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Offline DrCMS

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Re: worst chemical quote ever
« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2010, 12:38:15 PM »
DrCMS, you do realize that all the stuff you said would have been a perfectly acceptable and polite response.

Yes and that would have been the way I would have handled it from the start.

Instead the guy acted like a jackass and looked like a moron assuming someone was a student when they weren't.

Yes and no.  FlowSyn finished a PhD this year and is now a postdoc I believe and so is very unlikely to be in a position to pay the kind of price that custom synthesis comands.  I'd guess FlowSyn was probably using an academic email address and therefore was identified as wasting the time of the person from the custom synthesis lab and treated accordingly.  That may sound harsh but it is the reality of the situation; if you can't pay the price don't ask for the quote.


So my summary:

Custom Synthesis lab gets an enquiry from an academic email address and ignores it

FlowSyn gives it a week and then chases up the request they could never pay for.

Custom Synthesis lab tells them to make it themselves.

FlowSyn does not take the hint and chases up the request again still not having the cash to pay for it.

Custom Synthesis lab says go away.

FlowSyn gets pissed off and posts it here.

The majority of people support FlowSyn because you have similar backgrounds.

I back the custom synthesis lab because I've also had to deal with enquires that are obviously not going anywhere from the start. 

I do think they could have handled it better but it was obviously not going to make them any money.


Offline OC pro

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Re: worst chemical quote ever
« Reply #16 on: June 29, 2010, 03:24:08 PM »
I have worked in Custom Synthesis and Research for many years (mg to kilos). I cannot agree with you DrCMS. In this business, you have to serve the customer. Again as I said the Customer is King.
Just think about: FlowSyn might be a Postdoc now or working in University. But in future, he can switch to Pharma or whatever where he might have the money you mention (even in University background he might afford to buy Custom synthesized compounds, not all Universities are poor). Then he might be in the same situation to order stuff from CROs (Contract Research Organizations) and he would remember that company...
What this company has done is by far the most stupid thing. You can not treat a customer like that. That is arrogant and spoils the business. Even we had small projects running for institutions and universities. Of course you can not make the same money like with a big Pharma company but that is our business.

Offline Borek

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Re: worst chemical quote ever
« Reply #17 on: June 29, 2010, 05:22:52 PM »
I do think they could have handled it better but it was obviously not going to make them any money.

Simple and reasonable answer would not make them any money, but it would not piss off potential customers. Lucky for them FlowSym is not allowed to post their identity, as posting all the details in the blog would mean potential problems for the company. Politely stating "sorry, we can't supply the required chemical at reasonable price at the moment" is not more difficult than the answers they gave, but is not potentially damaging for the PR.
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Offline DrCMS

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Re: worst chemical quote ever
« Reply #18 on: June 30, 2010, 04:53:14 AM »
I have worked in Custom Synthesis and Research for many years (mg to kilos). I cannot agree with you DrCMS. In this business, you have to serve the customer. Again as I said the Customer is King.

Do you deal with the initial customer enquires and prepare quote etc or are you working in the lab making the materials that have been ordered and will make money for your company?  The number of enquires I deal with that go nowhere compared with genuine future business is at least 100 to 1.  I try to be polite and helpful to the other 99 but it's hard sometimes to deal with persistant time wasters in that manner.  The worst offenders are university students or "new" businesses with a hotmail/gmail email address; they expect a lot of work for very little money.

Just think about: FlowSyn might be a Postdoc now or working in University. But in future, he can switch to Pharma or whatever where he might have the money you mention

True but the odds are small it will make a big difference to the company in question.

What this company has done is by far the most stupid thing. You can not treat a customer like that.

He's not a customer and unless he goes and works for Big Pharma he never will be.  That's no reason to be rude but it's no reason to bend over backward to be helpfull either.  I've not seen the full email exchange but I do not see anyone being rude just honest.  As in you're a student you can't affford it go make it yourself.

As I've said before the company in question did not handle it well and I would have done it differently but FlowSyn was never in a position to pay for the work they were asking for.   

FlowSyn had unreasonable expectations of how this enquiry would go, when it did not go the way they wanted they pushed and then posted it here.  If FlowSyn had a realistic understanding of how custom synthesis works they would never have even asked for the quote in the first place, no one would have got pissed off and we'd not be having this discussion.

