I recently received an email from a western buyer in Guangzhou who was desperate for help. He works in his company’s Chinese buying office and had an ugly situation with his supplier. Long story made short is that the supplier had quality issues, gave a credit of 60,000 USD, then later decided the credit was too much and asked for it back. The buyer had already spent the credit. Supplier decided to send a few thugs to the buyer’s office. This is not uncommon in China!
Luckily there was no direct physical abuse but there was a lot of shouting and serious threats made against the buyer and his local staff. Multiple employees quit soon after. The security guard was outnumbered 60 to 1 and the local police didn’t do anything but watch once they arrived. In hopes of helping the buyer, I consulted my lawyer and a private investigator both of whom have worked on similar cases.
- Inform the consulate/embassy immediately and ask for their support.
- If the local police don’t take action, ask the consulate/embassy to introduce their contacts among the public security bureau.
Some consulates are more proactive than others. In the case of this foreign buyer, his consulate was not much help and he was left on his own.
The private investigator (who is Western but runs a team in China) had some ideas. His services are effective but not low cost. He explains:
There were serious laws broken here, and it seems unbelievable that the police were not involved. Either the police were paid off or they interpreted the situation as a commercial matter.
For us to help:
- We need to see the relevant contracts signed, a full description of everything that happened–and we need to know the buyers impression of why the police were reluctant to get involved.
- We may or may not need to interview people in the company.
- We need to do a real, real thorough background check on the Chinese company as we need to know who we are dealing with. Thugs hired by an upset factory are a lot different than thugs working for a mob owned factory who are “in business” to intimidate and abuse foreign buyers.
For the above, we will ask for US$X,000 to help buyer get to the bottom of the situation and perhaps of most value to the buyer is that if there are legally actionable items, we will introduce friendly parties on the police force .
Once friendly police got involved, the supplier and thugs went quiet. I hope this situation never happens to our readers, but if you find yourself in a similar jam, feel free to contact CSIC and we’ll introduce appropriate support.
Wishing you successful China sourcing!
About the author: Mike Bellamy
Advisory Board Member & Featured Blogger at the not-for-profit China Sourcing Information Center (www.ChinaSourcingInfo.org). Author of “The Essential Reference Guide to China Sourcing” and founder of PassageMaker Sourcing Solutions.