Sample fees – sometimes reasonable, sometimes not.

Earlier this summer I requested samples of a product from five vendors and one of them asked me to pay for the samples. In fact, I have always wondered why some vendors want you to pay for a sample and why others when sampling the same product do not. When I visited the vendor who had required payment for samples I may have answered my own question. The vendor did not own the factory where the samples were being made. They were obviously being asked to pay for the samples by the FTY and they were just passing on the cost to me.  So this may be a good way to evaluate a vendor, especially one who claims to own the factory where your product will be made. Do they ask to pay for samples?  If so, they are probably just acting as an intermediary between you and the factory.

Other vendors generally have set up costs for samples which they just can’t afford to absorb. Plastic products are a good example. Machines have to be cleaned thoroughly before a sample can be produced and there is a cost associated with this. There is also significant CAD design work needed to do samples for plastic product.

In other words, whether a sample fee is necessary or not all depends on the product in question. You really have to look at your product and the cost to decide whether a sample fee is reasonable.  For a $ 1500.00 chair a sample fee is reasonable. For a $ 5.00 basket a fee is not reasonable.  Another good rule is this:  If, for a certain product, the majority of vendors do not ask for a sample fee, but a few do, then forget the few who do. They are either trading companies or they are cost-sensitive factories who you would probably not want to deal with anyway.


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