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Thread: FC - disappointing sales model

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    Senior Member Empty_of_Clouds's Avatar
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    Default Retracted thread

    Retracted - pointless discussing it.
    Last edited by Empty_of_Clouds; November 10th, 2020 at 11:40 PM.
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    Default Re: FC - disappointing sales model

    Didn't get a chance to read your post before the retraction, but if you're referring to Franklin-Christoph, I have to agree. I own 3 F-C pens and love all of them. I have my eye on another that only ever appears in the stock room on random occasions but is always gone before I can act. I liken it to Netflix, where there's a wide variety of movies and shows to watch, but without notice, they can disappear before you have an opportunity to watch anything.

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    Default Re: FC - disappointing sales model

    One thing I've never understood is peoples reluctance to discuss the ugly side of anything to do with Fountain Pens.
    I know it doesn't fix the problem, but it does help get the grief out to discuss it all.
    Maybe there's too much opportunity for disagreement...I dunno.

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    Default Re: FC - disappointing sales model

    Quote Originally Posted by Detman101 View Post
    One thing I've never understood is peoples reluctance to discuss the ugly side of anything to do with Fountain Pens.
    I know it doesn't fix the problem, but it does help get the grief out to discuss it all.
    Maybe there's too much opportunity for disagreement...I dunno.
    What do you mean? There's plenty of ugly presented here but people generally keep their personal opinions to themselves regarding other people's bad taste.

    If you're talking about commerce, well what else is new. That's an age old problem unrelated to fountain pens, and it won't get fixed here. I suspect that's what the OP was thinking on second thought.

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    Default Re: FC - disappointing sales model

    Seems like Franklin-Christoph's virtual pen shows replicate the physical pen show experience — limited editions go fast. Disappointing for some.
    Their online show last week released pens in batches at 11am and 10pm EST to give customers outside the US a chance. I was briefly tempted by a wood-like acrylic but prefer their plain black models, of which I have two. Excellent buying experience both times.

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    Default Re: FC - disappointing sales model

    If you were at a show, standing at the table with a bunch of very limited editions, and you picked one up... while it is in your hand it cannot ethically be sold to another browser. Of course, another person could ask if you're going to buy it, but you are not obliged to answer.

    With the virtual show the same could be said for the shopping cart. In my situation I had a pen in my cart and was half way through inputting my payment details when I was informed the pen was no longer available. My initial feeling is as though another customer has snatched it from my hand (in the live pen show version in the first example). It shouldn't be too hard to have a system where stock is decreased by one every time an item is placed in the cart. I also appreciate that such a system would likely be abused by those who just want to hold things until they've decided. Perhaps a 5 minute timer or something would reduce this happening.

    Anyway, that was why I started the thread. I then retracted it because it was a bit unfair to FC, when many similar instances can be found suggesting it is not an uncommon problem.

    @catbert, their times for the release equated to 4am and 4pm on a work day. Not ideal for me. And I agree, once I made a choice of other things, the buying experience was indeed excellent.


    For clarification, I am not a big fan of competitive buying, with the exception of buying property, where it is often unavoidable. I've stopped buying pens from eBay because of this. When a competitive buying scenario is presented I feel like I'm being asked to perform like a trained animal. It is, IMO, undignified. While FOMO is not a thing for me, it does annoy me that competitive buying is still common. That's just how I feel about it. YMMV
    Last edited by Empty_of_Clouds; November 15th, 2020 at 05:03 AM.
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    Default Re: FC - disappointing sales model

    E o C: how long would you be able to hold it in your cart, effectively removing it from inventory, without completing a purchase? And if you neither buy nor delete your cart?

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    Default Re: FC - disappointing sales model

    Quote Originally Posted by kazoolaw View Post
    E o C: how long would you be able to hold it in your cart, effectively removing it from inventory, without completing a purchase? And if you neither buy nor delete your cart?
    How long would you hold an item in your hand before deciding to buy or return it to the table? A couple of minutes, at a guess. I just wondered if that kind of timer could be built into an online shopping cart to prevent excessive holding.
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    Default Re: FC - disappointing sales model

    Technically, it would be straightforward to withdraw an item from inventory once the customer has opened the page to enter their payment details.

    This all depends on the software that FC uses. You could always shoot them an email with a feature request.
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    Default Re: FC - disappointing sales model

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    If you were at a show, standing at the table with a bunch of very limited editions, and you picked one up... while it is in your hand it cannot ethically be sold to another browser.
    I disagree with that view. You may be physically holding the merchandise in your hand, for the purposes of closer inspection or otherwise, but while it is not your property and you haven't so much as paid a deposit for the item, you have no claim on it, and in fact I'd say it is unethical for you to attempt to block or hinder the vendor's sale of the item to another prospective customer.

