Random experiences Importing from China:
1. The customer service should be easily accessible, and speak English fairly well. The companies I deal with have live chat available, usually through MSN Live Messenger. If they do not, I don't deal with them.
2. Even if you have larger shipments available, you should break them up into smaller shipments, into total amounts you are comfortable with losing. For example, if you place a $4,000 order, and customs gets involved, are you OK with that? If not, make smaller shipments of only $1,000 or $2,000 each. It cost a few dollars more to ship, but if customs decides to inspect, or confiscate the package, you are not out the full order.
3. Never.... EVER.... under ANY circumstances... ship with DHL.
4. Never.... EVER.... under ANY circumstances... ship with DHL.
5. Oh wait... I said that already.... the point is this: If you happen to call customs, and get put on hold, did you know that you will hear an advertisement for DHL? This should tell you something. Every vendor I have asked, has told me the same thing... DHL gets more packages opened than EMS and UPS combined.
6. If customs ever decides to put one of your packages on hold, consider it lost. Accept the fact that you need to repurchase the merchandise, and move on. Maybe you can get the shipment released someday in the future, but do not wait on it. The process of Customs will take weeks and weeks to show any forward progress.
6a. Let us say that you are an aggressive person and want to take control of the situation. Don't waste your time. Personally, I spent an entire business day circumventing the system until I had the name and number of the Officer who personally stopped my package. The end result was that once it was randomly stopped (for no particular reason), it was sent to the lab for inspection. This is three weeks minimum, and nothing can be done, not even by the Officer (unless you are related or something, I figure). I accepted the $2,500 loss, and moved on.
7. If you are paying with Western Union, you can ask if the person you are paying has any fraud reported against them. However, I should mention to take this with a grain of salt. Two of my vendors have 0 this year, and that is great. One of them has 16 complaints against them. At first, I thought I was screwed. As it turns out, they have bent over backwards for me, and given me whatever I needed. Since you are only saying the person's name, located in China, this could be anybody. It's like sending money to John Doe in the USA... you would expect more than one person to have the same name.
8. Before doing business with a company, do an extensive google search about the company. Once, I found a company that swore to my (email) face that they sold genuine brand name products at great prices. After a search, they turned out to be liars and thieves.
9. You can use Alibaba.com and DIY.com to find products, and vendors. For me, i use it to see how long they have been in business, and stuff like that. The company I found in #8 was found here, so again, buyer beware.
10. There is no number 10... or number 4 for that matter.