Notice: It is my intention to present the facts as best as I can, being fair and truthful. Everything that I claim can be supported by e-mail or whatsapp communications. As I proceed with my story I will add links to the supporting documents. Speculation as to the intentions or motives of this company will be labelled as “speculation”.

The search for a supplier was conducted through Alibaba since this trade platform provides a measure of guarantee of performance by the supplier.

Unfortunately, a wily supplier can game the system (check here for important information on how) and, moreover, once the period of trade assurance has expired, there is NO WAY to enforce compliance on any issue.

Essentially it means that any guarantee can be absolutely useless if the company does not wish to respond. This is an extremely important point to keep in mind for expensive items.

If you contemplate hiring a law firm to enforce your contract, be prepared to spend USD800.00 for a mere letter and at least USD8000.00 for a full civil suit with no guarantees.

The Story

After receiving the down payment, Chengli Special Automobile tried to change the chassis (weaker version) and said that they were no longer offering trade assurance. I sought to annul the deal and they finally offered the original chassis (they said that the salesman was confused) and after some delay offered trade assurance.

The truck arrived in late December 2017. I went to the dock at San Antonio, Chile to pick it up and it would not start. We also noticed that the most of the truck tools had been stolen and the spares were missing. We were surprised to see approximately 1,600 kilometres on the odometer.

After six hours of fruitless effort in the hot sun, a special team at the port arrived, bled air out of the fuel lines, injected ether and gave the battery a boost. It started.

Immediately I noticed that the steering was stiff which suggested that it was in 4x4 mode. The manual was in Chinese and for the 4x2 model. Naturally it was of no use.

The salesman (Tom– apparently a woman, by the way) tried to help but was of little use except for identifying Chinese characters on the switches and displays. He/she promised to consult with the engineer who, when finally providing feedback, left me mouth agape when he identified the parking brake as the dumper control…. Tom also promised to consult with Dongfeng and was partly successful in identifying some of the switches on the panel.

Having driven the truck from the port at San Antonio, Chile, to my home near Pucón, IX region, about 900 km, my impression of the vehicle was fairly positive but my discomfort regarding the possible 4x4 engagement remained.

Once parked at home, the truck was left for about 36 hours and when I wished to move it, it would not start.

I recharged the batteries, tried again but no luck.

I located a mechanic who agreed to travel the 25 km from Pucón to analyze the problem.

He carefully cleaned the battery terminals, pumped up the manual fuel pump on the filter manifold and the truck started instantly.

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