Perfume Sample Swap – Perfumista Etiquette

perfume sampleMarch the Maleficent decrees… Today let’s talk about perfumista etiquette.  By this, I do not mean “perfume etiquette” – e.g., whether it’s polite to offgas Dior Poison at the opera, although frankly I find people slowly unwrapping cough drops and hard candies far more annoying in that situation (crinkle crinkle criiinklle).  No, I’m talking about the myriad ways we irritate and misunderstand each other while we swap a perfume sample or perfume decant, share, sniff and chat with fellow perfume fanatics, many (most?) of whom we might not know personally.

While Miss Manners has views about which times and places are inappropriate for strong perfume, let’s face it: there is no “Code of Perfumista Etiquette and Ethics” written down that I’m aware of, and my guess is that opinions about acceptable behavior in this area may vary widely.  I thought it would be fun to tackle this topic; I’ll share a couple of my own stories, with names deleted to spare the innocent and guilty (except myself.)

As always, I’m up for some lively debate and disagreement – let’s just keep things reasonably polite and no personal attacks or flaming, okay?  So go on – share your Etiquette Rules and stories in comments.

1. You can ask, but you can’t beg. Quite some time ago, Blogger X wrote about a rare vintage Guerlain, one I was dying to try and one that wasn’t available as a perfume sample from anywhere else.  I knew she had a very small vial of the stuff, and I … well, I begged her for a taste.  I begged shamelessly. I begged and pleaded and harangued – just a drop, please.  Just one tiny drop. And she was nice and sent me some and I raved about it on the Posse.

This was terrible behavior, and I’m still ashamed of myself.  I found out later that the lovely woman who’d sent Blogger X the perfume sample – a very private woman with a very extensive vintage perfume collection – was understandably, completely pissed at me about this (she restocked Blogger X, if I recall correctly.)   I pretty much burned a potential bridge with this other party before we really had a chance to get to know each other, although she forgave me eventually.

I will add that, now that you can get about any perfume sample or perfume decant from Surrender to Chance  and several other split/swap/sale forums that didn’t exist until fairly recently, I’ve been on the receiving end occasionally of this begging, and it irritates me.  If you can buy a perfume sample of vintage Mitsouko fairly easily, then no, unless we’re already swapping something, don’t hound me for some of mine.

2. If you’re going to swap, then swap already.   I put a niche bottle up for swap – and there were two people who wanted it, A and B, neither of whom I knew.  Since A had asked first I honored that swap, although I felt bad about B, who had a sample of the scent and really, really wanted more.  Then things got complicated and I ended up buying A’s side of the swap – the bottle I was supposed to receive – at a substantial discount on eBay, and A was supposed to reimburse me for my eBay purchase.  Are you with me so far?

Anyway, then A never paid.  Weeks went by; I’d sent my bottle off promptly in the mail.  A said the check wasn’t quite in the mail, very busy, blah blah blah.  Finally after several email exchanges I said, look, I’m not going to ask again, because nagging you makes me feel cheap and petty.  But I’m busy too, okay?  You got a great deal – I swapped you something that was worth far more than what I paid for this eBay bottle, and you can’t even send me the money?  Eventually I got the money, but it left a bad taste in my mouth – so much so that (check this) I got B’s address, called up the perfume manufacturer, and bought B a sample of the same scent, because in my own weird way I was trying to make the whole thing feel good in my head.  I didn’t want negative scent associations clinging to it.  B was happy, and I was happy.

I know variations of this have happened to other people.  It’s at least partly about aligning expectations in terms of shipping time.  But in general, if you’re swapping, the other party expects to complete the swap quickly.  If there’s going to be a delay – your bottle of Secretions Magnifique is at your summer home in the Adirondacks, and you won’t be able to send it until July – well, then, you need to say that up front.

More grist for the mill:

Swaps: What do you do if the post office damages the package?  If the swap simply disappears?  If there seems to be something “off” about what you received?  What if money changes hands, or doesn’t?   Does it bother you if the package you send is beautifully wrapped and includes extra freebies, and in exchange you get one of my packages, which look like they were wrapped by a three-year-old on a sugar high?   I think it was Patty who mocked me once: woman, do you ever buy any supplies?  (Yes, vials and packing tape.)

Or: what if a family member or your BFF starts wearing “your” Holy Grail scent, does that bother you?  (Louise suggested this topic.) Or, conversely, what if your BFF disses your holy grail?  I get some of this blowback indirectly – if I blog about something I don’t like on the Posse, sometimes people get … upset.  And my response is: who cares what I like, anyway?  Please don’t take it personally.  I wear all sorts of crap perfume, I’m not the arbiter of great taste.  If I rag on Angel or that Jane Birkin thing, remind yourself that I like D&G Light Blue.

Or: splits – who hosts them?  Does it drive you nuts when others suggest a split but never offer to host?  What if they don’t pay up their share promptly?  What if it’s vintage and the bottle turns out to be bad, has anyone stiffed you?  Or backed out for another reason?  Did you hunt them down and spray them with Pink Sugar?

Have you ever found out you were battling someone you knew for a bottle on eBay? And you lost?  (snerk.  Yeah, me too.)

Have at it.  Anything else you want to discuss or solicit opinions about? Again, let’s keep it marginally polite.

Image – my Google “safe search” is off.  I googled “mud wrestling” and “wrestling cartoon” and like that.  Images … hoo, you don’t even want to know.  I had to go bleach my eyeballs; hence, no image for today’s post.

 

141 Comments

  1. Oh, crikey, I am SO guilty.

    I didn’t do it on purpose, but back when we had the swap here, I was swapping two bottles, and knew that they were at our home in Arkansas,(I live in SoCal for now); I was going to be heading back for a visit a month later, and asked my partner if that was okay, She very graciously agreed.

    And of course when I got back there, no perfume. To make matters even worse, this was the saint who found the Estonian chocolate for the three little adopted girls. My horror knew no bounds, let me tell ya.

    She was an absolute angel about it, and I made good on the bottles, but I die of shame every time I think about it. And I still have no idea where the perfume is; I think it’s in a box in the garage.

    Tamsin, if you’re reading this, I am still so sorry!

