Sample charges as a red flag

What people are saying about Mulberry Fields
“I have read through quite a few of your blog posts and have enjoyed them very very much. We do business in China and face many of the challenges you describe. Much of what you write resonates with me and there are some very helpful tips” – a children’s product company in Utah.

I was ordering some samples from a factory recently. This was a second round of samples and the factory was asking me to pay for them. This was a bit of a red flag for me simply because this is not a labor intensive product –laser embroidery which I know is not expensive.

For this particular project some vendors did not charge me for a sample. Others did. The vendor my client likes did charge for the first round and I gave them the benefit of the doubt, believing as they told me that they needed to buy some special rib knit material for the sample. But now I have my own doubts. This is of course why you can never be sure with who you are dealing with until you have met them. I expressed some concern to my client who said his solution would be to start out with a very small order.
Accordingly I wrote to my customer as follows:

“I personally think that you should not do business with anyone in China – small or large order – until you have met them. If you don’t audit someone before you give them an order, the message you are sending to them is that they can do what they want. Your goal in China is to get vendors to do what you want.

As regards Vendor X now there is a question in my mind, because of this second sample charge, if they are really the factory or just a trading company using the factory’s name. When you deal directly with factories they often will give you a sample for free simply because they have a sample room and it does not cost them much to make a sample. Two of the vendors I met in China last year did not charge to make a sample for your product. Unfortunately you did not like those samples. Some factories do charge if the material used in the product does have to be purchased for the sample. For this reason, I was OK with Vendor X’s sample charge for the first round. Benefit of the doubt. But this time I am disappointed that they charged you. Just an FYI, trading cos almost always charge for samples because they have to order them from the factories.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying I would not use Vendor X. But I think you really need to audit them before you give them an order. If you audited them and found out they were a trading co. you could still use them but you really should know all this up front before you give them any order (and they won’t tell you of course).”



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