17 March 2009

How Not To Handle Customer Complaints

-- Excuses Given to Customers by Mega-Listers When They are Unable to Fulfill the Order

Collected and Arranged by Book Doctor Gwen


Before we proceed, one defintion: a mega-lister is a rip-off fake bookseller who inhabits an otherwise legitimate online used-book portal, listing items they do not have in stock and fulfilling orders by having other dealers send books directly to the customer with no receipt.

I have collected these excuses from actual feedback left on corporate websites by angry customers who were ripped off or lied to by mega-listers. Spelling and grammatical errors have been corrected to improve readability.

Excuses given by mega-listers are in quotes.

Excuses reported by unhappy customers are not in quotes.

My editorial comments are in italics.

Please note: Sometimes the excuses listed below are indeed true. Occasionally a genuine, real-world, honest bookdealer, who actually has the books they offer for sale, ends up in one of these situations. If you are given one of these excuses do not immediately assume that the vendor is trying to rip you off. Repeat: Do not immediately assume that the vendor is trying to rip you off.



The mega-lister's first line of defense: Blame the carrier. No one will question an excuse if it involves dumping on the US postal service. Who likes them anyway?

"Book got lost the mail."

"Item was ruined by the post office."

"The book was returned damaged by the post office." (Mega-lister lying: the US Postal Service ships packages even if they become damaged; they do not return them to the sender unless they package itself is not correctly addressed.)

The package was lost but they resent it.

Blamed Xmas post.

They contacted me to let me know that numerous other packages sent on the same day had been lost in the mail system.

The day my book arrived I got an email saying it wasn't coming. They said that the post office had damaged and returned the book to them. (Mega-lister caught in a lie.)

After 22 days I inquired as to where my item was and they said it must have been "lost" and promptly refunded my money without even looking into where the item was.

"The package had been crushed and sent back to the sender."

Some excuse of the book being returned in poor condition.

"They said it got wet in the post office and was in unusable condition and refunded the cost."



In these examples the clever mega-lister has decided to blame both the carrier and a difficulty with the customer's own address.

"Item had been returned as undeliverable."

"Ship-to address is not useable."

"Mailing label was partially torn off during transit."

"Book was accidentally sent to someone else."

They said that the package had been returned to them and they sent it out again.

The seller kept sending it to wrong addresses.

"Order was resent due to faulty address."



A highly specialized category of excuse.

They claimed it had just been returned that day because of English customs.

"Sometimes things can take time through customs."



A cowardly excuse but unfortunately a common one.

After I put in the order, seller downgraded condition of book and asked me if I still wanted it.

My order did not arrive by August 8th, I emailed them for an explanation, they just wanted to know if I still wanted it.

The book they had listed was not in good condition, so they didn't want to send it.

The condition of the item was inferior so they were canceling my order.

Damaged in the warehouse so they could not fulfill the order. They promptly refunded my money. They did not have another one to send.

The seller ordered another copy that was in better condition and had it shipped out to me.

After I paid, [the seller] waited to see if I still wanted it.

Seller saw that merchandise was not what they advertised.

The book had been damaged in their warehouse; [the seller] canceled the order, and immediately refunded me with no hassle.



Another popular field of excuses involves the computer, the internet, the inventory system, the website, or any other piece of technology that might be handy.

"There was an error in the inventory."

"An error in filling the order."

Their database was slightly behind.

"Item listing was invalid."

"A mixup in stock numbers."

Order cancelled due to computer glitch.

The seller had problems with [their website] account and was unable to ship the item.

A computer error caused the book that I wanted to be sold to someone else.

The copy we had in stock had already sold and [their inventory] had not yet been updated.

"Due to a crash of the PC the order was accepted although item was out of stock."

They had failed to update their stock information.

"A computer listing error."

"Our inventory levels are current on our system, but due to [the website's] data upload system, our data is not live and in certain cases, where the quantities are limited, the actual availability will differ."

"My Explorer browser was down."

The book was listed incorrectly by [the website] and he didn't have book I ordered.

They said they had to "refund hundreds of sales due to a glitch."



Telling the customer that the item is on its way will only work for a few days. The savvy mega-lister must be ready with some new excuses after using this one.

This item did not arrive as promised. The seller stated that they had posted another item.

After I sent 4 emails, I received one answer which was "wait for book."

They kept on extending the day of delivery of the book.

[They gave me a] tracking number [but] did not signify who the carrier was.

They lied to me about shipping me a second book.

They said I should receive it very shortly.

They first said to wait; that only 1% of orders are not received. Then they needed my address again. Now they want to know the name of the book.

"We shipped out a replacement copy at our expense."



Fun fact: mega-listers don't care how stupid they sound as long as they can put off the customer for a few more days.

The company lost track of the order.

"Book was listed with the wrong price."

"Book was sent to someone else."

"Extensive mixups in shipping dept."

They claimed they had no record of the shipment.

They said they were not able to find the book after a move.

Seller forgot to mail my item.

"The person in charge of books left our company and took this book."

Disorganized. Seller cancelled my order and said he shipped books to the wrong customers and did not know where my book was.

