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August 11, 2016 3 min read

You Get What You Pay For: My story

Today, I received many calls, for which we are incredibly grateful. Thank you for trusting Grandawood Agarwood. However, amidst the genuine inquiries, there were some amusing requests that prompt this response: “I want the best quality agarwood oil/chips/incenses.” To save ourselves from repeating explanations, here are our thoughts (no offence intended):

The Myth of the “Best” Agarwood

There is no definitive "best" unless you specify your criteria. A vague request like "A grade, AAA grade, or AAAAA grade" does not help. Imagine it this way: “haha” is funny, “hahaha” is funnier, “hahahahaha” is funniest, and “hahahahahahahahaha” means laughing until you are in tears. Specificity is key. Let us know your budget, and we will ensure you get value for your money. Our prices are transparent on our website, categorised by oil type: Wild or Cultivated.

The Best Incenses: Understanding Value

Reproduce with permission from  Shoyeido

“I want your best incenses.” We hear this often. Again, please specify your budget. One of the finest incenses, Shoyeido Shokaku Translucent Path, retails at $749.95 USD and is sold out globally. When we mention this, the usual response is, “Are you kidding me?” or “Why is it so expensive?” followed by a hang-up. The reality is, high quality comes with a price. Expecting to pay $1.95 for ten genuine agarwood sticks is unrealistic.

The Elusive $1000 Sinking Bracelet

This request is a frequent one: “I want black beads or a sinking bracelet for $1000 max.” This is, frankly, a humorous proposition. We cannot even procure it at that price from our agarwood hunters. A quick search on Etsy or a visit to your local retailer will reveal the true price range. We offer genuine quality but not at bargain-basement prices. There are tricks to meet low budgets, like "nailing lead into beads" or "bead colouring," but we refuse to compromise on integrity. You get what you pay for.

The Real Cost of Quality Oil

Years ago, an overseas prospect excited us with a query: “How much per litre?” After providing a quote, he accused us of greed and wished us out of business. He could have simply declined and moved on. This is a daily occurrence for agarwood sellers. Negotiation is acceptable, but being miserly is not. Hard-bargaining buyers often end up with inferior goods if the price is too low. I once heard, “I can get a litre for $5000; can you match that price?”

My reply was straightforward: “Great, if you can get a litre for $5000, that is a fantastic deal. Why not take it?”

We both know $5000 per litre is possible, but for pure agarwood oil? Maybe, but it is not the first grade or the first distillation when the best "juice" is. 
If you distill the distilled material again, price can be as cheap as $2000, but there won't be any good.

The First-Grade Chip Inquiry

Here is a typical exchange:

Tyre Kicker (not really a customer): “Show me your pictures of the first-grade chip.”

Me: “Sure, but may I know your budget? Prices range from $5000 to $40000 USD.”

Tyre Kicker: “I am aware. I have used it many times. Just show me. Money is not a problem. If I like it, I will buy it.”

Me: (shows pictures and a short video with prices)

Silence. No response.

Me: “Are you there? Hello?”

For sellers, this is a familiar scenario.  When buyers say “Money is not a problem” often translates to “ The problem is I have no money.”


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