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Author: Subject: Why is Chemsavers comfortable with shipping chemicals to residential addresses, but sigma/fisher/TCI/etc are not?
Cou
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[*] posted on 5-11-2020 at 21:02
Why is Chemsavers comfortable with shipping chemicals to residential addresses, but sigma/fisher/TCI/etc are not?


My guess is that companies like Chemsavers are essentially retailers, in that they are smaller companies that have time to review orders more closely. They can review every individual order to check if you are ordering benign chemicals, or something suspicious.

No chemical supplier wants to appear on the news with their logo on reagent bottles in a drug lab bust.

Yeah if someone is just ordering some 1-pentanol, there's obviously nothing clandestine and drug-related they can do with that. It's only a couple times more toxic than 190 proof everclear.

On the other hand, if someone has a purchase history of both red P and iodine, they have the time to check what you have ordered, and refuse order and/or ban you as a customer.

I don't understand the "liability" thing. Sigma refuses to sell sodium chloride to individuals, but Dollar General sells sh*t in the cleaning section that would kill a child who drank it. I think it's more an issue of whether or not the business is a retailer that has time to review orders and check what customers are ordering.

TL;DR; Sigma Aldrich doesn't have time to check if your order is for sodium chloride or ephedrine.



[Edited on 11-6-2020 by Cou]




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[*] posted on 6-11-2020 at 01:29


I tried to order from Fisher Benelux with company account but our company was registered in a residential are, so they wrote me:

" We have been advised that: due to the nature of the products we sell , we are unable to supply to companies that are registered in residential areas. We will not be able to supply your order."

Also it was interesting situation with Duran (Life Science) sales, I asked to point me to some retailer of their product who can sell to individuals and if there is no one I proposed to become their retailer, had many conversation with them but finally they said me that "don't want to sell their glassware to individuals due to dangerous nature of these things ".

[Edited on 6-11-2020 by teodor]
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[*] posted on 6-11-2020 at 02:06


Selling to an individual is very different to selling to a corporation. The likes of Sigma have invested huge amounts of cash to be the perfect chemical selling machine to corporations and they do it exceptionally well. Changing that model costs money and they will only do that if they see more profit. Selling to individuals that will often be budget constraints did not offer up a significant revenue stream so they ignore it
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[*] posted on 6-11-2020 at 02:55


Quote: Originally posted by B(a)P  
Selling to an individual is very different to selling to a corporation. The likes of Sigma have invested huge amounts of cash to be the perfect chemical selling machine to corporations and they do it exceptionally well. Changing that model costs money and they will only do that if they see more profit. Selling to individuals that will often be budget constraints did not offer up a significant revenue stream so they ignore it


In this regard I completely don't understand frequent appearance of bottles of this particular brand on many hobby-style/amateur chemistry/popular science youtube channels.

Big thanks to those youtubers who don't support those who don't support us!

[Edited on 6-11-2020 by teodor]
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[*] posted on 6-11-2020 at 03:11


There are some resellers, who can obtain chemicals from Sigma, Carl Roth, Merck, and so on, who do sell to individuals. E.g. look at Labstuff in NL. This company can order chemicals from the big companies. He asks the price of those chemicals, plus a small fee for himself (I remember that it is appr. 1 euro per chemical). He combines many orders from private customers to make big orders at the big companies (they usually have a lower limit on the total value of an order and some of them also have a flat starting fee for orders, so that it is more economical to order for a high total value).



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[*] posted on 6-11-2020 at 03:23


@woelen I know about this company but it always was the case I checked their catalogue and didn't find what I need. Like now, I need a sodium metal, and this is not particular rare chemical, but they have no it. So, I would prefer to put the order to s3chemicals or onyxmet, and for common staff labshop.nl is the best for me, the last has even more limited catalogue but everything will be delivered from stock next day.
If it is the case I can write to labstuff and ask something they don't have on their site it would be interesting, if so - thanks for the information.

Edit: I have the impression that less chemicals are available on ebay now than 1 year ago. For example, for sodium there is only one position and price is high, also the nearest is in UK ... I don't find much sells of chemicals in old bottles like 30 years old stocks ... Is it something that changed or just I have wrong observation?