Offline demoninatutu

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Re: worst chemical quote ever
« Reply #19 on: June 30, 2010, 10:50:55 PM »
Quote
If FlowSyn had a realistic understanding of how custom synthesis works

And why would he have that? There's no such expectations except for regular users of custom syntheses.

Quote
they would never have even asked for the quote in the first place, no one would have got pissed off and we'd not be having this discussion.

A polite reply in the first place would have solved the whole problem and informed FlowSyn of the correct expectations at the same time. The reply I suggested in my earlier post took less than 2 minutes.

I once attended a lecture by Alfred Bader, the founder of Aldrich. He said the secret of his early success was that he never said 'no' to a customer — unless the compound was already being made by Kodak. Somehow, I don't think even those customers got a letter merely stating 'Get it from Kodak.'

Offline Yggdrasil

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Re: worst chemical quote ever
« Reply #20 on: July 01, 2010, 12:19:22 AM »
Perhaps FlowSyn should do a favor for the company, then, and post their name so that they have to bother with us small fries in academia anymore.

Offline DrCMS

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Re: worst chemical quote ever
« Reply #21 on: July 01, 2010, 03:32:20 AM »
Try this for a scenario:

A schoolboy walks into a car showroom and asks about a brand new sports car.

Do you think:

 a) the staff take the time to show him the full range of cars tell him all the price options & extras then take him for a test drive on the off chance that when he grows up he'll be in a position to come back and buy a car?
or
b) they show him the door and if he doesn't take the hint they throw him out of it?

If the schoolboy then posted on facebook how rude the car showroom staff were would you all support him or say he should not have been in the car showroom because he couldn't afford the car and didn't even have a drivers licence?


Offline orgopete

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Re: worst chemical quote ever
« Reply #22 on: July 03, 2010, 01:51:19 AM »
Try this for a scenario:

A schoolboy walks into a car showroom and asks about a brand new sports car.

Do you think:

 a) the staff take the time to show him the full range of cars tell him all the price options & extras then take him for a test drive on the off chance that when he grows up he'll be in a position to come back and buy a car?
or
b) they show him the door and if he doesn't take the hint they throw him out of it?

If the schoolboy then posted on facebook how rude the car showroom staff were would you all support him or say he should not have been in the car showroom because he couldn't afford the car and didn't even have a drivers licence?

This is what I think would happen,
FlowSyn: "I'd like to buy that car, how much?"
Salesman: Walks over to the car, looks at the sticker and says, "$27,332"

At this point, it is in FlowSyn's court. Is he going to make an offer to buy it or defer? If he wants it, I doubt the salesman is going to decline list price, is he?

I am not in the custom synthesis business, but something doesn't sound right here. First of all, I don't understand a company listing (I presume) a compound for sale and not knowing the price or range of prices for it. In my mind, that is the first thing I want to know, especially if FlowSyn is in the organic synthesis business himself. Why make something if you can buy it cheaply? The cheaply is an inferred item in a price. FlowSyn could buy the final product he is trying to make, but it would cost him a lot more than the time and material that it would take to do it himself. Hence, he wishes to buy relatively cheap starting materials and do the synthesis himself.

When I was in industry, the difference between purchasing and making something was the price. I probably had greater latitude than a grad student or post doc, but the price still mattered. I don't know how FlowSyn came to ask Company X about this compound, whether it was listed in a catalog, an analog of something they already sell, or just a flyer on FlowSyn's part. I also don't know Company X's business, but I am going to give FlowSyn the benefit of the doubt it here, selling this compound to FlowSyn is in the realm of Company X's business.

The answer was a sophisticated answer. This doesn't sound like an order taker. Somebody thought about it. How much would Company X have to charge and make money? Here is a request being offered on a silver platter. Could an intermediate fall into Company X's hands that they could make and sell at a profit and they turned it down? It is two steps that "a student can do", and they don't know how much? If Company X is in the custom synthesis field, can't they determine a price range? Doesn't Company X have a minimum purchase value as well?

I would have thought this would get logged by someone. Compound Z can be synthesized in two steps from a readily available starting material and allowing for starting materials, labor, and yields, they don't know the price?

The salesman engaged with FlowSyn for several messages. If he wanted to get rid of him, why not give the quote as asked?

