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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Final Thoughts on the Alchimia Apothecary Controversy

So…I’ve been avoiding commenting on the Alchimia drama because it got big and ugly. But I think I should just post my thoughts to clarify my position.

Rob from Alchimia posted this reply in response to all the accusations:

Screenshot taken Aug 15, 2014, original post here

While I think that they addressed minor annoyances customers may have, I think they didn’t address some of the more important issues as to why people are upset with Alchimia.

1. Knowingly selling Shaman even though they themselves know the oil is going wrong.

Their excuse:

"The screenshot depicting the emails about Shaman... Shaman has already been reworked, birch tar removed. We now use our other campfire note so it's not exactly as smoky as we had initially intended, but it doesn't morph in the bottle like it does with birch tar. This isn't a hot selling item so I didn't feel it necessary to make a huge announcement about it's change. Rest assured, we would never sell something that we know had such a problem. I'd also like to note that in the space of time between the first email about shaman and the second, no further purchases were made for shaman so there wasn't a need to change it immediately."

Why I don’t agree with it:  You re-worked it, great. But why won’t you let me mention in my blog that it’s being re-worked? Why didn’t you unlist it when you know there’s something going wrong? So what if no one bought it, what if somebody did? Are you going to tell them there’s something wrong with it and you’ll offer a refund if they didn’t like it? Did you proactively offer that to clients who already bought Shaman before you discovered the issue?

So many indie brands I know have issued recalls for products that they think is going wrong, or openly admitted there’s something wrong and offer the products on sale. I admire them for it. 
What Alchimia did is just sleazy.

2. Erin generally not being a nice person.

Their excuse: Paraphrasing them, it's all the internet. Tone just doesn't come across right on the internet.

Why I don’t agree with it: One or two problematic replies, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt. I gave her the benefit of the doubt when her email replies to me started getting curt and rude. I thought it was just me. But many? With multiple customers complaining? There’s a pattern there. I don’t see any possible misunderstanding when she claims her make up needs to be removed from a price comparison list because her ingredients were better.

She has no problem coming off as friendly in the beginning, when I was discussing my future purchases. That’s why I offered to help her get the agarwood oil, at the personal discount I got. I didn’t charge her anything for the effort I took to get it for her, for the packaging I used to ship the oil or for the gas I used up going to the warehouse twice (first time to let her know how everything smelled, second time to get her the oil she wanted). I got paid the price I paid for the oil (using my discount) and shipping. That’s it. This is the treatment I got:

This is how she was in the beginning.

Blaming everything on tone is a cheap excuse. And for the record, I contacted /u/BNSquash to ask if Alchimia reached out to her friend since the mods claimed they’ve given his info to Alchimia to reach out to him.

Nope. Alchimia never did reach out to him. I have problems believing the authenticity of an apology if it’s only public.

3. Everyone who disagrees with us is mean.

I cannot put a better counterargument than /u/concreteroads’ reply:

Screenshot taken Aug 15, 2014, original post here

This is Rob’s reply:

Why I disagree with it: I definitely respect Rob for at least not editing the original post, but again, I think blaming everything on people misunderstanding your intentions is a cheap way out. In their apology, they haven't addressed several concerns people have. I'm glad it's not true that they try to silence bad reviews, and I won't hold crazy fans against the owners. Anything negative about Alchimia on IMAM does tend to get downvoted like crazy, and people end up self-censoring. It's bad, but I'm not going to hold the owners responsible for that. What I do hold them responsible for is their attitude, and how they personally treat bad reviews or anything remotely negative. Here's an example of a reply Erin left behind on a critical blog post:

This is probably my final say on this drama unless something else develops. I still have products to review, but I'm not sure when I'll blog about them. It's tiring dealing with all the drama and I rather prioritize reviewing brands with owners who deserve some publicity. 

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