Monday, June 24, 2013

Peter Rabe intro excerpted on Ed Gorman's blog

Greg Shepard, publisher of Stark House Books, just let me know that the august person of Ed Gorman has posted an excerpt from a recent introduction I wrote for a pair of Peter Rabe books, Kill the Boss Good-by / Mission for Vengeance. Of course, the picture on Ed's blog is for a different set of Rabe books, but those are wonderful, too, and deserve your patronage as well. I can even vouch for the intro in that book, as well. But it's not by me.

Amazon's Cardboard Tiger

So I heard from Amazon in response to the e-mail I sent them from the previous post. They said that since another shipment would likely result in the same sort of damage, they'll "look into it." And they'll refund the cost of that book.

Alright, I get my money back but I can't order a new one because they also said they'd not sell it until they investigated. Great. Then they ask if they've solved my problem. I told them, "No."

Then I sent them this:

"You say that it's likely another replacement would end up the same way, and you're right AS LONG AS YOU KEEP SENDING BOOKS IN PADDED ENVELOPES WITHOUT BACKING THROUGH UPS. Even the UPS driver this morning told me you shouldn't do this.

"You know how to ship books without incurring damage? I can't believe I have to tell you this but the answer is CARDBOARD."

Ironically enough, another paperback arrived today, this time through USPS. It was a "Today's Deal" book. Rather than ship in an unbacked padded envelope and mangled along through UPS, it was shipped shrinkwrapped to a piece of cardboard and packaged in a box. That's as bulletproof as you're going to get.

So the book packaged by the Prime packers, you know, that service that Amazon's best customers pay eighty bucks a year for (I say "best customers" because their stats show Prime members by many more times the stuff as non-Prime members), is shipped like a second-hand charity shop, and the sale book through the regular packers is a beautiful example of overkill that gets my book to me in perfect condition.

Something's wrong with this picture. Since Amazon will likely never change, then it devolves to me. But I'm counting on a grassroots campaign to spring up and deluge those fine folks with complaints to let them know that what they do now is just not good enough.

And the worst thing is I will remain pissed off up to and including the time that I receive my next order, which is a pair of school books for my son.

I will never win because I won't stop playing. Viva, Las Vegas, er, Amazon.

Death to Amazon (or at least a good wake up call) (or a pounding to the head)

This was not meant to be a blog post. This is the text of a complaint I just sent to Amazon. It's not the first of it's kind from me, and it likely won't be the last. Before you say something like, "If you don't like them, don't use them," consider I live in a small town near the Canadian border. The nearest real shopping mall is over a hundred miles away. Without many of the products Amazon offers, my shopping habits would be forced to change. What troubles me is that their core business, their founding pillar, is selling books, and the way that they pay zero attention to the quality with which they are shipped is absurd.

It's better if you're not a Prime member. They've admitted to me they use different packers for Prime orders. These are clearly not the best packers, but probably the quickest. Which is why none of my orders are packaged well, and many end up getting sent back. I can't order a book without sending out a prayer and this is wrong. Their customer service is wonderful right up to the point where they refuse to do anything to fix this problem. This is what I sent them:

"I live in a small town. I order a lot of stuff from Amazon. I send back a lot of stuff to Amazon. I just got a replacement for a book I sent back last week. It is in worse condition than the first shipment. YOU CANNOT SHIP A PAPERBACK BOOK IN A PADDED ENVELOPE WITH NO BACKING THROUGH UPS AND EXPECT IT TO ARRIVE UNBENT AND DAMAGED. EVERYONE in the world knows this but Amazon.

"I even tried to be clever--I ordered a book I wouldn't have ordered now at the same time in the vain hope that both might be shipped together in a box. Didn't happen.

"Your company will be undone because of your bottom of the barrel shipping department. You use inflatable air-packs that you don't inflate. When you do, you just drop them in the box like another item, rendering their effectiveness minimal. You have lost money on the two returns I made last week. One time you told me that if I kept returning a book (The Letters of Saul Bellow) the same damage would still likely occur.

"I get dirty finger smudges on the pages; I get scuff marks on the dust covers from the books sliding around in the box; I get tears, folds, bends, any number of damages that happen due to your unwillingness to pay attention to this. Leaving packaging feedback is worthless. Sending e-mails to you is worthless. If your customer support fell to the level of the quality of your shipping department you'd be out of business in a week.

"As it is, if another company comes along, and I'm sure they will, that does everything for me that Amazon does, I'm gone in a second. And it's not due to your products, your pricing, or your customer service. It's due to one thing, the lowest rung on your service ladder: the people who put the items in the packages.

"I've ordered hundred dollar plus books that come from you with no padding of any sort (yes, they get returned) while twenty bucks worth of books used to come shrinkwrapped to cardboard backing (that was before I was a Prime member; Prime members don't get books shrinkwrapped to cardboard backing. We get uninflated air-packs and padded envelopes sent through UPS.)

"In addition to the two books I returned last week, I got another book that I should have returned: a quarter of the pages are bent and wavy as though your packer spilled water on them. The replacement book I just got now, which is in worse shape than the original, I should send back, too. But I won't.

"You've worn me down. It's not the first time, either. I will put it on the shelf and curse Amazon each time I look at it. WordPerfect went down, Novell went away, other market leaders who thought they were too big to fail have disappeared or shriveled away. Unfortunately it certainly seems as though Amazon is in the queue."

Will they care? Of course not. Should they care? One would hope. In the meantime I'll put another couple of books on the shelf that I don't want there, new books that are of decided Goodwill or garage sale quality. Not how I want to build my library. If Amazon's shipping department is providing you with less than barely adequate service, please consider sending them a quick e-mail. There's a "contact us" link at the bottom of their pages and it's an easy thing to do. Quick, too. Kind of like how they treat the packing of orders for their best customers.