Thursday, March 17, 2011

So there

I'm mad at Amazon. It seems if you buy a few of the least expensive books you can get, they'll arrive wonderfully packaged in an appropriately sized box, with the books shrinkwrapped to a piece of cardboard. They can't slide, they're away from the box corners so the edges can't get bumped, and they arrive as they ought.

On the other hand, should you buy more expensive books, including limited run editions, they more often then not ship them loose in a box where they slide around and collide around the inside edges of the box. I used to take this lying down except where the books were really unacceptable. One time, when this wasn't such a common occurrence, they sent me an apologetic e-mail saying that their goal is for the books you buy on Amazon to be in the kind of condition you'd find in a brick-and-mortar bookstore.

Well, they've gotten worse and they don't even bother to respond anymore. I've sent more books back in the past few months than anyone should find reasonable. Buying from them has become less of a "My books are here!" experience to a held breath and mild sense of dread.

On the other hand, Barnes & Noble, whose prices used to significantly higher than Amazon's, are now usually within a few cents. I'm moving over, going to give them a try. (The cheapest place to buy books used to be through Books-a-Million after you joined their club. But their shipping was always bad, not just sometimes, and they were flat out unacceptable.)

This is important because books are so/too expensive and a lower price means I can buy more books. Not at the expense of paying good money for books with creased spines, wrinkled pages and dust jackets, dirty smudges (fingerprints?) on the page edges, bumped corners, and whatnot.

I'll show those Amazon people. When my order numbers make their P&Ls trend downward they'll-- yeah, um, not even notice. But still. Why the hell don't they? Why don't they see that people are returning books due to poor packaging and fix the problem? A while back they added a separate feedback system just for packaging. Were they just faking concern? Because it hasn't changed anything.

Train your people. Get them to wash their hands when they handle the books. Make it a condition of their jobs packing books to do a good job packing books. I scream but no one hears.

But let's give them their due, however. We know they offer good prices on many items, not just books. In fact, I just looked at a 55 inch LCD television by Vizio. The list price on this thing is $1,699.99. The discounted Amazon price is $1,699.98. I found the TV by clicking through their "2010 Markdowns" link.

A penny saved is a penny earned. I'll spend mine on books from somewhere else.


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