This is a post from a good friend of mine to warn others about his experience with Artesania Romera. I have known about the issues he has had and have even used the brush first hand and cannot believe the poor condition of the finish on this handle. Interestingly he posted this on The Shave Nook forum where it was deleted within minutes and he was banned. Obviously they like to protect their paying vendors. Now on to the post:
This is a a warning or a public service announcement for anyonethinking of ordering a brush from Artesania Romera (Gustavo Romera).
I do not make this post to tell people not to buy from him but I think it’s important to share my experience so people can make an informed decision for themselves when parting with their money. I also understand some people will have positive experiences of Artesania Romera and to save time and confusion I am not disputing those experiences I’m simply telling everyone my individual experience. I also hope this post does not fall foul of any forum rules and is taken in the spirit it is written, that is not to cause mischief but to inform and is allowed to be viewed freely by members regardless if Gustavo is a paid up vendor or not.
I ordered a 26mm Manchurian Rustic Barber Fan from Gustavo Romera on 28/03/16 and I had noted from the site that lead time could vary from up to 2 months or more and I had heard comments on the forums that he can take a while but his brushes were worth it in the end. As you will read , I’m a fairly patient man.
On the 26/04/16 ( 30 days since ordering and payment ) I contacted Gustavo with regards to an “in stock” brush that had appeared on his site for sale and I asked if I were to purchase it could he include it with the original “custom” order to save on postage , packaging etc as it was available immediately. He replied in less than an hour and said my original order would be ready and he would send both in a few days together.
During the next couple of days I received an unexpected Veterinary bill and decided not to purchase the 2nd brush. On the 29/04/16 I informed Gustavo of my decision and expressed my happiness that my original order would be shipped any day as he described when I enquired about buying another brush on top of my original “custom” order. I asked him to confirm this timeline. He did not reply to me so I gave him 7 days (06/05/16) and then contacted him again. I wasn’t expecting a reply as quickly as I had all the time but I thought a week in this day and age of e-commerce was ample time to respond so I sent another email.
Now bare in mind at this point according to Gustavo the original brush should have been shipped about a week previous as he said. He contacted me the same day to tell me the brush that he said would be ready and shipped about 7 days previous was not ready or shipped but would be finished in another weeks time. This is when alarm bells start to ring, I can appreciate the whole Artisan thing but now he is either really confused and behind on the job or worse still he is just flat out telling me lies which would make him a liar. Anyway I thanked him for replying and wished him a good weekend.
Another 10 days passed with no further enquiry from me to allow him to get on with what he does. No shipping details either or information of at what stage the order that by this stage he said would have shipped 17 days previously. Now I understand this time frame is still in keeping with the 2 month lead time but the difference being he told me when I enquired about purchasing another “in stock” brush that it would be ready in a few days, If it’s not at that stage yet just say so. Now for it to be ready to ship in a few days at that time (26/04/16) he would have needed to have had the brush coated with whatever sealant he uses and the knot glued and set for at least a day. So when he told me it would be ready to ship in a few days (estimated shipping date would have been Friday 29th) it would have been turned etc already so what could explain the halt in progress and be put back by at least another 7 days according to him which was now 10 days later and it was still no further forward. All very suspect I thought at the time. After a couple of days he got back to me
(18/05/17) with an apology and an assurance that my order was ready for shipping and would be posted out the next day. Great I thought.
I made no further contact with Gustavo aside to get the tracking number until my brush arrived on the 28/05/16 and I informed him of how happy I was with it although the black finish at the top of the brush ran off when in contact with water. He expressed his happiness at my happiness but made no mention of the black stain defect. By the 31/05/16 the brush was in a terrible condition. Not only had the black stain ran off so much that the poke marked design of the top of the brush started to look brittle and a bit flaky. This was nothing compared to the rest of the handle , huge swaiths of the finish had peeled off and I could no longer use it as I worried of water damage to the integrity of the wood. I told him of this and he expressed surprise and said he’d NEVER seen this before, something I would later find out from several customers of his was another lie.
Gustavo asked for me to post it back at his expense and he would repair it and by way of compensation he would give me 25% off my next purchase but I asked for a knot to be sent back with my repaired brush instead and he agreed if I would then cover the postage. I felt this was fair as the value of a 26mm Manchurian fan on his site was 41 Euros. The postage was between 10 and 15 Euros and with most of his brushes at about 120 Euros that added up for me and I agreed.
