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Problems with Stuller


#1

Hello all-

=46irst of all I guess I should say I am not new to the jewelry
community. I have been a jeweler for over ten years. I work
independently and have a small business. In fact I recently made the
business into a corporation. I sell mostly through shows and word of
mouth. I work primarily in silver but after decade I have built very
strong customer base who return regularly for new pieces. So I guess
you could say that business is good.

After all this time I really felt I had a good handle on suppliers
and sources. One of the cornerstones of my business is fanatical
customer service. I really pride myself on filling customer requests.
Lately the requests have be for gold jewelry. Specifically 14kt
diamond studs, hoops and band rings. I even had requests for wedding
sets and gold puzzle rings. Fairly normal stuff.

I don’t work in gold. I am just one of these weirdos that prefers
silver and there are several good custom goldsmiths in my area that
I would prefer not to compete with. But my customers told me that
they would prefer to buy gold from a jeweler they knew.
Understandable.

Now I thought I had the perfect solution. A couple months ago I
called up Andy Kroungold and requested a Stuller catalog. Andy posts
regularly here on Orchid as a representative of Stuller. He has said
more that once to call if you want a catalog. So I did just that.
When we spoke he assured me that once I had a catalog in hand I
would be able order whatever I desired.

Imagine my excitement when I saw Stullers Finished Jewelry Catalog.
Here was jewelry I’d be delighted to offer my clients. Everything was
gorgeous. And everything my customers asked for was here. So I made
up an order. Since the catalog Andy sent didn’t include exact prices
(they are counter catalogs) I assumed I had chosen about $3000 worth
of items. A couple of my regulars even picked out pieces and cut me
checks. Which I accepted because Andy said I could buy whatever I
wanted. Let me say I would have never accepted those checks if I
hadn’t trusted Andy and accepted his word as truth. Well guess
what? Andy wasn’t telling me the truth. I called Stuller this past
Monday. They would not take my order. Why? Because I didn’t have a
Stuller account. Well lets open one I said. Can’t do it. Why? Because
I cannot provide invoices proving I bought a “substantial amount” of
gold recently. Well yes that’s because I am a silversmith. I called
them because I wanted to buy finished gold jewelry. Interestingly
they didn’t seem to care that I was an established business or that
one of their employees had completely mislead me. Nor did they care I
had funds in hand to spend on their items. What they cared about was
that I could not provide at least 2 invoices from two different
suppliers showing sufficient gold purchased. Incidentally the few
bits of gold I buy now and then to accent my silver work from Rio do
not count. It has to be “a quantity of finished ready to sell gold
jewelry”. What that exact quantity is they would not say. I offered
to send business documentation or pay by bank check. "Nope ma’am we
can’t take your order without an approved account. Oh and that Andy
is sure a character. He should have never sent you catalogs at all."
Completely ridiculous.

I have since called back twice to speak to a mysterious manager who
might be empowered to make an exception. But they are never
available to speak to me. Surprise. I have been told I can order
tools if I want to though. Lovely. Tools I do not need. I have
enough tool to outfit 4 benches. What I need a reliable source of
finished gold jewelry. I am so angry I could spit.

So here’s my plead. Where does one order small amounts of finished
gold jewelry at a reasonable price. I don’t need to fill cases and
cases but I do need selection. Rios nice but a larger selection
would be better and if I could also get a counter catalog to share
with customers well that would be a huge plus. Stuller obviously
isn’t interested in my hard earned money so who is?

Amy


#2

Hello Amy, Interesting story. I am starting up a store and was
interested in some of the finished jewelry from Stuller - this option
is not my first choice, but for reasons of diversification (and
speed) I considered it necessary. So I contacted Andy Kroungold, got
the catalogs and then the troubles started. I have been buying tools
from Stuller in Pittsburgh before. I sent an email to the manager
over there, he ordered the stuff and I picked it up. After a while I
got tired of driving up to Pitts (one hour from here only to pick up
tools), and I stopped with it. It was impossible to deliver the tools
at my place, because I didn’t have an account. The rest of the story
is a conversation between someone who speaks and someone who is deaf.
Kroungold told me that I had an account and when I explained to him
how things worked, he insisted that I had an account. I never had an
account, at least not that I know. I could only order via the
manager. It made me angry but the conclusion is clear: for what
concerns me Stuller can keep their stuff and they lost a customer.
There are other places to go to where people are not creating
problems. Hope you get to solve your problem. Best, Will


