Latest comments from some travellers in China
I found out I got cheated by the driver who took me from Guangzhou Airport to my hotel. He charged me RMB 800 one way to the hotel. The true cost, I found out after, should only have been RMB 150!!!
The taxi driver spoke no English and only knew the area he was travelling from. He did not know the resort I was going to and couldn’t even find it despite the hotel having given me a written address in Chinese. I had to look up the hotel’s phone number on my iPhone and ask them to speak to the driver in Chinese and explain to him where to go. Even after that, he still got lost! I had to end up getting Google Maps up and pointing the way. And after all that, he tried to charge me more than agreed when we got there! He wanted 700RMB plus he demanded I pay the tolls, an extra 80RMB, and then he wanted another 100RMB at the end for no reason!
I was born in China and a business woman; never thought I could get conned in China!
I wanted to buy a camera. Friend told me which model to buy at what price and told me never listen to what the shop assistant recommended. After I asked for the model I wanted, the store manager immediately recommended another model, which would cost a little more, but would be “the best on the market", she said … I completed forgot what my friend had said and bought the slightly more expensive one, which does look very stylish. Later, I learned that it’s a cheaper model! I couldn’t believe how naïve I was! I would never dream of any sales person in Australia playing such trick!
I visited a factory from which I intended to buy some products and, to save costs, I did not bring my own interpreter. Instead, I used the one provided by the factory. I wish I hadn’t. She’s obviously on their side — which does not help at all when I am trying to negotiate the best prices.
Our company orders a lot of stationery and ticket wallets from China. We have staff who speak perfect Chinese, but often we do not do business directly with suppliers in China. Instead, we work through a local agent who assists in communication and quality control! It’s rather difficult to deal with a supplier directly when you have different mindset. What you think of as a norm is, more often than not, not normal in China.
The language barrier and cultural differences often cause major problems when doing business in China. Most Chinese natives do not speak a word of English and this can obviously cause issues with any or all of the following stages of your journey:
Even on-line research can be difficult as many of the local websites required for a greater knowledge of the area may not cater to non-Chinese speakers. Navigating hundreds of sites composed in half-English or entirely in Chinese will be a great hassle and make it difficult to pay full attention to all of the potential traps of the internet, such as fake booking websites.
Finding the right location can also become a Herculean effort. China has 34 states, 845 cities and 374 country-level cities with many locations having similar spelling and pronunciation. This significantly inhibits your ability to organize your itinerary and to select appropriate and comfortable accommodations.
Further, if you need to travel between cities, choosing the proper transport will be difficult online due to the lack of English options on Chinese transport websites. On top of this, most of major Chinese cities have more than one railway and coach station. You will have to properly identify your station or all preparation will have been in vain.
2. When you are in China
Consider this confusing whirlpool of opportunities for miscommunction: asking for directions, using taxis, getting a local mobile number, buying train tickets, buying coach tickets, going to the right railway, going to the right coach station, getting on the right train, getting off at the right stop, finding a restaurant, ordering food, seeking misplaced luggage, and even attempting to deal with any travel accidents or finding medical assistance.
As in the testimony above, taxi drivers may overcharge your fares or take you a longer way, interpreters from your business contacts will not look after your interests properly but may favor their employers. And, in all areas, the culture differences alone can cause you to feel uncomfortable during negotiations with business owners, suppliers, doctors, taxi cab drivers.
Most importantly, it can be difficult to get help in cases of emergencyies. You will have to deal with the airline, follow up your lost luggage, and arrange to buy new clothing as well as having the worry of how to pay if you lose your money and/or credit cards, all without any knowledge of the language or the assistance of a reliable source of help.
Most Chinese people are friendly, honest and welcome visitors. Unfortunately there are also those dishonest people who will take advantage of your ignorance of the region or the social norm. They willrip you off or provide over-priced services or short-change the quality of your ordered products.
3. After returning home:
The goods that you negotiated may not arrive on time as the suppliers promised. The goods that do arrive may not be the same goods that you ordered, or the quantitymay be incorrect. The service promised by the local supplier may not be up to the negotiated standard and on-going communications with China to resolve the situation may become difficult at times.
If you want to have a long-term, successful, business relationship with China; it is paramount that you work with a trusted local agency who will assist you in communication, negotiation, and quality control.
Our hosts will not only help you overcome the language barrier; we willalso offer business assistance in every way that we can to help you establish or improve your business relationship with your suppliers in China!
If you can’t afford to get it right the first time, how can you afford to do it twice?!