Aslo I am aware about people who claim they can sell chemicals but you should make request to them. I think it is great but for some reason doesn't work for me - I feel myself more comfortable with catalogue where I can see the availability, price per quantity, delivery time & price etc etc, so I can easily compose a big request for my current and future needs which fits in my budget and I definitely know when it come, so I can well plan my experiments. So, those nice sellers are in different category than ordinary internet shops with a basket.


[Edited on 6-11-2020 by teodor]
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[*] posted on 6-11-2020 at 07:52


There are literally only a couple resellers in the USA at the moment. I think it's just very low demand. 2 resellers is enough to meet demand for the entire nation. If one of them disappears, someone else will fill the gap.



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[*] posted on 6-11-2020 at 08:07


Another way that big-label chemicals sometimes end up in home labs is secondhand. I have many bottles of chemicals, mostly very specialized stuff from Sigma, that were originally from a university lab, but were not wanted and put up for grabs.



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[*] posted on 6-11-2020 at 08:07


Quote: Originally posted by Cou  
I think it's just very low demand.


Are there any startup companies around?
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[*] posted on 6-11-2020 at 08:13


Quote: Originally posted by teodor  
[..]Edit: I have the impression that less chemicals are available on ebay now than 1 year ago. For example, for sodium there is only one position and price is high, also the nearest is in UK ... I don't find much sells of chemicals in old bottles like 30 years old stocks ... Is it something that changed or just I have wrong observation?

Aslo I am aware about people who claim they can sell chemicals but you should make request to them. I think it is great but for some reason doesn't work for me - I feel myself more comfortable with catalogue where I can see the availability, price per quantity, delivery time & price etc etc, so I can easily compose a big request for my current and future needs which fits in my budget and I definitely know when it come, so I can well plan my experiments. So, those nice sellers are in different category than ordinary internet shops with a basket.
[Edited on 6-11-2020 by teodor]
I also think there are less chemical items on eBay. There were several Polish sellers a few years ago, who sold all kinds of chemicals, frequently from old stock. They have gone. Things come with waves on eBay. Probably they have been more strict in the last few months and then slowly things get more lax again and more interesting offers appear again. But then, someone thinks it is too much, and then suddenly listed items disappear again.

I also like it better if I can order things from a shop, but sometimes it really is useful to contact people, who sell materials on sciencemadness. I have done this three times (with different people) in total and it yielded me nice quantities of NaBH4, NaBF4, As2O3 and HClO4. All hard to get chemicals, for decent prices in decent quantities (no need to buy at least a few kilos or something like that, but affordable, so that it also is not limited to just a few grams).

[Edited on 6-11-20 by woelen]




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[*] posted on 6-11-2020 at 08:32


It might not be strictly related to liability. Large companies often don't want to deal with small orders due overhead costs that are fixed or don't scale linearly. It's a lot faster and more efficient to process and ship a large order to one customer for $5-10k versus several small orders to several customers for $5-10k.

[Edited on 11-6-2020 by monolithic]
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[*] posted on 6-11-2020 at 09:43


Money and liability. Private sales have returning rights and other stuff, and common order is like 30 dollars + shipping, while a company or institution may slam a $10k order. Doesn't just pay off to deal with privates.
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[*] posted on 6-11-2020 at 09:54


Quote: Originally posted by Fyndium  
common order is like 30 dollars + shipping


Oh really? I found that my average spending per one order is much more.

Also, when I tried to open account on Fisher I filled how much my company plan to spend each month for chemicals. Also I proposed them solution to get parcels on different address if the address of company registration is a problem. But I think they were clear about the reason in the response.

[Edited on 6-11-2020 by teodor]

[Edited on 6-11-2020 by teodor]
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[*] posted on 6-11-2020 at 10:57


I think @B(a)P, and @monolithic pretty much nailed it.
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[*] posted on 6-11-2020 at 11:29


Quote: Originally posted by teodor  
Quote: Originally posted by Fyndium  
common order is like 30 dollars + shipping


Oh really? I found that my average spending per one order is much more.

Also, when I tried to open account on Fisher I filled how much my company plan to spend each month for chemicals. Also I proposed them solution to get parcels on different address if the address of company registration is a problem. But I think they were clear about the reason in the response.

