Monday, May 14, 2007

We've been duped!

Below is a sad story of my brother's experience with online trading. Pardon my French for the any cuss words you may find within my narration. Apologies also to anyone who might get offended, as long as you are not guilty or party to any offenses stated herein.

My brother does a lot of buy-and-sell over the internet and he's been pretty successful in snatching up good deals and and selling the items for some profit. The last time however, he got burned pretty bad when he ventured into cellphone trading and decided to choose a Chinese supplier to transact with. Before contacting the supplier, my brother did his usual investigation by checking the websites and viewing the customer feedbacks and rating. Comforted by the positive feedback and high rating, my brother emailed the supplier at this site to inquire about available phone models and price list. A certain Jeff Li of Fuzhou Wolong replied to my brother with the following:

Dear sir.
Thanks for your esteemed enquiry.As the first-hand supplier,we own the abundant various styles in stock and can offer you the best competitive price.

[Price list of Motorola, Sony Ericsson and Nokia models inserted here]

You are welcome to visit our official website: www.ec0101.com .Any interest or question plz don't hesitate to write me,we shall do our best to serve you.

As a golden supplier of tradekey.com (http://www.tradekey.com/profile_view/uid/616822/Fuzhou-Wolong-Networking-Co-Ltd.htm)do the business with us,means that you can get more high quality goods, secure and honest business and also the fast delivery time.

Anything plz feel free to contact us.

Thanks and best regards.

Jeff
Fuzhou Wolong
Tel: 011-86-591-22650360
Website: www.ec0101.com

After a few more email exchanges to verify the phone specs and negotiate the prices, my brother decided to get 6 units of Nokia N95 (6 units was the minimum placement order). He asked how he can send the payment and this was Jeff's reply:

Dear sir .
Thanks for your reply.The spec of N95 as below:
Item Specifics - Mobile Phones
Brand: Nokia Type: Smartphone
Model: N95 Condition: New
Network Standard: UMTS Simlock: Unlocked
Camera: 5 Megapixels Bundled Items: Adapter, Cable, Battery, Hands-free Kit,
Headset, Software, Wall Charger
Features: Bluetooth, Color Screen, Email / Web, GPRS, GPS, IRDA, Infrared, Java
enabled, MMS enabled, MP3 Player, Streaming video, USB, Vibration
Warranty:1Year.
The delivery time is about 4-6working days to Philippines.It's ofcos can be available in Philippines.
[Agreed price of the 6 units of Nokia N95, plus shipping, plus insurance inserted here]
The payment info as below,you can choose one of the ways to pay it .
Western Union info (It's the prior payment way,the fastest)as follows:
First name: Juan Xiu
Last name: Chen
City: Fuzhou
Province: Fujian
Country: China
When paid,plz write me the MTCN # ,the total amount.And also the sender name of payment !
Moneygram info :
First name: Juan Xiu
Last name: Chen
City: Fuzhou
Province: Fujian
Country: China
When paid,plz write me the Reference Number,the total amount .And also the sender name of payment !
Band transfer info:(It need 3-5working days to withdraw the funds.)
Beneficiary: Chen JuanXiu
A/C No. 6013821600601934798(USD Account)
Bank Name: BANK OF CHINA FUJIAN BRANCH
Bank Address: NO.136 WUSI ROAD,FUZHOU,FUJIAN PROV,CHINA
SWIFT Code : BKCHCNBJ720¡¡
All order will have a tracking number available and will have delivery confirmation to insure arrival.When paid,plz inform us,we shall do the shipment in the day when get your funds.
Thanks and best regards.

Jeff Li.
Fuzhou Wolong.
Tel: 011-86-591-22650360
Website: www.ec0101.com

Because his money is short, my brother even had to borrow some money from my mother just so that he can pay for the goods already. After sending the payment, he emailed the payment details to Jeff, then Jeff emailed the tracking number and shipment details of the goods and then we waited.

