Let’s talk Amazon

Let’s talk Amazon. Not the Caran d’Ache ink….I’m talking about Amazon.com, the ‘Walmart’ of the online retailing world. This blog is one I’ve spent a great deal of time writing and revising, so it’s worth reading even if it’s a bit ‘wordy’.

We’ve had Amazon.com’s commercial department contact us about setting up an Amazon store, and we’ve considered it for a few weeks now. But wait, we already have a good thing going with Gouletpens.com, right? Yes, we do. We’re working that hard and enjoying it, and we’ve considered Amazon as ‘another leg on the stool’.

I do have some very major concerns that are keeping me from pulling the Amazon trigger. I’ll start small and get bigger as I go here.

Setting up an Amazon store is a whole other store, a diversion from our normal mode of operation at GouletPens.com. It’s more web work for my incredibly overworked wife, a separate set of inventory, and a whole different merchant account and sales process that’s almost like opening up a second store and running two businesses at the same time. I’m seriously concerned that juggling both GouletPens.com and ‘The Goulet Pen Company on Amazon’ would be difficult to manage at best. At worst it would consume our lives and deteriorate the great customer service we’re known for.

A little bit bigger picture concerns where I see the potential for Amazon in the writing paraphernalia world as a whole. Let me explain a little bit about the goal I see from Amazon’s point of view.

Amazon finds a niche retailer like me to give them money to sell on their site. It’s almost no work for them, as I set it all up and then pay them fees. Okay, that’s great for them.

Say I do well and sell a lot of things…..in order to provide ‘better service’ and faster shipping, they will want me to utilize their own distribution process called FBA (fulfillment by Amazon). With FBA, I have my products shipped from my distributors directly to them and they ship it to the customer (you). I never touch the product. This process isn’t theoretical, this is already happening. Whenever you buy something that’s ‘Amazon Prime’, it’s coming from their distribution center via FBA. Every product on Amazon’s website that’s ‘Free supersaver shipping’ or Amazon Prime 2-day shipping eligible is coming from Amazon’s 10 million square feet of warehouse space around the world.

So what role then do I, the retailer, play if I have my products hosted on Amazon and shipped via FBA? What’s my value if they house my products, and they do all the shipping and customer interaction? None. Amazon then begins selling those products themselves, making me obsolete. Amazon has ingeniously found a way to get individual retailers like me to take the risk in finding valuable products, build the niche, direct loyal customers to Amazon (and pay them in the process), get all of the small online companies to compete with each other then squeeze small retailers (like me) out of the market by offering FBA products with faster shipping and lower prices.

It’s like Walmart has done to mom-and-pops all over the country, except in the online world. Once Amazon learns what products sell, they purchase those products directly from distributors at bulk prices and sell at prices so low they can eliminate any smaller competition, creating a monopoly on their website. They can become the largest retailer for whatever niche distributor there is for the given product and then begin dictating what products are imported by putting pressure on the distributor. It’s sort of a scary thought, really. But since Amazon alone represents 20% of all online sales, they have the power to do things like this. Reading in forums I’ve heard of other niche online sellers that have experienced this for themselves firsthand, and I see the same potential for it to happen with fountain pens (and related writing products).

The whole idea of it quite honestly makes me feel sick to my stomach because Amazon markets this service as such a ‘benefit’ to retailers. And retailers are tripping over each other to get their stuff on there! I won’t name names, but I know several of the larger fountain pen retailers (that have been around for years) are rushing to build their Amazon stores. The problem I see is that they will become more or less faceless entities through the Amazon mask, until eventually their only distinguishing characteristic will be price, which they will ultimately lose out to Amazon once Amazon begins to carry those products in their own warehouses (competing with the very retailers that generated interest in those products). That or the retailers will become so busy fulfilling Amazon orders (for pitiful margins) that their customer service will crater and they’ll implode.

So okay, enough of being a Debbie Downer about the whole thing here. It’s pretty obvious I’m talking myself out of selling through Amazon as I type this. But what is it that’s going to make me different where I will outshine Amazon (and other competitors) in the fountain pen paraphernalia world?

It’s service and education (aka, value). That’s what I’m all about. I’ve been striving since day one to know my products better than anyone else, share the knowledge I gain, talk with the writing community every step of the way, and get constant feedback (and more importantly, make changes as I get that feedback).

