What's new
  • Guest
    As per our long standing policy of not permitting medical advice on the forum - all threads concerning the Coronavirus will be locked.
    For more info on the coronavirus please see the link below:
    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html

Castle Forbes: Some info from the director Mr Andrew French

Here is an email I just received.
-------------------------------

Dear Mr Angelopoulos,

First of all I would like to thank you again for your kind, helpful and very welcome notification on what some of the participants have posted on Badger and Blade about our products and sampling. Also to apologise, I was called out of the country unexpectedly and only returned last night.

Since my last e mail, where I mentioned that we do not go onto the Forums as they are not our prerogative as a manufacturer to participate, I have, on this occasion, as you suggested, followed the thread you sent just so that I could see and ascertain for myself the feelings being expressed.

As a company we do not yet provide samples though we have been intending to do so for some time. We are striving to keep up with retail production and once we can get on top of this we hope to make some sample production runs, meanwhile we hand fill some pots and vials when we are able and post them out. Because sending samples from here in the UK is difficult and unreliable we made an arrangement with a company in the US to send out samples against customer e mail requests. Sadly this system didn't work as we were let down on so many occasions when we presumed samples had been sent, that we no longer work with them. We have, however, known that companies such as QED and Vintage Blades will supply customers either upon request or with orders. When I met Jim from Vintage recently I promised to replace the stock he had used for these samples. We have recently added Cathy at Colonial Drug to this list who is happy to send out samples and we have forwarded requests onto her. As I am sure you are aware, in order to maintain our specific quality, we can only manufacture batches of our shave cream which make 500 pots of 200 mls at a time. Any larger, and the cream is so solid it won't come out of the mixing vessel, any smaller and we get liquid 'soup'! As you also know we do not use the manufacturers used by our famous competitors. I devised the formulation with the help a Cosmetic Chemist friend. My background is perfumery and I have been involved in creating fragrances for some 35 years but, although being in the industry, had never been able to find a shaving cream which worked for me well enough not to have to shave twice a day. Knowing that there must be other 'suffers' out there we endeavoured to create a shave cream that was different and worked for problem shavers like myself! Thus the Castle Forbes Shaving range was born.

At this stage I should confirm that I had tried everything on the market and would be the first in the queue for anything new. I also have an allegiance to Trumper's as I have been having my hair cut there for about 25 years.

Castle Forbes is a very small family owned business, just the Forbes and the Frenches, but run by my wife Judy and I and we do not have the infrastructure like the other more established British brands. Our emphasis and ethos is always on best quality and passion for our brand and we are continually trying to improve our customer service.

In the US we have a new Pick and Pack warehouse in Baltimore called LCG who has received high praise from our US retailers which is very rewarding. We regularly visit our US stockists and have been told that we are the only UK proprietors to do so. We believe that if someone is prepared to stock our product we would like to support them. We offer personal product training where requested and hold shaving events, especially in Saks stores, where we bring over a British Master Barber to give free shaves and advice on how to get the best possible shave using our products. Though offered, this service is rarely taken up by our independent stores as they are mostly barbers who already have the required expertise and don't need lessons from us i.e. Truefitt and Hill, Chicago, Aidan Gill, New Orleans etc.

We have a small, but growing, number of outlets in the US (approx 25), and indeed in Europe, who are very loyal to us and in exchange we offer proper continued exclusivity. Exclusivity is important to us as, we do not want to be impossible to find but seek to open stores who truly understand and are passionate about their stores, their brands and their customers'. In fact, the stores we supply to in the US either approached us directly themselves or were approached by us on the recommendation of CF users seeking a stockist in their area. I appreciate that one of B&B's members was obviously very frustrated by us but you can be assured that we will not be selling in Target. We are upset to find out that customers feel so badly let down by us and apologise for doing so. The customer in N. California was not to know that Judy had indeed sprayed off some fragrance samples to send to him but we do have a problem, 'padded envelope syndrome' our letters rarely go astray but padded envelopes do frequently!

We hope that this clears up a few issues, we always try to respond to our customers. The Cedarwood & Sandalwood was created in response to CF customer requests for those wanting natural antibacterial preparations that did not contain Tea Tree Oil, similarly The Pre-Shave and the biggest bug bear of them all, our woefully out of date web site, the new one should be on line in mid July.

Unfortunately we do not have any outlets in Greece but if you know of anyone who might be interested in stocking CF we will certainly contact them for you.

Again my thanks to you for taking the time and the trouble to let me know that we had a problem.

Best wishes,
Andrew

Andrew French
Director

The Private Perfumery At Castle Forbes, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
Tel: +44 (0)1483 730944
Fax: +44 (0)1483 730945
web: www.castleforbes.com
 
Good read and very informative buy my beef still stands with Castle Forbes.
If they can't provide samples then Judy should not promise samples. Maybe she made a mistake in which she could have said so in my last 4 unreturned emails to CF.
 

