My experience outsourcing to China part 2 (Or a message to Sophia)

For those of you that haven’t been following this epic saga detailing globalization in full force, read part one here .

So I decided to send my critique of the cards to Sophia and see how she responded. She gave me pretty reasonable answers as to why the sample decks came out weird. She pointed out correctly that I didn’t communicate everything I wanted for the initial sample order. This is true. I thought I had accurate specs for what I wanted but it turns out I was missing some details, the most important of which seems to be the plastic coating. She admitted a few things that was her fault and also mentioned that the machine they use to produce samples is not the same one they use for mass production. That makes sense. I’m posting some of the e-mails we just sent back and forth. It ends with me detailing what I would like for the next set of samples. Hopefully this epic has a happy ending (though that is rare in the literary world).

Dear Dale, [In this e-mail she copy and pasted my last e-mail and responded to a bunch of individual points. I will underline her response to separate what I said and she said]

First, happy to hear you have already received the samples. It seems so quick!

And please check the attached file for the quotation records, from all the different quotations, you haven’t request the playing cards and poker box to be laminated, and we quote all the prices based on no lamination! And at the very beginning, you give your target price, so we also quote the price based on your target price and give you the quotation base. I think you should be all clear, right? And usually, if lamination, the cost will be increased, and lamination or not, it’s up to client’s decision, we have to follow client’s requests!

We have met some clients before, if they want the goods to be easy recycled after they throw the playing cards away, they will choose not to be laminated!

And for the material, we have already chosen the material 300gsm gloss art paper, 350gsm gloss art paper for cards, as well as 250gsm ivory board paper for poker box, they are all the good paper material.

And we really felt so sorry for all the problems you have put forwarded!

First let me speak about 350gsm playing cards with larger box

350 GSM with Large Box

Box is too large for the cards, in fact, the size is according to your original file, we don’t adjust this box size at all! And when the larger box comes out, we find it to bigger, so we choose to adjust the size to 64*89*2cm which is the normally seen poker box size to pack 63mm*88mm poker cards. So in fact, small box is made in another day!
Bottom tuck side of the box – “TREKDEK” is not centered
Top tuck side of the box – “TREKDEK” is not centered
Right Side of box – is not centered
Left side of box – “LIVE WELL, TRAVEL WELL” is not centered
Back of the box – Text is too high. Needs to be lowered
All the cards have a very rough cut on the edges
For all the above questions of not centered, we can ask our designers to re-adjust.
And for the edging cutting, I have also noticed the problem. Because for samples, we only make several decks, cannot use big machine for cutting, but if under mass production, will have not such problem!
– The border is not even. The graphic is too far to the right. Needs to be centered. Sometimes, it’s just because of making samples, the cutting line may be adjusted not accurate under small machine, if under mass production, will not have such problem!
– Fine, the alignment of the image is good. The clubs should look like that. So, come out from small machine, sometimes, may be good, sometimes, may be not even!
– 4,5,6,7,8,9,10, J, Q, K,  card images should be moved left. It is uneven. The content, I will ask the designer to adjust!

– K card top border seems larger than others, this part, can be adjusted.

– Fine

And about 300gsm with smaller box
300 GSM with Small Box

On the back of the smaller box, the text needs to be shifted left and centered
Smaller box is missing Live Well, Travel Well on left side and TREKDEK on top and bottom tuck sides
Above two parts, I have noticed already, in fact, it’s so careless for the workers, the smaller box is made after bigger box, and for bigger box, content is all correct, just not centered as you have mentioned.
But because I mainly want you to see the normally seen box size to pack regular 63mm*88mm poker cards, therefore I just send the wrong boxes but right size out to you! And give you another same box, let you try yourself to pack 350gsm playing cards, and hope you have a decision to make 300gsm or 350gsm playing cards finally!
Cards are cut roughly on edges
Border on back side of cards is too large, uneven. Prefer no border (all blue) I’ll ask the designers to delete the white border, all blue, it’s no problem!
Too flimsy. It’s really sad to hear that! I think the main problem is the lamination, if the playing cards and poker box to be laminated, you will not feel it flimsy!
Need some sort of laminate? If you really feel it flimsy, it has to be laminated!
– Print is fine

– The Border on the 2 and 3 card are uneven, shifted to the right too far

– All the cards need to be shifted left slightly

– Fine

From all your above comments, it seems all the design has to be re-adjusted!

