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  1. #1
    Senior Member overbyte's Avatar
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    Brompton and Dahon Jifo clones by Chinese King Bicycle Co.

    I was browsing through Alibaba.com today and searched for folding bicycles. I found a trading company owned by the manufacturer of King bicycles. They list many different types of folding bicycles that they can sell in quantity, including some that look exactly like a Brompton and exactly like a Dahon Jifo. The funny thing is that the listings actually have photos of the brand-name bicycles but the descriptions don't match the photos. There is a Brompton-like bike in either steel or aluminum alloy frame but with 20" wheels in the description.

    Alibaba verified this supplier as being actually in existence at the location they claim, but that's probably just the trading company Hangzhou Mylot Import & Export Co., Ltd.

    I've asked the supplier contact for photos of the actual bike they're selling, not the branded bikes. I'll see if he actually responds.

    Here are some of the bikes:
    20 inch steel frame fork china light folding bike, View light folding bike, Kingbike or OEM Product Details from Hangzhou Mylot Import & Export Co., Ltd. on Alibaba.com
    12 Inch Alloy Frame Fork China A Bike Folding Bicycle - Buy A Bike Folding Bicycle,A Bike Folding Bicycle,A Bike Folding Bicycle Product on Alibaba.com
    12 inch alloy frame fork china folding bike disc brake, View folding bike disc brake, Kingbike or OEM Product Details from Hangzhou Mylot Import & Export Co., Ltd. on Alibaba.com

    Looks like a scam, or maybe they'll actually produce a copy of these branded bikes, or maybe they are the Chinese factory for the branded bikes by Brompton and Dahon. Do you have any experience with this company?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Pinigis's Avatar
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    This has all of the earmarks of a scam.

  3. #3
    Senior Member smallwheeler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by overbyte View Post
    Looks like a scam, or maybe they'll actually produce a copy of these branded bikes...
    " a fool and his money are soon parted"

    and other proverbs...

  4. #4
    Senior Member smallwheeler's Avatar
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    also, this is what a con-artist would call a "victimless crime". why? because in order to be taken in by the scam, the "mark" would have to be willing to knowingly engage in a morally, ethically, or legally nebulous (or outright criminal) activity for the purpose of benefit.

  5. #5
    Senior Member overbyte's Avatar
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    All of the above are my thoughts too. This isn't the first time that the Brompton was cloned. I found this from 2004:
    Earlier this year, a consignment of 250+ folding bicycles was imported into Holland by Neobike Europe, a Dutch firm who distribute Taiwanese folding bikes in Europe. The bikes were branded Scoop, and, said Brompton, were based "almost exactly on the Brompton design." Brompton launched a lawsuit: and has just won it.
    Brompton charged Neobike Europe with breach of copyright and/or authorship rights. Brompton's case was successful, with a judgement ruling that the Scoop bikes did indeed infringe Brompton's copyright: this ruling was made in Groningen on February 26th but details were not released until today.

    Brompton also obtained an interim attachment order relating to the goods, and the bikes are now impounded, pending a final decision on their disposal.

    Although Brompton's original patent covering the principle of folding has elapsed, the design and styling of the Brompton nonetheless have copyright protection, and this has been confirmed by the Groningen judgement.
    Reference: Brompton swoops on Scoop | Bicycle Business | BikeBiz

    So although the Brompton patents have expired, if it "looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck" it's too much like a duck to be anything else in the mind of the consumer and of the law. Copyrights have much longer lifespan than patents do. I know that in the US there are patents called design patents, which don't protect an invention but rather protect the distinctive artistic design of a product, such as the shape of the original Coke bottle. I don't know if US copyright law applies to designs of products, but apparently copyright does apply to designs of products in the Netherlands.

    China is notoriously bad about enforcement of intellectual property infringements.

  6. #6
    Senior Member smallwheeler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by overbyte View Post
    All of the above are my thoughts too. This isn't the first time that the Brompton was cloned. I found this from 2004:
    Reference: Brompton swoops on Scoop | Bicycle Business | BikeBiz

    So although the Brompton patents have expired, if it "looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck" it's too much like a duck to be anything else in the mind of the consumer and of the law. Copyrights have much longer lifespan than patents do. I know that in the US there are patents called design patents, which don't protect an invention but rather protect the distinctive artistic design of a product, such as the shape of the original Coke bottle. I don't know if US copyright law applies to designs of products, but apparently copyright does apply to designs of products in the Netherlands.