Hoos

Contributor
First, I appreciate Mr. French's explanations. In today's world, we (by which I mean me and others undetermined) expect immediate gratification. Waiting is something that we can be horribly bad about, and we can forget that life crops up and things happen and that we sometimes just need to be patient.

Second, I thought I was good about waiting before sending my second follow up email. Neither of which were, apparently, deigned response-worthy. So be it. That is certainly an option anyone receiving an email has: no response.

Third, assuming I'm the "customer in N. California" to whom he alludes, I certainly understand that problems come up and appreciate that they did send off samples to me that never arrived.

Now.

I would proffer that misleading customers by offering samples that one does not in fact offer is just poor sportsmanship. Failing to inform said customer that one made a mistake in the offering is poor customer service. A simple "Hoos, I'm sorry that I said we could provide samples. It is not our policy and I apologize." would have gone a long way in smoothing over any rough edges.

It does not, however, explain why Castle Forbes never deigned to respond to my emails or to provide me with the name or website link for their Southern California stockist (they have one - they told me so) despite two requests for that. I understand that Mr. and Mrs. French appear to be the sole employees of CF. If you are already overwhelmed to the point that responding to emails from people who may one day buy your products is raising a sweat, might I suggest more employees? Or interns?

Yes, we have other options. Jim at Vintage Blades was very generous in providing me samples when I requested them. He's a stand up vendor: he very clearly told me how to obtain samples, I followed his instructions, I received them (see how that works, CF?). That does not mollify the feeling of poor treatment from CF.

Certainly we understand CF is a small operation, creating quality products. There's never been any argument about that.

But don't treat me like an ignorant colonial doffer. Poor service is poor service and any man's money spends as well as the next. This is not a labor of love, CF is looking to at the very least break even (if not make a profit) on a business. So get off that snootiness train. Exclusive does not equal being dismissive of potential customers.

Let's compare my CF experience to a similar one with L'Artisan (granted that they are a somewhat larger outfit):

I placed an order for samples with L'Artisan two weeks ago. As of today, they had not arrived and their site showed the order was still in process though my card had been charged. I emailed them and received a response in less than two minutes apologizing, explaining the situation, and offering me another five samples of my choosing at no cost.

Now, between CF and L'Artisan, who will get my business? Hmmmm. I wonder.

Guess which experience I tell my friends about? And recommend them to "check out the offerings"? Guess which company I don't discuss, unless the topic of bad customer service comes up?

Perhaps CF is going through growing pains and I'm being too harsh in my simple assessment of my experience. I'll own up to that. And I'll consider buying their products. When they begin treating customers like the valued piece of the equation that we are.
 
The bottom line is CF shave cream is the standard against which all others should be measured. If you get upset over an issue involving samples and don't want to buy their products because of that your just biting off your nose to spite your face.
 

Isaac

B&B Tease-in-Residence
Moderator Emeritus
The bottom line is CF shave cream is the standard against which all others should be measured. If you get upset over an issue involving samples and don't want to buy their products because of that your just biting off your nose to spite your face.
That says it all....
 

Hoos

Contributor
That says it all....
Actually, no it doesn't. It says nothing at all.

The quality of the products was never in question. In facts, the quality of any of their products was never an issue or mentioned as such.

It was the poor customer service relationships that several people experienced.

If CF had been direct and clear in their communications from the start, it would have avoided all of this.

Yes, people are free to use their products. I prefer to spend my money with companies that provide an outstanding product and that value the customer and the experience the customer has with them.

Others can, of course, feel differently.
 

Isaac

B&B Tease-in-Residence
Moderator Emeritus
Actually, no it doesn't. It says nothing at all.

The quality of the products was never in question. In facts, the quality of any of their products was never an issue or mentioned as such.

It was the poor customer service relationships that several people experienced.

If CF had been direct and clear in their communications from the start, it would have avoided all of this.

Yes, people are free to use their products. I prefer to spend my money with companies that provide an outstanding product and that value the customer and the experience the customer has with them.

Others can, of course, feel differently.
With small companies such as this, us as consumers are lucky that they even have a website that we are able to communicate with them...and voice our displeasures. The fact that the director responded to the email and stated he looked at the forum says alot. Im not bashing anyone here...but sometimes, we are spoiled by some of the super customer relations that have developed among our vendors.
 
The bottom line is CF shave cream is the standard against which all others should be measured. If you get upset over an issue involving samples and don't want to buy their products because of that your just biting off your nose to spite your face.
Give me a break. It's about customer service and they have none!
Their product is good but I can name many that are as good or even better. So who am I going to shop with?
As I stated in a earlier thread, it's the principle of the matter. Judy should not have said she would send some samples and never send anything. Then never to return a email again which is really my problem.
I think I can live without Castle Forbes thanks so I bite my thumb at you.
 
