Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cheaply Made in China

Thomas turned five earlier this week. The title of today's post does not refer to him (!), but to the fact that in looking for good birthday presents for Thomas, we were reminded of the problem of things being "Poorly Made in China." (This is actually the title of a book).

While you can find anything in China, so also high-quality products, there is just an overwhelming amount of great-looking and cheap... but unfortunately unreliable products here. This is true for food products, toys, toiletries, clothing, you name it.

A couple months ago I bought the boys two very cool remote-controlled helicopters for about $15 each. I even bought the slightly more expensive ones, so we would not have to deal with batteries and could just recharge them over the computer.

Well, the choppers lasted about a day. A little pin in each of the charging plugs broke, and now the two helicopters sit idle, gathering dust on top of a shelve. (See picture below). And it looked like such a good deal!

The famous helicopter. Can you spot the tape holding it together?

When we were shopping for Thomas' birthday present, I picked up some cars at a Walmart (!). The cars looked great at first, until we realized a wheel was already missing - even while the cars were still in the packaging.

I am not entirely sure why so many products are crappy here. (I suppose I have to read that book.) One reason, I am sure you know, must be that a lot of cheap products are simply made here (I am sure you all have a crappy plastic "made in China" knickknack at home). But another reason seems to be just an overwhelming focus on "cheap" rather than "quality." Being Dutch myself (and thus genetically wired to save some money when I can) I have no aversion of cheap, but at least I can also appreciate that in the long-run, buying quality can also pay off.

A friend recently told us he bought an electric bike. After he had picked it out and purchased it, the salesman finished it up for him so he could take it home, taping down a few wires. I don't have to tell you that a day later the tape started to come off and a week later our friend got stuck in the middle of his commute because the batteries unexpectedly had died.

Cheaply made in China is a feast at first, but a major pain later.

For Thomas, we still ended up buying a plastic car park from what we thought was a reasonable Chinese brand... we'll have to see. We also bought him socks, which we think will last, and a snorkel.

Here are some pictures of the party boy:

Unwrapping a made-in-China toy we hope will last till he's at least 5 and a half.

More gifts, more joy.

Party at school.

Hotdog for dinner. Excellent choice for a five-year old birthday boy.

Showing grandma the snorkel over skype.

Happy Birthday Thomas - a card from his class mates.

In het Nederlands: Deze week was dus Thomas' vijfde verjaardag. We vierden het al op school en morgen vieren we het thuis met een feestje. Een kadootje vinden is niet moeilijk hier, maar iets vinden dat niet meteen kapot zal gaan is een ander verhaal. Veel spullen hier zijn goedkoop, maar ook heel gauw stuk. Je kent denk ik wel die goedkope dingetjes uit China. We hopen maar dat Thomas' z'n plastic parkeergarage, sokken en snorkel een hele tijd meegaan.

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