    China is notoriously bad about enforcement of intellectual property infringements.
    there was recently a very long and stupid thread about this topic in which the majority of posters failed to (for whatever reason) comprehend the difference between patents, copyright, and/or industrial design law. additionally, a sentiment that was uniformly expressed by those who willfully failed to understand the importance or purpose of design law, was that they had no moral or ethical problem buying counterfeit or stolen goods. even going to far as to refer to the theft as "competition".
    not surprising really...

  7. #7
    Senior Member overbyte's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smallwheeler View Post
    there was recently a very long and stupid thread about this topic in which the majority of posters failed to (for whatever reason) comprehend the difference between patents, copyright, and/or industrial design law. additionally, a sentiment that was uniformly expressed by those who willfully failed to understand the importance or purpose of design law, was that they had no moral or ethical problem buying counterfeit or stolen goods. even going to far as to refer to the theft as "competition".
    not surprising really...
    Usually, the "it's just as good as ..." counterfeit product just isn't. The counterfeiter doesn't have a brand reputation to protect, so he doesn't care if the product is inferior--the blame will fall on the real brand name product, which is exactly why brand owners are so forcefully defending their brands. Moreover, who is going to spend a lot of development money and effort on creating an innovative product if any opportunist factory can crank out copies (even if they are just as good) and siphon off the return on the investment? Enforcement of IP laws helps the consumer, but too many are either unaware that they're getting a counterfeit or just don't care because it's cheaper.

    By the way, wanna buy some Rolex watches, cheap? They have crates of them and other name brand products impounded for destruction at US Customs and Border Protection ports.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Ed in Toronto's Avatar
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    Those are pictures of a real Brompton, with it's 16" wheels. Scam alert! Scam alert!

  9. #9
    Senior Member overbyte's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed in Toronto View Post
    Those are pictures of a real Brompton, with it's 16" wheels. Scam alert! Scam alert!
    Yes, that's what I was saying when I wrote "exactly like a Brompton and exactly like a Dahon Jifo". The Brompton photo even shows the Brompton logos on the frame and caliper brakes! The description says they're 20" wheels, but if you know the look of these bikes, it's clear that they have 16" wheels. Even just counting the concrete blocks behind the Brompton shows that too, since this kind of block is 4" tall and there are 4 of them in the height of the Brompton wheel. And the Jifo 16 photo has the beginning of the name "Dahon" visible on the frame.

    So, either these guys are complete crooks (most likely) and will take orders but fill them with something entirely different (then buyer good luck trying to get any refund) or they are skillful counterfeiters and don't want to advertise directly that they are intentionally making exact replicas. I doubt the latter, though, because they'd say 16" wheels if that was their intention.

    I should point out that Alibaba is a B2B (business to business) advertising site, and unlike Alibaba's other site called AliExpress, Alibaba does not get between the seller and buyer in the transaction, although that kind of escrow can be arranged for a fee. This seller says that the terms are "L/C" which is letter of credit, or "T/T" which I think means that 1/3 is due when the order is placed and the rest is due when the products are loaded onto the boat or airplane and are in transit to the destination. So the buyer has already made full payment before ever seeing the actual product. A quantity buyer can arrange with an import agent to have the product inspected, photographed on the loading dock, etc., and money held in escrow until product is received. On the other hand, AliExpress holds the payment received from buyer until buyer clicks that the product was received okay and then AliExpress releases payment to the seller. So, buyer beware. However, Alibaba sellers are not looking for small quantity sales, so the average person on this forum probably would never buy that way. Just don't stick your neck out and buy a container of bikes that you think you can sell at a big profit, only to find out that the deal was indeed too good to be true.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Still Pedaling's Avatar
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    Unfortunately, this is a practice that will NEVER go away.
    "It's best to remain silent and be thought the fool, then to open your mouth and remove all doubt" -- Mark Twain

  11. #11
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    I clicked on the link and the site deposited about 7 cookies all with different names -- so that you have to go through all your cookies to remove them. My point -- there is no value to looking at the links and only a downside.

