Chapter 13 – Battling Unscrupulous Business Practices

The world’s largest and most powerful retailers have become the major driving force for quality and safety standards, particularly with foreign-sourced goods. I believe that the pressure major retailers place on suppliers to cut costs often result in cut corners. The end effect can be seriously harmful, or deadly products.

What Happens When Corners are Cut?

Each of the recent high-profile safety problems with Chinese imports to the United States were characterized by deceptive or dishonest business practices in an effort to cut costs. Melamine, which is toxic to animals, was blended into pet food to give artificially high protein readings.

Diethylene glycol, potentially lethal to humans, was substituted for its higher-cost cousin, glycerin, in the manufacture of toothpaste.

Tires were surreptitiously manufactured with either a minimal or missing gum layer needed to prevent catastrophic tread separation.

Toxic lead paint was substituted for the paint that was originally approved for popular childrens toys, presumably to save money.

These are all cases where unscrupulous business practices have jeopardized the health and safety of the consumer.

You as the importer are responsible for taking all possible precautions to stop dangerous goods from entering your country. The best way to do this is by being more involved in running a successful quality control program.

Besides the other ways that I have already outlined for you, it is critical to consider pre-shipment inspections of all products.

Pre-Shipment Inspections

I have seen the pre-shipment inspection and testing processes first hand and know they can be effective methods for preventing unsafe or defective products from ever leaving the country of origin.

Unfortunately, the over zealous focus on a product’s “speed-to-market” by some retailers can lead to short-circuiting the testing and inspection process. Testing and inspection companies are often rushed to complete their jobs resulting in comprehensive testing not always being completed.

Another failure, although it is not an expensive service compared with the other costs of bringing a product to market, are small importers and retailers that are reluctant to employ the inspection and testing processes at all. I sincerely hope that your company is not considering forgoing the testing and inspection processes, as it will backfire and you may experience your first major quality claim sooner rather than later.

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