#3

Amy, I have to tell you that I am surprised at what you experienced
with Stuller, because my experience with them was so different. I
am a small silversmithing biz who also wanted to expand and order
metals and some finished jewelry in both gold and silver. I called
them and signed up for an account. I had to provide documentation
of 2 gold purchases from 2 different vendors… they didn’t quibble
over the size of purchases at all. My total gold purchases had been
really tiny ($26 from one vendor and $45 from another), simply
because I wasn’t using it in my work. I faxed over my business
documentation and copies of the 2 invoices I had showing those gold
purchases and my account was set up. I got a wonderful "welcome"
package in the mail several days later, with a nice offer to cover
shipping costs on my first order.

I’ve since ordered a couple of ready-made pieces from them for
customers, including one through their “have it your way” program –
you pick out the stones and the setting and they mount, finish, and
polish the piece and ship it to you. Along the way with the have it
your way order, I had to make about 8 phone calls to them because of
changes and questions from my customer. Everyone I spoke to was
very helpful and very nice. The order came earlier than I expected
it and was beautiful.

I have heard on this list about how tough it is to get an account
with them set up. I was lucky and jumped through the hoops and got
the account with no trouble. But I can say that it HAS been worth
it. They are a true wholesaler and are rigorous about protecting
their status in the industry. Having been through their catalogs
and seen their merchandise, I can see why. They provide a LOT of
support to their account holders in terms of advertising
camera-ready, database data for your website, a "virtual inventory"
module for a storefront, etc., all of which could be a real problem
if they weren’t as protective of their customer base as they are.

My advice would be to keep trying to reach that manager. Keep in
mind that this is a time of year when lots of folks take vacations,
so perhaps that’s what you’re running into. Don’t be afraid to
escalate your request, either.

Best wishes,
Karen Goeller
@Karen_Goeller
No Limitations Designs
215-794-8105

P.S. - As a fellow Orchidian, if you want help fulfilling that order
from Stuller, don’t hesitate to contact me. I’ll be happy to try and
help.


#4

Will,

I have worked with Stuller for 20 years. I think that it may be
worth those of you that are having a problem to find out how to meet
their requirements. They are one of the finest companies to work
with. Absolutely the most informed customer service reps I have ever
worked with, they have helped me solve problems. Saved ne time and
money. Call and find out Matt Stullers e-mail address and tell him
your situation. I believe there will be a favorable resolution.
They have been great about returns, when a customer did not come
back on time and then decided what I ordered did not meet their need,
they allowed me to send it back past what their return policy
states. Several times. One satisfied customer, Richard Hart


#5

I hear a lot of people having problems with Stuller. I am a very
small jeweler, place small orders, and I have never had a problem of
any kind. Stuller does go a long ways to make sure that you have a
legitimate business before selling to you. They are a wholesaler and
will not do business with people that are not in the business and
that’s ok with me. I get tired of trying to compete with the hobbiest
or an individual that just wants to buy his supplies wholesale. I
would suggest that anyone that wants an account simply ask for an
application, fill it out and mail it back in. If you have a resale
number, business bank account and the trade references they request I
bet you have no problem. That is just what I did and I have an open
account and can order anything they sell over the Web or by phone or
fax. Catalogs are easy to get from almost anyone, it’s placing an
order that requires an account.


#6

Perhaps if enough of us email, or call, or snail mail our irritation
with Stuller, they will listen. I’ve used them for more than 15
years with few problems, but from time to time they really irritate
me with something. I use them because they have enormous selection,
fast and cheap shipping, a good online ordering system and reasonable
prices. Matt Stuller has grown his business to make it nearly
indispensible to many a jeweler. It is so nice to be able to get
most of your needs, be it tools, gold, silver, stones, finished
goods, packaging, whatever, in one order. Still, they aren’t
perfect, and their attitude towards some smaller operators seems to
be miserable. I can appreciate keeping the retail customers out of
the loop, but it seems there are any number of small operators who
could be legitimate customers if they would change there ‘criteria’.
Hey Matt, are you listening? Small time operators are often
legitimately in business and need/want your stuff, too. Make enough
small guys mad, and you are only helping the other guys get an edge,
so pay attention. Jim


#7

My experience has been that Andy Kroungold truly can work miracles
at Stuller. He has been true to his word and removed all the
obstacles we were having with Stuller as a new store that was not a
traditional jewelry retailer.

