Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Customer Friendly

We've recently had occasion to test the customer-friendliness of an appliance store. This store-within-a-store is located inside a place we'd come to trust, a place with a guarantee that basically said, "If you don't like it, you have 30 days to return it." With this in mind, we chose an appliance (I won't go into details) and made the purchase. I was a little surprised when the very nice sales associate said, "When they deliver it, be sure to check it over before they leave." But they delivered the item, there were no scratches or dings, and we signed off on the delivery.

Then the fun began. The appliance didn't perform as it should. Because of "improvements" and "government regulation," several features--although on the dial--couldn't be used. And when we talked with the people at the store, we learned that their policy wasn't "If you don't like it, you have 30 days to return it." Theirs was, "Once it's in your home, it's yours. Call the manufacturer if you have a problem."

After many service calls and phone conversations with the manufacturer and the appliance store, we finally got this straightened out. The offending appliance is no longer in view, and we'll start over with a different store. But I got to thinking about this, and decided that the store's policy--the one which upset me--is pretty much what happens with a book. When a publisher sends books to a retailer, the retailer has the right to return them within a reasonable length of time. (That's why they don't want me or any other author to autograph too many copies--they may need to return them). But when the consumer pays for a book, once it's out of the store, that's it. I'm sure there may be people who read a book and then try to take it back to the store from which it was purchased, but they're probably few and far between, and I don't think their chances of success are good.

What do you do when you buy a book and it turns out not to be worth they money you paid for it? Do you complain to the bookstore? Do you find the email contact for the author (the Internet makes it easy) and send them a message? Or do you just mark it down to experience and vow not to make that mistake again? Or are you one of those fortunate people who've never bought a book, only to get fifty pages in and wonder why you shelled out for it? Let me know.
 


11 comments:

Timothy Fish said...

Once, I purchased a book written by an author I had enjoyed reading in the past. In fact, I had all of her books to date. I would have never called her a Christian author, but her early books were enjoyable to read. Unfortunately, this book spend a significant amount of time with imagery of nudity and portraying fornication as a good thing. I sent the author an email to express my displeasure with the book. A simple statement,"Sorry you didn't like the book," would've been fine. A statement, "yeah, I realize I went to far," would've been great. What I got instead was a lengthy tirade from the author.

Anne Mateer said...

Before I was writing, spending money on a book I didn't like really irked me. Now I chalk it up to "how can I learn from this in my own writing." At least it takes the away some of the sting when I can look at it as writing education spending instead of pleasure spending.

Erica Vetsch said...

I chalk it up to experience. I've never tried to take a book back to the bookstore.

It doesn't seem to be as easy to find books to get lost in as it was before I became a writer.

S. Kim Henson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
S. Kim Henson said...

I've been fortunate. I only buy a book if it's been recommended by someone who has the same taste as I do in books or when I've read through enough of it in Barnes and Noble to know I like it.

This is probably more because I hate to waste money and time. Plus, we don't have much space in our home for books unless they're our favorites.

I may have missed out on some good ones because I'm not a risk taker (at least not when it comes to reading), however, so far, so good on buying what I like to read.

Richard Mabry said...

Thanks to all of you for your comments (I've been away this AM and just got to them). I'll confess that this blog post started out as a rant against businesses that don't make it easy to return defective merchandise, but when I realized halfway into it that books are sold on a similar basis, my rant turned into a more thoughtful post. Thanks for contributing.

Unknown said...

I almost never return a book to a bookstore. In fact I only returned 1 book that I can remember. If I start reading, and don't like it, I tend to close the book and just mark it as experience. But that is not to say I won't try reading books by that author again. I am well aware that 1 bad apple doesn't always spoil the whole bunch.

Richard Mabry said...

Thanks, Andrea. Glad you stopped by.

Deb said...

We've been told for years that Christian fic buyers will return a book to the store if it "offends" them in any way. Yet I've never seen statistics on how often this happens. Lacking any sort of numerical guess as to its frequency, I tend to discount this "fact." I personally have never returned a book save for the one time the last 40 pages were printed upside down (I figured that was the right thing to do)!

Anyone have the straight facts on this much-quoted idea?

Richard Mabry said...

Deb, I don't have those figures, but would love to see them. One CBA publisher (think I recall who, but not sure so I won't say) used to offer your money back if you didn't like the book. Don't see that offer any more, either.
Thanks for your comment.

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