    • Hey, what did you end up doing? You just went out and bought replacements? Also pointing out: you said something up front, you didn’t just assume a month later would be fine, and you “made good” on them. So I think you’re off the hook. :)>-

      • Yea, I just bought her new bottles. Thank GOD they were still available! (It was just some Agent Provacetuer, but you can’t always find them)

        In my defense, we’re in the middle of an extended move, and take a load of boxes each time we drive back. I choose the boxes I want to go and my husband loads our truck; I know darn well I had the boxes with the perfume designated to go back, but I didn’t realize he occasionally switches boxes out to make the load fit better.

        But I should never have offered the juice without having it in hand.

        • Oh, I think it’s okay that you offered — you were sure you had it. I only feel bad that you ended up re-buying something you didn’t want in the first place.

          • Oh, I don’t hate the juice, I just felt like it should be with someone who liked it more than I did; plus, I love the bottles themselves, the way they feel in the hand, you know? So it was not a big deal at all.

    • For the record, my swap partner was never in the least upset about any of this, and she made it clear every step of the way that I didn’t even need to send her anything!

      She’s one of those people who love to give for the sake of giving, and didn’t expect anything in return. And she sent along extra stuff in the swap!

  2. Well, let’s see if this reply sticks, unlike all of the ones I left (twice) on my Jennifer Aniston post. Grrr.

    I’ve never had a swap go bad, but I don’t think I’ve ever done one with anyone I didn’t know.

    I know one that I did with Lee took about 47 years to get to him, but that’s the post.

    The fact that you hate the Jane Birkin scent has me flouncing and pouting and generally being peevish. Plus ça change, right?

    • I had a package that I sent to Lee go astray for 2 months, only to be returned to my doorstep, with the box mauled, label torn off, contents defiled. I blamed an unruly dog for that-no postal worker seemed capable of that level of aggression. I hope.

      • I blame the USPS. I get mauled packages all the time.

        Also: UK post is weird. I order books occasionally and have gotten them in, like, two days. But other times it’s 2 – 3 weeks.

        • NYUSPS is weird, too. I get stuff from London in a couple of days, and stuff from the upper east side can take a couple of weeks.

          • TWO WEEKS. Took me two weeks to get a package to Brooklyn! I thought it had disappeared.

      • I blame the USPS wholeheartedly–I’ve had many a package show up weeks late on my doorstep from both domestic and foreign shippers that looks like it was kicked the whole way there. I’ve gotten to the point where I specifically ask shippers to make sure they wrap things well, and I’ve taken the boxes back to our local USPS in an attempt to document the horrors they’ve perpetrated on my packages, but alas, nothing seems to get them to change.

        • They don’t care, as far as I can tell. And since I’m shipping something I’m not supposed to be shipping, I never say anything.

        • Also — the local USPS main office lost a perfume package (I had to sign for it) for about a week, and they could not have been less interested in looking for it. They found it eventually. It made it all the way from Latvia to three miles away…

    • Yeah, but you’re in our spam filter, filthy boy! I’ll get you a login, that should help.

      You and I love our skank, okay? But the Jane Birkin to me smells basically like partly-composted manure. I mean, if CB made a scent called “manure” that would be it. It’s not a BAD smell but not something I want to soak my cleavage with.

  3. If I start thinking about the number of times I’ve probably offended someone in Perfumistaville, I will break out in hives. So I won’t.

    But you know I’ve prolly been BAD! >:)

    PayPal takes care of all the payment headaches, it seems. I am a firm believer in payi………crap! I just sent out a package that was supposed to have money in it, too! Crap! Hoist on my own petard!!! Crap!:”>

    Crap. See what sanctimony will get you? Crap.

    I am embarrassed. CS, money coming separately. Mailed tomorrow. I swear…

    xo >-)l-)

    • Mwahahahaha!!!! The issue with paying someone with PayPal btw (can I make you feel guilty?) is PayPal shaves their profit from the payment, I can’t remember how much … so people who are watching the pennies can get bummed.

      Now I’m loling over the rest of your message.

  4. My favorite is when I’ve hosted a split, one recipient gets it, says they don’t like it and want to return it. Huh?

    Other is swappers who figure things to the penny. I realize that may appeal to lots of people, but trying to figure out the exact swap value to within a nickel is annoying. I don’t care if I’m a little long or short as long as it’s something I want.

    Being badgered to swap something for something I don’t want. This is when I quit swapping entirely. People who would read my wish list, want something on my list and had nothing on their list that was close. I have a hard time saying no umpteen times a day, so I just shut it off then.

    Crap labels that won’t pass the getting perfume on them test. NOthing is worse than getting a treasure in a bottle with a label all smeared that you can’t read!

    • oh, yes, that crap label leading to the unknown fabulous decant issue!

    • Yeah, can’t they just RETURN IT?

      No?

      I just sent out a package and if they peel off the label, there’s TPC’s return address. I still send out recycled envelopes :d but there’s good stuff inside!

      Swaps on MUA didn’t work out for me at all, I basically gave up.

      • Yeah, MUA was some of the best swapping I’ve done and the worst. I’d still swap with friends if all of my friends didn’t have all the same stuff I have.

        I still miss your packages. They’d show up, and I’d just bust out laughing as the mailman handed it to me.

        • There are still people all over the country laughing at my packages, I promise.

            • ps. I was gonna mention the ‘to the penny’ swappers – I’m with you, P. If I don’t like it, you can ‘have’ it, pretty much. I’ve swapped FBs of some rather pricey juice for the weirdest stuff.

              For me, swapping has to be relatively pleasant – once we start measuring mls I lose all interest.

              xo >-)

      • Seemed like it was better a few years ago. Now it seems like teenagers who want to swap (used) lipstick and the like for perfume. Um, used lipstick is ok in the 8th grade girls bathroom but…I got tired of saying “you have nothing on your list — nussing, do you hear me?” in a hundred different ways, so I finally shut it off.

    • I was thinking that I didn’t have any swap issues to complain about – all swaps and splits have gone well so far for me (knock on wood). Reading your comment on labels, though – YES!!!!! Some decant labels are SO awful that I’ve replaced them with my own. There are other times I’ve transferred juice to a different bottle cause the bottle was so cheap, and the label so horrible that I just wanted the presentation to look better. Why would I want a Guerlain exclusive in a cheap bottle with a smeared label?

      So, yes, take pride in your decanting supplies, and if you have to charge a bit more for it, by all means do so.