    Of course, another person could ask if you're going to buy it, but you are not obliged to answer.
    Sure, but if another ‘browser’ waives his entitlement to inspect the item (with or without having already done so beforehand), but simply points to what you're holding and tells the seller that he's buying the item right then, then your opportunity to buy it has just expired, when you could have chosen to proceed with the purchase at any time up to that point. It is at the seller's complete discretion whether to offer you a last chance to make the purchase immediately and gain clear title to the item, but you don't have a right to such an offer.

    After all, we're talking about limited edition pens here, not the last packet of toilet rolls in the supermarket that you've already put inside your shopping cart that you can reasonably expect fellow shoppers not to snatch from you. With or without an explicit written or printed catalogue of what the seller is offering for sale on the occasion, as long as someone can identify that particular item while it is still the property of the seller and not yours, the two of them can enter into an agreement or contract to transfer ownership and effectively cut you out of the equation.

    With the virtual show the same could be said for the shopping cart.
    No, in that you can't even object in time to block the sale and threaten not to relinquish physical possession of the item that is not your property, the way you might if a pen was in your hand and you choose to make a scene when checking out a seller's wares in person.

    In my situation I had a pen in my cart and was half way through inputting my payment details when I was informed the pen was no longer available. My initial feeling is as though another customer has snatched it from my hand (in the live pen show version in the first example).
    Like I said, the pen does not have to be snatched from your hand. Either the seller as the current owner can ask you to hand it back, or the customer can just complete the purchase transaction with the seller independently of you, gain clear title to the item, and then as the new owner ask you to hand it back. Item #665 in the seller's catalogue for the day does not have to be physically sitting on the table at the time for the transaction to be possible, as long as it's still the seller's property to sell.

    It shouldn't be too hard to have a system where stock is decreased by one every time an item is placed in the cart.
    It's not a matter of technical difficulty to implement, but whether the business logic would make sense in the sales model.

    I also appreciate that such a system would likely be abused by those who just want to hold things until they've decided. Perhaps a 5 minute timer or something would reduce this happening.

    Anyway, that was why I started the thread. I then retracted it because it was a bit unfair to FC, when many similar instances can be found suggesting it is not an uncommon problem.
    You may see it as a problem for you as a shopper, but it isn't a problem for the vendor. Amazon wouldn't let you have dibs on an item, just by putting it into your cart, even (and especially) when it has stated there are only N units in stock; you can't even lock in the price by putting an item into your cart. I daresay it is not shortcomings in Amazon's IT development capability that stops the company from letting you do either of those things on its web shop platform.

    I don't know whether the Shopify platform allows retailers to configure their web shops in some way to allow customers to have dibs on the units of items in the cart, but I haven't seen it done that way by EndlessPens in the US, Iguana Sell in Spain, Pensachi in Japan or Pen Gallery in Malaysia, all of whom I've previously bought from and hence I know they all use the Shopify platform. I'm not sure if Franklin-Christoph is using Shopify, but having taken an item most of the way through the checkout process (and I'm glad the company doesn't and didn't give me dibs on the item and reserve it for my eventual purchase) as an experiment, I have the distinct impression that its web shop is just Shopify ‘re-skinned’ in some way.

    The only web shop in which I have seen it done that way was Fontoplumo's old platform. Fontoplumo migrated to a new platform just a few weeks ago, and I have no idea whether it still let customers have dibs on the items already in the cart.

    For clarification, I am not a big fan of competitive buying, with the exception of buying property, where it is often unavoidable. I've stopped buying pens from eBay because of this. When a competitive buying scenario is presented I feel like I'm being asked to perform like a trained animal. It is, IMO, undignified.
    It makes scant business sense to produce, and/or make available for purchase, more units of a product than for which there is demand, when it only serves to depress the price or amounts to wasted investment. Undersupply, whether natural (cf. “often unavoidable”) or calculated, will of course give rise to competitive buying unless the pricing is unreasonably high.

    I used to work in event ticketing (as in opera, concerts, sporting events, etc.) as a software developer. Competitive buying is part and parcel of just about every event; if 200 seats are offered in the A Reserve rows in the Stalls all for the same price, customers are going to “compete” to get the best seats within that allocation. Who wants to pay $200 for a ticket to a stage play but sit somewhere off to the side and sixteen rows back, when by “competing” successfully they get to sit in the seats dead centre seven rows from the stage? If a big name rock star from overseas is doing a national concert tour with only one performance in each Australian capital city, it's almost a given that the Sydney and Melbourne events will sell out and quickly at that. Fans and prospective concert-goers aren't asked to perform like trained animals at all; but if they want to go to the concert and get good seats (or any seats at all), then they'd better stay alert for the opportunity and jump right in when tickets are released to secure them, because it's a savage jungle of a consumer environment, and nobody is going to be nice to them and make sure they're happy.

    Edit: We implemented very strict dibs timeouts ever since self-service ticket-buying online became a thing some twenty years ago. It's a necessary thing for our sales model, but the big countdown clock on every page throughout the process also serves to create a sense of urgency, hurry customers along, and promotes more competitive buying behaviour.