  12. #12
    Senior Member overbyte's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by overbyte View Post
    I've asked the supplier contact for photos of the actual bike they're selling, not the branded bikes. I'll see if he actually responds.
    So, as expected, I have not received any reply from the seller. It's a scam.

  13. #13
    Senior Member smallwheeler's Avatar
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    i don't understand why this would even merit a follow-up. it's the kind of listing a person would normally look at and keep scrolling. it's obviously either a blatant lie or stolen merchandise.

  14. #14
    Senior Member overbyte's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smallwheeler View Post
    i don't understand why this would even merit a follow-up. it's the kind of listing a person would normally look at and keep scrolling. it's obviously either a blatant lie or stolen merchandise.
    The reason it has at least a slight amount of credibility is that the seller is not just some individual on eBay, about whom the would-be buyer knows nothing, but rather is identified on Alibaba.com as a 5th year Gold Supplier. Alibaba, unlike eBay, says it does some verification and authentication of the businesses that are Gold Suppliers. Here's what it says: Gold Supplier
    Onsite Check

    Onsite Check is a verification process for China Gold Suppliers. The supplier’s company premises is checked by Alibaba.com’s staff to ensure onsite operations exist there. The suppliers’ legal status and other related information are then confirmed by a third party verification agency .
    The seller is a trading company associated with a bike factory. The company profile gives a lot of information that was supposedly verified by the 3rd party agency in China. If it were all a lie, you'd think that the complaints from scammed buyers would have reached Alibaba's fraud prevention department long ago. It's possible that they trade in cloned-to-order bikes that they show for sale, as well as the rather ordinary bikes shown in their factory photos. In fact, they even say: "Please note that all the component can be adjusted to suit your target price or your own design!" That's why I brought it up by posting here.
    Last edited by overbyte; 04-29-14 at 11:37 AM.

  15. #15
    Senior Member overbyte's Avatar
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    Unlike the business-to-business wholesale site called Alibaba.com, there is a site more like eBay without auctions, targeted at domestic China sales by small unverified suppliers. It's Taobao.com. Here's what recently was published in the Wall Street Journal: "Knockoffs Thrive on Alibaba's Taobao":
    The Taobao online marketplace, run by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., is one of the world's largest shopping sites, with 7 million sellers offering 800 million items—ranging from Columbia Sportswear COLM -0.69% fleece jackets to Dahon folding bicycles.

    But there are some hitches: Of the roughly 58,000 folding bikes for sale on Taobao, for instance, up to half are knockoffs or infringe on Dahon's intellectual property, says David Hon, chief executive of the Duarte, Calif., company.

    The number of fake Dahons on Taobao has increased 10- to 20-fold in the past two years, Mr. Hon estimates, costing the company a few million dollars in sales each year and forcing it to ramp up its fraud-fighting resources. Dahon now has four full-time staffers and spends about $200,000 a year to monitor and fight counterfeits globally.

    "We keep complaining" to Taobao, said Mr. Hon. "The [counterfeiters] stop doing this for a while, and then a few months later, they resurface and open up another store."

    Dahon's struggle highlights a big unsolved problem for Taobao operator Alibaba, which is preparing to list in the U.S., in what's expected to be one of the world's largest public offerings ever.

    Alibaba says it spends more than 100 million yuan ($16.1 million) yearly fighting counterfeit goods—particularly on Taobao, its biggest shopping site, according to a February report filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization.

    In the past year alone, Alibaba removed more than 100 million listings suspected of intellectual-property infringement and partnered with Chinese law enforcement on 77 counterfeit cases, leading to the arrests of 51 criminal groups.
    You can read more of that article, which is archived by Google here: http://webcache.googleusercontent.co...17642158573008

  16. #16
    Senior Member overbyte's Avatar
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    Where David Hon says "knockoffs or infringe on Dahon's intellectual property" that includes many bikes that don't look like a Dahon but use Dahon's patented engineering, such as their locking hinges. Dahon no doubt has patented these engineering inventions in China, but the Chinese factories just ignore that. To enforce the patents, Dahon (and all of the other popular brands of products) have to do their own investigation and legal enforcement in China. In other words, bring your own legal nunchucks if you want to protect your inventions in China, or anywhere else for that matter. Cloning is very big business in China and hard to stop.

