Sometimes doubt is prudent. I don’t like to openly doubt the word of someone, but we all make mistakes. This was reinforced today.
One of the chemicals I ordered from an Unnamed Company (UN) for my experiments was pentachloronitrobenzene (PCNB). I placed the order weeks ago. To make a long story short, I never got the PCNB.
So I called UN to reorder it this afternoon. No luck. It is out of stock. The customer service rep transferred me to technical support for recommendations of substitute products. I discussed my options with the tech. The conclusion he gave me was We have numerous similar products, but they are all out of stock. Your only option is Product X, which costs 700% more than the original PCNB you ordered. I thanked him for the help and decided to look elsewhere.
I spent three hours looking through chemical catalogs online and calling chemical companies. Three hours. The best I could find was the same expensive substitute. The original PCNB that I wanted was on backorder at every other company.
One thing I noticed while doing this search was that many roads pointed back to UN. It seems they supply many other chemical companies.
After three hours of futility I had a revelation: I never looked for substitutes at UN myself, I simply took the word of the tech that they only had one.
So I returned to UN to search on my own.
Sure enough, the identical chemical is sold under a brand name. This makes the product code very different from the original one I ordered. When the tech checked for substitutes he must have sorted by product code and not the Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) number. One CAS search and I had the perfect substitute.
I called the UN tech support and spoke to a different tech. She confirmed that it was the same chemical and that it was available.
Problem solved, thanks to a little doubt.