Neiman Marcus are known for their outstanding and consistent customer service. They get my custom, as well.
I spend a LOT of money on frags. The sales ladies at Neiman Marcus love me. They bend over backwards to accommodate my requests for samples, and I reward them with many purchases.
I went to Sephora's, and they OFFERED a sample of what I was interested in, I did not have to ask. I will be buying from them in the near future.
So why do the big frag houses have such poor customer service? I emailed Hermes about Bel Ami, and they told me the only way to smell it is to visit one of their stores. There is no Hermes store nearby.
I emailed Frederic Malle asking for a sample of Musc Ravageur, based on the reviews here and elsewhere, and they tell me it costs 20 euro's to send a 2ml sample. That is close to $30 for a 2ml sample. At that rate, it is more than $1000+ for a 100ml bottle.
I refuse to buy unless I can smell a sample on my skin first.
Creed will benefit, as I will be buying more Aventus at Neiman Marcus. Maybe I'll expand to Tom Ford next, they carry that frag in the store and will give me a sample if I ask.
Neiman Marcus are known for their outstanding and consistent customer service. They get my custom, as well.
Blame all the nasty little mercenaries who sell freely acquired samples on eBay.
The frag houses need to find a way to get samples to paying customers while cutting off the ebay resellers.
I would not be surprised if many of the samples on ebay came from employee theft at stores where an employee takes 100 samples, and not the frag houses mailing a couple sample. I think a frag house would keep track of how many samples goes to one address.
Between Lucky Scent and The Perfumed Court, you can get a sample of just about any fragrance ever produced, at a reasonable price, shipped straight to your door. Why bother the fragrance houses for a stupid little 2ml when they're OBVIOUSLY BUSY creating and bottling large quantities of fragrances to supply the entire world.
The reason the 'big fragrance houses' have such 'poor customer service' is that in reality - YOU ARE NOT THEIR CUSTOMER. If they're selling mainly to distributors and to big retailers like Neiman's - then THOSE are their customers. Guaranteed if a regional buyer from Neiman's called them up, they'd bend over backwards for them, just like the SA's at Neiman's bend over backwards for you, since at the retail level, THEN you are the customer, of Neiman's or wherever.
This isn't unique to the fragrance industry, it's just business. In general the bigger the company, and the larger and wider they distribute globally through authorized distributors and retailers through a structured supply chain, the LESS they care to deal with some random person calling them up asking for some little something.
It'd be like calling up Sony corporate to get a single CD/DVD. They're 200 levels removed from the retail level where you can walk into a store and buy such a thing, and Sony's not going to personally cater to an individual person, no matter how many CD's and DVD's you've professed to have 'bought' over the years.
So damn right they're going to charge you an arm and a leg for inconveniencing them. They price those samples stupidly so that people don't bother them with such nonsense.
Last edited by fsface; 30th October 2010 at 01:51 AM.
^^^ yes to this.
Malle used to send out free samples to anyone who inquired on their website, but when word got out, they ended up listed on all those "get free stuff" lists and were inundated with requests from people who would never ever ever buy a Frederic Malle perfume, most of whom either threw them away because they didn't smell like Fierce or tried to sell them on eBay.
People are stupid and greedy and if you give them anything, many of them will take advantage of you without a second thought.
There's just something about perfume where we all expect companies to give us free shit (yes, I'm VERY guilty, too). We'd never call General Mills and ask for free box of cereal just to see if we liked it.
Oh, and regarding Neimans and Sephora, it's not like the stores are paying for those samples they give you. Those were paid for by the greedy fragrance companies. It's their way of making sure the samples go to people who have a strong possibility of buying their products. Those generous SA's are the gatekeepers, keeping the swarms of greedy gimme-free-stuff people at bay...
Has everyone checked out my Top 100 Blog??
Do free samples equal good customer service?
It would be nice to get free samples, yes, but it's not the meaning of customer service.
If they won't send samples, go to TPC and pay a few dollars.
I agree with Rogalal in the assessment that people (in general, with exceptions) are greedy and stupid and will abuse anything if given the opportunity.
That said... I'm sure also that if the big scent houses leaned on eBay the next prohibited listings would be scent samples. (do we want that? I'm not sure.)
These days... to use a tangential example... when retailers like big software companies let you have a limited-time demo of their software but often have no customer support (without paying premium for it)... I would think that a limited number of samples sold for a reasonable flat cost of shipping would be a better idea, and perhaps with a coupon toward a purchase like niche houses often offer...but that said...
I think that the general business atmosphere is to treat the customers "like the brutes they are" instead of treating the customers like prospective long-term sources of revenue... probably because there is such a large mainstream industry in scent that doesn't assure these companies of any return business... they've kind of shot themselves in the foot by being stingy.
(that sounded a bit like a rant. Hmm.)
As some people have stated, Ebay. A few years back, samples were easy to acquire no problem. Frederic Malle even offered 5ml decants for free, some people here got multiple samples, and an average frederic malle costs at least $10 per 5ml. When they got big and stopped, I thought it was just big companies trying to maximize profit by not providing adequate customer service, after all, a big name company in any type of business can get away with sub-par customer service because they're already well established. But then it hit me; EBAY, look at all the people selling a single sample from anywhere between $5 to $20. If you ask for $10 a sample, and get about, say 20 samples by doing a trip to local stores, that's an easy $200.