I think Mr. French did his best to let you know what the problem was. They were contracting their U.S. sample deliveries to a third party. That third party screwed up, badly.

I can imagine that your e-mails were being sent to that third party and that someone at Castle Forbes was anticipating your problem would be corrected.

You received an apology, so in the gentlemanly spirit of B&B, you could just forgive them and move on. You don't want to create another "How to Be a Good Server" thread lol.
 
Hmm.

Based on this email looks like Castle Forbes cares about their customers to me. That was quite a long email. If CF did not care about their customers I don't think Mr. French would waste his time typing out a thesis if he didn't care.

I was wondering if I was ever going to pick some up based on their (somewhat prohibitive) price. I now may be picking some up in the future.
 
I think Mr. French did his best to let you know what the problem was. They were contracting their U.S. sample deliveries to a third party. That third party screwed up, badly.

I can imagine that your e-mails were being sent to that third party and that someone at Castle Forbes was anticipating your problem would be corrected.

You received an apology, so in the gentlemanly spirit of B&B, you could just forgive them and move on. You don't want to create another "How to Be a Good Server" thread lol.
My emails went to Castle Forbes directly. An apology three months after the fact, better late than never I guess.
Maybe Andrew and Judy should talk a little and get their stories straight to help solve some problems.
 
You guys should get a grip. With most companies including huge ones if you write to the manufacturer you would be lucky to get any response at all. They would send you some stock letter advising you to contact the retailer. I don't know how many times I tried to contact someone at some large corporation about a product issue and I either get some call center in India where I can't understand what they are saying and even if I can they can't help me anyway or I e-mail them and most of the time I get no response. Call GM with issues concerning your new Buick and you think they will really help you? yea you'll get a letter saying someone from Buick will contact you and that will be passed down to their Regional office and then to the District office and then to your local retailer. And thats a company with hundreds of Customer Service people.

A manufacturer like CF is really small like just a couple of people. If you contact their retailers you will get great customer service and that is the way it should work. If they had to answer customer inquiries they would have to hire someone just to do that. Besides quite honestly I can't see why an end user for a product like this would need to call the manufacturer. If I want to buy the item and have questions about it I go to the retailer and its done. Why would I need to contact the manufacturer unless they sell direct? If you want samples and the retailer says they have none and you want to complain to the manufacturer that's really a non issue to me.
 
I can vouch for his statement that they do visit the companies that stock their supplies. In talking with a salesperson at my local Saks, she told me that the owner himself had come there in the recent past and gave them all a demonstration of the product, so I think these guys probably do more than most to promote their product. Obviously they are trying to jump into this market at the upper end - they want this to be a luxury item.
 
As long as I don't get moobs from Castle Forbes, I will remain a groupie :) I am scraping together the cash for some Keig as we speak. Type. Whatever.
 
Something very surprising showed up in the mail today. A bunch or Castle Forbes samples. Creams, balms, pre-shave, colognes (even included the limited edition Neroli).
So I tip my hat at you Castle Forbes for listening to the customer and explaining the bumps in the road for a small establishment.
I do the love the lime scent of the cream which was my main objective from the start. I also eat my words for saying I would not purchase a Castle Forbes product again.....the lime shaving cream will be next on my list.
Thank you,
Andrew
 
Something very surprising showed up in the mail today. A bunch or Castle Forbes samples. Creams, balms, pre-shave, colognes (even included the limited edition Neroli).
So I tip my hat at you Castle Forbes for listening to the customer and explaining the bumps in the road for a small establishment.
I do the love the lime scent of the cream which was my main objective from the start. I also eat my words for saying I would not purchase a Castle Forbes product again.....the lime shaving cream will be next on my list.
Thank you,
Andrew
Wow. Look at that. They sent the Neroli too? Impressive!

Sometimes a little bitching is the only way to get what you want. :tongue_sm Congrats! Enjoy -- they make great stuff. I love their lime cream too.
 
Something very surprising showed up in the mail today. A bunch or Castle Forbes samples. Creams, balms, pre-shave, colognes (even included the limited edition Neroli).
So I tip my hat at you Castle Forbes for listening to the customer and explaining the bumps in the road for a small establishment.
I do the love the lime scent of the cream which was my main objective from the start. I also eat my words for saying I would not purchase a Castle Forbes product again.....the lime shaving cream will be next on my list.
Thank you,
Andrew
Wow, nice score. Very jealous. I can't help but think if I'd complained more vociferously I'd have samples of their full line as well. But I only sent two or three emails :blush:
 
Top