Skip to comments.Poorly Made in China: An Insider's Account of the China Production Game Paperback
Posted on 10/14/2013 7:29:51 PM PDT by robowombat
Poorly Made in China: An Insider's Account of the China Production Game Paperback by Paul Midler (Author)
An insider reveals what canand doesgo wrong when companies shift production to China In this entertaining behind-the-scenes account, Paul Midler tells us all that is wrong with our effort to shift manufacturing to China. Now updated and expanded, Poorly Made in China reveals industry secrets, including the dangerous practice of quality fadethe deliberate and secret habit of Chinese manufacturers to widen profit margins through the reduction of quality inputs. U.S. importers dont stand a chance, Midler explains, against savvy Chinese suppliers who feel they have little to lose by placing consumer safety at risk for the sake of greater profit. This is a lively and impassioned personal account, a collection of true stories, told by an American who has worked in the country for close to two decades. Poorly Made in China touches on a number of issues that affect us all.
Like he was with me on every buy By Man from New York on July 16, 2010 Format: Hardcover Amazon Verified Purchase I have done business in China since 1986. I know from experience how tricky and dangerous it is, especially for the newcomer. Curiously Mr. Midler refers to suppliers in Shantou (Canton Province) and I too have many suppliers there. Apparently this behavior amongst the Chinese is across the board no matter what product you work with. And they don't care no matter what threats or promises you make. I actually had one supplier who told me he would no longer sell to me because "you complain too much"! No loss to me, easily replaced you can be sure. Communists or not, the almighty greenback is king in China but as Mr. Midler makes very clear, it is not going to get you what you think you contracted for. Something close, maybe, but not right on target. The Chinese screwed up so many of my shipments that I got the distinct impression that the translaters were interpreting my directions, not translating them. So I spent years learning to speak Mandarin. I am totally fluent now, have often been mistaken for being Chinese on the telephone by those who had not yet met me. No matter, I told them straight out what I wanted in their own language and STILL they basically did it wrong to shave off a few bucks to their advantage. I could never understand that way of thinking, in America we keep the customers happy to perpetuate our business with them, we do not consistently antagonize them. This book will open your eyes if you want to do business in China and if you are already there you cannot help but agree with everything he says. Pay close attention, he knows what he is talking about. They will go behind your back and try to deal directly with your customer, they will yes you to death and then do whatever they please without any regard for you or your customer. I can offer dozens of examples but the one that most illustrates this is the supplier who sent the advance samples for approval, they were perfect. He then went and made the million piece order to his own liking. It was a Halloween item to be made in Orange and Black, the 1000 piece advance samples were right on the money. When the order came in, it was made in Red and Blue. They told us the factory boss thought Orange and Black was a terrible color combination so he made what he thought was pretty. Hence we had a million red and blue product with ghosts and goblins and all printed on them, in red and blue and the words "Happy Halloween". THAT is when we transferred half our entire production of all products to India. We still do some business in China but had I read this book twenty years ago I never would have gotten involved in China at all!
I highly recommend this book, it is all true and frightening so use it well
and be aware. Be very aware.
5.0 out of 5 stars So you wanna do business with China, eh?, April 17, 2012 By SueZ - See all my reviews Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?) This review is from: Poorly Made in China: An Insider's Account of the China Production Game (Paperback) This book was recommended to me by a fellow expat living and working in China. Having been in China for the last 8 years, I was skeptical that a Caucasian American would understand the inner workings of the Chinese culture and language well enough to write a comprehensive enough book about the manufacturing sector in China.
However, I found Midler to be extremely smart and knowledgeable about China and its people. I found the book to be somewhat dated, as Midler was talking about the exchange rate being 8RMB=1USD and the wages as being extremely low. However, the basic behavior of the Chinese factory owners and the typical "customer service ethic" have not changed much. Although with the worsening worldwide economic condition, Chinese factories are a little more service-oriented than before, as they're trying to get enough orders to stay afloat. (Read: will kiss the Western customer's ass a little bit more than what the book suggests.)
I like the way the chapters are laid out - one anecdote is followed by an analysis of the events through Midler's knowledge of the Chinese culture, language and history. Generally, Midler is accurate in his interpretations, and this is what I find most impressive, as Midler clearly shows his vast knowledge of the Chinese production game through his analyses.