My brush arrived with Gustavo on 06/06/16 and I sent a an email on 10/06/16 to ask what he thought of the problem. He replied (11/06/16) that the brush was in treatment and would be ready in a week. At this stage he also said he made a mistake and he only had silvertip or Manchurian bulb knots in stock so I agreed to take the Manchurian bulb. I emailed him again on the 17/06/16 (Friday) to see if it was ready as he said it would be. It would be posted on the following Monday he said. On the 22/06/16 I asked for the tracking details of the parcel and received a response on the 23/06/16 saying that a family member had to be taken to hospital and he has been out of town for a few days but he had left his brother in charge of shipping, furthermore he could not tell me if it had been posted until he got back home. I expressed sympathy for his situation and left it there despite his timeline not adding up.
Now this is the stage when I started to get quite annoyed with him.
During the period of time when he said my brush would be posted right through to when he replied to say he was looking after a sick relative out of town he was advertising and posting on social media with brushes that were recently placed in the “in stock” section of the website and I knew we was in contact with people who were enquiring about buying from him. He could manage to do all this , upload pics ,make comments and reply to people on Instagram ( a platform where we both followed each other and he knew this) etc but he couldn’t contact his brother to find out if he had shipped the brush or not? Bare in mind you would think he would want to sort my brush with no delay as I had to send it back to him for repair.
I informed him on the 26/06/16 (6 days from when it was supposed to be posted) that I sympathized with his family situation but if he could be very active on social media he could have found out if the parcel had been posted as he said it was all packaged up and ready to go. I also reminded him that he said it would only take a few days to remedy this problem and he had had it by this stage for 3 weeks. He responded that day with a sorry , I’ll post it tomorrow.
The brush arrived on 04/07/16 and within 2 uses the same affliction struck the brush , the finish just started to peel away. I spoke with a reputable brush maker and he expressed doubt if the wood indeed was Briar wood as he said its very porous and takes a stain well. I put this to Gustavo and he said he was on vacation until the 18/07/16 and will talk to me then. On the 18th he tells me it must be a faulty batch of varnish and to continue using it as he was very busy at the moment! He would sort it at a later date when he had more time! To say I was flabbergasted was an understatement. I contacted him to say that if it was a faulty batch of varnish then considering it was used on the brush initially back in May then he would have seen dozens of brushes with the same problem by now and he must have still been using the same varnish he had identified as faulty to repair the brush as it happened again. I also expressed how disappointed I was in him being too busy to resolve this problem for a 2nd time. I told him that I would have expected him by now to have offered me a refund or a new brush and that I would not send him this brush until I had received it’s replacement. I felt if anything I should be a priority with all the hassle I had been receiving with this brush and he replied. He replied by saying I was as important as his other customers but that he was very busy! He then later went on to give me a story of woe that I bought at the time that I later realised he had copied and pasted from a public complaint thread on one of the forums in 2012. He complained he had to do his own washing and shopping etc and that he was only a small business in a rural Spanish town where he could not find help to run his shop. I felt bad for him at the time and on 19/07/16 I told him I appreciate his circumstances and that I would like a new brush sent as soon as possible in the circumstances.
I emailed him on the 12/08/16 , almost a month later which I felt was plenty of time for a follow up email and he said on the 15/08/16 when he replied that he would “send in a few days” So you have to assume the brush is done and is in the process of the finishing touches before posting but yes I’ve been here before. No word from Gustavo for over 10 days so I mailed him again on the 26/08/16 ,no reply. Again on the 31/08/16 , no reply and the 05/09/16 again no reply. He finally responds on the 14/09/16 nearly a whole month from when he said it would be sent in a few days. This is just wrong , how can a guy say he’ll send in a few days then a month later there is no communication or progress? He replies and casually says ” Hey , don’t worry I will send as promised , I’m busy and have almost 50 emails a day to answer!
He also went on to say he was in the middle of a big group buy of brushes for a Polish forum, like that should matter to me at this stage. I saw from social media that the Polish forum order was completed and I emailed him on the 02/10/16 , 04/10/16 , 18/10/16 , 23/10/16 and the 24/10/16 until I got a response. notice how Gustavo is being very remiss in his replies by this stage , more so than before ; by this time my time had ran out to raise a claim via PayPal.
By this point I was fed up and was starting to use the Andy Dufresne method of communication with him to force him to reply. I would do this from here on out as another excuse he gave me for no communication was that he gets so many emails he sometimes misses some. So by that rationale if I increased the volume of messages I stood a better chance of being answered.
By this point he had been ignoring my emails for over a month and I got desperate and pm’d him on Instagram to no avail then on one of his many posts advertising new “in stock” brushes for sale with the same knot spec as my brush that was to be replaced I posted on his Artesania Romera public Instagram and asked him to reply to his customer emails. He immediately blocked me on Instagram and continued to ignore my emails.