  17. #17
    Senior Member smallwheeler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by overbyte View Post
    The reason it has at least a slight amount of credibility is that the seller is not just some individual on eBay, about whom the would-be buyer knows nothing, but rather is identified on Alibaba.com as a 5th year Gold Supplier. Alibaba, unlike eBay, says it does some verification and authentication of the businesses that are Gold Suppliers. Here's what it says: Gold Supplier

    The seller is a trading company associated with a bike factory. The company profile gives a lot of information that was supposedly verified by the 3rd party agency in China. If it were all a lie, you'd think that the complaints from scammed buyers would have reached Alibaba's fraud prevention department long ago. It's possible that they trade in cloned-to-order bikes that they show for sale, as well the rather ordinary bikes shown in their factory photos. In fact, they even say: "Please note that all the component can be adjusted to suit your target price or your own design!" That's why I brought it up by posting here.
    credibility in what? being a legitimate seller of counterfeit/stolen goods? think about what you're saying...

    also, the use of the term "clone" is a euphemism that's self-delusional. using the word clone implies some quasi-scientific principle is at play here whereby you are magically able to get something of great value for little expenditure. none of these types of items (when they even actually exist) are "cloned", they are simply fake.

  18. #18
    Senior Member smallwheeler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by overbyte View Post
    Where David Hon says "knockoffs or infringe on Dahon's intellectual property" that includes many bikes that don't look like a Dahon but use Dahon's patented engineering, such as their locking hinges. Dahon no doubt has patented these engineering inventions in China, but the Chinese factories just ignore that. To enforce the patents, Dahon (and all of the other popular brands of products) have to do their own investigation and legal enforcement in China. In other words, bring your own legal nunchucks if you want to protect your inventions in China, or anywhere else for that matter. Cloning is very big business in China and hard to stop.
    protip: no private or governmental agency in china will do anything substantive to curtail the production of fake products because that small group of party members and oligarchs are getting stinking rich.

  19. #19
    Senior Member overbyte's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smallwheeler View Post
    protip: no private or governmental agency in china will do anything substantive to curtail the production of fake products because that small group of party members and oligarchs are getting stinking rich.
    In the US, a small group of elite businessmen in the banking industry were getting stinking rich, and spreading their wealth in the form of campaign contributions to politicians, by selling knowingly fake and fraudulent investments (derivatives, sub-prime mortgages, etc.) and no one did anything about it. Eventually, the house of cards collapsed and took down this country and many others. Even today, there are not sufficient protections in place and enforced to prevent a recurrence. Is this all that different from China selling a lot of fake products? At least you can use a falsely branded physical product like a bike or purse or watch or luggage. The moralities of these technically criminal acts are hard to differentiate. And don't get me started talking about Bitcoin.

  20. #20
    Senior Member overbyte's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smallwheeler View Post
    credibility in what? being a legitimate seller of counterfeit/stolen goods? think about what you're saying...

    also, the use of the term "clone" is a euphemism that's self-delusional. using the word clone implies some quasi-scientific principle is at play here whereby you are magically able to get something of great value for little expenditure. none of these types of items (when they even actually exist) are "cloned", they are simply fake.
    Not all of the products shown on that website, in fact very few, were branded items. Most are non-branded or Chinese-branded and don't look exactly like any branded bikes. Credibility referred to the existence of a real company, not just a vacuous website without a real company behind it, as we've seen on these bike forums' postings about scam sellers that don't really exist at all.

    You know, the way that patents work is that the government grants a monopoly on a particular invention to the patent holder for a certain number of years only, after which anyone is free to use the invention exactly, without payment of any royalties or license fees to the original patent holder. So what may be a "fake" (infringement) during the term of the patent protection suddenly becomes a legitimate clone when the patent expires. Either way, they're clones, that is, exact copies.