Buyers who want to import from China will NOT have their fears assuaged by Midler's book. There ARE reputable factories out there, but mentioning them in this book will only detract from the entertainment value of "Poorly Made in China".
This is a good read and a nice primer for those who want to learn more about China. But, as the book clearly demonstrates, if a buyer REALLY wants to get into China, it's better to call on someone like Midler, instead of going about it blindly...unless he's thinking about writing his own book about the trials and tribulations about doing business with Chinese factories.
Like all things Communist, it’s built on Fabrication and thus, not built to last.
Having children for whom I buy toys I wonder how chinese couples like ‘Melissa and Doug’ can maintain vigilance over all their myriad products.
No way! This can’t be true! I thought China only used the BEST in slave labor.
I feel bad for the typical Chinese Citizen.
There’s a high-end speaker manufacturer in Eastern Canada that off-shored the production of their speaker cabinets to China. After 16 months, they cancelled the contract and resumed making the cabinets here. They also replaced the Chinese made cabinets.
I’m sure the book is interesting, but this has been known for longer than he’s been working in China, and anyone who believed differently is delusional.
American production is still generally of better quality, but that also has been eroding with the hiring of lower paid immigrant workers in many areas.
Personally, I prefer to pay a higher price for a product of superior quality, but I seem to be in the distinct minority in this country.
All Hail the Mighty Profit!
I’ve always liked the ability to walk in the front door of a factory and give them a broken part.
I worked at a factory up north that rebuilt things like alternators and solenoids. You could take one in the front office and they would call a foreman in from the floor, he’d take the junk part and bring you a rebuild free of charge. It was good PR and good for quality control because they always had a pool of local everyday use parts to keep track of.
As a consumer I deal with several Chinese companies and they are very libertarian in their business practices.
They are totally unrestrained by any moral values, it is purely about profit, if they have to stop a practice because it is destroying them, they will, if they can lie and continue it, they will, they have no internal honor or dignity that influences their business operating.
Luckily for me some American based forums have a huge influence on some of these businesses, but what they try to get away with is amazing, as is the learning process for the new ones as they have to adapt to customer back lash and threats of losing credibility.
We could have that again we say, Rid our Selves of the Income Tax (which was pitched 100 years ago as helping the working man, I don't know about you but when I look at my pay stub I don't feel "helped")
Or Get rid of the 253078 Regulations regarding Manufacturing in this country.
I think Riding Ourselves of the Income Tax is a great Bi-Partisan Issue, The Liberals Say Stimulus and Pumping Money into the Market is a good thing?
Imagine how much Cash and Capital would be free if we got rid of the Income Tax. The Lib's Win because it "Stimulates" the Economy (without disastrous inflation!) the Right wins because it allows us to keep more of our earnings.
Except those who wish to control and want that tribute from the plebeians, gotta keep that cash out of the individuals hands otherwise they become more self reliant.
My attitude has always been that we get rid of the pointless job killing regulations and allow jobs to be created. That will pull millions off welfare and its easier to justify pushing people off when you have jobs for them to go to.
Then the problem would be fixed and then no one could run on "Fixing it"
This is my Greatest Fear of Deathcare, the Republicans will constantly run on "I will repeal it" then it never gets done, our best opportunity to rid ourselves of it is now.
However established massive laws like that have been replied in the past though (Slavery (The Civil War) and prohibition) but those two periods were the MOST Violent time in our History.
I pray for the future.
Pfff. This was old news 2 decades ago. Even Chinese businesses do not trust Chinese goods and manufacturing and construction.
As you think about that, recall that in ancient times, the Romans and others would catapult disease-riddled corpses over the walls of cities they besieged to sicken and kill the enemy. The Chinese know that history even if we obviously have forgotten it. Get my drift there?
On a recent visit to China, a friend spotted this ad in a Beijing newspaper. He sent me the photo with a translation of the ad copy.
Yes, you can now join the millions of happy and prosperous Chinese citizens taking advantage of the growing numbers of American and Western multinational corporations outsourcing their production to the hard-working and industrious people of China. This outsourcing has now spread to their food supplies and ingestible items. Since these firms pay us for gross weight and this new weight will be pretty gross and the stupid American government only spot-checks imported items in these categories (they just got lucky on the anti-freeze thing), it has opened an entirely new opportunity which our beloved Chairman is offering to any Chinese citizen willing to do a little of what the foolish Americans call grunt work.