I have this blog, I do video and pictorial reviews, I have the Ink Drop club, the Swab Shop, GPC newsletters, live weekly broadcasts (we call it Write Time), and an Ink Nouveau Podcast. Where I want to shine is to do the work that a large company like Amazon simply can’t do, which is to have a personal and intimate connection with the products I sell. It’s the very same connection that you have with your pens, ink, and paper when you’re spilling your soul while you write. Having that passion makes a difference.

The part I love most about running GouletPens.com and working specifically in the fountain pen paraphernalia business is the incredible people and loyal customers and fans I interact with on a daily basis. Though many large companies view customer interactions as time consuming distractions, I view every order I receive as a customer with a passion and a story behind why they love to write. I value every person that follows my blog, watches my videos, and purchases from my website, and it would kill me to give up the interaction like I would have to do if I sold on Amazon.

So while many other retailers will look at Amazon as a great way to get more customers or sell depersonalized commodities in greater volume, I’m doing the opposite. I’m going to turn away from going to Amazon to bring customers to me, and look to spend more time reviewing products and educating the writing world through blogs, videos, and pictorial reviews. That is where I see myself best serving the writing community and where I feel will benefit my ‘mom-and-pop’ website in the long run. I am of the philosophy that if I put sharing product knowledge, insane customer service, and crazy fast shipping as my top priorities that your shared enthusiasm for what I do will help to spread the word about me more than any other website could.


Here are a couple of online articles too that explain the mentality of Amazon’s fullfillment services: 10 Crazy Rules That’ll Get You Fired From Amazon, and Inside The Lives of Amazon Employees

Any thoughts?

2017-10-11T13:36:58+00:00 September 13th, 2010|A Goulet Life|36 Comments
  • JJ Deal

    Brian, this is a well-thought-out post, and I think you are asking the right questions. My advice is to RUN THE OTHER WAY….and FAST! The Amazons and Wal Marts have run small businesses out of town; bigger is rarely better. It is time that we get back to the mom and pop concept of trade. It worked well for years and years and continues to work well where the big boxes have not infiltrated. While it all must occupy hundreds of hours of your time, the personal touch you offer your customers has already built a loyalty base that is worth much more than whatever extra dollars you might gain by hooking up with faceless Amazon. They cannot possibly offer the level of service you do, and I have NEVER gotten a handwritten note of thanks by ordering from them! I won't buy my inks and paper from Amazon, ever, as long as Goulet Pens is in business…which I hope is a LONG time!

    Write on!

    J. Deal

  • 100% with what JJD said!

    Hopefully there are enough of us out there to be profitable for you — I'm referring to those of us that recognize and value of your services and personal touch, and would be willing to pay some sort of premium for them (relative to potentially lower prices from an Amazon).

    Ink Drop is a great example: I have the opportunity, at a very reasonable cost, to sample a lot of different inks. If I like something enough and decide to buy a bottle, I would buy it from you even if I could find a less expensive source. Part of it is loyalty, but it's also practical: you have to be in business for Ink Drop to be available, and you have to have sales to be in business!

  • Sam

    (Silent applause)

  • I absolutely agree with the above comments. Your reasoning seems sound. The fact that you are not one of the faceless corporate monsters like amazon and walmart is exactly what made me a loyal customer of the GPC. I'm glad that you are sticking with the Goulet way of doing things!

  • Mike 1000

    The personal feel of your website and your blog is what convinced me to place an order. You believe in your product line, use and love the items you sell, and show them to your customers in such a way that we can, at least virtually, "try before we buy", and your sample packs allow us to try the actual product without making a large investment. And you actively seek real feedback from your customers– not just a star rating.

    One doesn't find this kind of dedicated customer service even in small retail sites, never mind the goliaths. You definitely know what you're doing. Keep up the good work.

  • Anonymous

    Amazon certainly can't compete on customer service but they probably can undercut you on the prices of paper and ink if they decide to weigh in with the power of mass merchandising. Then it becomes a question of how many existing/future customers would rather save (for sake of argument) a buck on a pad of Rhodia paper or bottle of ink versus continuing to purchase from GPC where they can talk to a knowledgable "live" person about their paper/ink options and get a handwritten note and the little extra goodies. Shipping times are about a wash…Amazon is fast as well.

    My uneducated retailing sense is that Amazon isn't interested in investing the time and resources necessary to truly compete with you…even in the (non-labor-intensive) areas of your business which they could easily integrate into their existing warehousing process. They would only do so if the orders were numbering in the thousands per day. If they get you to "bite" on their offer, it's gravy for them. If you decline, I suspect they'll forget it or possibly look for someone else to carry the water for them.

