I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this discussion. I started this thread because I have had a lot of bad experiences with Chinese products and I wanted to know what others thought about this.
I do think a lot of rubbish is dumped on New Zealand. No doubt this will correct itself over time, but right now it is still a major issue. I hope if enough voices are raised, things may improve sooner rather than later. Many good points have been made, the most obvious being you get what you pay for and you shouldn’t buy junk. The problem in my opinion is that there is not always a lot of choice and with electronics in particular it is often impossible to tell if something is any good or not. I just don’t like the feeling that I am spinning a roulette wheel every time I buy something. When I purchase a product, I want it to just work. I don’t need the hassle that comes with repeated failures and warranty claims. I want the item I pay good money for to work as it is supposed to from the beginning and I don’t think that is an unreasonable demand, even for cheap generic stuff. Someone mentioned Taiwan and that is a good example of this. Over the years I have had a lot of inexpensive generic products from Taiwan, and never problems with any of them. I do make a distinction in this regard between Taiwan and mainland China.
Is Chinese stuff rubbish? I am aware that Apple and other leading brands are made there. I also have a Foxconn motherboard and Lenovo monitors and different hard drives that have worked flawlessly for years. But of course the issue is not with products that work well, which is what they are supposed to do anyway, but with those that don’t. In my experience, too many don’t. This assertion is based on my actual experience, not snobbishness or any kind of prejudice. I wish Chinese products did work well. It would make my life a lot easier.
I do agree that quality control is the main issue. There are rarely problems with brand names made in China. I also agree that quality is more likely to suffer where factory workers are treated badly. Occasionally a scandal leaks out, but otherwise how can a consumer here know which product is ethical and which isn’t? Most products available here are generic and carry names that don’t mean anything and change with every batch.
Someone asked which specific products I had trouble with and how much I paid for them. In most cases I don’t have that information at hand and retrieving it would be more trouble than I want to go to. What I can say is that my means are limited so I do look for bargains, and what is wrong with that? Some things came from the Internet, others from Jaycar or Dick Smith. Both companies sell a lot of rebranded Chinese merchandise. Unlike Apple, I don’t think they exercise a lot of quality assurance. I sometimes wonder how they make money if so much of their stuff has to be replaced under warranty. Maybe people just don’t bother.
Thanks again for the responses, also from those who don’t have any problem with Chinese products. It is good to have balanced feedback on a subject like this.