I don't know what this speaks more about, what we don't know here or what we don't know about the company. I agree with OC pro, any company with a history of success would give the quote and move on. I wonder if FlowSyn was writing to a one man shop who already had a contract and couldn't do it if asked. He may have thought he was doing a favor by suggesting how to do it. Just an opinion.
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Offline DrCMS

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Re: worst chemical quote ever
« Reply #23 on: July 03, 2010, 04:44:46 AM »
I am not in the custom synthesis business, but something doesn't sound right here. First of all, I don't understand a company listing (I presume) a compound for sale and not knowing the price or range of prices for it. In my mind, that is the first thing I want to know, especially if FlowSyn is in the organic synthesis business himself.

Yes it is very obvious that you are NOT in the custom synthesis business.  You are very naive as to how business operates and the cost structure of this kind of business.   These kinds of companies do not hold stocks of all (or even any) of the materials they list for sale.  They have a list of materials they CAN produce; then when an enquiry comes in they work out an INDIVIDUAL QUOTE for that particular request.  The price being determined by the current raw material costs for the amounts required for that particular order, the time required to manufacture that particular amount, how quick it is required (may effect the raw material costs to get them quicker and may effect the scale it is done on if other equipment is in use on other jobs) and how much risk there is in the synthesis/work up.  As I said before which you clearly did not read each quote takes time and effort to prepare.  If you do the work for somebody who is not in a position to place the order you've wasted that time and effort.  In industry as time is money; you have wasted money.

Why make something if you can buy it cheaply? The cheaply is an inferred item in a price. FlowSyn could buy the final product he is trying to make, but it would cost him a lot more than the time and material that it would take to do it himself. Hence, he wishes to buy relatively cheap starting materials and do the synthesis himself.

Again your lack of understanding how this business operates jumps off the page.  If he's asking a custom synthesis house to make something it will NOT be cheap.  He's not going to Aldrich to buy a few g at a low price.  Pharma or agrochemical businesses etc will pay the high price because they cost their time even higher.  A postdoc at uni can not afford the prices and it would be cheaper for them to make it themselves.

The answer was a sophisticated answer. This doesn't sound like an order taker. Somebody thought about it.

These kind of companies employ PhD chemists to deal with enquiries because they need to understand what the customer is asking for and what their company can do.  So it sound exactly like an order taker in this kind of business.  I deal with these kind of enquires for the company I work for and I have a PhD in chemistry and 15 years experience working in industry at the bench and in the pilot plant.


Here is a request being offered on a silver platter. Could an intermediate fall into Company X's hands that they could make and sell at a profit and they turned it down? It is two steps that "a student can do", and they don't know how much? If Company X is in the custom synthesis field, can't they determine a price range? Doesn't Company X have a minimum purchase value as well?

I would have thought this would get logged by someone. Compound Z can be synthesized in two steps from a readily available starting material and allowing for starting materials, labor, and yields, they don't know the price?


Again I've explained why these are naive questions.  The answers require work and there was no point doing the work because there was never going to be an order at the end of it.

Back to the car analogy

If I ride up to a Ferrari show room on a bicycle and start to ask about a brand new 612 and the salesman ignores me until I corner him at which point he suggest I try kit car instead.  Is the salesman being rude and missing out on a sale or am I being unrealistic in my purchasing power? 

I can not afford a sports car so I do not go to sports car sales rooms and pester the sales staff and then complain they don't take me seriously.

Offline Jorriss

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Re: worst chemical quote ever
« Reply #24 on: July 03, 2010, 06:51:59 PM »
DrCMS, I don't think you understand anyones complaints. The problem is the person was a jackass. They could of just said 'No, we can't make it,' as many have pointed out and still not wasted their time.

Yes, Time is money. Fine, maybe they shouldn't have 'wasted' their time on him - but they didn't need to be pricks about it.

And, on that note, which of these takes longer.

'I am sorry we can not supplied the reagent at the moment, but if you do this reaction...'

or...

The three back and fourth emails they had to send in this situation?


In this instance, their condescending attitude wasted more time by being so indirect.


Ultimately though, I just don't think you get what people are perturbed about. Plus, your car analogy seems totally off compared to what happened.

And why couldn't a post doc afford these if their lab has the finances too? Do most post docs buy chemicals out of their own back pocket? I'm actually asking, I don't know.

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Re: worst chemical quote ever
« Reply #25 on: July 03, 2010, 09:58:35 PM »
I assume they thought that he was a student because he used a .edu email address, What if that where a professor looking for an intermediate, or some student with a lot of grant money?

What if that kid on the bike really is Bill Gates' kid?

What if that teen in the car dealership has a wealthy parent, or has an inheritance of some type? It's bad business to turn anyone away.

