the neighborhood of 200 U.S. dollars a month, frankly most of those Chinese who are at a high level of English speaking have better, higher paying jobs. I have spoke to people who had problems with these manufacturers who ended up having to go through the trouble of locating and hiring a translator just to try to get issues resolved, and even one lady who went through 3 different interpreters she located online before she could even find one that she could understand more then 50% of what the interpreter was even saying.

To be totally honest, I can speak a good deal of Mandarin, and even I run into problems with communication, due to different dialects, and even some factories which are located in the Guangdong province (mainly Hong Kong) whoís employeeís only speak Cantonese, which I donít understand because it is a completely different language. Without having employees on staff who speak all three languages I would not be able to operate.

I would also like to mention that many of these manufactures do not offer foreigners the same price they offer to buyers inside China, so many times the price you see on those kinds of sites have been marked up considerably. Iím sorry if this sounds stereotypical, but frankly westerners are generally viewed here in China as being rich, and should be charged accordingly, this is just the plane truth of the matter.

Now let me say, that I am sure there are thousands of people who have had success with these kinds of sites, and by no means am I saying that dealing with these sites always turns out bad, because thatís simply not true, but I will say that I have encountered many, many people who where totally dissatisfied, or just plain ripped off by manufacturers on sites such as these. I just want to offer you guys the other side of the coin by pointing out some potential problems you could encounter.

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