The internet is like the wild west sometimes when it comes to doing business. We have been ripped off for information a number of times and in the case of www.teainchina.biz/ they were not even clever enough thieves to remove our name from the information they were stealing. This has happened to us a lot. We have been online for more than 8 years and if internet years are anything like dog years that’s a long time.
Very often the thieves are in China. There is a growing number of tea websites selling tea from within China. The sites are all operating in the margins of what is legal both in China and the US. They are the 21st century’s equivalent of tea smugglers. On the China side they are circumventing the Chinese customs laws that require that any tea, food, pharmaceuticals, etc. be inspected before leaving the country. These laws were beefed up in 2008 to prevent the kinds of international scandals that were plaguing the Chinese reputation during the Olympic year. On the American side, commercial consumables need to be cleared by the FDA. These sites can do that by sending items through the mail in small quantities, calling them gifts and samples. The more sophisticated sites are hosted in the US and they block Chinese browsers from being able to access their site from China. Of course Ebay businesses easily slip by unnoticed.
It makes things harder for us, but we are still surviving, and we feel that in the long term that will be the case. Should you buy from these sites? Certainly the prices are lower. For us, our integrity is what we feel makes us such a tough competitor. The good thing about being in business on the internet, is that one of these sites gets exposed early because of loyal customers, friends, and even fellow competitors. They are the ones that tip us off.
Thanks to our customers and friends for being vigilant.