Amidol Purchase - Follow Up Questions

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Flauvius, Jan 30, 2005.

  1. Flauvius

    Flauvius Subscriber

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    Dear Fellow APUG Members:

    I would appreicate your thoughts as to the following "due diligence" questions I have as to our group Amidol purchases.

    1. As a former full time graduate student who was always broke and barely had time to take my clothes to a laundry mat, I would like to know how Mr. Davis can afford the time to interrupt his studies to travel to China and oversee his wholesale purchase of Amidol.

    2. As someone with experience with international trade shipments, it is customary for an importer to have a local agent to deal with issues in the exporter's country. Indeed, unless a person both speaks the exporter's language and understands the local culture, it would be of no value for a non-chinese speaking person to travel to China to perform unspecified sampling on a large shipment of Amidol.

    3. If the chinese manufacturer is legitimate, why would it be necessary for anyone to test the Amidol prior to its shipment by sealed container. Indeed, if the chinese manufacturer is legitimate, I would think the manufacturer would very much like to sell Amidol in the future to the American market. Indeed, it would not make sense for any legimate chinese manufacture not to fulfill the expectations of its foreign customers.

    So, what is it about this manufacturer that is any different than an other established manufacturer such as Bayer, Ciba Cigy, or Dow Chemical, all of whom pride themselves on their delivery products?

    4. Why is it that we must buy as a group Amidol in at least 5KG quantities? What is so special about this 5KG designation? Also, how will it be packaged and shipped to us? What will be our shipping costs?

    5. Lastly, why are we "so lucky" to have such a once in a life time opportunity offer for us to buy Amidol - naturally with a $250.00 non-refundable deposit - at $50.00; and not at the customary $195.00 lb price?

    As for me, I am not aware of anything that I have ever done that warrants such good fortune. So, I hope some of you will help me overcome my concerns as to the logic and merits of the unusual Amidol offer that is before us.

    Very Truly Yours,

    Flauvius
     
  2. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Just curious - why didn't you PM Greg Davis with these questions?

    BTW, this purchase attempt started last spring as a thread on the Azo site and many of the questions you raise have already been aired out.
     
  3. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    I will answer these questions one more time.

    I am a full time student, so it isn't convenient for me to do any of this. However, I feel the rewards outweigh the inconvenience. I will probably miss a couple days worth of classes to make the trip.

    The Chinese manufacturer does not have offices here in the States. I am not using the services of an import/export company. All the legwork is being done by yours truly.

    I have friends in China that will help with any interpretations I may need. However, they are not responsible for the purchase, so asking them to do anything else is not feasible.

    Testing the amidol is not required in my opinion, but it does give everybody peace of mind. That's worth a lot. I believe the manufacturer will be honest, because they want to make future sales, but why not err on the side of caution?

    To get the price I have, we, as a group, must buy 500 kg (1100+lbs.). Breaking that down into 1 lb. packages is beyond what I can accomplish. If you want less, find someone who will split a 5kg. lot. There are several people who will do this.

    To get a Letter of Credit, I must give my bank th efull amount of the purchase. However, I cannot ask everyone involved to trust me enough to send the full amount when they don't know me. I have enough in savings to cover half the purchase. The second half of the money will reimburse me.

    As for the once in a lifetime opportunity, if you want to go through all this yourself, be my guest. I'm only doing it once.

    -Greg
     
  4. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    Logic: We're currently paying about $200.00/lb. for Amidol. If someone were to find a cheaper source, then we could pay less. Greg seems to have found a cheaper source. Therefore, buy buying the Amidol from him, we pay less, which is a fundamentally good thing for us.

    Merit: We'll pay $50.00/lb. instead of $200.00/lb.

    As to your numbered questions, I think I can dispense with them with one answer:

    Who cares?