I first received a message on my e-mail that I did not "win the bid" for the book and that I had to re-order. I then received the book from someone in Texas. A week later I received a second book from someone else!



A time-honored technique of dealing with the victim, er, customer. Be vague! Give your customer useless or conflicting information. A clever mega-lister can string a customer along for weeks with this approach.

They were experiencing shipping problems.

Seller would not refund; kept asking me for proof of address.

When I emailed them asking about the status of my order and for a tracking number they kept telling me to use a different customer service email. And every time I used that email I got no response.

The book never arrived [but] they said they would not refund my money until I sent the book back.

The book that I ordered was a hardback; the book received was a paperback in only fair condition. On contacting the seller I was informed that they had no hardbacks.

I was told the book was shipped to [a third-party seller] and to resolve it with them.

Circumstances beyond the seller's control prevented them from sending the book.

I was given the wrong tracking number.

I asked questions about this item which the seller answered yet when I purchased the book he told me that it had been sold months ago and that it should have been removed by [the website]. How was he able to answer my questions about the book?


9. "S.O.L."

When a customer receives one of these master strokes from a mega-lister, they know they are Simply Outta Luck.

I received a check in the mail with no note.

"Item lost."

"Listing withdrawn."

My order was cancelled.

My order was taken, then reversed.

Cancelled without notification.

Seller was unable to deliver the item.

[Seller said] they "do not guarantee all orders." What?

[Seller] discovered they did not have the book.

[Seller] decided the transaction was no good.

Seller couldn't ship book.

Seller stated that her daughter had just died in a car accident. I waited a few days and inquired again and got a totally different excuse.

Order cancelled 27 days later.

Seller said it was an off-site item. (This excuse serves well when a customer makes an inquiry about a specific book and the mega-lister simply can't answer it because the book is not on hand.)

Seller was having credit problems, so [the website] refunded my purchase.



In rare cases the mega-lister is caught red-handed playing their re-pricing game. Message to mega-listers: If you are going to bump up the price after canceling the order, don't re-list the book the next day!

Seller offered item at a very reasonable price but then said book was sold but lists a copy now at a much higher price.

Purchased book, no communications, refunded book as not available, book available later at 25 times purchased price.

Item was "out of stock" and the next day listed again 4 times the original price.



Of course, all sales of used books online are subject to prior sale. But the really bold mega-listers abuses this excuse with no excuse!

"Item could not be found in stock."

"Item is on backorder."

3 days after ordering, seller confessed he did not have it!

"Sorry, we never had this book in stock."

"Your order could not be shipped due to non-availability of the item."

Took ages to tell me "the book was not available."

I bought the book, paid, then found out that despite my being able to purchase and pay, it was not available for sale.

Seller said item may in stock again soon.

"This book is no longer in print."

Said "publisher does not make any more."

I was told it was backordered and might ship next week.

They ran out of stock just after I ordered.

"No product in stock."

They cancelled [my order] because they didn't have any stock or any money to buy stock. (I wonder just how many books this apparently broke, inventory-free "dealer" claimed to have!)
After waiting several weeks after being noticed that the book was shipped, I had to write to them to find out where was my book, then I got a message they are out of stock.

They sold the last one.

Advertises stock that doesn't exist.

"Stock-out is a rear situation for us." (Whose rear?)

The seller realized that he did not have any copies of the item.

The book I thought I ordered was already sold, so I bought a fluke.

"Product not available."

"No longer available and cannot be shipped."

"This is an 'obtain title.'"



The worst mega-listers ignore customer complaints. The boldest reply with sarcasm and insults. Emulate these mega-listers at your own risk.

Seller didn't care at all and gave no answer.

"Buyer too lazy to read pertinent info."

"I'm sorry that we could not fulfill this order, but we expended uncounted hours of time and effort searching through our stock of literally many thousands of books to try to fill this $9.95 order."

"It surprises me someone would complain about an 11 cent book."

"You bought a 3 dollar book, not a first class ticket to Uranus, so quit acting as if you expected to get champagne with your coach ticket."

"Customer confused."

[Customer is] "a true amateur."

"Know where you live before ordering."

"The book was [graded] in good condition because it was worn, and what he did not share [is that] he paid 9.75 for the book when he could have paid 22.95 for very good. If he wanted a better book then pay for it."

"We at [vendor's name] are certainly not going to take your nit picking and third rate spelling seriously."

"Hey, Dr. IQ? If the product is clearly unopened . . . how in the heck would I know that it was a mislabeled single? Am I supposed to open it and listen to it a few times first?"

"This so-called 'buyer' is far and away the rudest, most hostile, not to mention impatient and immature, that I have yet encountered in my almost 10 years of selling on [this website]. Sellers beware! No future orders from this souse will be honored!"


Thank you for visiting this page. Please avoid the mega-listers and go to TomFolio.com for all your used book, periodical, and ephemera needs.

Please note: TomFolio.com never has and never will allow mega-listers to sell through our site.

Content copyright © 2009 by Book Doctor Gwen

Click here to find more fun book facts from Book Doctor Gwen



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