Sunday, March 08, 2009

Weasels on the Wire

Here's a review I left for an Amazon Marketplace reseller after ordering a "New" book that was clearly used; by that I mean very obviously read as opposed to some kind of shelf wear. Or, as the seller maintains, transportation mishap. There are so many clear lies that it compels one to assume all of his questionable statements are also untruths. I won't get specific because no one really cares. The mystery in all of this is how someone can fudge on the truth, get called on it, and then fudge it some more. It seems likely that his offer of a refund in exchange for me deleting the rating is how he does business: exagerate/lie about the book, send it out, if called on it offer a refund. Good business model. And if he fails, it's all my fault...


"This book isn't in "New" condition as stated. The front cover is dinged in two places as well as bent (along with about a fifth of the pages in the lower right corner), and the paper edges are dirty, especially along the top. Given this and the fact that the book lays as though it's been read, it should be hard to call this "New.""


Hello Rick,

This is J* from B*. Firstly, I'd like to express my sincere gratitude for purchasing your book, Black God's Kiss, from our new company. B* is a brand new seller on Amazon, and I know many of our customers have taken a chance in buying from a seller who does not yet have the standing of the more established Amazon sellers.

I read your feedback this afternoon and I want to apologize for your book not arriving in the condition you expected. We do screen all our orders prior to shipping, but I do know damages can occur if packages are mishandled during transportation.

As a new Amazon seller receiving feedback's of 3 or less is devastating. To be honest, it will only take a few negative feedback's to drop us to a 96%. To buyers and sellers alike this feedback is below acceptable standings and will hurt our sales substantially.

Therefore I would like to compensate you in such a way that would make your shopping experience with B* better than a 3.

If it pleases you, I would like to offer you an additional 15% discount towards the purchase of your book.

Again, I apologize for this inconvenience and the frustration it has caused you. I hope you will allow me to rectify this situation.

I look forward to your response.


Hey, J*:

I appreciate your offer of a discount on the book I purchased although I'm not sure how it would help. The problem, as I said in my review, was that the book was not in the stated "new" condition. It isn't even in "used--like new" or a "fine" used condition. The book has plainly been read, not overly carefully, and the bends in the cover and pages, and especially the dirt smudges along the page edges and the way the book lies when placed flat certainly weren't caused by "mishandling during transportation."

I'm sorry you're unhappy with my review, though probably not more so than I am with a "very good" used book sold as "new." If this review prevents disappointment for another customer or else causes a more accurate book listing, then I think it's doing what it was intended to do. I buy a lot of Amazon Marketplace books and have only rarely had issues of any kind. I try to be conscientious, accurate, and aware of what I'm saying.


Rick Ollerman


Hi Rick,

Thank you for your quick response. I certainly understand your dissatisfaction. All I can say is that your book was purchased directly from the publishing house, so I can assure you the book has never been read. I don't doubt your observance. I am currently at the Book Spring Show in Atlanta, but upon my return I will have a serious discussion with my staff about our quality inspection prior to shipping.

We deal with a lot of books, and I admit sometimes we incorrectly list the condition of the books. (Though none of our books have ever actually been read, some are damaged by improper packing by the publisher.) This is why we spend the extra labor certifying that the condition of the book being shipped is the condition of its listed state.

I work very hard to ensure my customers are satisfied, which is why even with sabotage from large Amazon sellers, my company remains at a 99% feedback percentage. Since my offer was obviously not acceptable to you, I am willing to refund your entire cost including shipping. I lose my postage, labor, mailer and book cost, but I gain customer confidence by assuring your dissatisfaction is not acceptable to me. From time to time my customers come to me with complaints (as with any business) but I always make sure they feel I care about their business.

Your feedback won't destroy me, but it will hurt, and in the end the only people who lose are the people I am forced to lay off from decreased sales. I hope my offer of a full and complete refund changes your mind about removing your feedback.

Again, I do apologize about this inconvenience and the frustration it has obviously caused you. (Why else would you want to leave my company limp.)

I look forward to hearing from you again.


Hey, J*:

I don't really appreciate the insinuation that I may have some reason for causing you to lay off people or "leave your company limp." My only agenda was to leave honest feedback on a questionable transaction.

That being said, I was going to delete my rating and be done with it but while at the site I stopped to read the other reviews. In the first two pages there are four instances of people who had the same problem I did. This would suggest that you, your company, or somebody is conspiring to sell books falsely labeled.

I suggest that if you end up laying off people or losing firmness in your company it is only yourselves you have to blame. Since my case does not appear to be an isolated one, I didn't remove my feedback rating. You appear to have earned it.


Rick Ollerman


Hi Rick,

I consider this case closed and will not bother you further. You are correct, in a very short time span my company has received 3 similar claims. I also wrote each of these customers in hopes of reaching a resolution. Again, if I did not care what you thought I would not spend time trying to make the transaction right by you.

If nothing else, please accept my apology for seemingly insinuating malice on your part. I meant no disrespect. I am a young, freshly-graduated, entrepreneur who obviously has a lot left to learn. I do appreciate your feedback (via your e-mail responses) and will do my best to not become frustrated when unable to reach an agreement with customers.

I don't expect your business, at least for a while, but truly hope you might check us out in the future to see an improved feedback rating.

I wish you the best.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I see it but I...

I've thought about this for years (although I've shared the notion sparingly; I didn't see how it could really happen) and now, good gawd, it's happening. Hopefully it will last and spread.

Nelson is offering some of their titles as part of their NelsonFree program. Once you buy a hardcover from the line, you are enabled to download an audio version of the book or an eBook version (available in several different formats).

And all without raising the price of the book. Read this:

If I could choose the future, this kind of thing would certainly be a part of it.