    Trademark infringements are another matter, where the brand identity of a product is stolen by the seller of the fakes. That's a matter of misrepresentation. I agree that manufacturers and sellers who pass off their (nearly) exactly copied products as the real thing are selling fakes. The buyers may or may not know that they are buying fakes. They probably don't care as long as they are cheap enough and work as expected.

  21. #21
    Senior Member smallwheeler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by overbyte View Post
    In the US, a small group of elite businessmen in the banking industry were getting stinking rich, and spreading their wealth in the form of campaign contributions to politicians, by selling knowingly fake and fraudulent investments (derivatives, sub-prime mortgages, etc.) and no one did anything about it. Eventually, the house of cards collapsed and took down this country and many others. Even today, there are not sufficient protections in place and enforced to prevent a recurrence. Is this all that different from China selling a lot of fake products? At least you can use a falsely branded physical product like a bike or purse or watch or luggage. The moralities of these technically criminal acts are hard to differentiate.
    moving the goalposts*? i'm not even sure what point you're trying to make here. "everybody else is corrupt. i'm just going with the flow." is that right?

    since you didn't feel like addressing any of my previous points, here's another thing you might wish to not consider:

    it's difficult to imagine being in a situation wherein i would be trusting my life to a fake Louis Vuitton bag.

    however, every time we get on our bicycles we are doing that very thing- we are placing trust in a company's reputation for quality and service.

    should i trust a company that's unscrupulous enough in the first instance to steal designs or otherwise produce fake products to have the highest possible standards for material selection and production practices? do they periodically x-ray welds to insure consistency? at what point do they reject defects in material or workmanship? how often do they change spec without informing the buyer or updating their own listed data sheet?


    the answers to these questions are pretty obvious.




    *Moving the goalposts is an informal logical fallacy in which previously agreed upon standards for deciding an arguement are arbitrarily changed once they have been met. This is usually done by the "losing" side of an argument in a desperate bid to save face. If the goalposts are moved far enough, then the standards can eventually evolve into something that cannot be met no matter what. Usually such a tactic is spotted quickly.

  22. #22
    Senior Member smallwheeler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by overbyte View Post
    Not all of the products shown on that website, in fact very few, were branded items. Most are non-branded or Chinese-branded and don't look exactly like any branded bikes. Credibility referred to the existence of a real company, not just a vacuous website without a real company behind it, as we've seen on these bike forums' postings about scam sellers that don't really exist at all.

    You know, the way that patents work is that the government grants a monopoly on a particular invention to the patent holder for a certain number of years only, after which anyone is free to use the invention exactly, without payment of any royalties or license fees to the original patent holder. So what may be a "fake" (infringement) during the term of the patent protection suddenly becomes a legitimate clone when the patent expires. Either way, they're clones, that is, exact copies.

    Trademark infringements are another matter, where the brand identity of a product is stolen by the seller of the fakes. That's a matter of misrepresentation. I agree that manufacturers and sellers who pass off their (nearly) exactly copied products as the real thing are selling fakes. The buyers may or may not know that they are buying fakes. They probably don't care as long as they are cheap enough and work as expected.
    you've gotten pretty far down in the weeds on this, overbyte.

    where do you get your data regarding "exact copies"?

    "fake" doesn't necessarily only imply an infringement of design rights or patents. fake also means fake. as in, counterfeit.

    from wikipedia:

    "To counterfeit means to imitate something. Counterfeit products are fake replicas of the real product. Counterfeit products are often produced with the intent to take advantage of the superior value of the imitated product. The word counterfeit frequently describes both the forgeries of currency and documents, as well as the imitations of clothing, handbags, shoes, pharmaceuticals, aviation and automobile parts, watches, electronics (both parts and finished products), software, works of art, toys, movies.[1] Counterfeit products tend to have fake company logos and brands. In the case of goods, it results in patent infringement or trademark infringement. Counterfeit consumer products have a reputation for being lower quality (sometimes not working at all) and may even include toxic elements. This has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, due to automobile and aviation accidents, poisoning, ceasing to take essential compounds (e.g. in the case a person takes non-working medicine, ...).[2]"



    take for example, dahon. engineering and design are done concurrently. do you really believe for a moment that the numerous fly-by-night grifters who produce fake dahons are using custom drawn, triple-butted tubing in the construction of those frames?

    comparatively small changes in material composition could compromise the structural integrity of the design.

    please read this article in forbes on china's "quality-fade" problem.

