I have to admit that the concept of good and bad continues become more subjective as time passes.The very notion of who can be deemed innocent and who can be labelled as conniving or dishonest.
If 2020 was the year when the Crooked triumphed over the Good, 2021 is becoming an entirely different story of Hope for the Good and the Genuine.This is reflected in the constantly embarrassing exposures in the way the governments and their administrations are being run.
The law as we know it, taught us to conclude, deem, infer and interpret, assume and even look at the balance of probabilities.
And with that we learnt that Truth and Credibility are two separate things.This is because credibility has become a subjective concept mostly tainted by politics, race, religion and our personal biases.
In the period of October to December 2020, many of the most hard working and genuine PPE sellers around the world including 3M distributors or resellers, (who I occasionally advise and assist with due diligence) went through a crisis of faith.It gets more complicated as the story goes.
By the third quarter of 2020, mysterious shipments of 3M masks which were supposed to be USA/UK stock began to land in the USA and other parts of the world.Their quantities, and too good to be true prices should have been a cause of suspicion there and then, but the people quietly bringing these in via the Mexican borders, some arrived in large containers labeled as FFP2 masks.The masks looked real, USA finally had ‘3M OTG’ which was something the agents went wild advertising in the most boisterous manner possible, inflating simple numbers of millions to billions.
Suddenly large amounts of OTG were available in Mexico, and HK and even in North America.POL videos of nice cartons with ‘3M Tape’ emerged with people opening them, displaying them and showing them off.Suddenly 3M masks could be ‘inspected and paid for’ to be sold to the government agencies.
Of course, there was very vague information on where these 3M Masks had been stocked all year, when their Exports from USA were banned.
Many of the genuine 3M resellers with files upon files of genuine 3M receipts and paperwork stood baffled as brokers demanded if they could ‘better the price of 2 USD including all commissions being given by their OTG suppliers.The general consensus was that oh, the price of 3M masks has dropped.There are millions and dillions flooding USA and well the government agencies are well stocked with these masks.
December 2020 was a disappointing month for many of my clients who supply genuine 3M Masks. It almost seemed like the overconfident brokers and buyers with POs from the US health agencies were blackmailing them, asking them to export the goods to USA and park them there without payment until the government cleared the PO funds.Obviously, without financial security, none of these sellers would agree to this, which made the OTG stock in USA more and more popular.Orders were cancelled, and brokers sneered with delight , delighted with the 3M OTG sellers residing in USA.
Then came the first week of February 2021.It was a massive scandal and well it seemed that truth had managed to triumph over credibility.CNN reported that (click here for news item) hospitals all around Washington were investigating counterfeit 3M 1860 masks.
There was a large media scandal, stocks were seized and a flustered 3M issued yet another statement (click here to access it) requesting people not to buy 3M masks from ordinary vendors but distributors and verified 3M resellers who actually have their name on the LOT certificates.
While I will come to the future implication and perceived utility of this statement later in this article, this measure seemed to be too little too late and well cast a lot of suspicion on the ability of USA health agencies to review proper 3M paperwork.
From the facts it seemed that counterfeit suppliers were simply getting POs filled for counterfeit masks with no effort at all.I say this because at an average I vett 3-4 cases of counterfeit 3M paperwork and believe me, the counterfeiters and forging parties rarely have the IQ and intelligence to put in enough effort to do a good forgery. The fonts and editing of prices, quantity and sellers names and credentials as well as LOT numbers are so badly edited it becomes a Joke.
Furthermore the unfortunate person who spent his own money to get this test report on 3M masks done in USA and published it online (here is the link https://www.cvph.org/data/files/21012A%20NIOSH%20N95%20 (Abbreviated)%20Efficiency%20and%20Pressure%20Comparison%20Test%20Report.pdf) has had the report downloaded and manipulated countless times by these suppliers pretending that the report is of their stock.Our office holds the a large folder just of the interesting variations of this report even for 3M Singapore stock which should have nothing to do with SGS IBR laboratories.At some point I intend to upload all the variations and forgeries of these reports we receive regularly.
It is surprising that none of the officials vetting this stock were contacting SGS or 3M USA at the time of purchasing USA Stock.
Anyways, while the efficiency, logic or even the utility of ‘Civil Serpents’ (my apologies to all serpents) has never impressed me in any country, I just had higher expectations from the US civil service, as they have always come across as thorough and efficient in comparison to their European counterparts.It still baffles me that this counterfeit USA stock was floating in USA all along and never checked or called attention to all these months.
While judging the buyers intellect and their lack of due diligence does not bother me enough, the letter of 11 February 2021 by 3M is equally alarming.
The last communication on the 26th of December 2020 was focused more on the B LOTS which are 99% fake in the market, the latest letter has unintentionally started labelling the majority of the genuine R LOTs from Singapore as ‘possible counterfeits’, while adding a slight disclaimer ‘Oh unless you brought them from a 3M Authorized Channel’.
This has placed the economic futures of those small time vendors who had supplied genuine stock under risk too.Equally the future of those 3M Verified Resellers who have brought the stock from 3M with these LOTs registered to their names, is in flux, because now their ‘LOT’ number is somehow suspicious and tainted.
While those future suppliers who will find the time to research and supply via 3M Authorized Channels in USA have bright prospects ahead, the work of the suppliers who invested the money and effort in having genuine stock for front line workers, has become more and more difficult.It is almost as if you are telling the truth but no one believes you.
Many people started calling the counterfeited list as a blacklist instead of paying attention to the fact that 3M was simply asking you not to buy these LOT numbers from unknown Sellers who appeared out of nowhere with no contracts with 3M distributors/resellers or proof of purchase from Authorized channels.
I think, the recent move may end up demoralizing the genuine resellers more and 3M needs to rethink its policy of making periodic announcements that are vague and do not serve anyone.
It would be better in fact if they can actually start naming and shaming people who have minted millions of US Dollars from innocent purchasers for stock that is never delivered and the money is siphoned to offshore accounts.
Sales of genuine stocks are about to be pick up again, and I do stay optimistic that the suppliers of these genuine 3M PPE will finally get rewarded for only handling real 3M stock, but that road is long and crooked as counterfeiters become smarter and more aggressive by the minute.