Disputes with Chinese suppliers Volume 12

Relationships with your Chinese suppliers aren’t always plain sailing. Oftentimes they push back against your requests and make the relationship more difficult. Let’s look at an real example we were sent of this (no identifying details given for confidentiality) and some suggestions on how to navigate the situation.


“We are having trouble with our Chinese supplier who is raising the MOQ and says our current QC company is bribing them.”



This seems to be a sign that your supplier is pushing you back on the cooperation as a whole. Another common form of pushback, of course, is higher prices — often in the order of 20% more!

Based on the information given in your question, we are left to make some hypotheses about the situation:

  • Maybe they consider your orders to be too small, and it is troublesome for them to have a quality inspector come (need to unpack, repack, explain issues to you, etc.).
  • Maybe they think that they offered a very low price, and they have come to realize that your quality standard is high, which in their mind is not fair.
  • Maybe their factory is getting quite busy and they’re no longer interested in producing small orders.
  • Maybe you charged them back for some product failures in the field and this has upset them, leading them to try to claw back some costs by raising your MOQ and being more awkward.
  • Maybe it is something entirely different. The list could be quite long.

Context-based communication

Chinese people communicate while assuming that all parties are familiar with the context. They naturally let the other party figure it out by themselves. That’s rather confusing for other cultures, especially for Americans and other Westerners who communicate exactly in the opposite way (they spell everything out very specifically so there can be no misunderstanding).

How to combat the pushback?

If your supplier is pushing back, you need to get on a Wechat/Skype/Zoom/Teams call with them and ask questions.
I would NOT focus first on the topics raised by the supplier (the higher MOQ, the accusations against the inspector, etc.), but rather on the fundamentals of your cooperation – is the supplier happy with the way you work, does the supplier consider you as a good or bad customer, why, etc.

Maybe in the end it goes back to the topics mentioned, and then you have to do something about it. And even then, it is important to dig a bit deeper.

For example, let’s say the factory thinks the inspection company is too harsh. They pick small issues and count them as defects. But that’s not the inspection company’s issue – it is your issue.
Maybe you haven’t described what quality standard is to be followed?
Maybe you communicated a standard to the inspectors, but not to the manufacturers? That has to be fixed first, or the manufacturer will see a high risk of seeing their productions stopped for quality issues and will, naturally, push back against it.


Other helpful content

You may also find these posts and podcast episodes helpful in this case:

If the relationship is beyond repair, it may be time to find a new supplier! We created a FREE eBook to help you switch: How To Switch To A Newer, Better Chinese Manufacturer? [eBook]


You can read our entire ongoing series of posts about disputes with Chinese suppliers here.

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