Daily Archives: August 13, 2007

Don’t Ask China to Change

We have seen a lot of recalls of products made in China this year, a lot!  The latest million plus product recall from Mattel just being the latest in a long line of and certainly not the last of recalls of China made products.  At this point we have reached a critical mass in terms of awareness and demand for changes in the system.  Many people around the world are now realizing just how little inspection is done on products being shipped.  Living in the US, I’m more concerned with the US market.  I expected the US government to do something to ensure confidence is resorted in imports yet they took the path of least resistance and of least impact. 

 

The US government decided the best course of action was to ask China to clean up the growing problems it has with bad imports.  And that’s it.  Now I do think it was the right thing to do to tell China they should clean up their mess, environment, air quality, etc…  But I think it was very wrong and reckless to stop at that.  The job of product safety is the job of the companies that import and the government that allows those imports into the country.  Instead it is now currently up to foreign companies and foreign governments to maybe play nice and follow our rules, a hand full of over worked inspectors and the consumers.  Essentially, buyer be beware is our import policy in the US now, a major step backwards.

 

I don’t have my figures in front of me but I worked out the number of daily and hourly shipments each US inspector would have to inspect at the current levels of inspectors which is decreasing.  It was in the thousands of shipments daily in order to inspect them all, which clearly is impossible to do.  So we have a government that isn’t doing its job of looking out for the citizens.  Understaffing our inspectors is bad for business as confidence erodes.

 

Companies claim to check for quality, but most do not tell you how they do it or make that information available to consumers so you just have to take their word for it and that’s just not good enough anymore.

 

The system and confidence in the system will not fix itself.  The response by government and corporations who choose to import is far lacking.  Consumer confidence is going to suffer and with it so will the economy and government and importing corporations will be the real root of the problem, NOT the consumers and not China.  Why not China?  Why are they going to change if we don’t change the rewards and consequences?

 

China is not going to change because we ask.  It is not in their interest to change if nothing else changes.  Consumers should act in their own interest and not buy from any company that is not open about where their products come from and how those products get to the consumer and the quality of the product and ingredients in them.  That’s how consumers impact change.  Corporations understand that mobilized consumers do take action and do impact profits.  Never sit back, always be mobilized, that’s your job as a consumer!

 

The government needs to get to work on restoring consumer confidence.  The best way to do this is hire more inspectors and ensure all imports are inspected and do meet the standards of this country.  That way, consumers can be sure they are buying something of quality and of authentic origins.  You can’t expect another government to do this.  If China or anyone else ends up with a lot of rejected products as a result, that’s their problem to fix, not ours.  Just as it is not their problem to fix our import issues.

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