April 26th, 2007

Mad scientist

Draft of a letter I may send

Should I send this, or would it be kinder not to do so:

Dear [laboratory equipment vendor]

I've received your 400-page glossy catalogue and CD-ROM today, and thought I might as well pass on my thoughts on this.

Over the years I've received catalogues from several companies who prefer to provide a separate printed price list rather than printing prices in the catalogue. In general I tend not to buy from them, because I have a VERY limited amount of time to spare preparing orders, and anything that slows the process down (such as cross-checking an item price) is inconvenient.

Your price list takes this a step further by putting the prouct codes and prices (but not the product names) into a PDF. Like most school lab technicians I'm working on the crappiest computer in the department, one that is about adequate to run basic WP software but doesn't meet the needs of serious science work and is barely capable of opening PDFs. Oddly enough I'm also trying to type on this PC. In order to use your catalogue I thus need to
  1. Find the item in your catalogue and get the product code
  2. Type the product code into Adobe's search on the PDF, hopefully without making any mistakes. Wait 30 seconds or so for it to find the price.
  3. Compare this with the five or six other catalogues I have open on the table
  4. Decide whether to buy from you or someone else.
  5. If I want something from you, copy everything across to the WP program (bearing in mind that I can't see the price list and WP program simultaneously) and hope I don't make any mistakes.
I've just tried this for three items and found that on all of them you are more expensive than one or another competitor, which leads me to an alternative: use the catalogues that do give prices and assume that you aren't worth the hassle. Which I'm afraid is what is going to happen.

I should also point out that your price lists runs by the calendar year and will be obsolete when I do my final order of the financial year. All of the others are based on an April-April year.

Thanks, but no thanks.

PS: is the paper recyclable?
marcus 2013

I know that Tesco are the antichrist...

...but I suppose I'd better mention that they're currently selling 11w (equivalent to 60w) low energy lamps for 19p.

Presumably they're trying to drive some electrical retailers out of business. Nevertheless it's a pretty good deal if you need a few lights.