    Amazon's got smart merchandising people on staff and they undoubtedly know we're a cliquish community who places a premium on customer service and retailer loyalty.

    I'd advise to just keep doing what you're doing and grow your business on your terms…maintain good competitive prices, keep your shipping rates in check, keep a high profile on the forums and blogs and above all else, be accessible to your customers. Make that guy or gal who calls to buy a $10 bottle of ink feel just as important as someone dropping a $300 order.

    Good luck Brian and I hope you're in the business for a long, long time.

  • Nathaniel

    Brian,

    I am your customer precisely because you are not a faceless retailer. Rock-bottom prices do not concern me, only fanatical customer service. Keep doing what you are doing. I only wish I had more time to write, so I could buy more and more frequently.

    Cheers,
    Nathaniel

  • Your thoughts are well thought-out and expressed, Brian. It's natural you want to grow your business to reach more customers and support your growing family, but it does sound like Amazon would suck the good parts out of being in business. You seem particularly good at customer relations as well as getting your brand known in the right markets.

    Instead of Amazon as the 3rd leg of a stool, how about Etsy for your hand-made wax seals? I can't remember if you make pens as well, but those too if so. That would get your products out to the Etsy community and maybe some cross-over business into Goulet pens.

    You seem to work very hard to expand your business and I applaud that, not just for the selfish reason of your making things I like and information about them available. It's good to know that American enterprise is alive and kicking, recession be damned!

    Keep up the good work!

  • Thank you everyone for your support and feedback. I'm always sensitive to things like lowering prices because on one hand it does benefit customers (obviously), but there's a real and dangerous temptation to also start cutting back on service, selection, etc (from the retailer's perspective). The key I think is overall value, and it seems like everyone understands that price is not the only factor when determining value. Good to hear!

    Erin C.- I actually used to sell on Etsy….didn't really pan out for me back when I was selling handmade pens. I actually had the reverse problem with the wood handles. I have people that are interested, but I don't have the time to make them! I hope to be able to get back into them as I personally miss wood turning, we'll see how this winter goes. If I find some spare time maybe I'll get back into them, but for now they're on the shelf….literally!

  • Brian, I'm in agreement with the statement made by my fellow customers of GPS/. Cost does make a difference some in tough economic times like these, but loyalty and value of the customer service is more important – ALWAYS. Your service is worth more to me than saving a few bucks somewhere else.

    Besides, I love watching your handwriting improve as time and orders come and go. :>) You are on the right track and hope to have you and GPC for a very long time.

  • I agree with everyone here. Your customer service has drawn us in. I place orders eagerly wait for them to arrive. The first thing I always do is read the letter. It is the personal touches that keep me.

    Your contact with people is what keeps us coming back. A while ago I emailed you about the J Herbin ink sticks. So I was pleased to see you remembered that in my note I got. Your hard work is paying off.

    Let the others go to Amazon. Like many things that seem good in the beginning, It probably won't be. If things change I can gaurantee the oppurtunity will present itself.

    I don't even shop at Amazon. I bought one book there 5 years ago. It came with ripped pages. Whenever I search for something if Amazon pops up in the results I skip it. Or I take the knowlege I got there and search elsewhere.

  • JJ Deal

    So, Brian, if this isn't a testimony to your niche in the marketplace, I don't know what is 🙂

    Most of us will not quibble with a few bucks if we can have the products and service we desire. Sure, Amazon can undercut you in paper and ink, but that will only be profitable with high volume, which they will not attract. We FP folks are a devoted lot, and will go where we feel welcome and served. Goulet Pens is THE place…surely among some others, but, you each have your niches…

    Write on!!!!!

    jd

  • Cara

    Brian,

    I love your personal service, and that's something I wouldn't trade to save money on something I'm already going to buy anyway. I have recommended your site to a number of people, and will continue to do so because you love what you do and it shows.

    I'll go to Amazon for Kindle books. For inks and paper, it's Goulet all the way!

  • Brian,

    I agree with what you said throughout this post, while using FBA would allow you the opportunity to gain access to a much larger customer base, you'd completely loose the personal touch of which most of your customers come to you for.

    As far as I'm aware, using FBA isn't as simple as having a distributor send a product directly to the Amazon distribution centre, as Amazon usually assigns shipments to various distribution centres based upon space availability within each location, one time you may be prompted to have inventory sent to RNO1 (Reno, Nevada) and another time you may be asked to send inventory to LUK1 (Louisville, Kentucky) and as far as I'm aware, Amazon asks you to attach a special FBA barcode to each individual item, which allows it to be confirmed as part of an order during the pick process. Something your distributors would be unwilling to do.

