No Minister

Engaging with a Foreign Business Culture

with 5 comments

Our family have bought rather a lot of electronic equipment from PB Tech here in NZ over the years, in my case mainly small stuff, in my son’s case, everything required to build a computer.

They’re well-known and New Zealand’s largest chain of stores that specialise in computer gear. This gushing Spinoff article (gushy mainly because it raved about their policy of demanding vax passes from customers before they entered a store) explains the “PB” in their name:

“In the early years, [Pat] Huo was supported in the accounts department by his wife Brenda Yu, hence the company name PB Tech.”

That would explain all the Chinese immigrants running the store in Penrose. I may have seen the occasional Indian or White chappie but they’ve been rare. I guess you go with the culture you know.

According to the blurb in the link above, they deliver lower prices by “cutting out the middleman”, doing direct deals with manufacturers and so forth. Then there’s this:

Being able to support the products we sell in-house gives PB Tech a huge advantage when it comes to rectifying faulty hardware quickly and painlessly for our customers. The scale of our in-house service operation and our team’s vast experience are the reasons why we’re an authorised repairer for leading brands such as HP, Samsung and LG, as well as top insurance companies within New Zealand.

Oh really? About six months ago my son’s two year-old PB Tech supplied monitor began glitching so he contacted them since it was still under warranty. Bit of a run-around but he finally was able to drop it off.

Then silence. No response to emails or phone calls where he left messages. Buck passing as to who to talk to and just a general run-around.

However, a couple of months later a box appeared at the door. It was “a” monitor: not the original one repaired but a replacement. No contact made to say it was on the way. Before opening the package he tried to find out via email and phonecalls what the story was. Same run-around again but worse.

Finally he opens the package and this is what he found.

They sent him an identical, replacement monitor – that’s damaged.

By now – seriously pissed – he went looking for reviews of PB Tech to see if he was an exception. He wasn’t. Click on the image to read.

There’s plenty more where those came from, and you can read about the $77,000 fine here.

I don’t understand how a company can continue to remain in business while pulling this shit on its customers – even in the wake of that fine, although given that the company is worth $280 million perhaps they don’t give a shit about such a number. Perhaps it’s simply that they sell a lot of tech gear to companies that chuck it quickly before it even hits the depreciation age and operate at such volumes that they don’t care about the occasional failure? Perhaps such business customers have … replace and fix arrangements with PB Tech that the latter accept because they’re not individual customers? Although I see some small business owners also getting screwed in those reviews.

But it’s this one that gives the clue as to the real problem with that third point.

I know a number of companies that have dealt with Chinese businesses, both here and in China, and that last one is a symptom of the real problem with their business culture:

They just assume everyone is lying and trying to rip off everyone else, so why are you complaining? In fact you’re probably lying to us now about your “problem”.

Which is exactly the experience several reviewers talk about and which my son is now experiencing; they’ve accused him of damaging the monitor. At first this might seem shocking, but that just how it be in Chinese business. Next stop is the small claims court: it seems they do respond to legal threats – which is also another aspect of Chinese business culture.


Written by Tom Hunter

June 7, 2022 at 2:49 pm

5 Responses

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  1. Reminds me of a story rom the mid eighties, when Australians started doing business in China.

    One fellow remarked ‘It’s fine when things are going well but when there’s a problem, they just run away! Have you ever tried to find a bloody Chinaman in Shanghai? It’s like looking for one particular maggot in a dead sheep.’


    June 7, 2022 at 6:31 pm

  2. Fair analysis Tom. Haven’t used them for a year or two now,

    Harvey Norman or Noel Leeming have upped their game. Often their prices are better too.

    It is a sad commentary on the Chines mentally, eveything is price based, hence there is no margin for customer service, or after sales service.

    In my business when I got started, and I am talking big investment for the home owner in the renovation market, I started with a Chinese fabricator. Everything that was warranty was customer fault..”we send replacement, you pay first.”

    He lasted 1 year and then was shown the arse card.

    Their dirty dealings in business are legendary, I just dont understand why the West has flocked there and stayed for so long.

    Its short term business thinking much like the Biden’s and the Mitt Romneys and the investment bankers that Key was a part of.

    Key has never run is own business, so he doesnt understand value add, which is what most Kiwi business’s, and in fact most business’s world wide are about. And patience.

    Capitalism is creative destruction. Unfortunately PB will go, victim of their own culture and failure to stick to good business practice. The latter is universal and transcends all cultures.


    June 7, 2022 at 6:50 pm

  3. Used to purchase the odd item from PB Tech, but after they decided to ban anybody without a vax pass I decided to ban them. Never (and never will) go back.

    Looks like it’s a winning strategy in more ways than one!

    Hamish Tweedie

    June 7, 2022 at 7:58 pm

    • Hamish, ditto.

      Emailed them and told them why. At least they did stop spamming me.


      June 7, 2022 at 8:56 pm

    • I’ve done the same -Discrimination is not acceptable


      June 7, 2022 at 9:02 pm

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