    This amidol has been tested by Michael A. Smith. He says it's every bit as good as the Amidol he's used for over 30 years. Since nobody in the world makes finer prints, I'll write my check to Greg and say "Thank You!". Since Michael is purchasing ten times what I'm purchasing, if we get taken all I can say is, "There's nobody I'd rather be scammed with."

    If somebody were to offer you a glass of Chateau Lafite Rothschild '59 at a party, would you question its provenance? I might, but not before I'd drunk it.
     
  5. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    If this goes bad, I get screwed. It's as simple as that. Not only am I personally out of 55 lbs. of amidol, but I'll have most of the serious photographic community after me. That's not something I want. Do you think I could show my face (or give my name) at any of the workshops or tradeshows if I screw everyone? I'm in my late twenties, so I plan on being around awhile. I'd rather it be on good terms.

    I don't know if he's following this thread any, but gcoates has known me personally for a few years. We were members at the same church and he is invited to my wedding. PM him if you want to know my character.
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    It's a great deal, but it's not "too good to be true." If you check Spectrum Chemical, for instance, they'll sell amidol at about $120/lb, if you purchase 25 kg, and perhaps they would come closer to the price Greg is getting if you were to commit to 500 kg.

    Whatever the source, we would need to do some testing, since this stuff seems to be made for the hair dye industry, and might not always be adequate for photographic purposes. Some of the previous samples made the prints pink. That's the main reason for testing.
     
  7. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    Exactly, David. The amidol they make for us might be perfect for use in dyes, but it may not be great for prints. That is the main reason for the test. In the samples I tested from different manufacturers, the colors varied from one place to another, but not usually from two samples from the same source. Each sample had a batch number for comparison. Still, I would rather be safe and test on site before money is exchanged. Once it's on the boat, they have fulfilled their end of the contract. I don't think they would be dishonest, but they are making chemicals, not photographs. They have different benchmarks for a good product.

    There was one distributor in the US (not a manufacturer) which will sell 55lbs. for the low price of $7000 or something like that.
     
  8. modafoto

    modafoto Subscriber

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    There is a Church of Amidol, too? I thought I had the only developing church :tongue:
     
  9. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    Might I just say that I am VERY grateful to Mr Davis for providing us with this opportunity for us to save a ton of money. I am not concerned about fellow specialty photo artists who feel a sense of community with a group like this one (the cream of the crop -inventers - world recognised artists, authors and teachers.) People on this board are not like any other group. We not only pursue our own vision using the highest standards of craftmanship and skill but are also willing to share everything that can help others acheive the same. I am always honored to directly glean from the minds of the great talents that mentor on this board with no thought of recompense for their contribution to other artists. It is the same spirit that causes us to collectively seek materials to the benefit of all in the same manor.

    Kind of lofty sounding wasn't it - ya don't think I went over the top too much on that one . ... did I?

    Anyway - Thanks!
     
  10. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    I did a quick search on Priceline for airfare to both Beijing and Shanghai. Round trip is <$900 from Philadelphia to either city in China. If the purchasers of 20 5.5 kg lots were to each throw in $50 more (from $550 to $600), Michael's airfare would be more than covered. This would increase our per pound cost from $50/lb. to $54.54/lb. I would certainly be willing to pay that to have Michael test it. How about the rest of you?
     
  11. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I would be willing to do that, but how much would it cost to overnight the samples to Michael via DHL or EMS Speedpost, or whoever is operating over there? If it's $100 or so, that would make more sense.
     
  12. mark

    mark Member

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    This is starting to sound like a bunch of druggies trying to figure out how to get a shipment over the nogales line without being ripped off, arrested, or suckered into some bad low-grade ditch weed.:D
     
  13. mikewhi

    mikewhi Member

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    Sending more samples would do no good. If people are afraid of a scam, they could always wonder if the second batch of sames were from this lot or some other one. Testing at the boat is as perfect as it's going to get. I am curious how the testing will be done. It sounds like a drug deal in one of those movies.....drop some Amidol in a vial of liquid, shake it and if it turns black everyone pulls out machine guns and starts blasting:smile:

    Does anyone know how to test Amidol short of making a print?

