How to Check If You Are Buying Coconut Shell Charcoal Briquettes Directly from Factory or from Broker
Instruction on how to know if you are dealing directly with factories or with intermediates like broker or agent.
There are dozens of coconut shell charcoal factories in Indonesia. Almost all of then are selling both directly and via intermediates like broker, agent, or trailer. From this article, you will know how to check if you are dealing directly with the factory or not.
Table of Contents
What is the difference in buying directly from factory or from trader.
It is always better to deal directly with the factory without any intermediates. First of all, agent add their margin to the price. The average agent/broker bonus is from 20 to 50 USD per tone.
So, if you are buying coconut shell charcoal for shisha or hookah with price of 1200 USD per tone – the actual money factory get it just 1150 – 1170 USD per tone.
Less price of coconut shell charcoal – less quality you get. For sure, factory protect their agents/ borkers and does not disclose that you are dealing via intermediate.
If you want to keep the charcoal quality good and have the best price – it is better to deal directly with the factory.
Pro’s & contra buying directly or via agent
Buying via broker has its own advantages. Most brokers work with several factories. That is why they can keep the price and volume on a good level.
If one factory having problems with raw material – a broker can fast move your order to another factory and keep the timing according to the plan.
Agents, brokers and other intermediates are good at marketing and sales. It is much easy to communicate with them. They speak good english and able do explain specification and pricing. On the other hand, sales managers from factories are usually less client-oriented.
First of all, is the pricing. As I wrote at the begging of the article – brokers add their margin to the price. So you have to pay 30 or 50 dollars per tone more.
Actually, you are not paying more, but get 30 or 50 USD less quality than expected. The factory will decrease quality in order to keep the price level the same and be able to pay a broker his fee.
Brokers are not responsible for the quality, quantity, production time, and all other issues. If you get problems with your charcoal – the most likely broker will forward your problem to the factory.
If there is a problem with the factory – a broker can do nothing to help you. So, basically you are paying to a broker without any insurance or guarantee that your problem would be resolved.
Photo of factory
The first and most easy part is to ask your seller to give you a photo of the factory. Just a general photo of the production area and gate entrance.
Pay your attention to the gate entrance – usually, real factories write the name of the factory next to the gate or entrance. Be sure that the name on the factory entrance is matching your seller company name and website.
Then you may ask your seller to take a photo with paper where he writes your own name. By this, you can confirm that photos are up to date and not just a general photo.
Please note how long it takes from the seller to make this individual photo. If you ask to make photo today, but seller send it next day – it is strange.
For sure, do not forget the time zone. Indonesia is in GMT +7 hours. So when it is the day in the USA, in Indonesia is already night.
Video from factory
The same you can do with the video. Ask your seller to provide video from the factory and main entrance gate. Count how long it will take to make a video.
Ask the seller to name you in the video, so you can clearly hear your own name in the video. It will prove that this video is made only for you.
If you are dealing directly with the factory – the seller can make the video very fast, as he/she is sitting at the factory. But if your seller just an intermediate – it will be much longer.
Besides, it asks the seller not only to say your name but also introduce himself in the video. It is important to do to eliminate the situation when a broker asks someone at the factory to shoot video on behalf of him.
Check GPS coordinate from the photo
Easy and powerful hack – is to check the photo meta tags. Each photo was done by smartphone usually contains GPS data coordinates. So you can open this photo on your computer, then right-click on the photo and choose “Properties”, then check “Tag” section. There you can find two long numbers.
Just copy-paste those GPS coordinates to Google map and click “Search”. Google will point to the location where the actual photo was taken. Zoom in, switch to the “Street View” and see if the factory data is the same as information from Seller.
Check if the photo & video are consistent
While Seller is sending you photos & videos, pay your attention if those photos were made on the same factory or not. Look at the walls, floor, lighting, and other specific things. Most of the coconut shell charcoal briquettes factories own only one location.
So, if you Seller giving you different locations – most likely he is not the factory, but a broker.
Surprise video call
This one of the best ways to check the truth. Calculate time in Indonesia (GMT +7). Then choose the working hour. In Indonesia, most of the charcoal factories working from 8 am to 5 pm.
And make a video call (use Whatsapp) at, let’s say, 11 am. For sure at this time your Seller should be at factory. As soon as he picks up the phone pay all your attention to the surrounding. Is it an office or factory location.
Ask him to go outside and show the actual factory. This “surprise” works very well.
Check the legal name of the company in Indonesia
Ask your Seller to provide the real factory legal name. In Indonesia, all legal names should start with PT. (equal to LLC) or, less likely, CV.
It is impossible for Indonesian companies to have in their name “western” LLC, Ltd, or another extension. Usually Indonesian legal name consists of 3 or more words, starting with PT.
For example, our coconut charcoal factory’s legal name is PT. Coco Total Karbon Indonesia.
After you get the legal company name – go to the Indonesian Government company repository website to check if the name is legal. Click the link https://ahu.go.id/profil-pt (will open in new window).
Do not be afraid, it is very easy and free to check the Indonesian company’s legal name. Just input company name in the field, click Captcha and wait.
This is the official list of all Indonesian companies. There is no way the factory can work without being legally registered. So the result of the search should be similar to this picture:
You can see that our charcoal factory name (PT Coco total Karbon Indonesia) is a legally registered company. It means that we exist.
From this search you can see the legal address (it should match with the factory location and phone number of the person in charge of this factory).
If your Seller company is not fully matched with the result, or not exist in this search – it means that you are dealing with the non-existed, not registered factories.
Googling the reviews of the company
Another simple way to check your seller is to Google the review of the factory. Simple write factory name in the search and see the results.
You can find on how many websites it is registered. Then add the word “review”, “fraud” to the company name. By this, you can find all information published on the Internet about your company.
Googling the phone number & email
As your communicating with Seller, just try to Google his phone number and email. Very often you can find interesting information.
If your Seller phone or email is listed in another website, not related to this charcoal factory – it means you get a broker, not a factory.
Social media check
Ask your seller full name and search it on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Read the wall and see photos. You will understand more about your Seller.
Check how many posts & photos are related to charcoal production. How many photos related to the factory. All you can find by social media
Visit Indonesian Export Center
This is the most time consuming but the working way to check the truth. Go to the Indonesian Embassy in your area and ask for the Export Center representative.
Those representatives work closely with all exporting companies and know who is working and who is fake. It takes time and subjected to many factors, but it is still good to check, if possible.
Payment terms and account
This is a fast method to check your Seller factory. Ask your seller to issue a draft of the proforma invoice. And then check what is the company name is written on it. Is it matching your Seller information?
Then check the bank account number. Pay your attention to the account name owner. It should be the same as the legal company name. Do not transfer to private or personal bank accounts.
To check if you are dealing directly with a charcoal factory or with a broker is easy. Most methods require only a computer and the Internet. You can do it in just a couple of minutes.
So be careful and buy charcoal only from the factories in order to keep quality high, price low.