Recently I was looking for plastic bags. We want to try a new merchandising idea and plastic bags are part of the equation.
A quick search of the web turned up a few likely looking candidates, the one on top is a nationally known company who supplies all sorts of packing and warehouse materials.
I gave them a call and spoke with a customer service rep. She could tell me the size of the bags but she knew little more than what was on the website. I told here I had already checked the site but she went on as if I had not said a word.
When she was finished reading the description to me I asked about samples. I was told no samples were available however I did have the option to buy a box of bags and return them if they were not what I was looking for. This is not my idea of great customer service.
As a matter of fact, a month of so ago we were looking for shrink closures for deli containers. I called one company and they wanted me to send them a container so they could be sure the band fit correctly. I guess they did not trust me to try the band myself. Their price seemed a bit high too so we asked around and contacted a company who also sells and manufactures the same bands. The customer service/sales person was happy to send samples and the price was 1/10th of what the first company quoted.
I guess I should have known, and I have learned time and time again it is usually better to deal with the manufacture, if possible. In both cases I was able to find a manufacture who would sell direct and they were happy to send samples and literature for our approval. And the price was much better buying direct.
The moral is, be persistent. It is so easy to search the Internet compared to spending many hours at the library looking up info and suppliers in the Thomas Register. The best supplier may not be on the first page of the search. And use several search companies. Just because one company is the big deal does not mean they are the end all of information. Try the other guys.
And ask around. It pays to develop a network of helpful people to solve supply issues.
Lastly, work with companies who are genuinely interested in helping you out. They know that you may not be a big buyer now but you may someday.