    While FOMO is not a thing for me, it does annoy me that competitive buying is still common. That's just how I feel about it. YMMV
    For as long as for-profit enterprises “understand” their (current and prospective) customers and the consumer base like we, as consumers (who aren't even contractually committed customers, demand they do, there will always be competitive buying, because they'll know just what we want, how desperate we are for it, and just how far we can be pushed and how hard we can be squeezed.
    Last edited by A Smug Dill; November 15th, 2020 at 09:11 PM. Reason: grammar and clarifications
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    Default Re: FC - disappointing sales model

    Quote Originally Posted by Ole Juul View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Detman101 View Post
    One thing I've never understood is peoples reluctance to discuss the ugly side of anything to do with Fountain Pens.
    I know it doesn't fix the problem, but it does help get the grief out to discuss it all.
    Maybe there's too much opportunity for disagreement...I dunno.
    What do you mean? There's plenty of ugly presented here but people generally keep their personal opinions to themselves regarding other people's bad taste.

    If you're talking about commerce, well what else is new. That's an age old problem unrelated to fountain pens, and it won't get fixed here. I suspect that's what the OP was thinking on second thought.
    Yeah, you're right. Complaining about the ways of businesses won't change a thing.
    The only thing that sways business is the absence of money...then they change.

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    Default Re: FC - disappointing sales model

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    If you were at a show, standing at the table with a bunch of very limited editions, and you picked one up... while it is in your hand it cannot ethically be sold to another browser. Of course, another person could ask if you're going to buy it, but you are not obliged to answer.

    With the virtual show the same could be said for the shopping cart. In my situation I had a pen in my cart and was half way through inputting my payment details when I was informed the pen was no longer available. My initial feeling is as though another customer has snatched it from my hand (in the live pen show version in the first example). It shouldn't be too hard to have a system where stock is decreased by one every time an item is placed in the cart. I also appreciate that such a system would likely be abused by those who just want to hold things until they've decided. Perhaps a 5 minute timer or something would reduce this happening.

    Anyway, that was why I started the thread. I then retracted it because it was a bit unfair to FC, when many similar instances can be found suggesting it is not an uncommon problem.

    @catbert, their times for the release equated to 4am and 4pm on a work day. Not ideal for me. And I agree, once I made a choice of other things, the buying experience was indeed excellent.


    For clarification, I am not a big fan of competitive buying, with the exception of buying property, where it is often unavoidable. I've stopped buying pens from eBay because of this. When a competitive buying scenario is presented I feel like I'm being asked to perform like a trained animal. It is, IMO, undignified. While FOMO is not a thing for me, it does annoy me that competitive buying is still common. That's just how I feel about it. YMMV
    The unfortunate FOMO/artificial scarcity model isn't unique to F-C, as you say. Avoiding feeding frenzies is part of why I like standard production pens — I can put them on a wishlist and wait.

    I get why putting something in a cart to 'hold' it could be abused, but surely a checkout mechanism should let you hang on to a thing while you're actually trying to pay for it.

    Maybe future virtual shows could be held over a weekend, like the real thing, to better address time differences.

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    Default Re: FC - disappointing sales model

    Quote Originally Posted by catbert View Post
    I get why putting something in a cart to 'hold' it could be abused...
    Indeed:

    Shopping Cart Abandonment
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    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

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    Default Re: FC - disappointing sales model

    I am swayed by @ A Smug Dill's argument. I don't think there is a reasonable way around the situation. I'm also with @Empty_of_Clouds' feelings about competing being undignified. I generally avoid auctions for the same reason, and it is my choice to avoid any situation which makes me uncomfortable. However, I don't think there is any way around a vendor's right, and expectation, to accept the first possible payment as a sale.

    I just bought a vintage pen from an online seller and am waiting for it in the mail. In the meanwhile I've found another pen in that vendor's catalogue which I really want. As that pen is rather expensive for me, I think it is prudent for me to wait until I see the first pen in order to ascertain the quality of his restorations. In the meanwhile, I am on edge worrying that someone else will buy "my pen". lol Of course I have no claim to it, but such is life. We often feel some claim to a thing because we've invested some of our attention and feelings in that thing. Wish me luck.

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    Default Re: FC - disappointing sales model

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kazoolaw View Post
    E o C: how long would you be able to hold it in your cart, effectively removing it from inventory, without completing a purchase? And if you neither buy nor delete your cart?
    How long would you hold an item in your hand before deciding to buy or return it to the table? A couple of minutes, at a guess. I just wondered if that kind of timer could be built into an online shopping cart to prevent excessive holding.
    Such a thing can be done, yes. An online charity shop I occasionally frequent gives the prospective purchaser 30 mins (iirc) to hold one-off donated items in their basket before they're automatically returned to general sale.
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