Tim


#8

I would have to agree with Karen,about Stuller. They are generally
2nd to none on their customer service. Very rare to recieve a
backorder status on an item from them. I find the biggest problem
with them,is if you are unclear about an item on a faxed order, they
will hold up a shipment till they get a clarification from you, so
that they don’t ship your order incorrectly.Thats not their mistake,
its my own,but it is the tuffest situation I have ever ran into with
them. And their quality is always pretty decent too.They are not
necessarily the cheapest price on alot of items,but as you probably
already know,you usually only get what you pay for-nothing
more,nothing less.I’ve been a steady customer of theirs for about 12
years,and wish more suppliers ran their business like them. My wife
and I are even planning on going to a seminar / openhouse-tour
/convention like deal in louisianna at the Stuller headquarters in a
month or 2.They will have alot of tool demonstrations,and I’m looking
to buy a laser welder.If anyone out there is well versed with laser
welders. I sure would like to hear from you, so I will know what I
should be looking for. If you like, contact me directly at
@edlap Ed


#9

Welllll, I’m a small time operater…have been for many of the 20
years I’ve been dealing with Stuller. Oh, I’ve dealt with a dozen or
so others but always came back to Stuller because they have the
selection. But more than that-- in those 20 years, Stuller only sent
me a wrong item ONCE and they made it good. Other than that, they
have never missed an item and have never missed a delivery time
(though UPS was late once or twice).

Even when I was pretty much out of the business for a few years and
ordered maybe only a couple of hundred $s of stuff in a year, they
still treated me as if I was their best customer. They always sent me
new catalogs, were friendly and helpful when I asked questions or
needed special help.

Yeah, they could change their policy but just think what it might do
to that outstanding service. If they added a couple of thousand
little guys, would they be able to handle it with their staff?
Chances are they would have to hire a bunch more people, add a bunch
more systems and probably just grow too big like many other companies
have in the past few years. When you look at the whole picture,
there are plenty of other suppliers out there…some with prices as
good or better than Stuller and some have things they don’t (I still
purchase items from Rio I can’t get at Stuller). So, rather than
make an issue of it, look for the supplier(s) that are right for you
and stick with them.

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut2


#10

Hi fellow orchid members

I too have had difficulty with stuller. I have a wholesale business
that I run on a shoe string doing repairs for three retail stores. I
don’t have a resellers number because I don’t sell anything that
would need to be taxed and was refused by stuller. My accounts have
no trouble with the IRS just giving my s. s. number, I don’t see why
stuller should have a problem selling me findings and solder but
they do. So I buy locally or with other Companies and so far I have
only run into one or two times when stuller was the only one who had
what I needed, Then I ask one of my accounts to get it for me, which
was a little embarrassing and it cost me some profit and a favor.
Stullers convenient but a little too picky if you ask me. if you
need a list of companies I buy from E-mail me off digest. I’ll be
happy to pass there names on. Sincerely,

ROBERT L. MARTIN
Gold Smith / Diamond Setter
27 years experience
yukhan@aol.com
<>< john 3:16


#11

Hi All’ I have had similar experience with these folks. I even went
to the trouble of supplying them with all the info they wanted, and
opened a ‘Credit Card’ account. In the meantime I re-worked my shop,
wasn’t making anything for a while, then when I called and wanted to
place an order, they didn’t have my info any more, and wanted me to
’start all over’.

Well, to condense this a bit, they were originally a bit rude and
pompous, and now, I just think I will spend my money elsewhere. They
may have the attitude that they are the best, but if your PR is not
good what’s it worth!