    Further more, I can think of quite a few of your products that would most likely be "incompatible" with FBA, things like smaller Rhodia and Clairefontaine staplebounds, Rhodia No. 10, 11 and 12 notepads, Individual Rhodia Pencils and even ink samples would be things that Amazon would likely be unwilling to accept.

    FBA would also not allow you to do "landrush" sales for things like 1670, and new / upcoming products (new Diamine colours, or Pelikan Edelstein, for example.) as products are usually set for sale as soon as they're scanned in upon arrival.

    While I'm sure plenty of us impatient types would love to get 3.99 Overnight Shipping, I'm also aware that everyone, even the impatient types, would likely give up the luxuries of overnight delivery, in exchange for our ability to keep receiving handwritten letters, and top notch customer support, and so as far as I'm concerned, You've made the right decision.

  • Hi Brian:

    Does it have to be all or nothing? In other words, can you sell a small subset of your offerings on Amazon to enlarge your potential customer pool, AND also have an identity on Amazon that would direct those users back to you?

    If so, then it might be worth the risk. More people would see the great service and education you provide and have access to the full range of products you sell here.

    Otherwise, I'm with everyone else who has commented here. It's the service, the personal touch, and being part of a community that keeps me coming back to you for ink and paper. It also makes me want to buy even when I don't need to. There's no way Amazon would make me do that.

  • Great post with a lot of good points, but I can't really offer an opinion one way or another. I only buy used books from 3rd party vendors on Amazon. Otherwise, I just go to the vendor's website. One thing I've noticed, is that 3rd party vendors through Amazon tend to have pretty high prices… must be that 20%.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with JJ Deal that "Most of us will not quibble with a few bucks if we can have the products and service we desire…" Count me in as a loyal customer.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for this enlightening post and reminding me that big box outfits eliminate mom and pop stores. Count me in as a customer when you "reopen"

  • Brian,

    I agree with what you said throughout this post, while using FBA would allow you the opportunity to gain access to a much larger customer base, you'd completely loose the personal touch of which most of your customers come to you for.

    As far as I'm aware, using FBA isn't as simple as having a distributor send a product directly to the Amazon distribution centre, as Amazon usually assigns shipments to various distribution centres based upon space availability within each location, one time you may be prompted to have inventory sent to RNO1 (Reno, Nevada) and another time you may be asked to send inventory to LUK1 (Louisville, Kentucky) and as far as I'm aware, Amazon asks you to attach a special FBA barcode to each individual item, which allows it to be confirmed as part of an order during the pick process. Something your distributors would be unwilling to do.

    Further more, I can think of quite a few of your products that would most likely be "incompatible" with FBA, things like smaller Rhodia and Clairefontaine staplebounds, Rhodia No. 10, 11 and 12 notepads, Individual Rhodia Pencils and even ink samples would be things that Amazon would likely be unwilling to accept.

    FBA would also not allow you to do "landrush" sales for things like 1670, and new / upcoming products (new Diamine colours, or Pelikan Edelstein, for example.) as products are usually set for sale as soon as they're scanned in upon arrival.

    While I'm sure plenty of us impatient types would love to get 3.99 Overnight Shipping, I'm also aware that everyone, even the impatient types, would likely give up the luxuries of overnight delivery, in exchange for our ability to keep receiving handwritten letters, and top notch customer support, and so as far as I'm concerned, You've made the right decision.

  • JJ Deal

    So, Brian, if this isn't a testimony to your niche in the marketplace, I don't know what is 🙂

    Most of us will not quibble with a few bucks if we can have the products and service we desire. Sure, Amazon can undercut you in paper and ink, but that will only be profitable with high volume, which they will not attract. We FP folks are a devoted lot, and will go where we feel welcome and served. Goulet Pens is THE place…surely among some others, but, you each have your niches…

    Write on!!!!!

    jd

  • Brian, I'm in agreement with the statement made by my fellow customers of GPS/. Cost does make a difference some in tough economic times like these, but loyalty and value of the customer service is more important – ALWAYS. Your service is worth more to me than saving a few bucks somewhere else.

    Besides, I love watching your handwriting improve as time and orders come and go. :>) You are on the right track and hope to have you and GPC for a very long time.

