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CONSUMER ALERT M&M Distributors

Discussion in 'The Grumble' started by FrameMakers, Jan 29, 2009.

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  1. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    Last week I got a call from a client that was looking for a large sheet of Museum Acrylic.
    I gave her a price of $960 for a 44 1/2" x 56" lite. She just wants the acrylic, no fitting, no nothing else just the acrylic. I figured since I will have my supplier (not M&M) cut it I can do a cost plus for this item as opposed to using my normal mark-ups.

    She called me up a few minutes ago trying to get me to come down on my price because her husband talked to someone at M&M Distributors and they gave her a price of $730+$100 shipping. This is obviously the wholesale price that we framers receive.

    After I got off the phone with her I called M&M and asked them what their policy is to selling to the general public. She couldn't or wouldn't give me a straight answer.

    I have only used M&M on occasion but that will not be an option now. In this tough economic environment the last thing I need is a supplier doing end runs to sell directly to my customer.

    :soapbox:
     
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  2. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God

    You would be surprised at how many so called suppliers do that.

    I refuse to do business with them.

    I have bought very little from M&M over the years and now it will be even less.

    So I guess the consumer wants you to beat the suppliers price now?
     
  3. Paul N

    Paul N In Corner

    Wow. That's really low!!

    Does one now really need to compete with some suppliers for customers??
    That would terminally affect my relationship with any such supplier.
     
  4. loganframer

    loganframer True Grumbler

    I was going to start getting more suppiles from them. Not now.
     
  5. framinzfun

    framinzfun MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    That does stink. I thought you needed at least a tax ID # to buy from them.
     
  6. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    Any schmo can get a tax ID. I did.
     
  7. Bill Henry-

    Bill Henry- SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Dave,

    Send M&M an e-mail with a link to this thread.

    That ought to get their attention.
     
  8. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Mm-mm...

    Makes one appreciate Larson Juhl's storefront policy, doesn't it?

    :popc:
     
  9. Rob Markoff

    Rob Markoff PFG, Picture Framing God

    Whoa-

    Before we start beating up a company - in this case M and M (who are really good people and who's heart is in the right place), let's look at this as a possible abberation.

    M and M has been fiercely supportive of framers and extremely generous in their support of education and of the PPFA. I know Mark and he is one of the good guys and I am confident that he would be as upset as you are re: the situation.

    He deserves to have this brought to his attention so he can make sure that if it was not handled appropriately, it does not happen again.

    How do you know how your customer represented themselves to M and M to get a price?

    I think in fairness to M and M, you need to call Mark, and discuss this, and then report back as to the response you received.
     
  10. wpfay

    wpfay Angry Badger

    They really ought to know better than to quote prices over the phone to a non account holder.
    Your customer could be the one who is in the wrong by misrepresenting themselves to M&M as a qualified wholesale customer. I've had this happen and told the customer to go ahead and get the product from the supplier. They can't and then come back to get it from me. They are trying to play both ends against the middle, and I think that your anger towards M&M may be misdirected. I could be totally wrong, but we haven't heard from the accused in this instance.
    Think, if the customer could get it cheaper elsewhere, why in the world would they ask you to come down on your price, if they really could get it elsewhere?
     
  11. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    Rob, Before posting here, I did call M&M and explained the details and asked what their policy was for selling to the public. I asked how they qualified a customer before giving them prices. To all of these questions I did not get answers other then "well" "huh" and the like.

    I would never post a rebuke without first giving them the chance to explain to me. Their response was not satisfactory IMHO.
     
  12. jsuth

    jsuth CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Rob makes a good point. The customer could have misrepresented herself to M & M, or she could simply be fabricating the story. Case in point - I had a sales rep from a local magazine stop by the shop 2 days ago asking if I was interested in participating in a co-op ad in his magazine. (We're in a design center with 7 other tenants). He claimed all of the other tenants were on board for the ad and wanted to know if I wanted to buy in, or be the odd man out. I told him I'd think about it. I subsequently learned that 2 other tenants had told him no, and yet another threw him out of their showroom. People sometimes make things up, especially where money is involved.
     
  13. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    So it costs $830m and you charged $960 and she thinks you're overcharging? Have her go to a glass shop and get a quote! Or get three quotes for her and tell her to pick the other shop she wants to go to and ask for a discount.

    Her husband, or she, may have a business they could buy the plexi through and get the wholesale price. If so let her.
     
  14. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God


    I was thinking it, but I wasn't going to say it.