    BTW, I have absolutely NO misgivings about this. I have been following this endeavor since last spring and the chances of this being a rip off by Greg are zero as far as I'm concerned. Next to Michael and Greg, I'm one of the biggest buyers at 33lbs of the stuff. I have no fear about sending over $800 to Greg when he asks for it.

    As for paying Michael's way to China, I am not in favor of it unless there is any question on Greg's part that he can properly test the Amidol. Having Michael there to second the test is kind of redundant if Greg knows the technique(s).

    -Mike
     
  14. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    Thanks, Mike. I wish everybody was as supportive as you. Most of the trouble I get are from people who haven't even signed up.

    Right now, Michael is only thinking about going, though it would be nice to have a travel buddy! The test will consist of making a print. Right now I am planning on taking several pre-exposed prints. I will do a few tests at my local airport to see if the x-ray machines will fog the paper after exposure. If they don't then I won't have to set up a darkroom. I can mix enough chemicals to do the test in 5x7 trays inside a film tent. If the x-rays do have an effect, then I will have to figure a way to expose the paper on site.
     
  15. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I think the way to test it is in fact to make a print, and if the development time is about what it should be and it doesn't stain, then it's good.

    One question aside from this purchase is whether the formula can be tweaked to compensate for "bad" amidol (i.e.--amidol that causes pink staining). If it could be, we'd have much more flexibility in terms of sources and that could bring the price down. It may just involve adjusting the pH of the solution. I'd be willing to make some tests if someone has some bad amidol laying around.
     
  16. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    Ask Michael Smith. He still has some of one batch that stained the prints pink. Oddly, it didn't stain Ilford Multigrade IV Warmtone. I didn't try any other papers. When I say it stained the print, I should say it stained the paper. The back was a solid sheet of pink. Washing it a few hours cleared it some, but not enough to keep it.
     
  17. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    I like that idea. Let's do that.
     
  18. gcoates

    gcoates Member

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    gregdavis character


    I can vouch for Greg's character. We did indeed attend the same church for several years. We hung out, we discussed photography. My wife and I were good friends with Greg and his now fiancee. Greg is a good artist and an honest man. You should consider yourselves lucky that he's willing to spend the time and effort necessary to get this done. (By the way, Greg did NOT ask me to write this.)
     
  19. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    I don't know Greg from Adam but I will accept the references of others as to his sincerity and good character. I might also have some reservations except for the fact that Michael Smith has endorsed this endeavor by his comments, testing and own purchase. Michael would have quite a bit to lose not only financially but also his reputation as a straight shooter (imho).

    Yes, one needs to be aware of opportunities that are to good to be true. But I believe that the price from the supplier is indicative of the cost of Chinese labor, much lower cost of production and the insatiable desire of the Chinese to open markets for everythng and anything in the west.

    I would caution Greg however that it may require more then two days. I know several people who deal with businesses in mainland China, and even though they have great working relationships with the Chinese, they have told me business dealings can take a little extra time.

    I would also be willing to throw in a few $ to help defray Greg's airfare. And Greg I hope you have computed all shipping charges and possible tarriffs into the price per lb. for everyone. I would hate for you to tell everyone a $ amount and then you get stuck with a buch of extra charges.
     
  20. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    Thanks, Jim for your kind words. I have taken into account the customs fees. Customs from China is something like 7% of the value. There is a $5/$1000value bond as well. It is all included. I haven't added the individual containers and shipping, though. But that is in the 10's of dollars.
    The details of the sale have been completed with the manufacturer. They are simply waiting for me to place the order. What I have worked out with them is to simply test each barrel and give a thumbs up. It is a little more complex than that, but I just want to say that the negotiations are finished and in writing.
     
  21. Will S

    Will S Member

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    I'd like a pound or two if someone is willing to break up their purchase, please PM me. Or is there another thread for this request?

    Thanks,

    Will