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Experiences with Amazon Marketplace

I have recently placed orders with Amazon in their "Marketplace". For those who don't know, the marketplace is... well, sort of like eBay without the cack. It's pretty useful for rare and unusual books, and things Amazon does not stock.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya #2

I wanted to buy this new from Amazon, but for some strange reason they did not have it. Part one, yes. Part three, yes. Part two? Uh-uh. Amazon doesn't have it!

So I placed an order with a marketplace vendor. The package arrived quickly, it was all in perfect condition, save one tiny little niggle. A big barcode sticker was stuck on the back of the book; however this being manga, it was actually the front of the book!
The sticker came off easily, and as you can see from the picture below, I stuck it inside the front cover. Sorry, the picture is lame, it's my naff old camera in low light.

That oh-so-terrible sticker! :-)

So I wrote to the vendor pointing out that as proper manga is read back-to-front to western books, it would be better to place this sticker on the other side so it isn't over top of the front cover drawing.

This might seem an odd thing to suggest, however I know some reviewers can be bastards. Sorry for my language, but I look for vendors who rate more than 95%ish, and if there is a book for just a little bit more from somebody with a better rating (say, 98% vs 95%), I will often pay the little bit extra for a better rated vendor. Because of this, it annoys the hell out of me when people do things like write "nothing to report" and rate the vendor three out of five. I accept problems happen and some people are shysters, but if your book arrives as described within its date estimate, the vendor deserves a five. For some vendors, including the one that sold me Haruhi, I would give a six if it was possible, for the book arrived before the early estimate. The label is just a tiny inconsequential hiccup and I, personally, think anybody who would consider rating the company down for such a thing deserves to be beaten senseless. But, sadly, such people exist. Go to Amazon's marketplace and read some of the comments. You will see some vendors are not entirely trustworthy, and you will see that some customers are complete idiots.

Anyway, it was a friendly suggestion to put the barcode sticker on the right side!
That's it. Nothing more.

I really shouldn't have bothered...

I received an apologetic email saying that they sincerely regret me receiving such a book and that they do not have a new replacement to send me, so they offer to refund my postage.

WTF?!?!? I don't need a new copy! The one I have is just fine. And as for refunding my postage... Uh... I wasn't fishing for anything. Is this a gigantic misunderstanding, or is it some sort of Amazon policy that any comments that aren't glowing thank yous should be handled like this? I'm going to mail them a link to this document. It would be interesting to see if they leave a comment (below!).
I really hope this has all been a big misunderstanding, because if it was policy, then I kinda feel sorry for the vendors.

PS: Of course I gave them 5 out of 5. Service was impeccable.

Hardcore Visual Basic

I placed an order for this book, and a few days later I received the following email:
At the time of packing your order, we noticed that the accompanying CD is missing. This should have been mentioned in the listing as it is our aim to provide customers with good value for money, but most importantly with good, clean books that they will enjoy. We apologize that this was not caught when we listed this book.
Your order has been shipped as it may still be of some use to you and we currently have no other copies in the listed condition.
Please contact us once you receive it and we will work out an appropriate refund. You may simply reply to this email as reference and we will work with you until this matter is resolved.
Please accept our sincere apologies for any inconvenience this oversight may cause.
This may prove to be an important issue, if there are many references to data on the CD which would prove to be necessary in order to use the book. Or it may prove to be a non-issue with stuff also available from the author's website. Who knows? [don't have the book yet]
I will rate this vendor a four or a three, depending on how quickly the book arrives. They miss a five for the obvious reasons of an incorrect listing, and also I, personally, think they should have asked if I wanted to receive the book, or cancel the order, before shipping. If I'm feeling generous, I simply won't rate them at all so there will be no change to their current scoring.

Asides from that, I am unlikely to pursue the issue further. I have no idea what they would consider an appropriate refund, but the book cost me €1.74.
D'you know what that is to me? This is what the cost of that book is to me. Unless the vendor has another copy of this book and can burn off a copy of the CD to post me, I don't want them to work with me to resolve the matter. It isn't worth my time, and it isn't worth their time, for a book costing just over half of the postage. It is annoying, sure, but I'm not going to tear my hair out. People who would make a big issue out of this obviously want the moon on a stick. The book cost me a cup of instant noodles. I'll live... ☺


An update

I felt it was important to contact the manga seller because, as explained, some people would give a bad rating for the slightest problem, and some people... are just born stupid, consider:
'WTF' just doesn't cover it...
Really, there is not enough Fail in the world to describe somebody who would write a review like this...

I received a message back from the seller which said that they understand my dilemma, however they wished to offer (quote) "an article with no flaws" (unquote), and as such the book with a sticker was not flawless. The refund of postage as a compensation was their doing rather than an Amazon policy.
Oh, and they understand the back-to-frontness of manga, which is more than I can say for the girls in my local supermarket who now stock manga end-on because I think they got fed up of me turning them all around the correct way (Love Hina and Fruits Basket, yuck!).
Service above and beyond the call of duty. I'll order from them again (and if there's a sticker, I'll keep my mouth shut! ☺).


Your comments:

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Rob, 17th July 2010, 17:42
I too buy books from time to time from Amazon marketplace... often they are books priced at 1p ! I presume they make their money off the fixed price shipping, which is the same per item even if you buy multiples from the same vendor. The only time I had a problem (I don't care if a book is scruffy, for that price, but one had a whole block of pages actually missing) they refunded me the lot immediately..  
Compare to eBay sellers, where you often have to spend forever arguing the toss with them and eventually have to report them to eBay or PayPal...  
Oh, even when I've not bought things, amazon sellers have responded to queries very fast! If only I could list stuff on there that wasn't an existing product..
Rick, 17th July 2010, 22:23
Mom likes the 1p books! 
Yes, I have heard a number of double-plus-ungood things about eBay, and even worse about PayPal, though to be honest my few experiences with eBay have been okay - 2Mb Psion 3a, Flash, RAM... The only thing that was a bit of a fail was a clone USB to serial lead which was something like three quid with shipping. The driver disc was corrupt for the XP driver and the official driver for the part says "oi! this ain't real!". Well, what did I expect? I'd have been surprised if it worked. ☺ 
What do you mean by listing stuff that isn't an existing product? Self-publishing? Vapourware? Something so old it isn't on the Amazon radar?
Rob, 18th July 2010, 21:45
Well, I've not had many problems with eBay sellers, and we do tend to buy a fair bit, but when I have, they've been a pain in the neck... 
non-products, well it's a good few years since I looked into it, but we were selling custom-made glass ornaments.. as we were the importer, direct from the factory, there was no equivalent item so couldn't list them..

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