I no longer expect free samples, nor do I want them unless they're straight up from the manufacturer. Simply because me getting free samples means an ebay rat will also get free samples, perhaps of perfumes I actually wanted to test. But to balance that out, I really expect stores to be generous with samples when I actually make a purchase. At least one sample vial per $20 I spend. I find making a good relationship with SA's helpful, I have gotten $200 worth of samples one time by making a single $100 bottle purchase and it made my day. Some SA's on the other hand are still cheap unless you look rich or do a lot of complimenting and ass-kissing.
I highly appreciate when I get free samples, and I still happen to do so when I'm chatty with a new SA. But as I said, I don't expect it nor do I want, more people are learning about those nifty ways to make money on ebay and are abusing them, when us honest customers who have interest are getting punished for it! In all fairness, I have duplicate samples that I might consider selling (or more likely trading), but I've got them along with a purchase. I would NEVER ask for a free sample I have no interest in than for making profit, even if it's an expensive one. I know a very nice Tom Ford SA, who always gives me 5ml decants, which are easily worth $20-$30 each, but I wouldn't abuse that, but you get when I'm saying when I say such SA is great in theory, but not in practice if we account in human nature and greed.
Honestly, my solution to this is quite simple; 1. Don't give away free samples, but be very, very generous with returning customers or customers who are making a purchase 2. Sell affordable sample sets, when amouge, a very expensive house, offers samples at the same price per ml as their full bottles, I don't see how lower end houses can't afford to do that, and rather spend their money on cheesy marketing campaigns.
Oh and yes, frederic malle sample prices are beyond ridiculous now. I have purchased two full bottles from a local store and while the SA's did whatever they could to reward me with samples, they still don't carry Frederic Malle samples, don't know if it's a delayed shipment or if samples are simply not offered as a complementary gift at all locations. Hermes on the other hand is usually very generous, so is amouage (IF you make a purchase, even though their sets only include 6 samples, they'll send you samples of their whole line usually if you purchase it). Diptyque is exceptional, never got an e-mail unanswered.
Last edited by Ekove; 30th October 2010 at 02:53 AM.
I'd say your best bet is to contact stores like Neiman Marcus or Barney's. Something like that. I haven't tried yet, but I may in the future. The closest one is in NYC and I only go there if I'm planning a day trip. Between the gas it takes to get there and all the tolls, I need to make sure I'm spending a great deal of time. Hopefully, at least one time, I get to devote the whole day to trying fragrances.
The lesson I have learned is 1 scumbag can ruin it for 100 good people. Sucks!
I also think it is reasonable to remember that a 5ml sample probably costs the company pennies to make. If they ship it to customers, there is no better sales lead.
I'll be the first to admit that if I get a sample from say Barneys New York and like the fragrance I'll buy the full bottle elsewhere if it is cheaper and of comparable quality (though this is trickle down economics because whoever I buying from bought the fragrance from someone else possibly the manufacturer or a higher end department store). A lot of consumers request samples all the time and never buy anything. I know this is unfair to serious fragrance consumers like us, but let's face it, not everyone else is us! Neiman Marcus, Barneys, and Penhaligons seem to do a good job sending serious consumers samples.
The companies that make the frags get paid no matter where we buy, full price or at a discount store. I pay for great customer service first, then a great product second. There are many great products to buy, and I will pay for the sales experience.
On the other hand, the local store nearby sells them for $110, but the SA always giving me at least 10 samples with each purchase, will give me priority, hold bottles for me and let me know about exclusive offers(like selling me testers or letting me sniff/buy new arrivals not yet on display) and so on. was the extra $20 worth it? hell yeah.
To each his own, but I do think what you do is somewhat immoral in the big picture, for very little benefits. I'd understand if you only do it when you find a fantastic deal on a store getting rid of stock, or a lucky deal on ebay, but if you do it regularly, meh, your choice...
I'll just echo a lot of the other posts and say its all about staying loyal to your local SA's. I'm lucky to live in a city where Barneys, a Guerlain boutique, Neiman Marcus, a Saks and a Nordstroms are all literally at one intersection. I actually work in the mall half of those are in so its fantastic for me. All the SA's know me by name and I'm constantly going home with pockets crammed with high end samples. The reason I get so many is because of I get a sample from a particular SA and end up buying it, I make sure that whoever gave me that same sample is the one ringing my bottle up. As a result these people provide me with absolutely fantastic service, especially my NM and Barneys reps. People behind these email addresses don't know you and whether you'll be a loyal customer.
Like many above I disagree with the OP proposition - the bigger a company gets the further removed it is from the actual end user. The distributors in various markets or licensed retail chains are their customer. The fact that they do not send out a free sample to an individual they don't know is not bad customer service - you are not a customer! I guess you could argue that you are potential customer but then so is pretty well everyone else on the planet.
I purchase from a handful of retailers where I live and if I can't buy it here I order online from two or three reputable suppliers or, if they sell online, the actual perfume house. I am generally inundated with samples and the more they get to know me the better it gets - this is how commerce has worked since time immemorial . . . loyal customers tend to get better service, discounts etc. It ain't rocket surgery
they want you to buy things, not smell them
The thing that really annoyed me with Serge Lutens was I offered to pay for samples of the Paris exclusives . They wrote back refusing to send samples stating they didnt offer that service anymore - several BN'er have since received samples from them .
They also suggested I visit my nearest Serge Lutens stockist if I wanted to try anything LOL !!!!!!
I asked to try the Paris exclusives , HELLO DID YOU EVEN BOTHER TO READ MY EMAIL IN THE FIRST PLACE !!!!!!!
Anyone know where to get a sample of Bond 9 New Haarlem?
Could you tell I was getting annoyed just writing that post LOL !!! Im still cross about it all , oh well their loss aint it !