Business Is Always Risky, How About Going Into Perfume Decanting? {Fragrance News}


Osmoz is raising an issue today about which we had been wondering as well. Are the newly cropping-up decanting businesses legitimate? We already know that the answer would be "no" and a zero-tolerance policy in France where perfume decanting would be considered illegal. Are the USA more lax about it? Should buyers seriously worry that they might be considered as engaging in an illegal activity? Are the sellers themselves fully aware of possible legal consequences in the US? For our part, we sent a request for clarification to Patty Geissler of The Perfumed Court a couple of weeks ago around the time of their Grand Opening, which was left unanswered.....

Photo of the different sizes offered by The Perfumed Court 

Today Osmoz writes that,

In the USA, fragrance decanting is booming. Decanting means pouring full-sized bottles into samples. Some sites have actually turned it into a big business. The Perfumed Court, decantcity, bois*boutiquedesaromes and other places mentioned on the blog perfumeposse have all gotten in on the act. Some sellers used to be on eBay, which now refuses decanters. So you can find variously sized miniatures by Dior, Lauder, Hermès and more. When you find products that the brands themselves don’t sell (free samples, mini bottles or non-existent packages) there’s a chance that they can be considered a kind of counterfeiting......

Read more...... 

(Photo source is from eBay)

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15 Comments | Leave a comment

  1. That's an issue I was also thinking about lately. How legitimate and also how sure a decant business is.
    In many situations it can be an open door to counterfeiting (sell a different perfume, dilute it, etc) and for sure it cannot be controlled by brands.
    I was about to buy some vintage perfumes... but in the end I changed my mind. Both because of the price and because I didn't feel sure about the fragrance itself. If Osmoz (brought by Firmenich, btway) raised that issue... I'm sure that something will happen in the next future.

  2. Thank goodness this isn't France!

    Christina H.
  3. Thanks Octavian and Christina for your comments. My answer to both of you is the same. I think that there seems to be a gray area at the moment. If nobody sends a signal that this is really officially wrong, then buyers will continue to purchase samples and decants, at their own risks. If some brands decide to react, then I thought it would be best to offer the heads up.

  4. Marie-Helene, I sure don't remember seeing a question. It either didn't get to me or I missed it, but the implication that I didn't answer it with the..... thing is a little surprising.

  5. Patty,

    The question was about whether it was okay for me to make an announcement for your new venture and asking you for a quote on your part confirming that it was legitimate in the US to have a decanting business.

  6. For all it's worth, I have bought decants in the past from Patty Geissler, (formerly Fragrant Fripperies), one of the partners of the Perfumed Court. I had previously owned and worn the scents, and can vouch for their authenticity. Now as for the lawfulness of the decanting business (full disclosure: I have myself sold a few decants of non-export Lutens in the past), I'm afraid there will be a reaction from the brands at some point. Their point of view is defensible, of course, but I find the decanters provide an interesting service, especially to people who don't have many brands on hand where they live. Or, of course, who can't commit to a full bottle...

  7. Decant services allow fragrance fans to sample expensive fragrances - this service promotes the fragrance hobby and fragrances, and eventually leads to full bottle purchases.

    If fragrance companies want to hunt down something, they should target the gray market first. Stop the flow of illegal low priced juice from asia and the middle east instead of turning a blind eye to it because of still-fat profits.

  8. Somehow I picture heads of perfume houses targeting their own feet on this. In France it is a no-no. Fer Christ's sake someone wake up.
    When your best customers are buying the stores clean, where do they think it goes??
    I don't decant but I love my decanters. What does a house like C____ or G_______ think their most prolific customers do? Bathe in the stuff?

  9. I agree that it's the counterfeiters, the ones selling "Green Fresh Twitch" instead of a real Creed, that should be gone after, not the decanters. Many people live in far-flung places where all they can get is...nothing. And most can't afford a full bottle of an Armani Prive, but will buy a decant, then perhaps save up for a full bottle. Business for perfumers improves with decanters and is degraded by counterfeiters. Just common sense, really.

  10. I'm afraid it's not as simple as that:)

  11. I've bought from the ladies of the Perfumed Court both in their incarnations as separate entities on eBay and together as PF. I have never found them to be less that aboveboard. They are of course doing nothing illegal since they are purchasing the products they sell: if I buy a pie you baked for $20, there is no law keeping me from selling it by the slice. What there are laws against is saying that it's my pie, copying your copyrighted recipe to bake and sell my own, or selling a pie that I baked as your better pie. Otherwise I can sell it, eat it or wear it as a hat. Were it illegal in the US, then Luckyscent would not exist.

    Perfumers should be thrilled that decanters do this- I have rarely bought a decant that I have liked and not bought a bottle. If I didn't like it, I didn't buy. How is this a downside for retailers? Would they prefer me buying a full bottle and returning it when It went sour on me?

    Bottom line- if they want to put the decanters out of business, give samples.

    I don't know who the people at Osmos are, but perhaps they could have consulted an attorney about their concerns before slinging baseless accusations.

  12. Ok, fine Tom. Then obviously there are no problems.

    I don't quite follow your comparison with Luckyscent who is, I believe, an authorized dealer of perfumes.

    Hmmm, for me it's more of a gray area issue. I don't know if I made a kick-ass pie that had taken me a lot of investment in time and money (more than the unit price of $20 believe me) that I would want you to settle down comfortably making profit out of it and encouraging people to buy it by the slice when they would have to buy it whole directly from me and I could control quality.

    You're right. If perfume companies are not happy, they could do something about it.

    As Octavian said above, Osmoz is linked with Firmenich.

    I don't think it's mud slinging and you should not take it personally because you know the people who sell the samples and care about them. By the way, people have complained on forums that The Perfumed Court prices were overpriced, so it's not all rosy and on the-side-of-the-people, OK?

    eBay also got on their cases before Osmoz. It's completely predictable.

    Hope some clarification comes out of this in the future.

    I wonder if perfume cos. would accept it better if those were just exchanges of perfumes, not moneyed transactions? Like a perfume-exchange forum? Hmm, probably not in principle.

  13. I understand why the french are so much against it. I keep reading about decanters supposed authenticity but in the end we have zero guarantee on this! perfumers have no idea who 's honnest and who 's not! everytime I read odd reviews on MUA it 's always people reviewing decants.
    in France perfumes samples are available all over, wether you buy Serge Lutens or a mainstream fragrance at your local 'parfumerie', you don 't need to beg anyone for samples whereas in the US samples are nearly nonexistant! that shocked me when I moved in the US, lately twice after spending $160 on Lutens makeup and the same money on a Malle scent at Barney 's both times I left with no samples and I was humiliated for asking! (there are exceptions, Aedes in New York are extremely sample generous).

    Aline et Valcour
  14. The Perfumed Court is lacking the most important thing for any successful business - customer service. All they want to do is argue why they are right and the customer is wrong. I was told "it can't be stale, it's from Paris." Then when I stated how ridiculous that was, they replied that their owner said the fragrance "smelled beautiful." Bottom line, you are taking a big, pricey risk by buying from this site.

    • I had a similar problem with them with an order of Fath Iris Gris, a very rare perfume. Long story short. Ended up ordering two pricey samples, never received the second one but payed for it nevertheless and was asked several weeks later to pay a third time. When I protested they said they couldn't "remember" receiving a payment from me. Fortunately there was an online receipt I was able to whip out. So, yes, I hear you. But I'm sure they're not like that 100% of the time otherwise they would have gone under, no?

      Chant Wagner

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