If you are considering purchasing from KES Biology then you should read this first. Similarly if you have in the past dealt with KES Biology and experienced something like this, then you are invited to leave your comments on this blog. This information is designed to protect you. So if you are dealing with KES or any other Chinese manufacturer then you may have some idea what to expect. Alternatively you may have been through something similar and beat it, so you may like to leave me some advice, please!
We are strong and well seasoned business people who are successful in our own right. I was wrong to think we were strong enough to manage building a business relationship, or even just gaining a good understanding of these people. First, my business partner who was dealing with them previously began losing his temper with them, and I thought it was his fault. Then I tried….and tried, and tried, and tried. Eventually I became angrier than he ever did…and we are pro-calm, non aggressive people normally.
KES Biology are a Beijing China based beauty and medical, therapeutic electronics manufacturer. The individuals, Alex and Cathy that I mostly dealt with are in themselves charming…and lovely friendly people. This only added to the frustration when simply trying to get them to act on their promises. Jiao Wen the owner I found slippery as can be….knows no English, refuses to give you his email address and even if you fly 4 hours to meet him he will be late, then cut the meeting short and leave. Then does nothing he promises. As far as business is concerned, you are dealing with ‘wolf’s in sheep’s clothing’. I realise I am not the first western person or western company who have grown frustrated with trying to get things manufactured in China. I also realise there are great cultural differences, that may just be too much for me to bear, in order to get the Chinese to act, or react in for example a situation that threatens dire consequences.
In a boardroom full of Chinese people and evening is approaching, I say “let us resume the meeting tomorrow at 9:00am in my hotel Business lounge….is that ok?” They will all agree and smile and bow. I am thinking about doing just that – Resuming at 9:00am at the hotel as agreed. I have no-idea what they are thinking, because none of them have any intention at all of being there. They might be thinking it was just a polite way to round up the meeting and tomorrow everything will be different. Tomorrow you will find yourself sitting alone waiting for them. Nobody came to the meeting and I flew home hours later. Later I ask Cathy where she was and why she did not come….? She says “I phoned your translator at 7am”. Ok, well I was not using my translator that day, and why would she phone her at 7am? Beats me! I wanted a meeting at 9:00am, not a phone call to someone else at 7am. Later Cathy reveals to me that she starts work not until 10:00am every day because she is “tired to sleep” or something non sensical like that.
My point is when we ‘western’ people make a plan, then it is a plan we stick to. We make an agreement and that is a agreement we stick to. In China that is most definitely not the case…. Tomorrow is a new day and anything can happen! We will finish a meeting having discussed and make a list of say 5 resolutions. We leave and then write a de-brief and action plan for each resolution. They leave the meeting thinking ‘that customer looks happy’ and everything will be alright for now. Then do nothing. Every day, everything is back up for negotiation.
Agreeing with KES Biology, or (Chinese manufacturers for that matter) to working to time frames is all but a joke. I ask how long they will take to develop something we have discussed, and they say “4 weeks”. I say well I think you need longer….how about we give you 6 weeks”. Unless you go to that factory personally every week and monitor the progress, then nothing will happen. In 8 weeks you will find yourself back in that same boardroom and they would be asking questions about how you want it manufactured, thinking nothing of what has just happened. More than once they would agree to do something, then leave the country and be un-contactable at a show or something. Then on their return they would perhaps decide to start to attend to that promise…even though it was overdue for completion 3 days before.
The Chinese, well all Asians for that matter are quite sensitive about being seen to be dishonest, and fanatical about ‘saving face’. So I won’t call them liars herein. I soon learned (sadly not soon enough) however everything but the truth is constantly being told. Managing logistics with Chinese depended on the ability to gauge the depth of the ‘truth’ (or untruth) that is being told. So when I would tell them that Friday is the last day to get some important documents to me to avoid a government application expiring, they take that date and add their contingency to it – not imagining for a minute that I would actually be telling them the exact truth about the expiry date. Working with them is about gauging the depth of the bullish*t being told all-day, to everyone, adding your contingency and acting including that. After learning this, I had a 7 day extension on an application…so I told them 3 days. They gave me the documents on day 4 gauging that I had not been honest with them….per their normal daily life. So I gauged the right bullish*t level to the right day, and it all worked out that time.. But we did it their way, not mine, I prefer complete openness and honesty.
