CPI International-Warning!

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ToxLabRat's picture
CPI International-Warning!

I normally am not one to point out negative aspects of any business as I feel that most people tend to focus too much on the negative and not enough on the positive aspects of things. However recently I have had such a horrible experience with a supplier of ICP-MS parts and consumables that I feel I would be doing an injustice to my fellow scientists and chemists out there by not giving everyone a head’s up.
Our company had a bad experience with CPI International back in 2008, which was before I came on board and as a result our CEO had them removed from our list of approved suppliers. Last year I received a promotional offering via email from CPI on ICP-MS cones and decided to re-visit the issue with my CEO to see if he would give CPI another chance. He agreed and I placed an order for a skimmer cone and a sampler cone for my Elan 6000. Upon receipt of these cones, I came to realize very quickly that they did not fit properly within the instrument. The skimmer cone did not fit snugly into the interface and the sampler cone would not even fit in the interface at all. I emailed my customer service representative to address the issues with him and he assured me that they would send out a new set and that it was surely an isolated instance. I sent the defective set back and received a replacement set within about 4 weeks and when I tried to put the replacement set into my Elan I experienced the exact same issue. I put the CPI cones next to some Perkin Elmer cones so that I could compare them side by side and what I discovered is that the outer edges of the CPI cones were significantly thicker than the Perkin Elmer brand.  Again I contacted my CPI account representative and told him that the replacement cones were giving the same issues as the first set and that I had taken pictures so that he could see how they differed from the Perkin Elmer cones. At this point I told him that I wanted to send these cones back and have a full refund of my money and not an account credit, as I was in need of some usable cones and it was obvious that I was going to have to seek them from another supplier since CPI could not supply me with properly fitting cones. I was assured that I would be refunded with a check and that I should receive that check within a few weeks. More than 2 months passed and I never received a refund check. I called to inquire about it and was told I would need to speak with someone in accounts payable who then told me that no one had told her to issue a refund check and that she would put in the request for a check to be issued right then and I would receive it within 3 weeks. Another month and a half passed and still I had no check. This time when I called my sales representative I was told that he did not know why I had not received my check and that he would look into it. Another 4 weeks goes by and still I have no status update, no refund check and no one who can even tell me why I have experienced such a delay. Upon speaking with my CEO about it, I learned that this is exactly what was done to us back in 2008 and is ultimately what caused him to drop them as a supplier. The even worse part about this is that when I agreed to give this company another chance I asked for assurance that should we have any issues at all, that it would be handled in a timely fashion and to our approval and I was given this assurance in writing. At this point I emailed my sales representative back and forwarded him the original email where he assured me that CPI would do whatever it took to earn back our business. He told me that he was doing the best he could but that it was out of his hands and in his CFO’s hands and then he gave me her email and transferred me to her voicemail. I left her a detailed message and asked for a return call, as did I send her an email. Three more weeks went by and still I had no reply from her or from anyone else with the company, nor did I have any refund check. At this point I had to go to the CPI website and research to find the CEO’s name and then use the email format that was used with all of my other contacts at that company to email him. Another 2 weeks went by and still nothing. This went on until I finally got in touch with the CFO, who not only did not apologize but was very rude to me on the phone. It was not until I threatened to turn them into the FTC and Better Business Bureau that I finally got a refund check. From the date of the first issue it took more than 6 months for this company to resolve the issue.
It was VERY frustrating as did it take up a significant amount of my time having to continually call and email these people over and over again in an effort to get them to rectify the matter and all the while, I still had no usable cones and was missing over $700 from my budget. It is for the above reasons, that I felt that this was worth sharing with others, as I would never want anyone to have to go through what I was put through with this company and since this issue occurred not once, but twice in a row, I feel that it was not an anomalous event. The company makes themselves out to be a large global company but through further investigation I have learned that they are not a large company at all. It would appear that they are dishonest and are not a very trustworthy business. 

faridr1's picture
I had a bad experience with

I had a bad experience with that vendor back in 1993 with their arsenic in the ICP multi-element standard and ran low and lost it in the solutiomn after a while, ten months before expiration date and I've tried another of their standards, same proble. Since then, I've not used their standards eventhough they called me several times to use their products.