Things I want to find out about:

1. What are you options for a plastic coating on the cards? If you want the cards as well as poker box to be laminated, this lamination is exactly called plastic coated!
2. Do you sell plastic cards? We of course sell plastic cards, but usually plastic cards will be much higher than paper made playing cards.
3. What options do you have for boxes? Plastic? Custom sized? usually if you want plastic playing cards, the box can be paper poker box, or plastic box, but the cost for plastic box is much higher than the cost for paper made poker box, we think, if your order quantity is 500decks, better to choose paper box.

We really feel so sad to hear you give such cheap comment on the samples. If you have requested to be laminated, I think everything will be different!

And for the design, we’ll ask our designer to re-adjust, OK?

About lamination or not, please kindly reply back!

On Apr 16, 2011, at 10:15 AM, sophia.wang22 wrote:

Dear Dale,

In fact, we will accept no matter how small the initial order quantity it will be!
So no matter a order with small quantity, or large quantity, we’ll both pay our best attention! It’s really worth of our time!

I’ll reply you later about below:

1. How much cost for adding plastic coating both on cards and poker box?

2. What are the options for boxes? (plastic box, laminated paper box, etc)

3. Do you sell fully plastic cards? Please check the attached picture for your reference of plastic playing cards, it’s packed by laminated paper box

4. When I compared the samples to another set of playing cards I purchased, I noticed the regular playing cards were thinner, but had a plastic coating. Is this possible with your company? Because at the very beginning, you let us quote based on 300gsm and 350gsm, so we don’t give you the quotation based on thinner paper material! Usually if thinner, it can also be 280gsm, 250gsm. 280gsm usually is used for medium quality, and 250gsm usually is used for low quality! And no matter you choose what kind of paper material, it can have a plastic coating!

And if possible, please give me different specification soon!

Thank you!

Hi Sophia,

I’ve listed below different versions that I would like to see. If there are any other details that I needs to include please let me know. I’m trying to be as specific and clear as possible, but I am human and sometimes make mistakes.

Sample A:

Box: Laminated Box, standard poker size (the smaller of the two you sent me the in the previous sample shipment)
Card Stock: 250 GSM  with plastic coating

Back of Card: No border

Sample B:

Box:  Laminated Box, standard poker size with plastic coating
Card Stock: 280 GSM with plastic coating

Back of Card: With border

Sample C:

Box: Laminated Box, standard poker size with plastic coating
Card Stock: 300 GSM with plastic coating

Back of Card: No border

Sample D:

Box: All plastic box, standard poker size
Card Stock: Completely plastic card (Is this possible?)

Back of Card: With Border

My decision to place a full order will be based on next sample that is sent. I will be watching out for the following factors:

1. Even spacing of border

2. Smooth cut around the edge of the cards

3. Centering of text on the box “Left, Right, Top, and Bottom” text. Also, on the back of the box the text should be centered.

4. Centered graphics on cards with even borders


1. Could you send me a price quotation (including shipping)for the following:
a. Sample A: 25, 50, 100, 250, and 500 decks
b. Sample B: 25, 50, 100, 250, and 500 decks
c. Sample C: 25, 50, 100, 250, and 500 decks
d. Sample D: 25, 50, 100, 250, and 500 decks

2. For the sample shipment, how much would it cost to send me:
a. One of each: Ax1, Bx1, Cx1, Dx1
b. 5 of each: Ax5, Bx5, Cx5, Dx5
c. 25 of each, Ax25, Bx25, Cx25, Dx25

The reason I ask about this is I plan on sending a few of these out to friends for free anyway. This way, if the samples are not perfect, I can just send the imperfect ones to my friends and we can work further to improve the product. Of course I would prefer to perfect it in the next samples.


1. If there is something wrong with the designs I sent you I apologize. If it is something that can easily be corrected (graphic is not centered, design doesn’t fit the box size), please let your staff know that I give them permission to fix it. I trust their judgement in making small adjustments to make the cards look more appealing.

2. For these next samples, I would like them to accurately represent what the final product would look like. I understand the last set of samples were from a smaller, less accurate machine. Is there anyway to try make these samples on the big machine?

Please let me know if there is anything unclear or if I forgot to mention a few specifications. I thank you for your patience all the help you’ve given me.




2 responses to this post.

  1. […] « My job interview experience (or how not to interview someone) My experience outsourcing to China part 2 (Or a message to Sophia) […]


  2. Posted by Will Langford on April 17, 2011 at 12:26 am

    Interesting read. It’s like reading my day to day life in dealing with China. Your cards do look very good. What she said about the cards being run on a sample machine is true, but it also goes to say you need to outline every small specific detail. It’s hard the first few times but you’ll get the hang of it. With some comments on the first post about 1st run is good, 2nd is okay, 3rd is fine new supplier. China is just like here, build a relationship, if you form a solid relationship you will gain leaps and bounds. Best of luck!


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