[Edited on 6-11-2020 by teodor]

[Edited on 6-11-2020 by teodor]


Yes but your orders are still tiny and sporadic compared to the large and repeated orders of a pharma company or a university. Also consider how "the systems" of a chemical supplier are set up. Individuals typically want to pay by credit card or PayPal which have % processing fees, if these suppliers even have these payment methods available. Institutions pay via ACH, wire, or checks, which are closer to flat fee. Again, variable fee on large numbers of small dollar value orders (plus employee overhead in paying someone to manage these payments and the headaches associated with PayPal/credit card chargebacks) versus relatively fixed fees on small numbers of large dollar value orders that flow through a bank account in an order manner. It's kind of the same reason why no one would even try to buy paper towels or shampoo from Procter & Gamble unless they're in the inventory purchasing department of WalMart, because it's unlikely P&G even has the payment processing systems in place to deal with consumer-level purchases, much less the desire to deal with consumer-level purchases.
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[*] posted on 6-11-2020 at 11:51


@monolithic, there is some known method to make revenue on small orders - selling by catalogue, when the price per kg dramatically raise when you buy smaller quantity. To name only one company which very successful uses this approach to sell electronic components for decades I can name Farnell. It is very close to selling chemicals because the assortment is wide as well also there are various restrictions in selling e.g. military precision components etc to some countries and so on.
So, why they can use this model and supply big producing companies, R&D, repair shops as well as individuals very well but chemical suppliers had failed?


[Edited on 6-11-2020 by teodor]
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[*] posted on 6-11-2020 at 12:33


Quote: Originally posted by teodor  
@monolithic, there is some known method to make revenue on small orders - selling by catalogue, when the price per kg dramatically raise when you buy smaller quantity. To name only one company which very successful uses this approach to sell electronic components for decades I can name Farnell. It is very close to selling chemicals because the assortment is wide as well also there are various restrictions in selling e.g. military precision components etc to some countries and so on.
So, why they can use this model and supply big producing companies, R&D, repair shops as well as individuals very well but chemical suppliers had failed?


[Edited on 6-11-2020 by teodor]


My guess is that there is more of a precedence for selling electronics to amateurs than there is for selling chemicals to amateurs. So quantifiable factors (SG&A expense) plus less quantifiable / more qualitative factors (brand/reputation liability, precedence, etc.) rolled up into a loose "return on investment" analysis: they don't think it's worth their time to sell to amateurs, for a number of reasons. I really don't agree with it, and I am thankful for companies like ChemSavers, but I can understand "some" aspects of it since I deal with B2B transactions professionally.
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[*] posted on 6-11-2020 at 13:04


No, Farnell biggest part of the market is not amateurs. I worked with them as a kind of a local distributor, and their market were companies, but their business model doesn't create problems to sell to amateurs. Because even a big plant can buy some components in very small quantities, let say, to repair their production line they need 1 piece but they buy 10 for future. So, the order size is not dependent on the company. It was amazing to get one order from spacecraft development department from Moscow and the next one from amateur building Hi-Fi amplifier in Belarus (their orders were quite comparable by size). And their model allowed to support both R&D and future mass production of systems.
Also I worked (in the Netherlands) 2 years as a developer of logistic systems (I didn't like that because I have specialisation as a system programmer, but it was some period in my life), so I know what modern warehouses, order processing, logistics really are - they are 90% automatised, even packing an order into a box now in more and more case are performed by robotics devices. The only 2 problems we were limited by - a tricky packing (like when you want to fit one additional pencil into the box full of paper using available holes, and we had a client who wanted it, and this possibility of packing was calculated by system) and combining normal shop/warehouse operations and internet ordering in the same logistic system (people from NL know what Jumbo supermarket is - one of our clients). So, I don't know what is the additional cost of processing more orders if you can get any revenue from that. Well, in Christmas time we had some more work to monitor the system performance.


[Edited on 6-11-2020 by teodor]
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[*] posted on 6-11-2020 at 14:27


That’s all well and good, but there are still fundamental difference between selling electronics and chemicals to hobbyists:

1. There are a lot more amateur electronics hobbyists than amateur chemists

2. Amateur electronics has been more widely accepted by society

3. There is no potential liability with selling electronic components to individuals, unless they use them to build a bomb, but even then, the scrutiny generally isn’t on “how were they able to acquire all of these electrical components?” It’s always “how did they get/make the explosives?”