You, my friend are a very bad business man, despite what ever your ego may say to the contrary.

Offline DrCMS

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Re: worst chemical quote ever
« Reply #26 on: July 04, 2010, 06:48:13 AM »
DrCMS, I don't think you understand anyones complaints. The problem is the person was a jackass.

I get that but there is also a lot more to it than that; there are lots of students/academic people posting here that are pissed off that a fellow student/academic was not treated like royalty for asking for a quote.  I've seen "the customer is king" mentioned more than once and as I've said over and over again FlowSyn was not a customer and could not afford to become one.  Yes a good customer is king but just because someone asks the price does not mean they can afford it.


Yes, Time is money. Fine, maybe they shouldn't have 'wasted' their time on him - but they didn't need to be pricks about it.

And, on that note, which of these takes longer.

'I am sorry we can not supplied the reagent at the moment, but if you do this reaction...'

or...

The three back and fourth emails they had to send in this situation?


In this instance, their condescending attitude wasted more time by being so indirect.

Yes they did not handle it as well as I would but they were not rude or nasty at any point.

Ultimately though, I just don't think you get what people are perturbed about. Plus, your car analogy seems totally off compared to what happened.

And why couldn't a post doc afford these if their lab has the finances too? Do most post docs buy chemicals out of their own back pocket? I'm actually asking, I don't know.

This explains why you do not get it; post docs will have a budget for materials but they can not afford to spend the many $1000's on a single compound that a custom synthesis job would cost.  While all the postdocs I knew at uni while I was doing my PhD had a bigger chemicals budget than us PhD students a whole years budget for them would still not cover a single contact synthesis job.  So my car analogy is very apt.

I assume they thought that he was a student because he used a .edu email address, What if that where a professor looking for an intermediate, or some student with a lot of grant money?

I have never dealt with a single enquiry from an academic that has ever gone anywhere once the costs have been explained to them.  So the odds are anyone with an academic email address will not have the cash to become a customer.

What if that kid on the bike really is Bill Gates' kid?

What if that teen in the car dealership has a wealthy parent, or has an inheritance of some type?

Both possible but quite unlikely.

It's bad business to turn anyone away.


No it's bad business to waste time chasing rainbows.  In business you have to play the best % win, gamblers play the long odds not business people.

If I staked the future of the company I work for on long odds faint possibilities I'd probably be fired.  Yes if one of them came off I'd be treated like a hero and get a big bonus but if none of them succeed I'd get the boot and rightly so.  I can not afford to bet my  future (along with my wife and daughters future plus the livelihood of the people I work with and their families etc.) on long odds slim possibilities.

You, my friend are a very bad business man, despite what ever your ego may say to the contrary.

You know very very little about me and have never done business with me yet you feel qualified to make a personal attack like this? 

Offline Jorriss

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Re: worst chemical quote ever
« Reply #27 on: July 04, 2010, 01:07:24 PM »
DrCMS, I don't think you understand anyones complaints. The problem is the person was a jackass.

I get that but there is also a lot more to it than that; there are lots of students/academic people posting here that are pissed off that a fellow student/academic was not treated like royalty for asking for a quote.  I've seen "the customer is king" mentioned more than once and as I've said over and over again FlowSyn was not a customer and could not afford to become one.  Yes a good customer is king but just because someone asks the price does not mean they can afford it.
I get that. You don't think he can afford it. The problem isn't that they didn't give him a quote.


Yes they did not handle it as well as I would but they were not rude or nasty at any point.
They were condescending, does that count? I would of thought it does.


Ultimately though, I just don't think you get what people are perturbed about. Plus, your car analogy seems totally off compared to what happened.

And why couldn't a post doc afford these if their lab has the finances too? Do most post docs buy chemicals out of their own back pocket? I'm actually asking, I don't know.

This explains why you do not get it; post docs will have a budget for materials but they can not afford to spend the many $1000's on a single compound that a custom synthesis job would cost.  While all the postdocs I knew at uni while I was doing my PhD had a bigger chemicals budget than us PhD students a whole years budget for them would still not cover a single contact synthesis job.  So my car analogy is very apt.
But didn't I already agree they didn't need to give him a quote? So why are you hanging on that? That's not the issue here.



This isn't, for me at least, about a chemical quote. It's just about a person who didn't need to be a prick.

