Disputes With Chinese Suppliers Volume 19Now that Zero Covid has been scrapped in China we’re seeing an accelerating number of cases around the country. Covid restrictions have been mainly dropped and freedom of movement is allowed around the country, so these days on-site inspections can usually still be done and some suppliers just use Covid as an excuse to avoid the products being inspected.

Obviously, that’s a bad sign for you because you need to know if your products reach your expectations before they’re shipped. This brings us nicely to today’s dispute (a real Sofeast client, but we do not provide any identifying information here to maintain their confidentiality)…


Question: My supplier is resisting on-site inspections of our products and blames covid for this. What can we do?

My order of thousands of kid’s toys is ready and I’m trying to arrange for Sofeast inspectors to do a product inspection on-site before they’re shipped, but the supplier has told me this:

Because of the effects of the virus, our factory has not been opened yet.

If you think it is necessary to check before shipment, it is no problem.

We can take some pieces from the mass production order and send them to your agent for inspection.

We’re worried that we won’t get the real picture of quality if the supplier selects the pieces that inspectors can check. What can we do?



Here is how we see the situation.

This looks like a trading company that tries to keep the manufacturing site(s) hidden. I write “site(s)” since you purchased several types of products, some are finished while others aren’t, and this probably indicates that several factories are working on your order.

They are using the excuse of a factory not accepting visitors to dodge the inspection (because we know that this supplier was in a part of China where the Covid situation was not serious and other factories were operating normally).

If that’s really the only problem, you can ask them to provide a name & phone number at the factory so that we call them and confirm the real situation. If they refuse to do that, and they don’t provide very good explanations, then we have to believe they are not telling the truth. It is totally normal for an inspection agency to be in phone contact with a factory, and there is never a commercial element about it.

If they push back on an inspection with a bogus excuse, it might also indicate that they are afraid we find some issues. So, you have to ask yourself, are you willing to let them ship the goods in that case?


Now, let’s think of what your solution could be…

If the supplier accepts an inspection but the goods are in several factories, they can arrange for all the goods to be brought to 1 factory. That’s quite common in order to minimize inspection costs, but you might have to push them hard.

If none of that is possible, we can do an off-site inspection. We described this solution we provide at: 6 Advantages Of Conducting An Off-Site Product Inspection.

In any case, it is very important that they do NOT pick the samples before the inspection. We will not accept that. We will need to do the picking ourselves (or at least under our supervision if it’s through a live video call).


Do you find yourself in a difficult situation with a Chinese supplier? Let us know and we might answer your questions in a post like this! Contact us here.


Other helpful content

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

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

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