      • I’ve changed out a lot of labels, except the ones that I forgot what they were sending or it was an extra that was fabulous, and nobody had any idea of what it was. Sad, sad, sad. Those Brother labelers are so cheap, no self-respecting perfumista that swaps should be without one.

        • About three months ago, I spent a whole afternoon transferring every decant I had ever received where I didn’t like the bottle, label, whatever, into my nice matching glass atomizers with my pretty pink labels from my Brother P90 labeler. Ah, perfumista’s OCD :)

  5. Guilty as sin of the lazy swapping – most days I’d rather have a root canal than visit the post office for any reason besides picking up tax forms, so it can take me a while to actually ship the stuff. And I’m with Patty re: penny-counting swappers. I get the principle, but…come on. You’re swapping it because you don’t want it, correct? And you’re interested in something I have and don’t want. Bargaining down to the exact milliliter or vintage ruins the spirit of the thing. (Luckily most of the peeps I’ve swapped with “get” the spirit.)

    Holy Grail scents and their adoption by family or friends…honestly, I’ve never been on board with the anger and resentment this seems to inspire in perfumistas everywhere. Again, I get the principle – you don’t want your special “discovery” to be adopted by one of the unwashed, least of all a BFF or family member. But I can’t help feeling a tiny thrill when I catch one of my favorite scents on the wind, no matter who it’s wafting from. A best friend adopting one of my faves would both flatter me and make me enjoy seeing them more, because hey, I get to smell my favorite fragrance on another person! If we wore it together we’d create a stereo smell effect! Blow everyone’s minds! (Maybe I’m too geeky for this hobby.)

    • I’m terrible about the “ml” thing — early on I’d try to swap sets of samples, if I had duplicates (I file mine) and it came down to questions like: well, exactly how many times did you SPRAY the Van Cleef? I don’t know! I gave up.

      HG scents — I’m too much of a scent slut to wear one thing consistently, and if I introduce someone like my sister-in-law to Mitsouko (which I did) I can hardly claim Mitsy for myself. I agree with you, it’s actually FUN to smell something unusual in the wind!

      • Also, if you introduce your HG to enough people they might not discontinue it..

        • This is what I tell myself, too. But there are just a few I wish were mine, all mine… I think I’m unreasonable, though.

  6. I’ve done a couple of sales of my collection to sate the taxman’s appetite for my euros, and pretty much everyone is aware of my acute postal phobia. This is why I don’t do many draws on Grain de Musc: it takes me ages to get together the wrapping supplies, then hoist myself on foot to La Poste, wait in line, fill in the three different forms required to get something past the EU zone… And then get the jitters until the bottles make it to their destination. I remember a huge parcel that took a month to get to the US and in a sorry state, full of vintage stuff which would have been irreplaceable. The buyer was very gracious about it but I truly don’t know what I would have done if it had been lost.
    Those are the reasons I never got into swaps at all, it’s just too nerve-wracking for me to deal with overseas parcels.

    As for getting Grain de Musc readers’ feathers in a ruffle by ragging on their favourite scent, I don’t think it’s happened much because I tend to focus on things I admire. I remember though when you did the post on Manoumalia, March, and there was a collective exorcism session about it: that yielded quite a lot of material for my book, as you know.

    • Overseas parcels are the worst! For that reason, I won’t ship overseas to people who I don’t know. The recipient needs to understand that there is some risk involved.

      • I’ve done it a few times, with success, but I’ve stopped. It makes me too nervous.

    • What Melissa said. To sell something and then send it overseas …. yikes. I’d only do that with someone I knew, probably, because what to do if the stuff gets broken or disappears?

      I’m so glad I was of so much help generating material for the book! ;)

    • Let me thank you again, then, for all your packing and posting of the great Vamp a New-York giveaway. I HIGHLY appreciate the generous gift of your time and trouble.

      • Gretchen, thank God I had Christian from Honoré des Prés packing away with me! We were side by side at two café tables at a terrace with our envelopes and samples… And he was the one who shipped, bless him.

        And March: yes, you are now immortalized as the Queen of Skank.

  7. Love this post! :)

    I’m with you with penny-counting swappers. I did it couple of times as they had stuff I wanted but I don’t do it anymore. It irritates me, especially as I never look at swaps like that and always add extras that I think might be appreciated. I don’t get upset if I don’t receive anything extra but extras are usually there and very much loved.
    Only once did it happen that I swapped for a bottle of something and it never arrived. But as I swap a lot, one missing package is a good statistic. :)

    • The first bottle swap I ever did, the half I sent (which was vintage and not really replaceable) disappeared, stolen by the USPS in the holiday rush, I assume. It was a wobbly start. And I stopped swapping samples partly for the reason you gave — people wanted to know the exact ml., how many times sprayed, etc. I can work out the difference between 30 and 50 ml, but that’s about as precise as it gets over here.

  8. I have started to avoid swapping because:

    1) I am a wretched swapper-like CC I hate the post office, and tend to avoid it at all costs. That said, I over-compensate by getting all worked up and rushing to get things sent out, way before my swap partner has even thought to find the swap object.

    2) I have been fairly disappointed on several occasions by the actual product I’ve swapped for-really far-off descriptions of the perfume, amount, etc.

    So now, I pretty much swap with friends, mostly locally.

    I have begged for perfume on a few occasions (um, broad, repetitive hints count, yes?) and also been begged for perfume. I sometimes avoid mentioning that I have a rare perfume in any public venue, because I just don’t want to say “no”

    The HG thing no longer bothers me, since my collection is large, but there were a few times early on that a family member appropriated one of my precioussssess as “theirs”. I suppose the word “family” in their would be a tip-off. It also slightly irks me that Black Cashmere smells so much better on my son than on me ; )

    • Well … but, broad, repetitive hints are fine, yeah? If I say, WOW, I sure would love to try that new Etat Libre sometime! I hear it’s fabulous! (Or vintage Jacques Fath, or whatever). And you have a bottle, you can offer up a taste. Or … not.

