Chinese Inflatables: Myth vs. Reality

Should I buy inflatables manufactured in China?
Last Updated: April 27th, 2017 | Brandon Field

Should I buy inflatables manufactured in China?



It depends... Chinese inflatables can be of high quality if there are proper quality control methods.



Myth: All inflatables made in China are poor quality.


Reality: It depends... inflatables manufactured in China can be of high quality if there are quality control methods in place. Without proper control from the manufacturer, inferior raw materials and construction methods are likely to be used, often resulting in a poor product. 


Many high-quality products are manufactured in China. Your iPhone is manufactured in China, for instance. However, many other products with that “Made in China” label suffer from poor quality. It is the same for inflatables.


We manufacturer the majority of our inflatables in our Chinese factory, as we have for many years. We use the same high-quality materials and attention to detail as we do in our U.S. factory, and they pass the same detailed, thorough quality control inspections. We ensure that only the highest quality thread, baffling material, stitching, zippers, and vinyl are used in our products. This ensures quality and longevity.



Choose only a reputable, established U.S. company that engineers and designs their own inflatables and operates their own factory. Odds are you’ll get a quality product.



This is sadly not the case with most Chinese manufacturers. Many advertise super low prices, but use poor quality materials including thin vinyl, loose single-row stitching, and materials that contain unsafe levels of lead and lack any fire retardant properties. Even some nominal U.S. companies are merely resellers for Chinese manufacturers.


So how can you tell what you should buy? Choose only a reputable, established U.S. company that engineers and designs their own inflatables and operates their own factory. Odds are, you’ll get a quality product.


What if you buy directly from China or from a U.S. company that’s merely an outlet for a Chinese manufacturer? The odds are stacked against you. The cheap prices they advertise are because their inflatables are cheaply made, lacking any of the quality materials that are so essential.


I’ve seen Chinese companies advertising that they manufacture your inflatables, and that I can buy directly from them. Is this true?



Anyone claiming to be “our factory” is lying to you.




Myth: I can buy inflatables directly from the same factory you use and save money by cutting out the middleman.


Reality: False. We operate our own factory in China. Anyone claiming to be “our factory” is lying to you.


If you can buy something directly from the source and cut out the middleman, that’s good — right? Many Chinese inflatable companies claim that they are our factory and that you can save money by buying directly from them. This is patently false.


We are not a middleman. We engineer and design our own inflatables, and we’re known for our amazing designs and quality. We operate a factory both in the United States and in China. Simply speaking, they are our factories. You cannot buy directly from our factories any more than you can buy a Ford truck directly from the Ford factory.


Chinese inflatable shark


Unfortunately, many customers have fallen for this lie, and have made a regrettable purchase. 


Recently, we had an angry customer call us to complain that an inflatable slide they ordered from us was terrible, and looked nothing like the photos. Seeing as we had no record of selling him the slide, we politely asked where he purchased it. “From your Chinese distributor,” he said. We do not have a “Chinese distributor”, we replied. He purchased a knock-off inflatable from a company using a photo stolen from our website. Instead of saving money, he lost thousands.


We aggressively go after any company falsely claiming to represent us, using stolen photos, or displaying knock-off versions of our copyrighted original designs. However, these companies pop up like weeds, faster than we can shut them down. 


Will I save money by buying direct from China?



As the saying goes, you get what you pay for.




Myth: If the “sticker price” is cheaper, that means I’m saving money.


Reality: False. Your total cost of ownership is likely higher when you factor in the lack of quality, repair bills, and shorter lifespan.


True commercial-grade inflatables are constructed using quality materials and are built to last. This means the sticker price is sometimes higher, but the value provided is excellent.


Inflatables sold by Chinese manufacturers may appear cheaper, and you may save money up front. But if the quality is not as good and the materials are substandard, are you really saving? As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Costly repairs and a possibly much shorter lifespan might end up turning that “cheap” inflatable into a money pit.


What risks are there from buying inflatables direct from China?



If there is a problem with your inflatable, what recourse do you have?




Myth: If you’re smart, there are no risks from buying direct.


Reality: False. You run the risk of your inflatables being seized and you getting sued. Also, if there is a problem with your inflatable, there is likely nothing you can do about it.

If you buy an inflatable from China that is a knock-off of a copyrighted design, you might pay for your product but never receive it. Why? Because copyright violations are illegal, and infringing products can be seized by U.S. Customs — with you out any money you paid. The risks don’t stop there.


We’ve heard of people buying knock-off Disney themed inflatables, only to get sued by Disney for copyright infringement. Did you know the penalties for copyright violations can be $150,000 per instance? You can become liable simply by buying and displaying (i.e. renting) the knockoff! That’s serious. Many companies have been bankrupted by legal fees.


The majority of inflatables sold online by Chinese manufacturers are based on stolen designs from various U.S. manufacturers. You might not even be aware that the product you bought was a knock-off; it’s not like the Chinese company advertises that it is a stolen design. But not knowing doesn’t relieve you of the risks.



Even if you don’t purchase a knock-off, there are still risks. Chinese companies are not bound by U.S. law. What if there is a problem? Are you going to pay to ship it back to China? Are you going to get a refund? What if they try to cheat you? Can you take them to court?



• Poor quality and cheap materials

• Dangerous lead-content

• Stolen, copyrighted designs

• Inflatables can be seized, and you could be sued

• Nothing you can do if there’s a problem



Chinese manufacturers often advertise that they use quality materials. But can you trust them? We’ve seen Chinese inflatables sold for less than what it costs us just for the materials. How is that possible? It’s only possible by using cheaper materials (including woven vinyl that rips easily, or scrap material for the baffles) that are likely not flame-retardant or may contain high levels of lead. 


We’ve heard from countless customers who have told us they no longer buy direct from China; it’s not worth the headache just to “save a buck”. We care about our customers, and we hate seeing hardworking businesses harmed by unethical Chinese companies. We’re happy that more and more companies are seeing the risks of ordering direct from China, but we don’t want anyone to have to learn the hard way.