What Bookdealers Call their Most Annoying Customers, and Other Useful Terms
Some of these terms have been around for years and are of uncertain origin, some came from other dealers, and some I invented just to vent. (The latter are marked gf). Many thanks to bookdealer Joyce Godsey and others who contributed their terms. All characters are fictitious and no similarity to real people should be assumed.
Agent 99. person who comes into the shop and receives cell phone calls with louder-than-hell ringtones and who proceed to gab on in loud tones as if we all want to hear their inane conversation. I then take off my shoe and blather into it to amuse myself until they make like a tree and leaf. (Term is based on a character codename on old spy sitcom "Get Smart," where shoe-phone was running gag.) coined by Rachel at Old Saratoga Books dot com.
anti-handling-buyer. buyer, usually encountered on eBay, who thinks that sellers should only charge the actual cost of shipping, regardless of seller's handling costs. They like to justify it by saying, "Well, other eBay sellers ship books for $xyz." coined by anonymous dealer.
baron / baroness. a customer who requires extensive waiting on and the answering of multiple questions asked in imperial fashion. Stops short of asking for a complimentary ass-wipe in the restroom. No resultant sales, of course. coined by Rachel at Old Saratoga Books.
bone-to-pick twit. someone who emails you because s/he has beef with the author or the book's contents. Example: "How can you be selling a book on xyz?!" coined by anonymous dealer.
cheapskate. someone who asks something like, "Why the hell are you asking over $200 for a used book?!?" because they are completely ignorant of the book's scarcity, value, condition, or other important factors. coined by anonymous dealer.
crazy glue. a borderline insane customer who "sticks to you like glue." Term from my friend R.F. Johnson, a computer tech who has often encountered such types. Compare Mr. Sincere.
credit card neurosis. condition of customer who is afraid to give you cc info over the net; usually they telephone instead. There are many different manifestations of this condition. gf
customs scammer. overseas customer who asks you to mark the item as a "gift" so they won't have to pay fees or import duties on it. (Falsifying a customs form is against the law.) gf
demming. sending an email reminder to a customer who keeps promising to send a check but never does. See spaz. term comes from fake surname of scammer in Brooklyn who has managed to get a lot of free books from trusting dealers in this manner. gf.
ditz. customer who uses the query button and thinks they have completed an order for the book. gf
doofus. customer who emails to ask a question about a specific book, and in doing so, copies your description in their email, and right there in the description is the answer to their question. Example: "You mention a few inconsequential dings to covers, how bad are they?" (They're inconsequential, doofus!) gf
dung beetle. someone who only looks at the crappiest, cheapest books on the bargain table and spends their dollar (paid in small coins, of course). Then they roll the crap out of the store to their lair. Dung beetles almost exclusively come from the upper income insect species. coined by Rachel at Old Saratoga Books.
entitled buyer. someone, usually found on eBay, who emails about shipping/handling before committing to buy because for some reason they think they're entitled to a discount or a break on s/h fees. coined by anonymous dealer.
eyeball killer. another name for a screamer: someone who types everything in ALL CAPS. Can't remember where I heard this term but it has been around awhile.
flake. customer who inquires about priority mail but delays payment for several days, thus negating any time saved by ordering priority mail. gf
fly-by. customer who emails to ask a question about a book in your inventory but after you reply you never hear from them again. coined by bookdealer Lee Kirk. Another term for this type of customer, which I heard from a guy in the furniture business, is a be-back, because they say they'll be back but they never come back.
fraudite. a species of scammer, mostly seen on eBay, who claims to have some ridiculously valuable or impossible treasure for sale, such as a copy of Huckleberry Finn printed in 1935 and signed by Mark Twain. gf
gomer. a scammer who purposefully gives you the wrong country name in his address, hoping you won't notice. For example, Beijing, Greece (Beijing is in China), or Surulere, Finland (Surulere is in Nigeria). Term comes from medical slang for an especially difficult elderly patient with mental problems, filthy habits, and an inability to communicate.
