Dealing with Chinese head unit factories over the years

This month I want to share a few experiences in dealing directly with the Chinese factories.  During our 11 years of doing this , there have been many changes in both product quality and marketing strategies by the Chinese factories. Originally you had to know how to connect a radio for each different car Make and model. You had to know the issues, what worked, what didn’t work and what you should avoid. Most times installations were performed by installers (known as fitters in some countries) and they tended to know how to connect wire “A with Wire “A”. And mostly were held responsible for the successful installation of these units which basically came in Single Din , 1.5 Din and Double Din sizes. AS distributors, the most we had to deal was with defects which most often than not , were caused by poor installation.

In about 2009, 2010 the factories began to introduce , tailor fit head units. Which incorporated the appropriate fascia and a loom to match the model of the vehicle. I was skeptical (to say the least) that they would even fit. But after a few successful installations, my confidence began to grow. What I did NOT foresee was the development of the “do it yourself” customer. Making it easier for the customer to install , led to an expectation, that we know all there is to know about how to install in over 250 models of car. In some instances we actually do. In others there are variances from market to market, there are custom audio packages and there are aftermarket installations that have changed the original layout of the connections.

So now we are responsible to tell a customer how to fit, in

many cases they expect installation instructions. I try to explain that both the factory and Navall recommend professional installation but we would be happy to offer assistance to the buyer to try and do it themselves. this can become quite labour intensive for us, explaining and answering queries, Especially when you get , emails with pages of photos and simply stating something like , It won’t turn on. I actually spent about an hour , emailing back and forth to one customer, who was irate and threatening before I finally asked the obvious question , “Is your ignition turned on” . In another case a fitter was trying to charge a customer £500 (US $750) for what was a 15 minute very simple fitting. Which by the way was messed up to the point that he had the reverse camera being fed from the Car Antenna power and criss-crossed. My 10 year old son would have done better !

There are very few sellers in China that know much about the installation of these head units and it has been difficult to develop a database of troubleshooting and tips but we have managed. I have no idea why they hide their technical talent in favour of inexperienced sellers , that have almost no knowledge. We are experienced, and we buy enough quantity to make a factory interested to sell at wholesale to us and yet we have difficulty getting competent support so I can well imagine how it would be for an individual.

And then there is the dreaded sending back. It is a nightmare. According to a few of my sources, they employ several “strategies” to avoid refunding ! We recently sent back 2 units to a factory that we know well but had not ever done business with them until the spring of 2018. We order 5 units , 4 were problematic. After several attempts to resolve the issues, the units were eventually returned by the customers and refunded to them (IN full) . The factory was very courteous and gave us return instructions, which we followed . Chinese customs stopped the shipment, and we were told that they could not be imported because the seller gave us her personal name and importation is prohibited.  So they refused to refund because they didn’t get the goods , even though it was they that gave us the instructions. So we lost 3 units. We had other issues in the past, mostly involving Chinese customs excuses, like they want taxes equal to double the value of the Head unit or the goods arrive damaged , both used as excuses to not refund. Protect yourself. Use a credit card or paypal only. Do not pay with Paypal balance because they will side with the factory if the goods are not received and you did not do ALL of the return via Paypal. Not to mention the expense of returning the goods .

All in all things run pretty smoothly . At Navall we test some units but its impossible to test all models. We have a fitting guide that will answer your general questions (and maybe a few specific questions) and we are here to help. Sometimes, if we do not have the answer immediately on hand, please be patient so we can find an answer.



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