On 01/11/16 I told him I wanted a refund or a brush by a specified time or I would have to let people know of my dealings with him as I had given initially good recommendations to friends on forums etc and they had made orders with him on the strength of my testimonial and I could not in good faith keep this private anymore. He replied and this was his response –
I understand that you want to be my only customer, but it is not.
Shortly after ordering, and started to complain about why you did not send. I did it before other customers, even today some have not received your brush. For some unknown reason your brush was the only lost the coat. You sent for repair and again before you send it to other customers and again for some reason lost again finishing. I gave you an extra knot.
With all this as I told you a fully functional brush that you can use while I finish orders from people who were before you.
I’ve already told you I will send a replacement brush and not because the other also you can keep it.
If all customers who have enviasen emails to half of your rate to 10 people only need to read the emails.
I have not responded to any email because I have nothing new to say. I will send you a brush as soon as it is ready.
All the movies you want to ride around in your head are, nor is there any premeditation to within Paypal or anything else cuampla.
Having said that I would no longer receive any email from you. When the brush is ready I will send. Always, always, always when I said one thing I meet, sometimes. END
I could not believe the cheek of this guy , he says he gave me a knot for free which he didn’t and that I started complaining about the delivery of my brush shortly after ordering and as you will know from the beginning of this post that is not the case. He also thinks he was doing me a kindness by allowing me to use and keep a brush that was crumbling apart. I lost interest until February of this year when he started advertising an Anniversary discount on brush orders so I contacted him daily reminding him of his broken promises to me and he finally responded on the 20/02/17 with the laughable reply of telling me to stop sending him emails and he would send me a brush.
I laughed hard at that and explained to him he told me the same story 7 months previous. I continued emailing him if just to annoy him now because even though he has taken my money and not provided the goods that were expected of him I thought I’d continue to remind him how dishonest he has been throughout the whole process to shame him into action. He replied on 22/02/17 when ridiculously he maintained he had no need to answer any more emails from me because he had no news to give me despite the fact he continued to make brushes for nobody in particular of the same specification as my brush in his “in stock” section of the website. He then goes on to say he will send me a brush when he gets his new stock of knots but he doesn’t know when that will be…… hilarious Gustavo , you crack me up. He then goes on to post on social media exactly when he will order and roughly when he will ship individual knot orders……priceless Gustavo! He also implied at this point that I had tampered with the brush for some unknown reason.
This is beneath contempt in my view.
I have emailed Gustavo several times since then and warned him if he did not resolve this issue then I would have to let people know of what possible type of service they could receive from him if my experience is anything to go by. Since briefly commenting on my experience on various threads on different forums I have heard of many other customers who have had a bad experience with him be it workmanship , customer service or both. To top it off , the knot that he “gave me” turned out to be at the absolute best some kind of silvertip. It is in no way similar to the initial Manchurian I received. It has not much backbone , has lot’s of thick scratchy black hairs and is quite a sparse knot. The man is a charlatan at best and obviously picked a cast off knot and sent it to me.
So in conclusion I’d like to thank anyone who managed to get through all of this but if you are considering paying upfront for a Romera brush this may make you think twice. Again I am not telling anyone what to do with their money but what I am doing is giving my honest account of what has went on for a year now with Atresania Romera. If you are nearing the 6 month mark whereby you can no longer raise a PayPal claim for a refund I would choose your next step wisely.
I have bought several brushes in that year and had first class customer service from guys like Brad Sears , Lee Sabini, Rod Neep and a native Spaniard to Gustavo , Alfredo Hernandez. The way Gustavo has behaved throughout this whole process has been disgraceful and I have told him he should be ashamed of himself.
Of course he is welcome to counter any of my arguments or version of events and that is what I would do if I was him and had any sort of professional pride. However as I have told him on a few occasions when I tried to get him to do the decent thing and fulfill his end of the bargain , I don’t delete emails and I have every piece of correspondence between us so in short I have all the facts and crucially the truth if he would like to challenge anything I’ve said here. I have only posted that one email in case Gustavo feels I’m betraying some kind of privacy but he is acting on behalf of his company and as such any correspondance unless featuring private information should be available to the public. It is also worth noting that there is no way either on his website or on any of the social media platforms he advertises his products where customers can post comments on their experience.
Some of you may say I’m just bitter and trying to do harm to his business and If I’m honest I am still angry at what he has done that amounts to theft to me but if gustavo receives a drop in orders because of this then perhaps he will take that time to reassess his behaviour to customers and his level of service and perhaps people who continue to buy from him in the future will benefit from that going forward.
Obviously I will not be purchasing from Gustavo ever again.