Good Luck Returning Defective Products to China

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defective return

So you’ve received a shipment of goods manufactured in China, only to find that they’re defective and don’t pass quality control. How do you go about returning them for a refund?

With billions of dollars in merchandise being shipped out of Chinese ports every year, people rarely stop to think about having to ship something back into China. And believe it or not, it’s actually quite difficult. You should expect to encounter inbound duties as the defective goods find their way back to their Chinese port. If you’re returning the goods to be repaired and then reshipped, prepare for outbound customs fees once more in China, and then inbound duties again at the final destination country once they’re shipped back.

And, yes, you could negotiate splitting these costs, or even having your supplier cover them entirely (after all, they’re the ones who shipped out bad merchandise to begin with). But unless your purchase agreement explicitly covers returns and all the associated costs in terms that are legally enforceable in a Chinese court, you’re probably not going to get much cooperation from the supplier. In fact, if they can get away with it legally, they’re likely to just walk away from the deal, leaving you with defective and unsellable products.

So what to do?

Well, if you haven’t gotten the hint already, here it is in plainer terms: you’re probably screwed. Maybe you can repair the products domestically and still walk away with some sort of profit. Maybe there’s a way to sell the goods as-is at a reduced price that lets you at least break even.

Next time, be absolutely sure to perform quality control assessments before the products leave China. The few hundred dollars you’ll spend on a third-party quality control inspection at the factory is absolutely worth it if it allows you to avoid the hassle and expenses of returning a defective shipment after it’s arrived.

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