I wondered how China function as a country because of this. How have they achieved such success that they have in the last 15 years??! It is because they are all doing it to each other, nobody expects the real, actual truth from anyone. To them, it is not lying, and perhaps it is not… how could you function in China if you are the only one telling the exact open and honest truth. I tried and failed.
Getting angry is not the long term answer…. It sure does get their attention in the short term. It is not an accepted a part of the culture to lose your temper…Asian’s typically keep smiling and agreeing to whatever is said…nobody noticing the great huge ‘elephant in the room’. Sometimes losing your temper has the reverse effect in getting the results you want. I yell, then they get scared and make a huge promise they can never keep….I calm down and they run for cover. Unfortunately not in the direction of trying to fulfil the promise. They just run and hide…what happened tomorrow they have tomorrow to worry about it.
Regarding money, they insist on 100% of everything everything being paid up front. They take no risk, build no trust. Even if something they just did wrong had just cost you $5,000….they will ask you for the $100 due for freight on your large order, or refuse to send it. If these people had a sandwich shop and every day you bought a $3.80 sandwich, and every day for months and years you tip them giving the whole $4.00, so .20c tip every day… and one day you come in with just $3.50… It would be”But you’re 30c short sorry, no sandwich for you today”.
That is enough about the people at KES. Nice people, terrible to do business with, unless I guess you are Chinese. They have no idea how to manage Western Business People.
So what about KES Biology Quality of Manufacturing?
The equipment looks great, just pristine. Even inside the interior workmanship is very neat and tidy. I am not sure if it is the components they choose or what, but the end product is a total disaster. We bought about 50 machines from KES and around 95% of them required parts, service, continually failing circuit boards, hand pieces burning out, burning wire smells… the list is endless.
After months of frustration I could not get quality goods from this company. My KES contact-people would disappear for days, not reply to emails etc. So I flew to Beijing and demanded to see the boss. I took a translator.
We made These resolutions –
1. KES would send an engineer to come to our country and fix all the problems.
Outcome – FAIL No engineer came. It is now 88 days since Jiao Wen the company opener made me that promise in Beijing.
2. KES promised to supply and hold a stock of parts in Australia so we can replace all the failing components quickly.
Outcome – FAIL KES cannot get a complete range of replacement parts together. Just some of the lists we request and only after we yell and scream and beg; they are always late and they are all used up quickly as there machines keep burning out and falling to pieces.
3. KES will be forthcoming with costs that our company undertook to repair many faulty machines.
Outcome – FAIL – After about 60 days of constantly battering and nagging KES Biology about this, they reluctantly agreed to provide just 50% of the costs by way of a discount on our next order. Not what we agreed.
4. Alex and Cathy will bring parts to the Beauty Manufacturers show soon to been held in our country. We would fly and get the parts.
PASS! Thank you for bringing those parts with you!
5. The KES Beautician will personally test very single outgoing machine to ensure 100% functionality of the next 5 machines.
Outcome – FAIL Two of the four machines we have delivered have been faulty. Same hand pieces, boards everything failing.
5. The KES Business Owner Jiao Wen will personally test very single outgoing machine to ensure 100% Quality Engineering of the next 5 machines.
Outcome – FAIL Machines were delivered with as many faults as before; including disconnected wires, faulty handsets, unfinished soldering inside, up to 6 screws and nuts rattling around lose in the machine casing! No improvement on the first machines whatsoever.
88 days ago when I last left Beijing apparently sorting everything out – KES still have been unable to complete 4 machines that I have paid them for. I cannot get any news about when they are coming and the customers have cancelled anyway. I have refunded 2 of those customers already.
Alex and Cathy are unable to comment about where those machines are, because they are busy at COSMOPROF Beauty show in Hong Kong right now. Busy show-casing their lovely looking machines to more unsuspecting buyers, just like I was. I trust this blog has you much better informed when considering dealing with KES Biology in Beijing China!
What about Jaio Wen? He refuses to take my call (even through a translator) and continues to refuse to provide any other contact details. To the Mercedes Benz driving Jiao Wen – if you think you have heard the last from me you, are wrong. I am coming after you!