Not Got the Promotional USB Flash Drives You Ordered?

The very nature of promotional USB flash drives means that they are typically ordered by companies for a specific trade or retail show, a seminar or a marketing campaign.

The flash drives tend to be one component in an overall package of items that are brought together to support the activity and whilst they might not be that expensive (certainly in the context of trade shows where stands, banners etc. can run into thousands of pounds) they are nevertheless often critical to the overall event.

So, if you’ve ordered 500 promotional USB flash drives for a time critical event and they don’t turn up, or only some of them turn up, or worse still they turn up but they are wrong or don’t work then who’s to blame and what recourse do you have?

The answer to this question is, as you might suspect, not straightforward because it depends on a number of factors the two principal ones tend to be what Terms and Conditions you agreed to be bound by when you placed the order and where/who you bought the promotional USB flash drives from.

Terms & Conditions of Supply:

What Terms & Conditions have you agreed to (knowingly or not knowingly) have a significant bearing on any recourse you might have against not-delivery or problems upon delivery.  Before you commit to any order for promotional products (including USB flash drives) read the small print. Everyone has a habit of just casually ticking the box that say you agree to be bound by the T & C’s of supply without actually reading what you’re committing yourself to but if you do this don’t be surprised if you options when things go wrong are pretty limited!

Some common examples of things that most T & C’s bind you to are:

  1. Accepting a shortfall of up to 5% on your order – not great if you actually need all of the USB sticks you’re ordered for an invited guest list!
  2. Accepting an over supply of up to 5% and expecting you to pay for the additional USB sticks you’re been supplied.
  3. Accepting a delivery date that is really just an estimate with no guarantee behind it.
  4. Force Majeure – this is a standard clause that most suppliers will include and it removes any liability from them for their failure to deliver on time. It relates to things that are outside of their control, e.g. strikes, industrial action, riots and severe weather events. This is a reasonable clause because as it suggests it deals with issues the supplier has no control over but you do need to think about the implications of it if you know the goods you are buying are being shipped from overseas (there are simply more things that can go wrong in such circumstances).

Getting your supplier to take responsibility:

If you’ve purchased your promotional USB Flash Drive from a local company, governed by local legislation and things go wrong then you’re in with a fighting chance of getting a resolution. This is particularly true for the more established and high profile suppliers who have a reputation to protect – seek out those that encourage customer feedback and response to their service(s) on the growing number of 3rd party review websites. These can provide a good barometer of the level of service and support you are likely to get.

If you’ve chosen to buy from China because you wanted to cut out the “middle man” then don’t be surprised if you can’t get hold of anyone when things go wrong. Whilst there are some genuine suppliers out there, there are also lots of horror stories of customers sending money to suppliers in China only for nothing to arrive or for USB sticks to arrive that look great but don’t work!


If you need you USB sticks in a hurry then ideally buy them locally. If you need them for an event with firm, immovable date then factor in plenty of time to deal with any delays or issues. Only deal with reputable, trusted and known suppliers who have clear unambiguous Terms & Conditions of supply that you have read.

Only deal with suppliers from China if you can get authenticated certificates to cover your RoHS liabilities (worth reading up on this Restriction of Hazardous Substances Legislation) and ideally only if you can pay the supplier once your USB sticks have been received and you are happy with them.

If you do all of the above then hopefully you’re reduce your chances of things going wrong or at the very least be dealing with a local supplier that will work with you to resolve any issues in a timely and professional manner.

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