6 Red Signals You are Dealing with a Middleman

6 Red Signals You are Dealing with a Middleman


It is best to take precautions when finding a manufacturer in China, or you might end up being supplied by a middleman. A middleman is simply someone who plays the role of a matchmaker between a buyer and a manufacturer. This is not good for your business because this means that you will pay more, since a middleman gets his cut in the transactions.

Here are 6 red signals that you might be dealing with a middleman:

  1. Refusal to disclose the actual place of production
Intimate Relationship
Intimate Relationship

A middleman does not work in the place where the product is manufactured. He simply represents himself to have an intimate relationship with the manufacturer, as if he were assigned to look for a buyer. Many times, he would even claim to be the manufacturer. Since a middleman does not work inside the place of production, he would not want you to go there and blow his cover. Instead, he might give you another address or place of business, but not the place where the product is manufactured.

  1. He cannot meet you at the place of production

A middleman may still reveal to you the place of production for he can come up with numerous excuses that will not make you doubt his credibility. However, disclosing the place of production is different from being able to meet him within the premises where the product is produced. In case you do meet with him at the place of production, you can tell that he is a middleman if he does not know the place very well and if he only knows a few people inside.

  1. Refusal or non-disclosure of documents relating to the process of production, ownership, among others

A legitimate manufacturer in China can always show you relevant documents, especially in terms of production. Generally, a mere middleman is not in possession of such documents. Some shrewd middlemen would even be the ones who will mention these documents but would come up with excuses on how he simply forgot to bring it when you meet him.

  1. He handles a wide range of products

Most manufacturers only produce goods that are within the same product line. This is because goods included in a different category will require a different set of machinery. A middleman is not concerned with manufacturing. He simply has a list of different manufacturers that he matches up with buyers.

  1. His business card does not match the factory’s information

    Business Card Not Matched
    Business Card Not Matched

A middleman usually has manufacturers on different niches, so that he could always provide something for a buyer. Because of this diversity, his business or calling card may not completely correspond with the manufacturer’s information, especially his business name, logo and address.

  1. He prevents you from talking with other people from the factory

On the one hand, a legitimate representative of a manufacturer in China will often refuse to answer some questions, especially those that are technical in nature. But, he will always refer you to the one assigned to the particular job you are inquiring, so that you can get the best information. This will enable you to talk with other people in the factory. On the other hand, a middleman will answer all your questions. He would usually give general answers and avoid discussing specific subjects.


You should be careful when looking for a manufacturer in China, or anywhere else. Many middlemen are very convincing, but these red signals can help you differentiate the middleman from a legitimate manufacturer. Remember that it is important that you avoid the middleman and go directly to the manufacturer to lower your cost.

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