  • Your thoughts are well thought-out and expressed, Brian. It's natural you want to grow your business to reach more customers and support your growing family, but it does sound like Amazon would suck the good parts out of being in business. You seem particularly good at customer relations as well as getting your brand known in the right markets.

    Instead of Amazon as the 3rd leg of a stool, how about Etsy for your hand-made wax seals? I can't remember if you make pens as well, but those too if so. That would get your products out to the Etsy community and maybe some cross-over business into Goulet pens.

    You seem to work very hard to expand your business and I applaud that, not just for the selfish reason of your making things I like and information about them available. It's good to know that American enterprise is alive and kicking, recession be damned!

    Keep up the good work!

  • Mike 1000

    The personal feel of your website and your blog is what convinced me to place an order. You believe in your product line, use and love the items you sell, and show them to your customers in such a way that we can, at least virtually, "try before we buy", and your sample packs allow us to try the actual product without making a large investment. And you actively seek real feedback from your customers– not just a star rating.

    One doesn't find this kind of dedicated customer service even in small retail sites, never mind the goliaths. You definitely know what you're doing. Keep up the good work.

  • I absolutely agree with the above comments. Your reasoning seems sound. The fact that you are not one of the faceless corporate monsters like amazon and walmart is exactly what made me a loyal customer of the GPC. I'm glad that you are sticking with the Goulet way of doing things!

  • JJ Deal

    Brian, this is a well-thought-out post, and I think you are asking the right questions. My advice is to RUN THE OTHER WAY….and FAST! The Amazons and Wal Marts have run small businesses out of town; bigger is rarely better. It is time that we get back to the mom and pop concept of trade. It worked well for years and years and continues to work well where the big boxes have not infiltrated. While it all must occupy hundreds of hours of your time, the personal touch you offer your customers has already built a loyalty base that is worth much more than whatever extra dollars you might gain by hooking up with faceless Amazon. They cannot possibly offer the level of service you do, and I have NEVER gotten a handwritten note of thanks by ordering from them! I won't buy my inks and paper from Amazon, ever, as long as Goulet Pens is in business…which I hope is a LONG time!

    Write on!

    J. Deal

  • Anon

    Late in the day on this one but….I do use Amazon. I do. It is great. BUT…I only really use it for faceless products – for example (bad example, it has kitty faces on the packaging ) I buy big boxes of cat food sachets from them. Bit cheaper than the supermarket and they'll send me a box just as my little darlings run low on food with no shipping cost.

    However – to me, a fountain pen is a specialist product. So is ink. Whatever Amazon is, it is not a specialist retailer. I use 5 online pen and ink companies – The Goulet Pen Company has quickly become established as my supplier of all things "pen US" – that is pretty specialised! Being able to discuss an ink or pen with the retailer is important to me. I've a long running correspondence with one retailer about a mutual love of steel dip pen nibs with certain charateristics. Could Amazon do such a thing? No. Could Amazon have discussed BSB with me? No. Would they have been enthusiastic if I sent them an email of a little experiment with ink my 3 year olds and I did? No. You were.

    You are right to distinguish your business by providing great customer service and by providing a face, a real person to talk to. That is undoubtedly what a specialist retailer should do. And you are a specialist!

  • Thank you so much! I agree, Amazon is great for certain things, obviously. They wouldn't be HUGE if they were awful at everything. They do a LOT of things right. But, there are some things they just can't do. And that's specialize. The last thing I want to be is a chicken little complaining about the Big Bad Amazon….so rather than complain about them I am taking steps to distinguish myself apart from them and offer a better value through communication, involvement in my community, education (this blog and my videos), and product knowledge.

    I appreciate all of the kind words.

  • MK Buike

    I found my way here via a post on the Urban Sketchers flickr pool discussion.  I, too, am a Technoscribe.  I am very computer literate but I still prefer to write every day in a good journal with a fountain pen. 

    I read this post about Amazon with interest.  I'd been an avid Amazon customer since the very first days and still prefer their Kindle e-books for the apps on my iPod & iPad readers.  I am less enamored with them now that they are becoming the Walmart of on-line retail.  You have re-enforced, for me, their concerning business practices. 

    I've not yet bought from you but I'm sure I will.  I'm reading my way through all your blog posts and reviews.  You've helped me decide which bound journal I'd like to have next! 

    I REALLY appreciate the education you provide here.  While I've used fountain pens on and off for 30 years, I never had any real instruction in how to care for them.  I picked that up from the brief inserts, if any, that came with them and some recent on-line searches.  For example, your post on using the ear syringe for cleaning was brillant! 

