Monday, March 12, 2007

Conned

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.

26 comments:

  1. Horror stories abound about buziness dealings with pple in the mainland. I guess this is one of them. I'm no businessman, but I think still cannot be trusted....

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  2. You are right! Some of them are just out to make a quick buck. They are employees of government-owned companies. They have nothing to lose.

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  3. My dealings with a gift factory from China, all I can say... Once Bitten Twice Shy.

    Reliability is what I need to furnish with my clients. Not propoganda on papers.

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  4. Good for you that you learned your lesson the first time! Some people are so dumb, will fall for it again! This sounds like a real nightmare deal, man!

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  5. Uahh.. a "happy" ending. ;-)

    ... sorry, i can't help feeling mean about it afterr reading the first half.

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  6. I wouldn't even wanna meet up with FM for lunch ...

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  7. It is good that you walked out of them for the lunch. Your time is better worth working with people who have integrity or at least with people you could work with.

    I suppose if we ever give the Factory Manager a benefit of the doubt, all she wants is to see short-term gain. Maybe nobody taught her that business is about having a vision to share good things with people?

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  8. Actually, I am more impressed (and interested to find out) about the implied" how you picked yourself up again" after the losses.

    Many might have given up....

    Anyway, send you a virtual hug.

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  9. You are too easy.

    I would not have met them for lunch or picked up the tab. You gave them free lunch.

    I would not have given them 10,000 or anything more than 50%.

    And I would take my 250 tiles back from Han. What about his child? Did you keep her?

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  10. It is a dog-eat-dog world in business, especially when dealing with foreigners and involving large sums of money. You need to be very careful.

    Chris said: I'm no businessman, but I think still cannot be trusted....

    Chris, are you talking about the foreigners or yourself? LOL.

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  11. ECL, good thing is all in the past ! I got conned into this reputable company for mutual funds too, thank god got the principal back, but not the interest, guess what the employee did w/our money, he gambled it all..gosh !! anyway, once bitten, twice shy..hehe

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  12. I see the entrepreneur spirit in you leh! Can take risks! I'm sure the "con" incident has made you sharper now! But that's a lot of money hor! I will be "sim tia" if I had so much money and lost it!

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  13. Morning Dr Chan,
    It wasn't a happy ending for me! :(

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  14. pinkie,
    Many people said I shouldn't have met up with them too!

    But they were still guests in Singapore, besides how much could a lunch cost? I also gave them each a branded Tee.

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  15. hi oceanskies,
    I'm always so glad to see you! You are always there to give your support and your encouragement.

    There's always the risk in whatever we do more so in a business venture. These people are not the nastiest whom I have met.

    The FM & Han saw a 'fat goose', they never want to find out if the goose can lay golden eggs. It's a pity actually because the products can sell!

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  16. Hi anon,
    In the past, I let sleeping dogs lie....

    I gave the S$10,000 because the Chinese were really getting on my nerves. We 'negotiated', actually.... a yelling war for 3 hours! They never saw anything beyond the dollar signs. I was tired, just gave them the money.

    I found out about the tiles after Han left and the exhibitors came to demand for them.

    When he realised that he could not squeeze much money from us, he turned his attention to his daughter's teachers. Obviously he had some sob stories. One of them offered to take her in, I don't know what happened. Hope God bless them.

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  17. oh Victor,
    That I know. Not only the foreigners but the local as well.

    Are you having a clearer picture of me now?

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  18. Arggggh, mutual funds!
    melting wok, why are there so many people who would do anything for a fast buck? They don't for a moment think of the poor victims.

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  19. tigerfish,
    Of course 'sim tia'! It caused me sleepless nights and I almost kill myself.

    People think it is so easy to be an entrepreneur. They see the rich having wealth but never see the blood and sweat behind it.

    Of course our leaders and the government will never know this because they sit in air-con rooms and make policies after policies.

    Those heading our GLCs can afford to lose millions of dollars because it is Ah Gong's money ma! They can still sleep well and go on exotic holidays. cnm!!!

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  20. Thank you for sharing the blood and sweet of being an entrepreneur.

    Now the question on my mind after reading your comments is how to tell if one has found a goose that lays golden eggs? Well, time and experience perhaps?

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  21. oceanskies,
    Right. And a little luck. Some people are very good at acting, can get an Oscar!

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  22. pinkie,
    See what type of people la! This type, 'kill' them dirty my hands erh! chei!

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