Friday, October 26, 2012

The extorsion of the Chinese garbageman!

In China to do business and even for everyday life you need a good guanxi. It means having friends: making present, inviting, inquiring upon...
If you do nothing and just keep to yourself, sooner or later you are doomed to encounter some problem and there will be no one to help you. If you have a business you must anticipate trouble and develop your guanxi. Otherwise in the end it will cost you more!

At the restaurant we need to put our garbage outside. 

  • The garbageman refused to pick up our garbage. He said that his job doesn't include picking up restaurant trash! 
  • We didn't want to listen to any of this
  • Finaly the garbageman showed up with someone in charge of the building (the big brother who acts as a mediator in case of conflict. Sometimes it is the mafia)

1st refusal to pay
This day I was in a bad mood and upset that they wanted to get extra money from us. I simply told them that the job of a garbageman is to pick up garbage. He is paid for this job so why should I pay extra?
They told me that the neighbours pay extra since they are restaurants. But seeing my anger, the big brother told me that we didn't need to pay anymore. He didn't want trouble and probably would pay the garbageman some extra since he was unable to sort out the conflict.

2nd accept to pay
Still we were kind of worried we would get into trouble if we had bad relation with the garbageman so we accepted to pay the extra. I believe that my anger was a good thing. It also set some limits. It is a way to say: we pay because we are nice with you but we will not pay more in a few month. Don't push it too much.

3rd we got owned
Many month later we found out none of the neighbours paid the extra! Had we know this from the start we would never have paid! We decided not to pay anymore since we have very little garbage. We can take it to some other place.


When you have a business in China, you should pay to keep good relations.
Pay means: invite, offer presents, inquire upon and as a last resort give money...

A few general advices:
  • You should not pay without a fight
  • You should understand the situation: ask around, get information
  • You must play the watch
  • Play dumb: you are a foreigner, don't speak Chinese and look stupid
  • Don't say anything that can be seen as your position
  • If there is a real threat and your opponent is much stronger than you, then pay after some fight
  • Call many people to support you: the more the better
  • Call in some big brother: important Chinese, older, richer, higher social status, famous people...
  • Keep calm but show that you will keep your position
  • Bargain
  • Offer cigarettes, drinks... invite at restaurant

Hopefuly we have had only a few problems in China with the restaurant.

My final word of advise:
"beware of the Chinese garbageman!" ;-)

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