      I forgot that one! When something smells so much better on someone else — although see I appreciate my sister in law that way. She rocks the Messe de Minuit. And I’ve given her bottles just because she sprayed it on at my house and loved it. It’s funny, though, then a couple times she puts something on and I say: sorry, you can’t have That One! (Alahine…)

  9. oh, and as far as ragging on one’s perfume, or others-I never take any offense at comments/opinions. Individual skin and tastes vary so much. I guess it’s a wee bit more difficult if you believe you smell great, and someone asks what stinks, but hey, at that point I start looking elsewhere in the room!

    • So, if I sniff your arm, make a face and say “blech” you’ll abandon me?

    • If Luca Turin can call a favorite scent of mine dog-piss, and it doesn’t bother me, I just forget how much it bothers other people. Now, if someone smells something ON me and made a face or said “that’s terrible,” that might bother me, depending.

      • My mother has done this to me (she’s a sweet person, so she doesn’t mean it meanly). She does love Chanel Cuir de Russie, so I have to forgive her for not like CdG. At least she has SOME taste! Ha!

        But yea, it hurts my soul a tiny bit to get a perfume insult.

        • I have people look at me funny on a regular basis, but they mostly don’t say anything. And sometimes the kids/husband joke about a test-drive they’re not really crazy about. But if I were wearing a perfume out, and someone I cared about hated it, that would smart.

  10. My splitting experiences have been few but pleasant, especially the one that involved a trip to DC (even including a few moments of nail-biting when the bottle of the precious elixir wouldn’t come open).

    I don’t mind it when somebody I like, or a stranger, is wearing one of my beloveds, but it would irk me if someone I don’t like was. But not even that much, unless we were both wearing it on the same occasion.

    Can’t really understand why people get into such a tiz if one of our perfume gurus doesn’t like, or even rags on, something that we love. Of course I’m thrilled when you, March, agree with me on something I find wonderful, and I’m delighted to be educated by all my perfume pals who all know so much more than I do, but basically “agree to disagree” sums up my attitude (see Noire, Serge).

    • Noire, Serge indeed! And it must have been especially funny for you, with your job — it IS nice to see a positive review of something you already know you like. Then you can get excited about it and rave about it with a group of folks.

      Hmmmm…. still thinking about “same occasion.” I’ve wound up in Mitsy sometimes at the same time as my sister in law… I should have worn something else, though, I’m the one with a gazillion choices for a big night out. I kind of liked the effect, though. We were like Guerlain Ninja Warriors.

  11. I’ve pretty much switched from swapping to splitting and I have a few pet peeves. I don’t mind if others suggest a split but never offer to host, because I know that some people are very nervous about doing so. But the following are pretty bad: 1) signing up for a split then backing out/not paying 2) wanting to return the fragrance (see Patty’s post above) 3) blaming the host for problems with the postal service. These fall under the category of believing that the host is in this to make money! I wish that those folks would host splits just to see how much work it is and how much money you can lose if people misbehave.

    Oh and the other one is begging for the bottle. I’m surprised by the number of people who will ask for 5-10 ml of a fragrance then say “oh and can I have the bottle”?

    • They ask FOR THE BOTTLE!?! You just made my morning. Thanks. I’ve had people ask me for several ml (see “go buy your own”) but the whole bottle takes some serious stones, particularly if it’s a perfumista so they might know how expensive/beloved something is. (I’d be more forgiving of a friend who probably thought I could get another for 5 cents. No, I take it back — I wouldn’t. Who asks for other people’s things like that? I wouldn’t ask for your blouse, or your coffee cup.)

      Splits. I feel bad that I want *into* splits but never want to host — because I fricking HATE DOING IT. HATE HATE HATE. But you’ve made me feel not so bad about that. I pay up right away!

      • They’re asking for their share of the split (5-10 ml), but rather than getting a decant, they want the bottle itself. In other words, even though I’m the host, I get a decant, and they get the bottle! But I’ll give you my coffee cup any time.

        • Okay, I understand, and still. I don’t do a ton of splits but I have always assumed that the splitter keeps the bottle as part of the reward for hosting. I’d never ask for a bottle unless it was someone like Patty and I knew she was on her 6th bottle of it or whatever, could I buy the last bit in the bottle? (true fact: I still don’t own a single bell jar — the actual bottle, I mean. Does this reduce my perfumista cred?)

          Nobody better touch my coffee cups, I collect those chunky Buffalo china ones!

          • Oooh! I have a buncha those from the olden days before ebay, when you could actually find things in thrift stores…

    • OHGODYES!!! When I’ve done splits, I almost never care about the bottle, unless it is some huge Guerlain urn bottle that I have no idea what I’ll do with it, but I sure am not giving it away to the person that bought the smallest size possible.

      Or trying to do a big split in 1/2 ounce minimums, only to get the endless – but I only want 5 mls, can’t I do that? I’ve said yes before just to finish out a split, then hated myself for it in the morning, feeling cheap and dirty. :)

      I only do splits now if it’s something that I’d never pay that much for, it’s one of those big Guerlain mondo bottles with like two quarts in it. Period.

    • Lol… I’m glad I’ve only gotten people that ask for bottles when they know it is bottle #2 or 3 of the split =)

      I admit it, I really LOVE to host splits… not sure what it is about figuring out totals, collecting payments, ordering the perfume, writing out all the labels, taping, decanting, wrapping and pacakging.. but it makes me happy~ Call me crazy and yes I’m a control freak, don’t ask me for bottle #1… I may just ignore you =P

      I must say that my experiences on MUA has been generally great and it got me from beginner to pro pretty quickly. I learned to stay away from some folks because they just don’t seem to have the same ideas of swapping.

      Sigh and I wish US would be friendlier about sending international packages.. it makes me super sad when I look really hard for things I want on people’s swap lists to see “NO INTERNATIONAL SWAPS” or “US-ONLY”. Believe me I’ve been on both sides as I use to make trips to the post office with my 10+ packages and having to tell the postal worker what’s inside, and fill out countless forms… wait in line.. but having moved from the US to Taiwan I must say those of you that ship to me, you rock and I love you for it!

      • Well, thank goodness for you, otherwise how would the rest of us ever get in on a split!? (bowing emoticon here)

        Maybe it’s because I’m in the DC area but they are picky about international packages. I ship overseas sometimes, but not too often.

      • Monica, you’re a super-splitter! Sometimes I enjoy hosting splits, but lately it feels like pressure. And for some reason, I dislike it when people ask for the bottle, even if I’ve hosted multiple bottles of the same scent. I reserve bottles #2 and #3 for people who have been generous with me in the past or have bought a large portion etc. I usually send them as a surprise.