    Keep up the good work and I'm sure you'll be getting an order from me when I next have need of paper!  I have a surplus right now, having bought a lot during the unfortunate Paper Zone going-out-of-business sale. I'll also send people here when ever I have the chance.  

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. Amazon is now 20% of all online retail so obviously they're doing a lot of things right, but I think it's a mistake for small online businesses to think that selling on Amazon will be best for their long-term interest. Amazon is looking out for Amazon, and they'll cut out their smaller retailers and affiliates if it's better for them. It's tempting for small businesses to see a company like that and think that they can be their saving grace, but the truth is that if you want to have a successful business, you need to be self-sufficient apart from a company like Amazon, because if you're selling through them what you're really doing is working for them, but taking on all the risk for yourself! 

    All this stuff aside though, I'm just not a big Amazon customer myself. I've bought stuff through them before and they do make it very easy, but most of the products I've bought have been poorly described to the point where I've had to return the products (which by the way, the affiliate pays for, not Amazon!). I'm never super-confident in what I'm buying because I only ever see stock images with bare-bones descriptions. I only feel confident buying things through them if it's a product that I'm absolutely certain is what it is, and couldn't be mistaken with anything else (such as books or products with specific and unmistakable UPC's). I'll buy from them if I have to, but I'll shop everywhere else I possibly can first. 

  • Breck Breckenridge

    Any thoughts? Well Brian, yes a few. Top of the list is, "How do you spell FASCIST"?

  • Well, clearly what they're doing isn't too bad a thing, as now they account for 20% of all online retail in the US. They now have their sights set on same-day-delivery. They're basically the 'new Wal-mart' to small online businesses, but they're really out to beat everyone.

  • Hi Brian,
    I found this post through one of the links on the bottom of some other post I was reading, and it's pretty interesting (since I teach business ethics). Wal-mart is known for some of the practices that you're talking about up there (like "dictating what products are imported by putting pressure on the distributor"), but I don't have many stories of Amazon doing that sort of thing. Have you got some that you could point me towards (maybe drop me an email one day)? It's been a couple of years since you wrote this, have you seen Amazon take a chunk out of the pen/paper/ink business? I guess what I'm asking is, have your predictions come true?

  • I don't have any specific evidence of this happening in the fountain pen world (yet), probably because it's so small in comparison to other industries and supply is usually an issue with pens and inks. I can say that I know several manufacturers/distributors that have been contacted directly by Amazon for them to carry their products (bypassing the independent retailers who sell on Amazon). As far as I know, no unethical tactics were used, and this article wasn't meant to be an anti-Amazon article as a whole, more just an article about how a retailer in a niche business like myself is not likely to benefit in the long-term from setting up an Amazon store. Amazon is making up 20% of all US online retail now, and that's not 20% they've added to the market, they're taking plenty of it from existing companies. Now, it's capitalism and they can do what they want, but I can say that jumping on their ship and trying to build a business through selling on their site isn't a long-term success strategy, in my opinion.

  • I love your frank thoughtfulness on this situation. I turned my boyfriend onto your web store and he’s been so smitten with the delightful service and experience you deliver, he always eagerly looks forward to the inkdrop subscription and complimentary lollipop. 🙂 I order my many colorful Leuchtturm11917’s from your wonderful store! Thank you for taking the time to be an authentic and wonderful company.

  • I know this is a really old post, but in the next week I expect to place a large-for-a-grad-student order with you instead of Amazon. Why? Because you have a reputation for great customer service, I've watched a ton of your videos to learn about my (cheap, but beloved) fountain pens, and I trust you to ship me what I ordered.

    So, it's working.

  • E. Stanley Murphy

    Here’s the thing. I prefer to deal with small specialty stores but if you elect to deliver your product through the internet, your site needs to work. I have been thinking about an Edison Collier for several months and have returned to your site over and over for information, photos and feedback. Your site sold me the pen. Tonight (coincidentally right after reading this article) I tried to place the order and your site kept refusing to accept it with no clear indication why. After getting a confusing message that did not tell me what the problem was, I gave up, went over to Amazon and bought the same pen with the same debit card for $14.00 less because I did not have to pay shipping or taxes. Your arguments would be great if there were really some interface with your company but after all, one web page is pretty much the same as another. I don’t mean to be critical but I really tried to do business with you and couldn’t because Goulet failed to provide customer service when it really mattered: at the point of sale.