    :rolleyes:
     
  15. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    I have done framing for her in the past. She said that she trusted me. That and the fact that if it comes from M&M it has to come by truck which would require her to be home to receive the shipment.
     
  16. FramerDave

    FramerDave PFG, Picture Framing God

    And you just settled with that answer? If it were me I would have worked my way up the food chain until I got a satisfactory answer. Getting a lousy answer from some flunky on the phone (no offense to the CSR) is very different from getting an answer from a manager or owner.
     
  17. Beveled

    Beveled SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer


    What storefront policy? I happen to know artists and homebased framers that purchase regularly from Larson Juhl, and a couple other suppliers in our area. Doesnt make me too happy, but what can you do?
     
  18. Larry Peterson

    Larry Peterson PFG, Picture Framing God

    All of their pricing is on their website. No login is required to see the pricing. Additionally, their policies and procedures page doesn't say anything about selling to the trade only.

    I was able to add some items to the cart and take it all the way to final checkout without them asking if I was a business. I also noted that they have a surcharge for residential delivery.
     
  19. Rob Markoff

    Rob Markoff PFG, Picture Framing God

    Exactly my point-

    Until you speak with Mark and let him know what has happened, and report his response to us here, I am still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    Then again, if you google "Museum Acrylic" M and M is about the third or fourth listing and when you click thru to their site, you get a "cut to size" price right on the internet, so there is a problem if we as framers want "our" wholesale costs protected from the general public.

    So, if Mark doesn't think that having our costs protected from anyone who google's a product, or that his company would quote anyone who calls is a problem, then I think you have a legitimate gripe and I would be happy to join you in your unhappiness.

    Still, in all of the years I have known him, I still don't think he is intentionally out to (or foolish enough) to compete against his majority client base and may be unaware of what is happening.

    I am displeased that I could just jump on his site and get a price quote, and that his policies page does not state who is qualified to purchase from them. So as a consumer, I see no reason why I couldn't just call them up and order the product.

    This aspect I find disturbing and I would like to see them either do something about it (access to pricing on the web) or I will join the ranks of the displeased as well.
     
  20. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    Dave, It is that same type CSR flunky that talks to customers. If she can't give me a straight answer about their policy I see no reason to go further. If this person was able to get specific pricing on a custom cut item including shipping they had the opportunity to get the business details.

    I feel that it is the suppliers responsibility to qualify their customers before they give out wholesale pricing information. Of course if their policy is to sell to any tom, dick or harry that calls then they don't need to worry about qualifying a customer but they will not see a dollar from me.
     
  21. Beveled

    Beveled SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I'll be interested to see how this ends up too. We don't use them much, but this may determine whether we will continue to use them.
     
  22. JbNormandog

    JbNormandog SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    This surprises me.

    When I first opened 5 years ago I had received an M&M catalog with no pricing section.

    It was not until multiple phonecalls and jumping through several hoops that I finally received one.

    With me they were very guarded.

    I guess the internet has changed things a lot since I opened.

    Bob
     
  23. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God

    Dave, you should have got in the car and drove to NJ to face the guy.

    Maybe even slapped him around a little so that he knew you meant business.

    It could come down to some 'water boarding' if necessary because by God we want the truth!

    -


    The way I see it, if my customers can call any of my suppliers and get my cost over the phone, I ain't happy. Period.

    If it happened at LJ would we need to go to Warren Buffet or could we just stop at Steve McKenzie?
     
  24. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    I think Wally nailed it. As others have pointed out, the pricing is transparent to anyone, since M&M's site isn't login-protected like most vendor websites. If she can buy it from M&M, she would have.

    I've had customers do this sort of thing before. I quote them a price on a mat, and they tell me it's $5 less at Aaron Brothers, so can I match that price? Well, I know darn well it isn't $5 less at AB, or anywhere else within 10 miles. So I tell them that's a great price and they should go snap it up.
     
  25. Black Iris

    Black Iris Grumbler

    I'm VERY curious to know what M & M has to say about this thread....guess they aren't monitoring The Grumble today. If it turns out they sell to the general public, I'm done ordering from them, too.

    Is it true that LJ sells to home-based framers? (I've heard many times they won't and don't.) I'm dying to know that answer, too!

    We storefront framers, with rent and heat to pay, work too #### hard to be competing with our own suppliers. If M & M and LJ are selling to our customers and to our competitors, what is this industry coming to?

