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?