Installing one of these state-of-the-art food additive production facilities behind YOUR hovel is as simple as clipping the coupon below and sending it to the address shown. Your production plant will be shipped to you in 4 to 6 weeks. Supplies are limited so dont fart around. ACT NOW!!
These silly Americans have an expression we have borrowed and modified to describe this new and exciting venture: Dont give me any s**t.
Our motto will be We wont GIVE you any s**t. But well SELL it to you fools at a really great price.
Better yet, we convince them to COME HERE to pick it up and save us the shipping costs.
AND LOOK FOR A NEW DROP-DEAD MONEY-MAKER COMING SOON. SOYLENT YELLOW PROMISES TO BE BIG!!
AND YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED TO KNOW THAT THE CHERY PERSONAL VEHICLE TO BE IMPORTED BY CHRYSLER IS SIMPLY A HORIZONTALLY MODIFIED VARIATION OF THE VERTICAL UNIT SHOWN ABOVE. WE SIMPLY SLAP AN ENGINE AND SOME WHEELS ON THAT PUPPY AND OFF SHE GOES! AMERICAS VAST ILLEGAL POPULATION OUGHT TO SNAP THEM UP LIKE TACOS.
I agree with your sentiment but it isn't always possible. Try to find a manual can opener made in the USA? I know it is a trivial item but so typical of how better products get squeezed off the shelves. The Chinese made models are designed to look pretty but inferior gear stampings and metals guarantee they fail quickly. I kept returning them and the store eventually dropped that line and put a new Chinese model in its place. Heck, I would take made in Mexico before made in China if I had that choice. Until government stops "protecting us" from American business, I have little choice but to buy Chinese and consider it disposable.
Your analysis could be a summary of this book. They know there is very little reason to focus on face-to-face consumer credibility or accountability when the consumers are so far away (U.S.)
I have read this book and can recommend it. Each chapter reveals the author’s experience with a different industry. There are no political or socio-economic overtones to the stories. He just tells you about his experiences and allows you to conclude the best course of action...as an individual consumer and as a country.
Can anyone recommend a more recent book on this subject?
That doesn’t look much different from machine shops that I worked in during the late 1960s as a teen.
In some cases the quality product is the one made in China. I have items that I don't care where they make them, I want that brand, that item, whether it is made in Switzerland, the US, Japan, or China, or Germany, I don't care where it is made if it is the quality item that I want.
Yes, most products are now of seriously lousy quality, particularly anything from Walmart.
It's depressing, but that's what our focus on lowest price/damn the quality versus acceptable price/acceptable quality has brought us. I blame this in no small part on Unions, but in the end the consumer is the one who bears the majority of the blame as they are getting exactly what they asked for, and people who prefer superior quality are left as an anachronism and looked upon as an oddity.
Another way to look at it is the more junk that has to be replaced, the more jobs are available for people, and in this mindset, the lowest labor cost will always win out.
That depends upon the product and has a direct relationship to labor costs.
Lower labor means a shoddy product can be produced in China which makes production not feasible in other locations, so there is no choice to be made, and the China version is the default product with the best quality as there is no competitor that can produce a superior quality product and stay in business.
Thanks for posting this.
Now you are getting silly, I told you that I have products and tools that I choose based on the quality of the brand and model and that a number of those are manufactured in China.
Well, things are more precise right now and so does car engines.
I don’t want one of these in my vehicle.
At the truck shop I worked at we got some cheap Chinese slack adjusters. They were real poor quality and just basically junk. I sent some back and told the salesman to send me genuine Bendix next time. I had to laugh when we got them because there was a “made in China” sticker on them. But they were a far superior product.
Not being silly at all. What alternatives were available that were not manufactured in China? There are even worse quality products made in other countries, and I have no doubt some can also be American in that regard, and the race to the lowest price is why.
I’ve noticed several common items over the last couple of decades decrease in quality due to the race to the lowest price, and almost all of them are now coming from China, when in the past higher quality items came from other sources including America.
My issue is, those higher quality items can no longer survive in the marketplace due to the price point being too high regardless of the fact that they had superior quality.
Although I am overruled in many of the kids purchases, I can still boycott disney in my mind :-)
>>>>That depends upon the product and has a direct relationship to labor costs.
