Friday, January 25, 2013

Righteous indignation and a bloody hand

A customer sent me a nasty gram last week saying that I had sent her the wrong book, and demanded an immediate refund.  Oh, and if I wanted my book back, I would have to send her a prepaid shipping label. She in no way, shape, or form was going to pay return shipping.

Now, I’m not 100 percent certain that I did send her the wrong book, but per Biblio policy, I cheerfully offered to return her money (book cost + original shipping) plus her return shipping once I got the book back.  Several days later, I got another email, mostly in all caps, saying that she absolutely refuses to send the book back, again demanding a refund, and threatening to contact both Biblio and her credit card company.

Did I mention the book only cost $2.69 plus $3.99 shipping?

Anyway, after a couple of pointless back and forth emails, where she grew increasingly agitated at my refusal to bow to her demands, I referred her to Biblio support.  Biblio backed me up at first in an email to the buyer, but apparently after an series of emails where the buyer again threatened a credit card chargeback, they blinked. An email from Biblio support urged me to let them refund the money without the buyer sending the book back.  Their reasoning was that chargebacks are usually settled in the buyer’s favor, and they would have to charge me a $20 fee if that happened, even though I followed their rules to the letter.

Suddenly, irritation turned to righteous indignation. Biblio was going to let this buyer steal $6.68 from me. As laughably trivial as that sounds, it suddenly became the principal of the matter. I ranted and raved a bit in an email, before wisely agreeing to the refund.  It, after all, was the cheaper and quicker option. I may have been indignant, but I wasn’t stupid.

I did however threaten to cancel my bookseller account.

Yeah, I know, that sounds a little extreme, especially over a measly $6.68, and I’m sure Biblio support got a good chuckle out of the empty threat.  However, given how few sales I get on Biblio, I actually had been thinking about dropping the venue for a while.  Since 2008, I’ve only sold 100 items on Biblio, including only nine items in 2012. Right now, due to their bookkeeping practices, my account is slightly in the red, and will be $6.68 redder in the next day or so.  Oh, well, case closed, or so I thought.

Several days later, I received another email from the buyer saying, and I quote, “Biblio refunded my money. Thanks for nothing.”

A proper businessman probably would have ignored it, but I couldn’t resist responding:

“You’re very welcome.  In the future, if you read the website’s return policy, you might make your life a little easier.”

A day later, I get a nasty gram from Biblio saying that the buyer complained that I had contacted her.  I couldn’t let that go unchallenged, of course, so I forwarded her original email and my response, and told Biblio that they shouldn’t take complaints from a con artist and a thief too seriously.

I’m still waiting for the ax to fall.

On a more interesting note, I’ve noticed that both Goodwill and Salvation Army occasionally utilize “community service” volunteers to stock their shelves. I suppose it’s a good business decision; after all, who can argue with free labor?  Yet, some of these volunteers undoubtedly aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer.  Case in point, I was looking at the toys in the Salvation Army store yesterday and found a real compound bow.  Luckily, there weren’t any arrows around.

I also wonder about the training that thrift store employees receive. Again yesterday, this time at Goodwill, a woman apparently cut her hand, pretty deeply, on a broken item, and calmly walked to the register area, dripping blood, and asked one of the clerks for a towel. The clerk, a young woman, saw the blood, muttered something about getting a first aid kit, and dashed to the back of the store.  Of course, had she looked, she would have noticed a first aid kit in full view below the counter where she had been standing.

A small, concerned crowd slowly gathered around the woman, with one bystander suggesting that she go to the ladies’ room to wash it off.  A good idea, except the key for the ladies’ room was missing. After several minutes, with the lady bleeding, the crowd mulling, and the other clerk obliviously ringing up customers, a woman brought back the key, and the bleeding woman and her small entourage headed toward the ladies’ room.  What seemed like an eternity later, especially when you know that you have an injured customer, the manager walked to the front with a first aid kit in hand, and asked where the woman was.  I pointed toward the ladies’ room, and the manager, instead of scurrying to lend any aid that she could, went into her office in the register area and closed the door.

I have a feeling that this may not end well for the manager or the store.

On the actual thrifting side of things, this weekend again is shaping up to be a real dud, with only a few sales, none of which look particularly promising, at least on paper. 

I’ll be glad when spring gets here.


  1. Don't you just love customers like that? You really feel like punching them on the nose - and I'm NOT a violent person!

    On point of principle, I would have told biblio where to stick their account, but then I'm always saying then regretting...

  2. Sorry about your annoying book customer. It always amazes me how rude people are when they know you have their address!

    BTW, our Salvation Army also uses "volunteers" who are actually people who need to log community service hours by court order (often given as an alternative to jail for misdemeanor offenses). From what I've seen, these volunteers are often there grudgingly and just glad not to be picking up garbage along the highway.

  3. You have restrooms at your Goodwills?? We have to go next door or even down the street at mine. From experience, kids like to go "thrifting" with me and inevitably always have to go really, really bad.

    1. At this particular store, Goodwill's Job Connection Career Center is directly adjacent, which is where the restroom is. At the smaller Goodwill in town, the restrooms double as fitting rooms for trying on clothes.

  4. Our Goodwill stores don't have bathrooms "for the public" so it is a good chance that if someone was injured they would bleed for a while. However, our GW does lock up the knives at the front showcase but it takes them several weeks to remove broken glass from the shelf.

  5. It occurs to me volunteers would have first crack at items with re-sell value - kind of like the people who "volunteer" to stock church sales so they can come to the 'night before' sale for church members only. This is assuming that there are great finds to be had at Goodwill Stores...

    1. I've learned from conversations with Goodwill managers in this area that employees and/or volunteers are not allowed to purchase items at the store. Fortunately, there are still great finds to be had at Goodwill; you just have to be persistent and sometimes lucky.

  6. Good grief, how can that woman sleep at night - not only illiterate but so rude. Sorry you had to go through that. I would have been mad as hell also.

    What can I say about Goodwill - it is what it is! and ours doesn't have a bathroom either.

  7. Love the title of this post! **imagines book cover**

  8. Yikes! Glad that is a type of customer - The Greater Booby! I would have fumed for days over that. You were very calm in your dealings, in the end. :-)