Cheap Chinese Bamboo DPNs: Cool, or Scam?

Cheap Chinese Bamboo DPNs: Cool, or Scam?

Cheap in both senses, but a handy way to build your basic collection

 

I was recently tipped off to an interesting eBay phenomenon that a lot of other knitters are apparently aware of: super-cheap multi-packs of bamboo double-pointed knitting needles for sale on eBay direct from China. 
 
There are so many red flags with a lot of these listings that my initial reaction was "SCAM." But after doing some research I decided to buy a set, which arrived today. Given the old rule that "you get what you pay for," I'm pretty happy with what I got for about $15!

 
1. Choose your seller wisely. 
There are a lot of sellers on eBay and Amazon who have little to no feedback from previous customers. For overseas sellers, I don't even consider buying unless they have at least triple-digit feedback numbers at 98% positive or better.
 
2. Comparison shop
I'm willing to bet that all of these DPNs are coming from the same factory. I paid about $1 per set of DPNs. I saw other sets priced at twice that! Shop around until you find the cheapest lot from the most responsible seller.
 
3. Why are they so cheap?
Bamboo knitting needles are made in Chinese factories for a pittance, and shipped out to the "big name" needle sellers to be repackaged and sold under the brand name. If you take the retail price, subtract the knitting store's mark-up, subtract the brand name's mark-up… you end up with a pretty cheap original product. 
 
4. How long will they take to get here from China?
It depends on your seller. I went with the standard post (the cheapest shipping option). I got my needles in about 2 weeks. It could take longer, up to 4 weeks. 
 
5. Aren't I cutting into my local yarn store's profits by buying direct from the Chinese factories?
Yes. There's no way around it. You're stealing sales from them. I feel bad about it, but I'm on a pretty tight budget these days. I can't always afford to be a good person.
 
6. What's the difference between these and "regular" needles?
Aside from packaging (which is very bare-bones), I found two differences between these and the Takumi Clover bamboo needles I usually buy:
These lack a coating. I'm not sure if Takumi shellacs or waxes or oils their needles or what, but these are just bare bamboo. This will make them "sticky," and can make working with grippy yarns more difficult.
They are only stamped with the size in millimeters, not with the needle size. A slight inconvenience for those who habitually think in terms of "size 5 needle" and not "6.25mm needle."