After 5 days, we received a letter from the courier saying that we have to pickup our package at their office because it was put on-hold by the Customs office. It turned out that packages containing electronic items are considered "hot items" by the Customs office, especially if the origin of the package is also within the Asian region. So my brother, together with my mother, went to the airport where the courier's office and the Customs office are also located. Lo and behold, when the package was opened for inspection and tax computation, two of the boxes didn't have the N95 phones in it. My brother and my mother argued with the courier that the package should contain six units instead of four. Then the customs officer showed that the weight of the package matched with the declared weight before it was shipped. Baffled and angry, my brother couldn't do anything but to pay the computed tax and left together with my mother.

Our troubles didn't end there though. When they got home and my brother inspected the phones, he found out that they were not genuine Nokia N95 phones! Only the front looks like N95 but the back doesn't. Even the features did not meet the phone specs. What we got were Nokia N95 clones, very similar to this. My brother immediately emailed the supplier and related missing 2 units and the 4 FAKE N95 units which he got. It took a couple of days before Jeff responded. He said that he will get in touch with his courier, but failed to mention anything about the fact that he sent fake N95s. A couple more days later, he replied with the following:

Dear sir.
The weight of the package can speak the fact.We really shipped you the 6 pcs .
The china EMS replied it's stolen by your local mail carrier.
For the insurance,it's the Customs insurance.If the goods detained by Customs,the express company shall resend the goods.Hope you can understand.
Also,if the goods are missed in china,then the express comany also can resend it .Whether you pay the insurance or not.
You can call your local postal company to investigate it .
Best regards.
Jeff Li.

Just a curt response, putting the blame on our Customs office and then that was it. Again, no reply as to the items he sold being fake phones. Until now, my brother is still trying to contact him, but without any success.

Due to that very unfortunate incident, I searched the net and found out that we were not the first ones who have been victimized by Chinese suppliers selling fake phones and gadgets. There's even a term for it, "Keeping it real fake phone/iPod/etc." The modus operandi is also very typical; they'll sell you the items as if they were the genuine articles, they'll take your money, send you the fake goods (or should I say bads), and then walk away. My brother paid that son-of-a-bitch Jeff Li of damned Fuzhou Wolong Networking Co.,Ltd a big sum of money for those 6 Nokia N95 phone units, thinking that he was buying the real deal, only to receive clones. To add insult to injury, that motherfucker Chinese supplier didn't even honor the insurance (to cover any damage, mishandling or loss of the items before it reaches our doorstep) my brother paid on top of the shipping cost.

What puzzles me is that the supplier has a high rating. Maybe he rigged it, or maybe his previous buyers were really satisfied with their transactions with him because they really wanted to buy fake items. Well sorry if we didn't know that buying fake/imitation/clone of branded products, especially mobile phones, iPods and other electronic items, is perfectly normal in China. In our country, NOBODY BUYS FAKE NOKIA N95 PHONES, so we find that practice just a little odd. If we can't afford the really expensive phone models, we will just buy the lower-end ones. You go and enjoy your (FAKE) status symbol; don't mind us, we're happy with our (GENUINE) basic phones, thank you very much.

In a few more years, China will become a global economic power. The US cannot stop that from happening. The world cannot stop that from happening. But what the companies and corporations who value their brands (and I'm sure they all do) can do, is to run after those unscrupulous Chinese manufacturers who imitate their products. China has a whole industry for imitation products (probably because they have a market for these imitation products) so if they don't act now, the world will be flooded with fakes, imitations and clones. Sooner than later, they won't be able to tell the difference between their products and the fake ones. And ultimately, it will be us consumers who will suffer.

For our part, us consumers should be vigilant and diligent in doing our homework before buying anything. I sent my brother the following links to help him assess the risks and scrutinize would-be suppliers before transacting with them. I hope you would find them helpful as well, especially if you engage in online trading.

http://resources.alibaba.com/topic/28661/Can_I_buy_Branded_Products_Answering_the_question_once_and_for_all_.htm
http://resources.alibaba.com/topic/21766/No_authentic_iPod_suppliers_in_China_true_/2.htm
http://resources.alibaba.com/topic/17492/5_How_to_check_your_Supplier_before_ordering.htm
http://resources.alibaba.com/topic/18839/STOP_BEING_LAZY_handle_your_own_due_diligence.htm
http://resources.alibaba.com/discussion_board/110/Due_Diligence.htm

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