Thursday, February 12, 2015

BBC documentary highlights conditions at a Chinese iPhone factory, but is it all Apple's fault?

Well, there is truth in this comment:

I worked for years with a US company that worked with Asian factories and I had to personally deal with factories in China, including direct phone calls to factory managers and owners. This included one factory that even had our company logo covering an 200 foot roof. But no matter what deals we had with these factories, it was very difficult to trust them.
Many times these factories secretly fobbed off work to smaller factories elsewhere and with no assurance of quality. In one case, they sent the work to a factory whose owners bought cheap yellowed stock for the packing and lined their pockets with the difference. And then they purposely held up the shipping until the last possible moment so that we had no choice but to accept the shipment and send it on to retail. It made us look like a totally crappy company.
These countries are filled to the balconies with greedy, lying, illegitimately sired characters and the only way to protect ourselves ended up being our hiring of an American who had to live in China year round, whose only job was to be constantly on the move from factory to factory to make sure we weren't being cheated. He learned quickly that surprise visits rarely worked, because they would sit on him in the front offices until they had their smoke and mirrors ready.
If we'd had the products manufactured in the US, we could have used the legal system and federal agencies to ensure quality and honesty, but then the cost would have forced us to price our products right off the store shelves. (We tried the "made in USA" thing for one product line and went in the red by $8 million that year.)
These journalists seriously do not understand one iota of the problem. The only way Apple can absolutely guarantee perfection in every aspect of manufacturing would be to own and operate every single supplier, right down to miners wearing Apple branded work shirts.
I would like to see these journalists approach this from the other direction - as in the crap that factories and suppliers try to get away with it, how many hundreds of millions of dollars it costs to prevent this, and how it adds to the retail price of products. The problem is not with companies such as Apple, but with the lies and dishonesty of the factories and - due to lax local laws and law enforcement (including rampant bribery) - how easy it is for them to get away with it.

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