Editor’s: Notebook: Let The Buyer Beware – UnderhoodService

Editor’s: Notebook: Let The Buyer Beware

Made In China Label Gets Big Black Eye

China has been in the news a lot these days, with reports that a wide range of Chinese products are dangerous, faulty and not fit to be sold in the United States. Everyday products, from pet food, to toothpaste, to tires, to seafood, and now toys for children, have been labeled as unworthy for the U.S. market and have caused a “buyer beware” frenzy with anything bearing the Made in China label. And with good reason.

But why now? Chinese imports have been growing steadily over the past 20 years, and are at an all-time high, with the U.S. importing $288 billion in Chinese products last year — more than double the 2002 figure — with apparel, toys, televisions/VCRs, computers and furniture representing the largest product categories. Supply and demand has been a huge factor here, when you consider that Chinese exports to the U.S. totaled only $4.7 billion in 1986.

A recent USA Today article discussed the current state of affairs with Chinese imports, and questioned if there is a tradeoff in quality for lower production costs.

An executive of a Hong Kong company that audits Chinese factories for many U.S. companies was quoted as saying that it’s a shock to discover how poor the quality processes are in some Chinese factories. His inspectors performed about 25,000 one-day factory checks last year and 23% of the facilities earned failing grades because of poor factory hygiene, inaccurate product manuals, cosmetic blemishes on finished goods and even the installation of the wrong electrical plug.

Unsatisfactory production is being blamed on Western companies’ unending pressure for lower prices from Chinese suppliers that don’t always have the technical expertise to produce to Western quality standards. If that’s the case, why are these Western companies risking their reputation in search of rock-bottom prices? Aren’t the production savings being offset with comebacks and lost sales?

While some U.S. companies operate their own factories in China and use Chinese suppliers, and employ rigorous safeguards to ensure they produce quality products, China has a bruise right now that will take some time to heal. The good news is that since the country joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, it overhauled thousands of laws and regulations to bring itself into conformance with mandates of the global economy. The latest developments will hopefully be an impetus to accelerate these efforts.

And, similar to the skepticism that surrounded the Made in Japan label in the 1960s, raising the bar and increasing quality expectations boosts product quality.

The lesson here is “let the buyer beware.” Safeguard your shop’s reputation by taking extra steps when purchasing parts. Be wary of low prices, for fear of inferior quality, and don’t accept parts you suspect of being inferior. And, as is the case with counterfeit parts, know your suppliers, inspect the packaging and compare the replacement parts against the originals. Don’t settle for anything less than products that emanate high quality.

You May Also Like

It’s Got Spark!

Why can’t you trust some spark tests?

You have probably seen some reality TV shows where the “builder” will pull a spark plug wire to confirm they have spark. This is one of the most misleading tests for the ignition system. If the spark plug produces a spark, the spark is at 14.6 psi (normal air pressure at sea level), not 170 psi or more inside the cylinder during the top of the power stroke.

Diagnosing Intercooler Boost Trouble Code P0299

The criteria for setting the code is very basic.

Honda Electronic Throttle Body Service Tips

Using care and following OEM procedures will help you to avoid unnecessary parts replacement and comebacks.

Why Alternators Are Subject To Ripple Voltage

The alternator produces an AC current that must be converted into DC current by way of a rectifier.

Belts and Pulley Alignment

A misalignment of the plane of the belt can occur when a pulley is not parallel to the other pulleys on the belt drive system.

Other Posts

Do Technicians Need Tips?

Asking for a tip would not go over well with your future customers.

Success Means Investing In More Than Equipment

Todd Baldridge measures success by how well his team benefits from being together.

Were Things Better When They Were Simpler?  

Getting nostalgic about the good old days is easy, but many forget the struggles of the time.

Becoming Successful Often Means Investing in More Than Equipment

The cover story in this March issue of ShopOwner is full of self-reflection and acceptance – but it isn’t a depressing story of what wasn’t.