    JoAnn
     
  26. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God

    There is a difference between a home-based framer and a retail customer looking to buy wholesale.

    There is to me anyway...
     
  27. nikfrz

    nikfrz SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I've got a feeling that with this economy, we are going to see more of the same. I have noticed that several distributors over the past several years selling to the public under different names. If one trying to place an order over M&M's website without a tax #, then something is fishy. Keep us posted on this. LJ selling to home based, I just cant see that, at least right now.
     
  28. Black Iris

    Black Iris Grumbler

    Good point, Jerry--no offense intended and I'm sorry my post came across badly. Yes, there is a difference between a retail customer trying to get away with paying wholesale prices and a framer trying to make a living. It burns me that a company like M & M (or LJ) who professes to sell only to the trade (or only to store-fronts) would usurp our efforts, espeicially in this slow economy. Damx!

    JoAnn
     
  29. jframe

    jframe <span style="color: red"><b><i>Charter Member</i><

    I'm stumped, why would you go to M & M for it? Aren't they pretty far away from Columbus, OH? Is there not an acrylic supplier in your area?

    I don't know if LJ sells that size, but I'd get a 48 x 96 sheet somewhere and cut it myself.
     
  30. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    So will any of you refuse to work on this product if the customer brings it in and wants you to use it in a frame? I would be very wary considering the cost of replacement.
     
  31. Artifacts Gal

    Artifacts Gal CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    Gift Certificates?

    M&M offers gift certificates on their web site. Why would a wholesaler sell gift certificates? Somehow I don't think United sells them. M&M is obviously willing to sell to the public at the same prices as they sell to framers. I will be contacting them tomorrow to confirm this, and I hope they're inundated with calls from other irate grumblers.
     
  32. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    Good question, Kirstie. I think I would use it, but only if it was still masked, and I'd tell the customer I can't be responsible for any damage or flaws that might have existed prior to it coming into my shop. And I'd probably charge a corkage fee, too.
     
  33. Maryann

    Maryann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Last Friday, our LJ rep was in with information about LJ cutting museum acrylic to size. It's a service that they're just starting. Call your rep as ask them about it. I don't know how their price compares to M & M. As it was suggested, it's also easy to cut it yourself (and much less expensive).
     
  34. Luddite

    Luddite PFG, Picture Framing God

    NOPE!!!
     
  35. Steph

    Steph SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Well I wouldn't be happy. But I wouldn't settle for an answer from a CSR. I agree with Rob on this one, and I would make the effort to go beyond CSR. This company has too good of a reputation and some darn good people working there.

    Mark I have dealt with for years, and have sent several others to him. He reminds me of my dad....hardworking, straight shooter, no BS. He and M&M have come through for me for many years. I used to deal as well with another framer supply company, but after dealing with rudeness, out right lies to my face at a trade show, numerous out of stocks and inferior products and more boojy woojy than you can imagine.....never again.

    If this was me, I wouldn't jump the gun so quickly and I would call mark directly for answers to my concerns.

    As others have said, who knows what line the customer fed M&M, and who knows if this wasn't CSR error.
     
  36. Paul N

    Paul N In Corner

    All nice and sweet. And as expected those who are friendly with Mark and God knows who would try to defend such stupid behavior and blame it on the customer service reps

    Except M&M prices are announced very clearly for the whole world to see: http://www.mmdistributors.com/SearchResults.asp?Search=acrylic&Search.x=0&Search.y=0

    Why don't they say, are they selling only to professionals or to anybody with a pulse?

    Did the customer service reps on their own go and plaster M&M's prices on the website for the whole world to see?? Very unprofessional indeed.

    And lame excuses from some Grumblers on top of that.
     
  37. Steph

    Steph SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    ROFL!! I love it!
     
  38. Amy McCray

    Amy McCray SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I concur with Laura . . .

    NOPE!!

    P.S. Thanks Laura, for standing up and saying what needed to be said.
     
  39. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    M&M sells to anybody with a credit card. Place an order online and enter the card and out it goes.
     
  40. RParrish

    RParrish PFG, Picture Framing God

    Not necessary............

    I for one would not be satisfied with with that kind of answer form a CSR, they and the owner may be unaware of how this is effecting their customers and how it reflects on them. Bring the matter to their attention.

    Framemaker you may loose one job from this client, how many will orders will M&M be willing to loose?
     
  41. EllenAtHowards

    EllenAtHowards PFG, Picture Framing God

    Not being an M&M customer, is there a chance that buying as a qualified retailer would get you a lower price than on the website?
     
