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Badly Made In China

One day, several years ago, before Kenyans made head hunting a political past time, I helped a so called friend of mine with my Motorola phone charger. My so called friend then left the phone charging at a certain location. One of the more than 3.3 million thieves in the country could not believe his luck, having come across an unguarded phone complete with its charger. The rest is history.


Since I did not have a charger, I decided to look for a replacement, and I came across one pretty soon from a phone repair shop. This second hand charger served me well till early this year, when my mismanagement finally caught up with it, and it failed.


Again I hit the road to source for a replacement. Little did I know that it would be a hard path now trodden by many.


Chargers had dropped prices and I could obtain one for about 100 shillings. The sellers tested the chargers at the point of sale, and they did work. The sellers also told me that they do not offer warranties on such electronics, since they have no say no how much voltage the Kenya Power and Lighting Company decides to supply to the charger.


The first charger l bought lasted for a couple of days. I presented my bitter complaints to the seller, but he listened sympathetically, and then proceeded to show me a box of several other chargers that had lasted for 2 days too. Just then, my friend walked in with another 2 day charger. We then formed a 3 man committee (since no woman turned up with a 2 day charger, we couldn’t include them) which investigated the chargers. After an hour or serious deliberation, the committee recommended the 'made in China’ was to blame for the 50 shilling a day charger.


Just after the committee completed its work, one of the committee members turned up complaining that his fairly new high capacity hard disk had stopped working too. We hurriedly convened a 2 man committee to look into the matter. The committee noticed that the hard disk was physically identical to another one of my friend, which decided that its warranty period was too long a period for it to operate. The committee also noted that the hard disks were identical, yet from different manufacturers. The stickers were identical except for the part that shows the manufacturer. The committee finally concluded that the 'made in China’ designation was again to blame.


The committee extended its mandate to investigate other ‘made in china’ items. Below are the findings of this committee.

  • Several items were found to be made by a sixth of the world’s population, in China.

  • That several of the items were cheap enough for unemployed youth (those who are yet to be recruited by vigilante groups and others) and lowly paid Kenyans to afford.

  • That several of the above goods claimed to be from different manufacturers per category (computer mice, ear phones, chargers etc) but were entirely identical.

  • That the goods lacked major components found in the original devices.

  • That the goods were unlikely to last till your next Birthday.

  • That the goods did not meet any standard specifications, neither had they been inspected by any quality body.

  • That the original goods, or their spares, were quite hard to find. If you were lucky enough to find them, their price was way above what such goods cost in developed markets like the USA. For example the charger mentioned above was going for 600 shillings in the one shop that it could be found in!

The committee concluded that given the size of china, it’s hard for its government to monitor the quality of its goods, and they will continue to be badly made in China. Given that Kenyans like outdoing each other on how cheaply they can obtain goods, such badly made goods will continue having a big market in the country. This is compounded by the fact that the sellers of the genuine goods sell them at a premium, lowering their demand, resulting in only a few outlets stocking them. There has also been emergence of high quality counterfeits, which sell at prices higher than the other badly made products. Such high quality counterfeits are sold in several outlets, due to the shortage of the genuine products.


Therefore next time you are buying a badly made product, or even a high quality counterfeit, be prepared to forego the guarantee of the genuine product.

Do not blame the Chinese government for its failure to well monitor 18% of the worlds population output. That’s a tall order; given the problem African countries have in monitoring even less than 1% of the world’s population.

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