Disputes with Chinese suppliers Volume 7

What happens if your Chinese supplier hasn’t kept up their end of the bargain when inspections happen? In this case, what can you do if a supplier hasn’t prepared export packaging for checking or performed a package drop test, leaving you unsure if it will protect your products during transit?

Also, how do you use your quality inspection report to drive your supplier to improve and what to do if you do have a quality dispute?

Let’s explore these points in this volume of the ‘disputes with Chinese suppliers’ series where our CEO, Renaud Anjoran, answers your questions…


Q: When my FRI was performed no pallets were ready – is this acceptable?

We were expecting the pallets to be ready so the inspector could check the export packaging, including plastic wraps and straps. Is this normal? We are disappointed as we were hoping it could all be checked at the same time.  

Renaud’s answer:

Unfortunately, this isn’t unusual.

A workaround for many buyers is to ask the factory for 4 photos of each pallet, in that case, to validate that they’re ready for shipment visually. It shouldn’t be too difficult for a supplier to provide these photos.


Q: My supplier also refused to perform carton drop tests – is this normal practice?

We need to confirm if the export packaging is capable of protecting our products (in this case, ceramics) from damage. We really need the carton drop test to happen.

Renaud’s answer:

The bad news is that it isn’t unusual for suppliers not to conduct this kind of packaging reliability testing, but it depends on what you agreed with them in advance.

However, if you sent a checklist including a package drop test to the supplier which they agreed to before production, then that’s really worrying behavior. You need to find out why they refused it.

As a workaround maybe they can shoot a video of them dropping a full carton and then opening it and send it to you? You can at least get a decent idea of the packaging’s capability from this.


Q: Can I share the inspection report with my supplier to guide them on where to improve quality?

I want to use the results from our Final Random Inspection (FRI) report to push the supplier to improve quality.

Renaud’s answer:

Yes, you can share some of the report. Our customers often take screen captures of the inspection report we send them (here are some sample inspection reports for you to examine) to demonstrate some of the points to improve.

However, they usually don’t send the full report, to prevent a common issue: some problems are noticed after delivery (maybe poor packing caused damage to the products), and, if they have access to the full report, the supplier then replies: “but look at the inspection report, even your inspector did not find this issue, so how can you expect us to find it?”


Q: Do you have any advice about how I can handle quality disputes with the supplier? (for rework and/or refund)

What can we insist that the supplier covers the cost of, etc, if quality issues are found?


If there is a quality dispute and there is a manufacturing contract in place, the customer usually knows what they can request – for example, the ability to book a re-inspection after some issues are found and to deduct the cost of that re-inspection from the balance owed to the supplier.

However, if there is no manufacturing contract between you and the supplier, it all comes down to how motivated the supplier is. You have some leverage if you haven’t paid them in full. But you will probably have close to zero leverage after that. It is important to get confirmation that everything is right (through photos and/or videos where that’s sufficient) before you pay them in full.

👉 Listen to this episode of our podcast on how and why to create a valid Chinese manufacturing agreement etc.


Your turn…

Let us know if you have had any issues with suppliers in China (or elsewhere in Asia) by leaving a comment or contacting us. We might select your question and answer it in the next post in this series!

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