Lower labor means a shoddy product can be produced in China which makes production not feasible in other locations, so there is no choice to be made, and the China version is the default product with the best quality as there is no competitor that can produce a superior quality product and stay in business.<<<<
Chinese are pretty capable to build quality products as well, for the price.
Your contractors are capable to learn your technology and open a shop next door, building “enhanced” version of your product too.
That’s my point, they can build a quality product but eliminate the competition with low labor costs. That won’t always be the case and has started to actually create a situation where their low labor costs are no longer the lowest.
Another point to this story was the fact that eventually corners will be cut and quality will suffer due to those Chinese who decide to squeeze more profits from their operations. It’s been obvious to anyone who has paid attention over the last 30 years, IMO. Of course, once higher quality competition has been eliminated, they have little to fear, and on the other hand, there are others who just don’t care about the quality in the first place and will simply purchase the lowest price product.
Flashlights are better than ever and most of the best are made in China, with brand names on them.
China also makes many cheap flashlights, but if you want quality in a 50 or 300 dollar flashlight, then chances are that it will be made in China.
People would be surprised at the brand names that they are loyal to, which manufacture in China, of course in some items like my A/C unit I read the reviews and chose a Chinese brand.
See post 28, his shop saw two different products from two different Chinese manufacturers, supposedly Bendix and Wagner are manufactured there, at least some of their goods.
I never said that the competition for the current best quality could not be solely from China, nor that China does not have the best current quality items for a given product. Brand names mean nothing as corporations are part of the lowest price problem and they will source them from those who will give them the best deal even if it means the quality is not as good as it could be. This is the basis of why so much of our manufacturing was moved offshore, primarily due to the lower cost of labor. That is not wishful thinking on my part, I believe that is a confirmed fact.
Before China started making the “best” available quality flashlights, where were they produced? Could a better one have come from elsewhere before they started being produced in China for much less?
I understand what you’re saying, but you’re not paying attention to what I’m trying to get across, IMO.
A brand name loses it’s name if it’s quality sinks, that happens and always has and the name sinks or dies even sometimes.
My favorite flashlights are made by a Chinese company that earned it’s chops by introducing better quality, better technology, and better prices to the American public starting around 2005 or so, I carry two of their flashlights everyday.
The A/C unit I chose was made by a Chinese company but it got the reviews that I was looking for in Consumer Reports.
I would have to dig and do a lot of research to make a large pile of these examples and I’m not that interested in the subject, but I buy based on value and quality, I will not and cannot subsidize inferior goods.
I’m a contractor, I have a standard that i seek in my tools and the things that matter to me.
A brand name does just fine if their shoddy quality has no competitors. I’m not saying your flashlight or A/C is shoddy, I’m saying that they have no competition from those who may be able to produce a superior quality product due to labor cost differential.
Do you understand that single concept?
I have piles of examples myself that I can go on and on about all day but what would be the point if you don’t understand the one single point I’m trying to get across?
I’m a consumer, and I have standards that can no longer be met by some products that only come from China currently as the superior products that used to be manufactured in the U.S. or Canada are no longer being produced in the U.S. or Canada due to the price differential. So, I’m forced to buy substandard quality products, from my point of view, even though the best quality available in the world currently comes from China.
I do understand what you are saying although I don't know why you keep calling the brand names that you choose to use "shoddy", it sounds like you need to switch some brands, that is why I gave examples of two products that America makes but that I wanted the Chinese company's product instead brands that are new to us.
In flashlights for instance, many American companies make flashlights and are famous for it (I have flashlights going back to the 1920s), Mag-lite and the top of the line Surefire are examples, and other names you would recognize. I prefer the advanced technology, quality, and value of my Fenix lights.
I consider both of the famous American companies mentioned rip offs and Maglites as relative junk, they had the flashlight world by the family jewels and they are too big to fail, but they now depend on old market control, old reputation, and on people who don't know better Maglite just fed on the profits making 1980s flashlights while technology kept moving forward into the 21st century which almost all American flashlight companies did.
When I bought my AC I deliberately chose the Chinese company version, rather than the brand that you bought (assuming you own American A/C).
China makes junk, and China makes good products, and China makes products to the standard insisted on by foreign owned companies, it is a mix.
What are the products that you find unusable today because China eliminated them being made anywhere else?