When I came back to Singapore, I made arrangements for the company to exhibit in a prestigious bi-annual International Gift Fair in Singapore. I booked a stand and arranged for the China factory to send some goods over for the fair. A Director and the Factory Manager wanted to attend the fair, so I issued letters of invitation to them. Han tagged along. I also booked hotel rooms for them. And during the 6 days they were here, we wined and dined them. All expenses paid by us.
The trio were at the exhibition stand from 10 am to 9 pm for the 4 days. Many buyers were interested in the exhibits and although we were not allowed to sell them, many buyers offered to buy them after the exhibition so we didn't have to ship them back to China.
On the 2nd day, I fell sick and had to be warded overnight for observation. When Chris came to visit me that night in hospital, he was shaking his head. The Factory Manager gave out her own namecards and encouraged buyers to order direct from her. That was unethical. we were given the distributorship! And we paid for the exhibition stand and their expenses.
The next day when I was discharged from the hospital, I went straight to the Exhibition Centre.
I confronted the FM on the distributorship. She reluctantly kept her namecards but showed interested buyers the address of her factory printed on the boxes. And there were a few more things she did that would take too long to write. Arggghhhh!!!
On the last day of the exhibition, we grossed over S$16 000 in sales. The FM wanted all the money. I didn't want to give in. I paid for the goods and the stand, how could she take all the money? In the end, after much haggling, I gave them S$10, 000. This money was shared among the 3 of them. They didn't hand it to the factory.They stopped over in Hong Kong for a shopping spree.
On top of the money, Han bought some souvenirs from one of the exhibitors and secretly took 250 tiles from us to barter for his purchases! I was absolutely livid about it!
I should have just forgotten about the deal but I still harboured hopes of marketing the beautiful tiles. So I rented a warehouse and made the necessary preparations to start a distribution business. I ordered my first container load of goods.
When the goods arrived, guess what? All rubbish! Not what I had ordered. They sent me the stocks that they couldn't sell. So how could I sell them? I made many phone calls and complaints but they just ignored me. Then a friend informed me, he saw the goods that I was supposed to be selling in a large souvenir shop in Tang Dynasty. I went to see. Yup! My goods alright!
I had to cut my losses. I lost over S$130,000! That was 1994! A large sum of money for me.
A year later, the FM phoned me. She and another Director were taking part in another exhibition in Singapore. It was in Chinatown Point. I agreed reluctantly to meet them for lunch. I almost laughed out loud when I saw their pathetic stand. It's like a pasar-malam (roadside) stall! They had shipped a huge amount of goods here and they were not selling any.
They thought they could make a bigger kill this time. I had no sympathy for that woman. She has too much Greed. She didn't manage to get any agent to represent her products. She sold to a few small importers in Singapore.
She wanted me to buy over all her goods then as her company would incur a lot of expenses to send them back. I just picked up the tab for lunch and walked out. Once bitten, twice shy.