        As for shipping splits from the US internationally, I do it, but it’s a pain! And I have to trust the recipient. My domestic packages can be sent right from home. No long lines at the post office, forms etc.

        • Again, thanks to you guys who ship to me, tiny country on the other side of the world, I now have boxes of decants to play with =):x

    • I must admit that I’ve asked for the bottle on more than one occassion (granted I’ve never received one), but one never knows if a host has ordered multiples and doesn’t need to keep so many. I just thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask and never insisted. I would have been willing to pay a few more $$ for the bottle and extra shipping.
      I think it’s okay to ask, just don’t get pushy about it or upset if it doesn’t happen.

      • Again, I agree – it’s okay to ask, as long as you’re nice about it if the answer’s “no.”

    • That should always be answered with a no. If you host it, you get the bottle. Period.

      • PS I only got a bottle once, when the host said, after doing the split, she decided she didn’t like the fragrance after all!

  12. I won’t split because the one time I tried, it arrived but was in a bottle that leaked through the electric tape the shipper had put around it. I did not get all worked up, as the host of the decant was not trying to cause problems.

    I usually avoid swapping as I try to avoid my post office (and its long lines) as much as possible. I used to swap much more when I first joined MUA (usually for make up.) I was swap-napped once, but otherwise had generally good experiences. I like extras because you can try something you did not know you wanted.

    That said, I would feel safe swapping with people I “know”, even if I know them from the forums. Someone on POL pointed out that there is no point hoarding your vintage perfume as it won’t last forever. So eventually, I will be decanting a bit.

    I don’t care if someone else wears what I do. Back when I was in high school, my best friend and I used to try each others’ perfumes. They always smelled different on me than on her. So, I assume it will be little different. Also, since I wear multiple perfumes, it seems little churlish to expect that no one will wear any of them.

    There is a big difference between being critical of a scent and being critical of a scent on someone. I don’t like Angel on me, because if falls apart on my skin and smells just like a spice cabinet. I do like Angel on other people. Ditto Opium. I do not care if others don’t like No. 5, Youth Dew, Lolita Lempicka or anything else I wear. I would feel insulted if they told me I smelled bad (unless I had asked for an opinion.)

    • Being critical of a scent you’re wearing seems like crossing the line, although I agree, some scents I don’t like smell great on other people. I feel the same way you do about sharing scents, as I said upstairs already.

      The leaking packages! I’ve been pretty lucky there.

      It sounds like a bunch of people aren’t too jazzed about visiting the post office.

  13. I gave up on forum swaps because of that badgering-to-swap-for-something-crappy thing. Still swap samples with friends I’ve met on the blogs, though.

    And apparently I’m guilty on the label front. I finally bit the bullet and bought a labeler some months ago, and just recently heard that a vial leaked, rendering the label illegible. Thing is, how was I supposed to know that the label wouldn’t survive? Recipient mentioned it, so NOW I know, and (I think) it was the only vial in the package that did. (I think. I hope.)

    I love splits. Have participated in many-many, at this point, but have only hosted once. It nearly gave me hives, partially because the local postal workers are Idiot Anal-Retentive Nitpickers, and I hate lying on official documents, but partially because I was stressed over the concept of making the split come out Exactly Right. I’m so appreciative of people who are willing to host splits that I try my darndest to pay early and not quibble, even if the 10ml atomizer of Iris Ukiyoe leaks half its substance into the package… splitting’s a risk for everybody. You pays your money and you takes your chances, and sometimes things go awry and sometimes they are awesome.

    • I pay really fast on splits too, and I wouldn’t complain about what I got, since I’m too lazy to do the splits myself.

      I’m the only person who still hand-writes the labels, and my handwriting is terrible! I have had a few laughs with others when we email and go, so, WHAT does this say? I see an E, and then an X…

  14. Oh, also wanted to add that that label/postage purchase/print option on PayPal is the only thing that’s made me continue to swap/split. I also hate going to the PO and standing in line and having them ask me if there are any liquids or hazardous materials in the package just makes me shudder. Now I just print out the postage/label at home, slap it on, and drop the package into the mailbox. I was on a swap/split binge for awhile, hosted a bunch of splits. But I’m swapped/splitted out, and probably won’t do it again anytime soon…lots of work. BTW – hope I haven’t offended anyone with my swappage/splittage!

    • Oh, I should look into the PayPal labeling thing. I know eBay has a labeler too, I’ve never figured out how to use it.

  15. I’ve been very fortunate so far in the three plus years I’ve been a perfumista. I’ve only done about seven or eight swaps, and they’ve all gone very well with everyone being happy on both sides. No lost or destroyed packages yet. Haven’t participated in a split yet, either. Reading all the comments above has proven educational in case I ever want to participate in one.

    It makes me a little sad when I read a review that puts down or disparages galbanum, my favorite note, but that usually happens elsewhere, not here. I know March and Anita have defended it in the past. Plus, I keep in mind the ol’ skin chemistry factor, and remind myself that what smells good on me might not smell good on someone else. Grapefruit notes smell like sweat on me, for instance.

    My HG scent is No. 19, and it bugged me when on the USA network show, “Covert Affairs,” they made a bad character (Liza Hearn, an unethical reporter) wear No. 19. The good guy, Auggie from the CIA, goes undercover to figure out what she’s up to. Auggie happens to be blind, and he commented on how she’s one of the rare women who prefer No. 19 over No. 5. Well, great! Mixed feelings — nice to have No. 19 singled out as being more special than No. 5 (yeah!!), but why did it have to be on a BAD character?!? So, as you can see, I get more worked up about fictional people wearing my favorite scents than I do about real people wearing it. :-)

    • Galbanum I defend, although to be honest it’s not my favorite note … I dunno, lots of people don’t like specific notes. Grapefruit I love and it smells like pee on/to lots of perfumistas, doesn’t bother me that they think so. I don’t care for rose much meself.

      That’s so funny about 19! I wonder what Alexis Colby Carrington or whatever her name is wore…

      • I recall reading a blog post that mentioned one episode where Alexis wore Crystal’s perfume to try and seduce Blake. Now I can’t remember what Crystal’s perfume was…

  16. All y’all do realize you can have the mailman come right to your door and pick up the package, right?

    The order does have to include at least one Priority or Flat Rate box, but you can do it ALL online.

