When buying imports there are two types of quality problems that occur both called quality fade. One type is a conscious effort on the part of the supplier to get more money, though the buyer will suffer from receiving a poor quality product. Last year several examples of quality issues concerning products from China arose--the pet food issue of lethal chemicals, lead paint on toys, and tires that gave a new meaning to peeling rubber.
According to Paul Midler, founder and president of China Advantage, history shows that time doesn't necessarily improve the quality of products as some importers think. (source:Knowledge@Wharton). He explains that a 19th century example is silk. When the Western demand became very high the quality went down. Competition in China for this business got cut throat and some of the makers began producing inferior silk products. Thus, Japan with a product of quality grabbed the market.
Midler goes on to explain that quality fade is a gradual, on purpose system so that succeeding batches of the product are of lesser and lesser quality. According to David Dayton of Smart China Sourcing there is a quality fade he calls natural; certain aspects of the manufacturing procedures are looked after less thoroughly in time and thus the poor quality. To be fair this problem could happen anywhere and can be the fault of the western quality control manager.
It isn't impossible to import quality goods from China or elsewhere. There are many honest suppliers that value their own reputation. Look for this type of supplier. Meeting the people you will be importing from and inspecting the products first is one key. Another is carefully watching for any signs that subsequent shipments have declined in quality. This way you can attain quality and quantity.
Article provided by Jeffrey Dorrian