4. Electronic components are easy and inexpensive to ship. Many chemicals require expensive HazMat shipping which makes small quantities of such chemicals exorbitantly expensive.

5. There are codes and regulations for storing some chemicals. Individuals, while they may handle their chemicals safely, are not likely to follow local fire codes and other regulations to the letter, and this becomes another potential source of liability. Electronic component sellers don’t need to worry about whether you’re keeping your diodes and resistors stored separately, or whether your capacitors are stored in a locked, fire-proof cabinet.

6. There are many non-hobbyist uses for electronic components too: primarily in automotive repair and home improvement.




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[*] posted on 6-11-2020 at 17:26


Quote: Originally posted by teodor  
@woelen I know about this company but it always was the case I checked their catalogue and didn't find what I need. Like now, I need a sodium metal, and this is not particular rare chemical, but they have no it. So, I would prefer to put the order to s3chemicals

Well, if labstuff.nl only adds a fee of around 1€ per chemical...
S3 adds a fee of around 12€ per chemical.

If the former will, just as the latter, get you everything you demand from the suppliers of your choice, it doesn't sound that bad to me.
I know I got lots of quite critical things from S3 over the years, always friendly, always helpful.
But the fee per each chemical is still a little bit offturning to me.
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[*] posted on 6-11-2020 at 17:42


Funny thing that every single package that has been opened by the customs for me has contained electronic components.

I think 12$ per item is not a bad thing if they really get you basically the full catalogue. Just order a bit more to compensate. They probably cover some of their own costs with that too.

What I wonder if big chem firms would stop shipping to certain companies because they retail their items to private consumers. I would see that Sigma wouldn't like that S3 drop-ships their precious stuff to anyone. At least Fischer and some other have actually a condition in their agreement forms that the items they supply must not be resold either to anyone or to private persons.
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[*] posted on 6-11-2020 at 18:14


It really sucks that they try to make it hard for an individual with spare income to play around with chemicals for fun


Like, sometimes I see a fun reaction in the Journal of Organic Chemistry and I just want to do it myself, just because its fun. A professor is not gonna spend their grant money for me to dick around with chemicals for the hell of it.

If I had a big chemical business, then I could do the hobby on the side, but I haven't started a lucrative business.

[Edited on 11-7-2020 by Cou]




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[*] posted on 6-11-2020 at 18:32


I don't think they offer that in general to every customer, you need to have a history with them.
At least something along those lines, as they have told me when they started such a program for commercial customers.

And no, 12€ isn't that bad, but 1€ would be preferred of course :D
It still doesn't match up if you buy a dozen of items already having a low price, and you don't even require the small quantities you are going to purchase.
Thats sometimes up to twice as much of the usual price just in fees.
That really makes you consider checking with one of the reputable sellers on here instead.
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[*] posted on 6-11-2020 at 21:33
ChemSavers


I never had a problem with them but their
prices and shipping can be VERY expensive
depending on what you order.




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[*] posted on 7-11-2020 at 04:26


I agree with you, @Texium and think you have mentioned all the important point, so now we have a list of important pecularities. But the next question, why we have these:

Quote: Originally posted by Texium (zts16)  

1. There are a lot more amateur electronics hobbyists than amateur chemists
2. Amateur electronics has been more widely accepted by society
3. There is no potential liability with selling electronic components to individuals, unless they use them to build a bomb, but even then, the scrutiny generally isn’t on “how were they able to acquire all of these electrical components?” It’s always “how did they get/make the explosives?”
6. There are many non-hobbyist uses for electronic components too: primarily in automotive repair and home improvement.


Point 3 and 6 are something we need to define better, I think.

You know, the history of chemical misusing is very old. As one example King Alexander II of Russia was killed by home-made bomb in 1879. But before the very last period nobody asked the question "how were they able to acquire all of these chemicals?". So, I think it is already consequence of the state when unavailability of chemicals is considered as a normal state.

And 6. Why and when pure chemicals were stopped to use? I remember the time when every educated enough family in SU bought bare, pure chemicals for doing something like photography, gardening, household needs (still have several books with recipes of solution for things like change property of wood, cloth, destroying spots etc etc) and electronics & metalworking & art as well not to mention nice chemical demonstrations for children. And today we have no less application for chemicals than for electronic components. It is just something else.


[Edited on 7-11-2020 by teodor]
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