I forgot to mention that when I originally set up my account with
these folks, I was inundated with sales promos and many numerous
mailings. IMHO that money would have been better spent on a PR
manager! They might be GOOD, but they are not NICE. Gail


#12

For what it involves, maybe it would be a good idea to have a
resellers cert anyway. Here (North Carolina), at least, you are
required to file a sales tax return even if you owe nothing on sales
because you most likely WILL owe something on purchases not for
resale. IE, tools and things we must pay sales tax on. With the
cert, you can then satisfy Stulller’s needs. While I was a bit
critical of their attitude in my last post with regards to who they
will not do business with, I should say in all fairness that they
have been wonderful to deal with over the years. I have never been
a ‘major’ account, and have never qualified for an open account. At
one point, we used credit card, now we just use COD most of the time.
A little costly, but workable for us. Their shipping has always been
fast and cheap. The only times we have had delays it was weather
related. The quality is for the most part excellent across all
lines. Prices are fair. They carry so much that they can supply
nearly all of my needs for materials, supplies, tools, packaging,
etc. I have never needed to delve into many of the support materials
they offer, such as ad slicks, have it your way or other promotional
material. After nearly 20 years of dealing with them, I can only
recall a few incidents that really irritated me, and a few points on
which I haven’t been completely satisfied. If anyone from Stuller is
reading this and would like me to elaborate, just write me off list.
I do think there needs to be greater accomodation for small timers,
but we must also respect the need to keep the company truly
wholesale. Lack of that division is one of the problems I have with
Rio. It is hard to be competitive on their products when any
hobbiest with enough savvy to find them can get the catalog with the
same prices I have to pay. Jim


#13
because my experience with them was so different.<< 

I too have very much enjoyed dealing with Stuller. I am a small
time silvesmith and lapidary artisan. I went to the stuller website
(http://www.stuller.com/) and requested an account. Within a few
hours I got an email listing documentation I would have to send
(USPS) or fax. They requested copies of two invoices from two
different wholesale supply houses (I think I used SFJS and Barton
Bros.), a business card, and a copy of my tax license. That was it.
Within hours of them receiving my documentation I was set up with an
account.

Their phone operators are great to work with. I like ordering from
their website but you will need a catalog because the showroom is not
quite there yet. But it allows me to enter my order and change the
items or amounts so I can stay within my budget without tying up a
phone operator. And their shipping is lightning fast. It’s on your
door overnight or two-day delivery. Your choice.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Colorado Springs, Colorado
http://home.covad.net/~rcopeland/


#14

I use a credit card, yes, I had to provide invoices, and I’ll bet
I’ll have to do it again, because it has been more than 6 months
since I bought from Stuller last… I will have to submit more
invoices, even though I’ve not bought much in the last year. Their
prices are worth it. O don’t usually buy pre made jewelry, but who
knows, I may? What’s the big deal?? If you actually do wholesale,
then it’s worth the effort.


#15

Robert, I read your post with concern, because it implies that anyone
who does exclusively wholesale work need not register their business
in any way with their state or deal with state taxation issues. In
many states, this isn’t true.

While you may not collect or owe sales tax, in many states all legal
business entities do need to register with and receive a business
registration number (which we offhandedly refer to as a resale
number, although it’s much more). If doing exclusively wholesale
business, then your sales and use tax return (showing no sales tax
due) would likely be due either once or twice yearly. For those
doing wholesale/retail mix or all retail, returns are usually due
more frequently (quarterly or monthly).

In some states, there is “use tax” due, as well. That use tax is
levied on materials you purchase and then use in your business. You
do not pay sales tax on your purchase of cleaning supplies, for
example, but owe a small use tax on it when you’ve used it.
Likewise, that tax is paid on materials that go into making
non-saleable samples.

If you are truly a wholesaler, additionally, you don’t want to be
paying sales tax on your metals, stones, and other supplies. That
tax is levied to the end consumer of the goods, properly speaking.
You are not the end consumer of the items, and the tax is an
additional chunk of change that adds to your business expense.
Without the valid business cert, your suppliers will most likely be
charging you sales tax (unless you’re buying online or have
reciprocal state agreements with them).

Presumably, you’re not charging your wholesale customers sales tax,
right? Well, you’d better be getting THEIR resale numbers to protect
yourself – otherwise, you could be in deep trouble with your state’s
dept of revenue.