 

Offline orgopete

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Re: worst chemical quote ever
« Reply #28 on: July 04, 2010, 02:35:13 PM »
First of all, sorry for the bad English, "it would cost him (FlowSyn) a lot more than the time and material that it would take to do it himself". I should have said, "It will not be CHEAP".

My point in even commenting was that I felt this narrative seemed to lack information. We don't know if this is an Aldrich, an Aldrich wanna be, a small chemical company with a list of specialized products or a custom synthesis lab. I was guessing it was a company with a list of specialized products, which is what suggested to FlowSyn to contact them in the first place.

Granted, even a small company very well may not have everything stored on a shelf (nor does Aldrich). With many of these small companies, you can look at what they advertise and imagine what chemistry they have expertise in, e.g., pyridines with Reilly or fluorochemistry with Fluorochem. From that perspective, you can think that the PhD chemists think about what they can advertise based upon what they can make. (Check ads in C&ENews.) If they advertise something, it is my belief that they either have synthesized it already or have some reasonable expectation of being able to synthesize it and a price range. They shouldn't advertise crap they cannot deliver. I would think it is a waste of time and money to place an ad and then tell customers they cannot afford it. Why place the ad in the first place?

I understand the cost of a chemical depends on starting materials, yield, purity, and labor, which is always charged back to the customer. It can also include specialized equipment which may make the surcharge of a company worthwhile, like Fluorochem.

Wasting time? I can get three painters to drive to my house and give me an estimate. I can judge whether one of those painters really want my job unless it was extremely profitable. I can judge that from the estimate. That isn't a good analogy, but it does show the nature of wasting time. A car dealer, Farrari or Ford is like Aldrich. If you ask them how much, it is on the sticker. FlowSyn was asking how much. Doesn't sound like this example either. It sounds more like a custom race car, $500,000 minimum and up depending on options. Want to have your washing machine repaired? The service tells you it is $200 minimum, $100/hr labor, and parts are extra. This sounds like what DrCMS is referring to, except the salesperson neglected to say, there is a $50,000 minimum and a 90 day delivery time for an order placed today. Obviously, I am naive and do not know what the minimum charge of this phantom company actually is, but it seems like this part of the discussion is missing.

I commented because I felt that FlowSyn's question indicated he did not know this information. Even with three or four emails, it still didn't seem as though it was being provided. If you want to avoid wasting time, tell him what he needs to know. If you want avoid spurious inquiries, tell everyone what the price range is. If you are reluctant (because it is so damn high), then give contact information and let the salesman on the other end give this out. (I think the ISIS chemistry packages are like that.)

I am not denying phantom company's high labor cost, risk in estimating the deliverable yield, cost of starting materials and scale, but phantom company should be knowledgeable of their business. In making inquiries, I often use the strategy of asking for a ballpark estimate. Academic inquires could be given this right up front if you wish to politely kill those inquiries. I often suggested to someone that their answer will not be considered a quote. I have never found that I cannot find a price range. Is it nearer $500 or $50,000? If the salesman suggests I get on my bike and ride out of sight, ….

Final comment, my company always had some anxiety that our CAS searches, Aldrich orders, small company orders, and worst of all small company orders could be monitored. I think a custom synthesis company had to sign a non-disclosure agreement with an order. If I were a hungry small company and an inquiry like this came in, I begin searching for what grant money that university had, and who the researchers were. I'd try to determine if I should try to tie up that intermediate, post haste. What did I do to get this information, nothing. That would be my priority.
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Offline OC pro

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Re: worst chemical quote ever
« Reply #29 on: July 04, 2010, 04:10:30 PM »
I don´t think FlowSyn wanted to buy kilos of this intermediate so the price would be maximum 1000 dollars. I know what I write. We are making API´s in up to 15 steps and 100g batches, enantiomeric pure. The price for such a sophisticated synthesis is in the 100k EUR range.
When this specific intermediate FlowSyn was requesting can be done in a very simple way as the company suggested the price can not be very high. So I don´t understand why they didn´t offered him to buy. Are they really so stupid to think that academic institutions can not afford 1000 dollars for a single compound?

DrCMS: You seem to be really frustrated in your company. We are having also few customers from academia and even they can pay for specific compounds up to 10k EUR. And of course, we are getting ridiculous inquiries from institutions but they get a short (standardised) answer that we can not make the compound at a reasonable price. I have to mention that we are not in the catalogue business making only compounds which are not commercially available or have not yet been synthesized.


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