    "One of the problems facing China is that manufacturers continue to engage in a practice I call “quality fade.” This is the deliberate and secret habit of widening profit margins through a reduction in the quality of materials. Importers usually never notice what’s happening; downward changes are subtle but progressive. The initial production sample is fine, but with each successive production run, a bit more of the necessary inputs are missing....
    Some quality issues are not all that serious, but others are downright frightening. One of the most disturbing examples I have encountered while working in China involved the manufacture and importation of aluminum systems used to construct high-rise commercial buildings. These are the systems that support tons of concrete as it is being poured, and their general stability is critical.
    The American company that designed and patented the system engineered all key components. It knew exactly how much each part was supposed to weigh, and yet the level of engineering sophistication did not stop the supplier from making a unilateral decision to reduce the specifications. When the “production error” was caught, one aluminum part was found to be weighing less than 90% of its intended weight. "


    and so on..

  23. #23
    Senior Member overbyte's Avatar
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    3 folders, 2 recumbents (1 is electric), 1 recumbent trike, 1 touring, 1 mountain, 1 road bike -- So many bicycles, so little time.
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    You are correct about all of the above. My point in the original posting was just to show that this is going on blatantly.

    Regarding quality fade, this is not new to China. I first noticed the phenomenon many decades ago in my home town. There used to be a drugstore chain called Thrifty Drugs, which carried their own store branded ice cream by the half-gallon. Whenever a new flavor was introduced, it was the greatest thing at the lowest price around. But after about 6 months of building up its reputation, that ice cream variety began to get more skimpy on the candies blended in, weaker in the flavors, more air in the mix, etc. Quality fade to keep the profits growing. More recently, I've seen it in a brand of bath soap bars, which started with a rich green color and brilliant perfumes of spring scents. Over the years, it has faded to a sickly pale blue, thinner bars, and hardly any scent, which doesn't resemble the original product. And there are the candy bars, which have been shrinking for decades to minimize price increases. American industry has long been doing what the Chinese are doing. It's not new. Of course, none of that is as serious as cheating on the strength of steel or concrete or the size of an aluminum part, or by mixing a plastic ingredient (melamine) into powdered baby milk formula to boost the results of a lab test for protein which isn't sensitive enough to distinguish between protein and the fake source of nitrogen. It goes on everywhere. Remember the striking photos of collapsed new buildings in Mexico standing right next to intact buildings after a major earthquake, and later it was discovered that the building contractor had cheated on the amount of steel rebar in the concrete and had paid off building inspectors to get away with it. Those are killer frauds. The melamine perpetrators were discovered, convicted, and executed by the Chinese government.

    I'm going to end my comments in this thread by saying that selling fake products as the real thing is immoral and criminal, knowingly buying them is aiding and abetting, using other companies' inventions and brand names without paying that company is stealing, buying apparently good-deals in bikes directly from Chinese sellers that are not made with the watchful eye of a company that has a reputation to uphold and that does quality assurance inspections of its own and that provides a warranty that you can rely upon runs the risk of serious product failure about which there is little or no recourse, that this is big business in China, and that it's hard to detect and hard to stop. Smart companies are supposed to be doing their own "acceptance testing" when they receive a new shipment of parts from a supplier and rejecting those that don't meet specs. That's a necessary component of good manufacturing practice.

    One last thing. When a big wholesale buyer, such as a huge retailer, goes to a Chinese supplier and bargains the price down, the Chinese factory can easily agree and then cut corners on quality to reach the desired target price. So the big Wallies and such are actually contributing to the quality fade by pushing prices down too low, to boost their own profit margins. That's why you see comments about products online from retail customers at those big box sellers where the customer says that the price was great and the product looked great, but it fell apart after just a few uses.

    I'm gonna go ride my bike.
    Last edited by overbyte; 04-29-14 at 02:30 PM.

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