Monday, March 3, 2014

An Account For My Bad Experience Working In Changchun, China

China Changchun work Dirui
So here I'm finally out of China, I remember when I arrived in China and after a few months of being there I wrote "Wai guo ren's behavior in China......The truth about how expats behave in China" in which I basically criticized expats in China for their behavior towards China and the Chinese glorious culture.

But here I am again writing about the same topic but from a completely new and different perspective telling my story in one of the big companies in china and how foreigners are treated, this explains why a lot of the expats there are turning into alcoholics or why they are constantly bashing China and their jobs there. 

My story starts when I got hired by one of the biggest companies in the medical field in China. The way the company looked deceived me to think it offers a decent environment to work in and the salary was just enough to help me survive in the industrial city of Changchun, Jilin province, however it wasn't enough to provide even the smallest amount of money for savings but I didn't mind because I was always telling myself that soon I will get promoted because it was obvious from the first day how incompetent most of the employees are.

The company markets itself as one of the leading medical manufacturers in the world and since I didn't have any idea about the equipment they sell in the first place there was no reason to doubt, they also promise their customers and distributors perfect after sales support coming from their 200 engineers who are always ready to provide customer services, it took me a long time to realize that these were all lies since I couldn't speak Chinese.


The company's products are copies from international brands manufactured with low quality materials, there was only 8 or 9 engineers and out of the 9 there was only 1 who could speak English.

I was hired to work as a product specialist to provide training to the distributors on how to sell and market the products, there were a lot of warning signs for me but I chose to ignore them keeping in mind how superior I was to most of the staff they had to the point I was promising myself a promotion soon and I even fantasized about being in a position where I can change policies and make decisions to help the company improve it's image but little did I know that I should have ran away from day one.

The first warning sign was the girl responsible for visas, She was a nice girl who worked hard to assist me obtain my working visa in China, we went together to the central exit and entry office in Changchun and we asked about the steps and we were informed that I need to leave China and apply for the work visa from Egypt. After a lot of discussion with the company they decided I should pay for my flights from China to Egypt and back again which I though was unfair but I was still very optimistic so I agreed. When I returned back from Egypt I discovered that the same girl who helped me had "resigned" from her position, while some others were saying the position wasn't needed anymore! It was a really tough time for me considering I needed to apply for a residence permit in 15 days and no one knew what to do, I took the initiative and looked up the process using Google translate and got everything done...recently I discovered that this girl was forced to resign because I had to go back to Egypt which was China's policy in the first place and not the poor girl's fault.

I was struggling to learn my job providing the bad quality of the on-job training I received from people who couldn't put a whole sentence together in English and I was eager to start doing something to prove how good I was and how worthy I was for a promotion but I soon discovered that most of the people are sitting down playing games most of their working day and no one in the company does anything except maybe for the sales department that have the job of fooling distributors into an exclusive contract with the company. 

My eagerness didn't last for long when I noticed deductions on my salary, I discussed it with them and went through a very bureaucratic process of going to tell my case to different departments just to get my salary right and I thought that this will be a one time incident that will not be repeated which turned out to be wrong as well, out of the 9 months I worked in this company I got my salary right only once, 8 times I had to go and complain and go upstairs then downstairs then upstairs over and over again.

I became so happy when they told me I have to go deliver a training in a different country and while preparing for my business trip I was informed they are moving me to be an application specialist which means I will give training on how use the company's products, there was no time for me to be trained for the new job so they decided it will be after coming back to China since the training I was supposed to deliver on my business trip was only a product training. I got ready and prepared all my presentations to find out only 1 night before leaving that they added new products to my scheduled training, I still didn't panic and stayed up late before my flight to prepare everything and I did. 

Upon arriving to my business trip destination I went to deliver the training we agreed about only to find out that the company agreed with the 2 distributors that they will send an application specialist to deliver an application training  which of course I wasn't prepared for at all. When I returned to China I went to one of the big manager's office to complain and he assured me it was only a misunderstanding between the company and the distributors and that they don't blame me.

I was still being trained to be an application specialist when all of a sudden the big manager asks me if I want to move to sales, I tried explaining how much they need me in other departments where there is no one who can speak English but he insisted eventually I gave in promising to do my best in whatever position they gave me, at this point I was still getting the same salary we agreed on when I was first hired and that was stated in the legal contract we signed.