gusher. customer who announces on entering the bookstore that she just loves, loves, loves books, and on, on, and on, but does not purchase anything. Also called a shitkicker. coined by anonymous dealer.
halfwit. epithet for Half.com. A longstanding slur.
homeward. descriptive of customer, item, and transaction, when the item is purchased by someone who is the author's son, the publisher's daughter, the illustrator's grand-niece, or any similar relationship. So called because the item is "going home." gf
ignoramiana. general term for books pushing ignorant ideas such as crop circles, pyramid power, or UFOs. coined by bookdealer Gary L. Wallin.
jerk. customer who orders Media Mail then complains about the long delivery time. There are many names for this species, most of them far more colorful. See also wheresmybook.
lowball scammer. customer who sees your eBay auction for an item worth, for example, $200, and offers you $80 for it if you'll end the auction right now. (This is against eBay rules.) Lowball scammers are sometimes also snipers. gf
merrick. customer who writes glowing feedback about you but then rates you less than 5 out of 5. (Refers only to Amazon customers: the Amazon feedback system has both a number function and a comment line.) gf.
Mr. Sincere. an individual who comes into your store too often, makes a point of taking your hand and acting like you were his bestest friend, all the while the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Of course he never actually buys anything. coined by bookdealer Joyce Godsey. Compare crazy glue.
mushpup. someone with a bratty toddler in tow who abandons them in the kid's section of your store, where they promptly tornado through the shelves while the adult goes off into the ether. Usually also spends nothing or less than $1. coined by Rachel at Old Saratoga Books.
paypal scammer. customer who insists on paying via PayPal, even though you don't list that as an option, but you agree to it and ship the book, then the customer puts in a non-delivery claim with PayPal two weeks later. (PayPal routinely honors these customer claims even when the dealer provides proof of delivery.) See also naidoo. gf
poopal. epithet for PayPal.com. gf
naidoo. customer who pays directly with a credit card but, like a paypal scammer, disputes the charge soon after. In nearly every case, a credit card company will reimburse the customer and debit the merchant, so the naidoo walks away with a free book.
pubtwit. customer who thinks you have a warehouse full of identical new copies of the book they want. So named because some pubtwits address you as if they think you're the actual publisher. gf
scanner scammer. customer who pretends to be a prospective buyer, asks you for a scan of your book, then uses the image to try to sell your book on eBay. (Thankfully eBay boots fraudsters who are caught pulling this kind of theft.) gf
screamer. customer who types everything in ALL CAPS. This is considered to be screaming and is an internet no-no. Also called an eyeball killer.
sharecropper. term used pointedly by one bookdealer to describe himself and other bookdealers who sell through the large portals, on the grounds that, as their vendors, we store all their inventory and pay them to do so.
shitkicker. a person who comes into your shop and admires the shop profusely and thanks you for "being here" and then does not spend a dime on anything. Also called a gusher. coined by Rachel at Old Saratoga Books.
sniffer. one who is overly concerned about a book's smell before they buy it. coined by bookdealer Joyce Godsey.
sniper. customer who wants your eBay auction but bids nothing until the last 10 seconds of the auction, then bids just one $1 (or one bidding increment) above the current bid. This is an old term. Sniping is seen by many eBayers as extremely unfair behavior.
spaz. customer who promises to send a check, and continues to promise to do so after every polite reminder you email, but you never actually get the check. See demming. gf
sobber. type of scammer who claims to be dirt poor and can only pay, for example, $10 for your $70 book. gf
swag method. a pricing method used when a bookdealer can find no history or other helpful information on the item in hand. An old term based on the acronym "scientific wild-assed guess."
wheresmybook. customer who orders Media Mail and two days later begins demanding to know where their item is. Term can refer to both query and customer and should be pronounced as shown, as if it is all one word. gf.