    My town of 210,000 has one, count ’em ONE, post office; I hate going there with a passion.

    I have been couch-bound for almost a year now, and the “Schedule a Pickup” service has been a huge blessing.

    • Wow, your town of 210K people has one PO? I would hate going there too! I had no idea the mail carriers would pick up boxes. It must be an online service? Good to know.

      • Rumor has it there’s a small annex clear across town tucked back in an industrial area, but even two is too few for almost a quarter of a million people, in my opinion. It really is a nightmare, especially during the Holidays. I was there once when the fire department cleared it out for being over capacity. And this is Southern California, for crying out loud, not the backwoods!

        Yep, you can pay for the postage, print the label and order the pickup all online.

        Go to the main website ( http://www.usps.com ) and you will see red tabs near the top of the page to guide you in printing the labels and scheduling pickups.

        Not affiliated in any way, just a happy customer!

    • Uh, nope. My carrier’s insanely overly-cautious (i.e., nuts), but she will NOT pick up packages. Even if they are pre-labeled. Even if I put them in the mailbox, instead of asking for a door pickup (the house is half a mile up a gravel road from the mailbox). She says, “What if they’re wrong? What if you’re mailing something you shouldn’t be mailing? I’d get in trouble. I could lose my job.” Grr.

      • If you do it online, officially, she should be turned in for not doing it. I can see where she wouldn’t do it just because she was asked to, but it is now a service that is provided by the post office.

        And I’d be happy to rat her out, so you don’t have to be the bad guy!

        • She’s otherwise nice, will sometimes bring a package to my door (a mile out of her way) instead of leaving the “come by the PO and pick up your package” card in the box…

          Maybe I will call and ask the postmaster “What up with yo drivers?”. That might get a wheel rolling.

            • I work for the Postal Service. Which is am amazing organization, no matter how horrible your particular counter clerks are. OK, enough said.
              Your carrier certainly should be picking up your parcels, if they have been labeled and paid for online. You can’t use stamps, they need to have the labels on them that you pay for and print online. Every day, we get a print-out of addresses where customers want us to pick up parcels. And, we pick up those parcels on our routes and take them back to the office.
              She sounds like a twit. I would call the Postmaster and ask about Carrier Pickup.

              • It’s funny, as I was reading some of the posts above about the USPS, I kept thinking “uh, oh! they’re just asking for trouble!”. For the record, I’ve had absolutely no reason to complain about the USPS. No one package in over 400 swaps has gone awry or been mistreated, so I think they do a great job :)

              • The USPS rocks, no doubt about it. I am a big fan.

  17. I work in Georgetown, close to a Sephora and a Blue Mercury so I catch familiar fragrances in the breeze fairly often. I heartily dislike the overdoses of Alien wafting by because I used to find it lovely at the one spray on each wrist level. Sometimes it smells like the person bathed in it and the jasmine comes at me like screaming purple neon plastic robot from hell. Then there are other days like one in early spring where I was transferring trains at L’enfant Plaza one morning at followed a path of Dzing! down to the orange line trying to figure out who it was coming from. Then I followed it out of the metro at Farrugut West still trying to identify the wearer. I felt like Pepe le Pew floating on the wake of someone’s scent.

    As to HGs adopted by family members or friends? We’ve all got such different tastes that I know that I can give anything I don’t like to one of them and it will find a loving home. For example, Chanel No. 5 smells like old jewelry boxes with a uriney edge on me, but on Chelsea smells like an ambery floral. And on me Fracas smells like evil bubblegum, but on Laura it smells like the most gorgeous white floral ever. And my friend Hil and I like playing with the weird and musky but it always smells different enough on her that it doesn’t really bother me.

    Though I wish I could find someone to take this Shalimar off my hands. It just doesn’t smell nice on me.

    • Hah, talk about smelling different on one person to the next, some perfumes smell different on me from wrist to wrist. My left wrist holds the scent longer, and smells more true to the notes. The right wrist eats scent, and it always smells slight muskier, and some notes don’t come through at all. (And I mean the top of the wrist/hand, so it’s not like it’s getting wiped off or anything.)

      • Oh good, I’m not alone with this phenomenon. Perfumes always (ALWAYS) smell better on my forearm, near my elbow, where the most hair is. On my wrists they can seem oddly flat or thin. What is that about?

        • I think it might have something to do with the temperature of the surface of the skin, the amount of your natural body oils, and the amount of activities it gets exposed to. If you’re left or right handed, the favored wrist may give off more heat and burn up a scent faster whereas the “lesser” wrist would remain cooler, not project as much, but retains the scent longer.
          It iss my theory, and it is the theory that is mine. *Ahem*

  18. I have had only positive experiences with splits and swapping. I even swered up and switched #s in my address, so the swapper got her package back – she reshipped it for free even though it was my mistake and I offered to pay or ship her more stuff. I’ve never been swaplifted and my only concern is did I send the right amount of extras? I’ve never had to beg for perfume – perfumistas are so generous, people are always offering to share, so I try to do the same.

    I have hosted a few splits and am gulty of the handwritten label : ( If I host any more, I will buy a labeler!

    Unfortunately, my husband gets migraines and is very sensitive to fragrances. There isn’t a single perfume that he likes and I’m finally coming to terms with not being able to wear perfume as much as I would like, and also him never sniffing me and saying you smell so nice. A few weeks ago, I was wearing one of my favorite perfumes (MAC Africanimal, which I have 2 bottles of!), only 1 or 2 spritzes and we were at dinner and he said that my perfume was making him ill. So I wear my perfume to work now and that’s about it.

    • that “swered” was supposed to be “screwed.” Silly me!

    • Your story breaks my heart! That’s so sad that the perfume gives him migraines!

    • The sensitive to perfumes/migraine thing … oy. I get migraines too, and there are times of the year (allergies) I can’t wear anything, really. Your poor husband, and poor you.

      • It is frustrating, especially since it seems to have gotten worse in the past year (I used to wear perfume often and while he didn’t care for it, he even bought me some I specifically asked for and he would wear stuff I gave him occasionally) and I’m not a heavy spritzer and don’t wear stuff that is that loud anyway. At least I’ll be saving money!