I moved to sales and again there was no on-job training, I was lost in translation attending meetings that are only in Chinese and when I tried to ask what they were talking about I always got the same reply "don't worry about it, it's not important"

At this point I realized I'm being marginalized and I also realized how unorganized the company is with its high turnover rates and the instability in the organizational structure so I decided to start searching for a new job somewhere else other than China because it was clear we are lying to distributors and customers and it was also clear that this is the norm in China and I knew at this point that since I'm not doing anything I can't really prove myself which means there was no way I was gonna get promoted but I was still dedicated and I still did everything I was asked to do, moreover I was trying to improve the system by suggesting changes which were all being disregarded.

The real eye-opener was when we signed an agreement with an Arab distributor, their representative was Egyptian as well and he was sent to Changchun to finish the contract and receive training. I was appointed to be the person in charge to take care of our guest who was supposed to stay in China for 20 days, that also meant that I didn't have any sort of personal life because I have to take care of our guest, I was going to work everyday from 8:30 am until 5:00 pm then I would continue with the guest to take him to dinner and shopping and show him around and I was wondering why I wasn't getting paid extra for my work out of my designated working hours, eventually I discovered I should have been paid but my manager at this time registered the guest under his name to get all of the overtime which in 20 days was about 5000 RMB.

At the same time of knowing this I received my salary for my first month working in sales and I found a 10% deduction so I went to finances to exclaim but I was told it was because I didn't get my sales target, which was absurd because I never knew there was a sales target and I also didn't know this can affect my salary and their answer was that "everyone in the company knows"

I went back to the big manager to complain and he said it's known that salesmen have 10% variable in their salaries according to their sales performance, I argued that I wasn't informed when I had to choose between sales and application specialist and that this is illegal considering the contract we signed which doesn't state anything about 10% sales performance, all what I got was talk about policies and rules in the company and how old these rules are to the point they can't be changed or even allowed an exception until he said "this is how it is, if you like it cool, if you don't then just leave"


I flipped out when I heard this and I inquired if that's what the company wanted and to my surprise he said yes, his explanation was that I didn't speak Chinese and that I did a very bad job on my business trip, I reminded him of the incident and tried to show him the history of the emails between us that proves I wasn't to be blamed but he refused and asked me to quit.

I agreed since I wanted to get out of China anyway, he then asked me when am I going to leave to which I replied "I don't know I need about 2 months to finish all my papers and my contracts in China" and I promised to continue doing my job until I leave and he agreed.

Same day after a couple of hours I was called by a girl in the HR, she told me that she heard about what happened and asked when I was leaving to which I replied exactly the same like I told the big manager, she agreed and gave me a piece of "friendly" advice as I quote it here "we know that you have connections to some of our higher managers, so if you wanna leave in peace we will let you leave but if you complain to our big managers then this will cause problems for us and if you do that then we will also cause problems for you" I got the threat and I decided to leave peacefully but obviously that wasn't an option because after I left her office she came to give me my resignation paper and wanted me to sign it immediately, I refused because it wasn't time yet, she insisted and I still refused.

After a couple of days when I arrived at work I found out they changed the password to my email and I got called to the big manager's office, I went to him and he told me I have to leave the same day because they just don't want me, I informed him that if I'm being forced to resign then according to the law I should receive a 3 months salary, he laughed and said they don't care because the company is very well connected and I will not get anything out of this except waste of money on lawyers and waste of time in China which I knew was true based on how China treats the expats working there and all the stories I heard from other expats.

I was forced to leave December the 11th, up until now I didn't get my salary for the 10 days I worked in December and I couldn't get the 5000 RMB stolen by my direct manager or even the 3 months salary I was supposed to get for being forced to leave which in total sum up to 26500 RMB.

Worth mentioning that this is not an individual case, there were 5 other foreigners who left in similar circumstances and couldn't get anything back from the same company.

This is how a big company treats their own employees in China so imagine what happens with foreigners working in smaller companies in China.

This is my account for my experience in China and I have proof for everything I said, if you have any question please contact me and I can provide more detailed information.

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