Getting the cold shoulder

To me it says a lot about a company the way they treat an email or Facebook/Instagram message out of the blue, whether it’s from a customer or a reviewer.

I contact a lot of brands (and a few have reached out to me first, which is always nice) and I see all kinds of corporate personalities.

Some are highly polite, formal and professional. Others fire off a quick chatty and personal message back (and it’s not always the big brands that are formal, or the small ones that are chatty).

Some reply near-instantly (Rickshaw, Pebble, Onoto, Schon, Otto Hutt, Benu, Nettuno, among others). Others it takes a little longer (Leonardo, Penlux, Waldmann, Galen).

With a few it feels like my messages have dropped into a black hole, then when I have all-but forgotten about them, they come back weeks or even months later.

I understand and appreciate the reasons behind each of those approaches. It’s all good. Some pen brands, distributors and retailers have a team to handle this stuff, others it’s just one person with a to-do list a mile long. Some are consciously really engaged in the community, others rely on the channel for engagement. Some want to look like big brands with email signatures and auto-responders, others prioritise the informal personal touch.

And while I obviously love to get a reply saying ‘let’s work together’, I am OK with getting a brush-off too (looking at you, Lamy and Caran d’Ache). At least then I know to stop chasing.

But there’s one response that really pisses me off: the complete cold-shoulder. The email (and follow-ups) that go unanswered. The Instagram message that just sits as ‘seen’. And I get this from brands that actually follow me on Instagram!

If they won’t reply to me as a reviewer and prolific pen-buyer, if they don’t care about their reputation, would they bother to reply if I had a problem with one of their pens?

Luckily, there aren’t that many that behave like this.

Visconti is one (are you surprised?). After my Midnight in Florence problems, I got in touch via Instagram in August. After a few chases I actually got a reply! It was a brief message to email their marketing department. I sent a few emails, and no reply. It’s been a month.

Parker is next. There is no public email address for Parker’s media team, but so far I’ve sent four messages on Instagram in August about the new 51, all ‘seen’, no replies.

Yard-o-Led disappointed me. I hoped that this small British company, which follows me on Instagram, would see my reviews of other silver pen makers, like Onoto and Otto Hutt, and at least want to have a conversation with me. Three emails and two Instagram messages going back to July, and no reply. Instagram messages have been ‘seen’.

(And an update just a few minutes after posting: Yard-o-Led has replied! Looks like in this case I was being unfair! But it was a ‘no’ anyway, ha!)

I normally have very good luck with German brands. Otto Hutt, for example, have been phenomenally professional to deal with, absolutely respecting my editorial independence and replying promptly to every last email. But Diplomat — both their US and Germany Instagram accounts — have totally ignored four messages since August.

Am I just being overly sensitive? Perhaps. Do I have an over-inflated sense of my importance, expecting these brands to reply to me? I hope not, but maybe!

But still I’m left with a tiny sense of outrage — and I know for a fact I would much rather spend my money with companies that actually engage with the community they serve.

What do you think about this? Am I being paranoid? Am I being unfair? Has any brand completely ignored you, that you want to tell the community about?

13 thoughts on “Getting the cold shoulder

  1. It might be that these companies don’t expect to receive inquiries or complaints via Instagram, so they may not be checking for messages there. Regular email or Facebook Messenger might be more successful. Often, websites will have “Contact Us” instructions. Always enjoy your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This may sound a bit touchy-feely, but in my experience companies have a certain personality that comes from the top. Staff in poorly run companies where staff members are not valued or well managed are less likely to connnect effectively with clients. It’s them not you, essentially. There may not even be a person whose job it is to engage with the community. Or it’s an unpaid intern who doesn’t know how to respond to you. Of course I could be completely wrong, but that would be my take.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re completely right — that’s my experience too. In my day-job, my employer has a great attitude towards its customers and partners. You’re encouraged to take ownership of problems and opportunities alike. But I think you may have hit the nail on the head with your later comments — there’s a good chance that it’s some poor intern sat not knowing how to handle my messages, and deciding that no response is the best option. Oh well! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve had a previous experience with Visconti. I contacted them directly through their website and waited…and waited…and waited in vain. It was definitely the email listed on their site for warranties and repairs. So, I emailed them again. Nothing, nada. Finally I contacted their U.S. distributor in New York, who was helpful, but after the first exchange of emails, never got back to me to resolve the problem. So no, you’re not being paranoid. Your experience is just the way Visconti handles customers.

    In the past I have purchased two Visconti pens. Each purchase was at a separate point in time. Neither were acceptable writers right out the box and inked. I flushed the nibs and converters several times, but that didn’t solve their writing issues. In addition, the first pen, which was the more expensive of the two, had a clip bent off-center. It had a faceted barrel, so the bend was very noticeable. I managed to carefully – and I do mean carefully – force the clip back in alignment without damage to the clip or the finish.

    Given my experience, I decided never to buy another pen from Visconti again. Period.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I forgot to mention I also ordered nib replacements for the two Visconti pens, and they were no better than the ones that came with the pens originally. Good luck contacting them with a major warranty issue!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have had this happen with a small but extremely popular pen maker. That left a bad taste in my mouth. As beautiful as the pens are, it turned me off from giving this person my business.

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  5. My first (and only) experience reaching out to a pen company was just a few weeks ago. I normally don’t post comments online, but couldn’t miss this opportunity to give a huge shout-out to the folks at Noodler’s Ink and their distributor Luxury Brands USA! Not only were they prompt in responding to my email, but they also helped to resolve my issue with sincere generosity and professionalism. I immediately went online to buy several bottles of Noodler’s inks, and look forward to giving them my continued business!

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  6. I’ve always had great service from Yard-O-Led. I know they’re a small Birmingham team and the people who answer my emails are also the ones actually making the pens, so I’m patient. 🙂 I remember when you had to wait up to 28 days for something to be delivered by mail order…

    I know my YOLs will outlast me, so I take a long term view. 😉 Also I cost pens on a per diem basis so even YOLs are only pennies when costed over decades…

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  7. Pingback: Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – October 4, 2020 | Fountain Pen Quest

  8. You make a fair point in dealing with companies that engage with the communities they serve. I have experienced poor response from Conklin despite my willingness to engage with them. My frustration is shared in other blogs – it was mentioned that it was normal for Conklin to not respond to customers reaching out to them via their website. I don’t think it’s a good enough excuse to accept that. This experience greatly influenced my decision that I won’t be spending my money with them in future.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Lamy!! Terminated US service ~ two years ago. Email contact with Heildelberg corporate headquarters was deceitfully acknowledged with assurance of their intention to respond and resolve the problem with my leaking Lamy 2000.

    I mailed it USPS insured per their website for repair ($35) never received acknowledgement. Researching internet, I read of similar experience by others. After nine months received my repaired pen. Lamy had first shipped it via DHL which would not or could not deliver to my PO box. Despite the grief my treasured 2000 from 1968 when I served w/ US Army Europe now has a Lamy Bauhaus companion. Fwiw the XF nib is scratchy nasty vs my original buttery smooth w/ medium nib. Yes I returned it to the vendor. They said it’s normal after having it for an extended period of time.

    Montblanc however, fixed one of their pens a few years ago $100 flat fee in Allentown PA.

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