  42. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    Ellen, the point is the prices listed on the website are WHOLESALE prices. Even if they threw their "qualified retailers" a discount off of the listed prices, it would not be enough to stay in business.

    IN MY OPINION this is nothing more then a corporate end around. Why else would they put up a site with a shopping cart and not require an account to access it unless they intend to sell to the public.
     
  43. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    I can't understand where the confusion is. Their site says "M&M provides picture frame glass, mat board, foam board, and supplies for Picture Framers, Conservators, and Photography." Shouldn't that say "Photographers"?

    Dave, which of those three is your customer? She was given a wholesale price so they surely qualified her as one of those three. BUT she may have just gone to the internet as I just did. Don't let this bother you, "the other place" has their prices right there online also.

    Rob, if you google "museum acrylic" MM is like #6. For convenience you are linked directly to the page where you can buy the product. About 1/2 way down the page is the "cut to size" info including price, "11 sq ft to 20 sq ft...$41.00 per sq ft". At what point did you suggest there would be a real problem?

    There are very few suppliers of this type. I suspect we are going to have to just buck up. It's just more evidence of the health of our industry.
     
  44. BatesMotel

    BatesMotel MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    I see both sides to this problem. I know Mark and have done business with M&M for years and it doesn't seem like something he would do intentionally. I agree get past the CSR and go strait to him for this is who the discussion should be with.
    The web site is new and was built to make our lives easier and to catch up with the world wide web demand. I agree there should be a customer log in area, like other vendors, to protect our pricing from the average consumer. There should not be a way for any Joe to go onto the site and order what ever they want, put in on their credit card and of it goes. I now wonder how M&M's pricing compares to places like Dick Blick and the other big on line artist supply web sites. I also wonder can I cut the middle man, set up an account with Linceo and order my materials from them?
    No matter which side you look at this is something that has to be brought to Mark's attention. I hope with all the grumbling going on there would be a solution to rectify this problem or at the least put more light on the subject so we can have an educated discussion on the matter.
    He was in Vegas for the WCAF and should be back now, did anybody send him this link yet?
     
  45. FTP

    FTP CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Can this section of the grumble be viewed by the general public?
     
  46. Larry Peterson

    Larry Peterson PFG, Picture Framing God

    Yes
     
  47. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    If I go to the United website, it does the same thing..... Some prices are there for everyone to see, anyone with a credit card can order as far as I can tell. (it let me go to the check out without any questions asked).
    Both M&M and United have products where you have to call in advance in order to get a price (usually machinery).

    I don't see this as a huge problem really. So, the customer has this piece of glass or acrylics, now what is s/he going to do?
    And, just like us, they could go to any acrylic dealer as well and get a piece there.

    My answer would be as quoted here before; Go ahead and order it. I too get people walk in the door, claiming they can get it cheaper somewhere else. So, what's stopping them from getting it? I will not participate in a price war. My price is my price. If they can get it cheaper, well, go for it. (I won't say it this harsh of course!)

    I have dealt with M&M and Mark and will continue to order from them or from United.
     
  48. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    Aother small wrinkle: What they will do is bring it to you for fitting into either one of your frames or one of theirs. Are you guys willing to take the risk of handling an expensive piece of Museum Acrylic that you can't return for flaws, and then determine where the scratch came from? I'll take in thier frames and mats, but I don't thing I'd touch thier MG or M Acrylic.
     
  49. JeffreyPrice

    JeffreyPrice True Grumbler

    Support for M&M

    I have done business with Mark and M&M (and Felice, who takes most of my phone calls) for more than 20 years and have found them to be a reliable, honest, fair, and hard working company. My assumption is that they did not intend to sell direct to a consumer, and that if that information or impression was given over the phone, then it was a mistake. I agree that we all really need to support one another, especially in this scary climate, so in this case I want to voice my support and appreciation for M&M. Big banks, sneaky stock brokers, uncaring health care companies.... now THOSE I'll go after with whatever weapons I can find, but I truly believe M&M is not like those scoundrels.
    Jeffrey Price, CPF
    Artists' Market, Norwalk, CT
     
  50. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    No, I won't touch it either. And explain it nicely to them why not. Same reason I won't work with any other glass that wasn't purchased from me. If I mess it up; I have to replace it. Not worth it.

    My question was more rhetorical.
    I don't know what this customer is thinking, she either buys it through a framer, with all the guarantees that come with it or is out on her own and good luck.
     
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