All of this is in addition to the IRS, who is usually quite happy to
attach your business tax debt to your personal social security
number. If you employ anyone other than yourself, though, you have
to apply for an EIN (Employer ID number) to use instead. The IRS
doesn’t really care about state business registration issues.

In many cases, you’ll need that business registration number to get
things like a business checking account, to register with true
wholesalers (like Stuller and some of the stone dealers I deal with),
and to set up merchant processing. So it really can pay, even for a
small concern, to get yourself “legal” in your state.

I’m not a lawyer or a tax consultant, but I recently went through a
pretty rigorous review of the tax issues in setting up a small
business in PA. I would strongly suggest reading through the
materials appropriate to your state (your small business assoc. can
usually help if you can’t find what you’re looking for online). It
could save a bunch of headaches down the road.

AND registering as a business could make you eligible to buy from
Stuller, which is where this whole discussion started.

Best,
Karen Goeller
@Karen_Goeller


Handcrafted and Unique Artisan Jewelry

P.S. - I should mention that some municipalities also require some
form of local registration or notification, even if you’re operating
out of your home. So don’t forget to check out that angle, too.


#16

When I first opened my account with Stuller 15 years ago I opened it
as a C.O.D. account. Then after about 8 months they gave me a credit
app. And I opened a credit account. They asked for proof that I was
in business on both occasions to me not an unreasonable request. They
have the best service in the industry and great product .If you don’t
want to prove you are in business go to Rio Grande in N.M. If you buy
wholesale anything be it hams or jewelry, stones or tools you have to
show proof of being IN business. I cannot get into wholesale sections
of gem and jewelry shows without that proof. You cannot get into
Costco or Sams Club with out it. Although it is easier than the
getting into wholesale jewelry shows. Size of your business does not
matter. People get sales tax licenses for every size of business. It
is not expensive to file. If you buy tools and supplies you must have
invoices. If you do not have these basic documents what type of
business are you running and how do you pay your taxes?
Regards J Morley Coyote Ridge Studio


#17

Hi I met with Andy today (Sunday) at the show in Atlanta. I made him
aware of the problem that was raised here. He will be back in the
office on Tuesday and will address the problem. He was not aware
that there was a problem until I brought him up to date.

Charles Friedman DDS
Atlanta


#18

In order for Stuller to be able to account for ALL sales being sales
tax free on a wholesale level,in their state, it is a legal
requirement that they be able to show a sales tax exempt purchaser
for ALL merchandise sold. The only way they can prove that is to make
sure that EVERY customer is a bonafide retailer-with a sales tax
liscence and number that can be tracked. As a retailer and a
wholesaler,I’ve been on both sides of the fence, and have had to
answer to my states IRS-not once,not twice, but 3 times- and I havent
done anything wrong. When the IRS comes knockin’, that is too late
to start following the rules and regulations. And the bigger your
company the more often they come knockin’. Besides, to get a sales
tax liscence and to maintian it is no big deal. And think of the
advantages you would get from having it. Ed


#19

Although many have replied saying the same thing, I need to also
give a commercial for Stuller. I’ve been using them for many years
and have to be one of their tiniest accounts since all I buy are tube
settings, a few calibrated stones and a few odd things once in a
while. They have been wonderful to deal with, even with returns.
Never a problem with the fact that my orders are tiny. Love the
suckers in the boxes. I would keep trying to reach the proper person
to resolve your problem. It may be that you won’t
be able to buy from them but hopefully it will work out in your favor.


#20

Hi Marley, please don’t misunderstand me: I’m not opposed to the
policy of Stuller, the contrary is true. There are good reasons for
this policy to exist. I know that their reputation is quite good. As
for the question about the type of business that I myself run: none
at the moment. My wife, who is a SHL therapist, is in the final stage
of negotiations with an hospital in Ireland. We are leaving once the
deal is made. In the meantime, I am trying to fabricate an amount of
pieces which I consider necessary to make a start. Because I cannot
make everything myself, I thought about buying some jewelry from
Stuller. I was very amazed when Kroungold told me that I had an
account and the thing which frustrated me was not that I couldn’t get
an account because I can’t produce certain papers (for example an USA
resale number - which I will never have), but because I already had
an account. Come on :-). In view of the differences in the carating,
I will have to look for an European producer anyway.

Best, Will