  19. I’ve never really swapped or joined on splits- but… here’s my question. I’ve won something in a giveaway hosted by a perfume manufacturer, and it’s been an entire month since it’s been posted, but nothing has arrived. I feel bad for nagging them about it so I haven’t done that(yet), as it was a giveaway and I’m getting it for free… but… I still want to try that fragrance! Should I send them an inquiring mail at least, or just leave it at that? :(

    • You should definitely say something. Sometimes they are slow to mail … but that doesn’t sound like the case here. If nothing else, the manufacturer would want to know it never arrived; if they’re smart, maybe they’ll send a replacement. I’d say, just be nice about it (just wanted to let you know etc.) and see what they say.

  20. I feel so lucky after reading all this! I’ve had mostly great experiences swapping and hosting splits. Still, I think that’s over for now. It’s too time-consuming, and I’m not interesting in much sampling right now. *Focused sampling*–yes (like going out to specifically do it). General sampling, not really.

    But I have had experience with the begging for samples and even decants. Just one person, but it was awful. And vintage stuff, of course.

    • And now you avoid that person, right? Right? Vintage stuff I was more sympathetic about until people started doing splits and selling it.

      • Yep, absolutely. I avoid at all costs! But it’s so easy to avoid all that stuff with all the people selling portions of theirs.

        By the way, I am guilty of one of the cardinal sins of swappers and splitters–I hand-write my labels. I put tape over them, but the labels are what they are. So I’m with you in that regard. I excuse my sin by claiming my handwriting is beautiful–which it is. Beauty might not mean legible, however. :)

        • Well, my handwriting is terrible, but I justify the whole thing by thinking about the great stuff I’m sending.

  21. Great post, March, my dear.

    As the “B” of your tale, I must say a truly heartfelt thank you once more. It was such a sweet thing to do and I am so glad it made that experience better for you as well as thoroughly delighting me!

    I tend to be fairly relaxed about swapping and amounts, unless it is a really rare or super expensive perfume from my own collection rather than something I tried and am happy to pass on. Sometimes people have sent me the wrong items in a multi-swap. I don’t find this to be a big deal, as a big part of the fun of swapping is trying new ‘fumes — even if they weren’t on my list. I really don’t care how the swappies are packed as long as they don’t leak or break (Miller Harris once sent me a bunch of samples but didn’t put any bubble wrap around them. Needless to say, they all shattered. They never sent me replacements and I was terribly disappointed). The one thing that does bother the hell out of me is when someone agrees to swap and then backs out.

    As to begging for samples, if you are a perfume pal, I am almost always happy to part with at least a smidge of something if asked. I have also, a couple of times, sent perfume to strangers wanting a swap who didn’t have anything of interest to me but who really wanted something of mine. I figure I can always use more good karma, right?

    On other fronts, I am super lucky with my local post office. The regular Joe there (yes, his name is Joe) is a darling and always asks me what perfume I am wearing and gives me his expert opinion!

    The one time a friend tried a favourite perfume of mine and decided to get some, I was strangely weirded out at the prospect of us both wearing it. Up till then, I had never felt possessive about a particular scent. Maybe it was because that one is my give-a-man-the-look-and-work-it scent, so it felt rather, um, personal. Otherwise, I quite like giving sharing my perfumes. I am not in the least offended if one of my friends doesn’t care for whatever i am wearing: so far, I can tell you that NO-ONE like Noir Epices but me. But more often the response is “Ooooo, what is THAT?”

    • I get samps from manufacturers and am occasionally surprised at how poorly they are packed — just thrown in an envelope and shattered. On the other end of the spectrum is REALLY elaborate packaging and a huge box and PR material for a single 3ml vial.

      You know, I’ve had a couple friends buy something unusual after smelling it at my house — things I like and wear. But again, I guess because I have so many scents, and I don’t work next to them or whatever, it didn’t bother me.

  22. I still cringe at the memory in my early days of swapping of asking someone to swap 5ml of Parfum des Merveilles for 5ml Troisieme Homme. I didn’t know Parfum des Merveilles was parfum and I stupidly paid full retail for the Caron so I thought it was quite expensive… I know, I’m an idiot on both counts. The person concerned very politely declined but never swapped with me again. I can’t say I blame her. Most of my swaps since then have gone well but I am guilty of most of the cardinal sins. My labels are horrendous and my packaging worse, though it is secure. I also don’t respond to every email request which is horribly rude but there just isn’t time. But my particular bete noire is the fact that people get so upset about things. Swapping in an ideal world allows you to get what you want in return for something you don’t but nothing comes for free and it is a hassle for both of you. Even if you have crappy labels and crappy packaging and didn’t have any decent extras lying around or any time to decant something decent as an extra or any spare sample tubes, you have still made the effort to send the emails and agree the swap and go to the post office and that’s the main thing. People should give each other a break. Assuming the package doesn’t go astray, you are still getting what you want in the end.

    • Well, you and I are in the same boat on packaging and labelling. As long as everything’s clean and it gets there in one piece, I don’t care how it’s packed. I hear you on the “getting what you want” – I’ve done many swaps where one package was theoretically worth a lot more than the other, retail, but who knows what people actually paid? And you’re winding up with something you want. I am lol’ing on your Merveilles swap.

  23. Hi March, great post, as always. I have been very fortunate to do swaps, etc. with many lovely, generous people.
    And sometimes, if I know someone likes a certain fragrance and I have it and don’t love it, I’m happy to simply send it to them, just so it’s going to a good home, you know? And a time or two, I’ve had people say,”Oh, so you like xxxx, I have a sample, I’ll send it to you.” And that’s a nice surprise, but not necessary. And then a few who’ll say, “Oh, I’ll send you xxx,” but then they never seem to get around to it, and that’s OK, too. I just figure they’ve got a lot going on and don’t have time.

    • I’ve had sent to me (and sent) thing to people just because I think they might like them — because they like something similar, or incense, or whatever. I only don’t like it if they say they’ll send something and don’t just because I wonder if it got lost, and are they waiting for me to thank them?! Awkward.

