I travelled over the weekend and, as usual, turned off my gas from the cylinder. I came back on Sunday afternoon and turned on the regulator only to hear the hissing sound of a leakage. I was so surprised because there was no such thing before I left, and that was just two days before. Besides, I only bought that regulator early this year. I didn’t find this funny because I had a similar experience with the precious regulator.
Well, I had to go for another one; gas is not something to toy with. Getting to the hardware store, I laid my complaint to the seller – I can’t be buying regulator every few months. He brought out 3 different regulators with prices pegged at #2,000, #2,500 and #4,500. He told me that the first two are China products, while the third one is Indian. He said the Indian one will last longer than the China ones.
Hmmmmm. The first two looked so attractive. I bought the one that just got spoilt #2,500 and it lasted for more than 8 months (and it’s ‘China’). Besides, I never had an issue with it until that very day. And to add to it, I was low on cash.
So, I took the one of #2,500. I got home, fixed it, used it for some minutes and noticed that I smelled gas. Well, safety first. So, I returned it and took the Indian one. When I unwrapped it, I saw a lot of differences – you can’t compare its durability with the other two.
I know a lot of people will blame me for even going for cheap things because we already have this belief that the more expensive something is, the more durable it is. This is true, but not in all cases. It is possible that I will pick up this Indian one, break the seal and still meet something close to the Chinko ones. So I initially didn’t want to take the risk.
Besides, I have had the opportunity of buying things directly from China, through Aliexpress. I found out that things may be cheap and still be durable in China. The jewellery I bought were gold plated and they are still in good conditions for over five years now. This is the same thing with some other things. The truth is that, in China, if you want cheap things that you will use and dispose immediately, you will get them; if you also want the not so cheap ones that will last longer, you will still find them.
Honestly, I believe that our importers buy those very cheap products and bring them into the Nigerian markets. If they had gone for something better, I don’t think we will have a lot of low quality materials in our markets.
Anyway, my interest today is not on our importers and the products they flood the Nigerians markets with. My concern today is to throw a little light on the benefits and disadvantages of Made in China products in our markets.
I know this is debatable, but you will agree with me to some extent that those sub-standard goods in the market have been benefiting a lot of Nigerians. I’m not talking about the business men and women that make their millions from buying and selling them; I am referring to the consumers that benefit from buying and using them. Below are some of these benefits
- Price Regulation:
No matter how we see it, Chinko products help to regulate the prices of things in the market. That you are selling German product at #1000, while your neighbour is selling Chinese own at #150 means you will sit and watch your neighbour take your customers away. Trust me, you may stay a whole day selling just one product while your neighbour doesn’t even have time to sit down because he has so many customers to attend to. So, the only thing you have to do is call your German people and tell them to do something or you will switch to Chinko level.
This is the commonest characteristics of every China made product. In fact, I always wonder if China deliberately reduces prices of goods to attract customers. For instance, I once checked ASOS, an American online shopping outlet, for gold plated jewellery and couldn’t find what I wanted. I then checked other jewellery and saw the ones made with steel. But what surprised me is that a plain simple-looking small earring was sold at $40 dollars; while in Aliexpress, I could buy a set of glamorous gold-plated earrings, necklace and pendant at $20 (for the whole set) or less. So, no matter how we look at it, Chinese products are affordable.
I don’t really know the right word to use here. But what I have in mind is the way China made things easily accessible to people. Today, a lot of people use mobile phones because China made theirs cheap. For instance, there are phones of #2000 in the market these days (and I’m not talking about second hand o). I even saw Android phones of #7000, with big screen and all.
In as much we enjoy some benefits from China made products, we should also remember that there are some problems we face as a result of them. These include:
- Disposal Problem:
We know that some China products sold in Nigeria spoil faster. Nigeria, which has yet to develop a sound waste disposal culture, is now faced with how to dispose of these wastes. A good example is the rechargeable torchlight (hope it doesn’t get banned, please). This type of torch costs as low as #250 and lasts for like 4 months. This means that in a year you may have to buy about 4 torchlight (that is, if you didn’t spoil any before its expiration date). Knowing the state of electricity in the country, you can imagine how many people buy torchlight every year.
This is another characteristic of China made products. They are known to disappoint at any time. If you rely solely on it, you may find yourself stranded one day.
- Lesser Value for Money Spent:
You know, you may look at Chinese products as cheap, but when you add up all you spent on replacing spoilt one, you will realise that you have actually spent a lot. Because of its cheapness, you won’t realise what is happening until you sit down to calculate how much you have spent. So, in the long run, these products aren’t cheap.
It is not advisable to go for China made when you are buying high-risk products. For instance, this regulator that suddenly started leaking gas could lead to gas explosion if I didn’t detect it on time (that the cylinder is outside may not stop that).
But all in all, I still believe that it is the fault of we, the Nigerians, that we have substandard goods flooding our markets. Our traders should be made to buy products that are of good quality and sell to us. If they want to buy from China, they should go for better products and bring into the country and not look for very cheap ones because they want to make profits.