      • Hi March-great post! Very interesting. I have only done the swaps you set up with the event here on the posse, so never knew the niceties. Guilty of the handwritten, unattractive labels! But my swap partners were so nice and obviously knew what they were doing. About a year ago, March, I sent you something, via someone else but I don’t think you ever got it. It was clueless of me to impose that kind of burden. I didn’t think. Sorry! Maybe that little bottle will surface.

      • Exactly! Awkward is right! And then you feel doubly awkward asking them if they sent it because it sounds like you’re hounding them.
        And you know, after awhile, you just want to say, “Please just forget it — if you’re that busy, then I really don’t need to be intruding on your time.”

  24. This was information I really needed, since I’ve only done one perfume swap so far. Thanks a lot!

    • You’re welcome! I hope we don’t sound crabby … we’ve said it before, perfumistas are a generous, wonderful bunch.

  25. >>>If I rag on Angel or that Jane Birkin thing, remind yourself that I like D&G Light Blue.

    Great line, I need to use it myself! :))

  26. Being an Australian living in the ‘bush’ participation in the perfumista community thru’ splits, sampling, ebay, wonderful niche stuff from overseas that is not available here,the adventure unsniffed buy etc has been a real joy for me…and there have been hundreds of transactions! Virtually nothing has gone wrong; I’ve only had one broken bottle (pulverised, and delivered dripping fragrantly in a special bag, you would think there would be a bust on that!)and replaced without hestitation; one pack of TPC samples opened at Quarantine and forwarded with their special yellow tape all over it, and one of a By Killian Oud split also, slightly leaking and thus I reckon the sniffer dogs picked up something natural in it! I believe I have never had anything phoney.
    But the big bummer has been a fairly rapid curtailment of what was going to be a massive splitting career by post office terror…just the same I find the ban on frag rather silly.
    As far as sillage on others go, I have ALWAYS just ADORED smelling others’ perfume, and only wish there was more of it. A whiff of frag usually sends me off into a reverie consisting of appreciation, analysis (I seem to be able to remember everything I’ve ever smelled), curiosty.
    My daughter gets a lot of spraying from me!

    • I’ve swapped with AU and NZ and it worked out really well. Good postal service. And I know for a lot of people living in rural/remote areas or countries without a lot of imports, swaps are a huge deal. I find the frag ban silly too, which is why I ignore it — my bottle of Femme is NOT going to explode. UPS and Fed X ship them!

  27. Love this post, March!
    I’ve been very lucky on my swaps so far and most of the swappers have been overly generous.
    On the great November Posse Swapmania, I did have one item that several others wanted. So rather than doing a direct swap with just one person, I took it offline with all parties concerned to work out the deal so that everyone got a piece of the pie and I ended up with a windfall variety in return. I believe we all walked away happy.
    I also have a great postal phobia like many others. The clerk at the local post office flatly refused to accept a pkg when I told them the content was perfume – not knowing about the hazardous materials clause and procedure. I have had to deny the contents with a straight face from that day forward, sick to my stomach each time. I don’t think that office would even accept an ORM-D label if I told them it’s legitimate.

    • Great idea to split the swap, if you’re up for it. And I know — I used to tell the truth, and one day … (ominous music) they said no. So then I went to another PO for awhile, and then back to mine, lying through my teeth. For some reason, lying on packages with Customs forms makes me even more nervous. But they haven’t come for me yet.

      • I’ve done it a few times with customs. But they always say “perfume” which to me equates with “extrait.” Well, poor folks like me can’t afford to buy much extrait, even on the producer’s home soil, so most of what I bought were edt, edp, and ancillary products. I didn’t think those count. :d

  28. I stopped swapping many many years ago because of the pettiness. One of the things that still disgusts me was swapping with a long time MUA member for some minor, non-niche scent. She kept asking me for more and more and more and more of my things as a swap for her one non-rare, non-vintage thing. I loaded her package up with all she asked for and an enormous amount of extras. She got my end fast as it went out Priority, and she wrote and cooed, “ooooh, I’ll have to send you another package because you were sooooooo generous.” Well, that did not happen and I received her end quite late, the item was less than full, not as described and the “extras” which she so avidly promised I would be “just thrilled with” were a scent strip torn from a magazine, a dirty comb, a 3/4 used eyeshadow that was more pan than shadow and a carded sample-with no sample. My shock was immense and I wrote to ask her it the package was a joke. Receiving no response, I left her negative feedback and she whined on the Frag board for days about how “mean” I was.

    I was tempted to send her another package-filled with cat shit-but I was afraid the US Postmaster would bust my ass. They say discretion is the better part of valour. Still not sure about that…

    • No, no, no sending cat shit! Obviously a lot of people have had great swaps on MUA. My swap career on there was short-lived only because it seemed jinxed — a bottle on my end, and one of my other packages, just disappeared — and since I was new I always worried/suspected that tTHEY suspected I was lying about sending the stuff. Then I had one attempted swap where it came down to, how many times have you sprayed the sample, and just quit. Have swapped privately with many people through the Posse, though.

    • My favorite “fabulous extras” in an MUA split was a bunch of panty liners (fortunately unused) and a small ball of tangled up yarn.

  29. I’m sorry to say that I’m the Slow-Mailer. I really do enjoy hosting splits…sometimes I’m really good at packing up (good packer) labeling bottles and samples (taped on but not hand written) I generally include a sample or two (especially for the newbies) I love to share…..sometimes I’m great at getting that split right into the mail….and sometimes it takes me weeks….then I’m filled with shame and guilt!!!
    I don’t usually do swaps….and right now I’m the baddie in the bunch…she sent her end…but I can’t find her address so I can’t send my end! Can’t find an email or anything!!!!

    Charlotte !

    if you are out there—email me! I have a lovely packet all (carefully packed and labeled) ready to send to you! *this is killing me!* :(

    • Daisy, lady, you are seriously under-serving yourself. You are a Hostess Supreme!

  30. I love swaps and splits, from the farther away the better. Still can’t get over the fact that packages go out to Korea and come to me from England, Greece, Taiwan, and so on. The whole delights me.

    BUT. I can’t do them very often because I have to be in the right mood for negotiating, and I can be excruciating slow about getting things in the mail on my end. However, the resulting guilt almost always makes it worth the wait for the waiting party. As I believe my partners can attest to.

    So many people were generous with me when I knew nothing and had nothing and it felt completely magical. I like to be able to throw a little of that back in the water when I can.

Comments are closed.