Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Hall of Shame Sellers

I have been considering something for a long, long time. I have
very little time to devote to my blog, yet I don't wish to abandon
it completely. I do not want to inform newbies how to become a
bookseller, either. I do mentor a few privately who desire to become
better bookseller, though. They know me either personally or by
reputation from personal business dealings. I am by no means perfect.
I have made mistakes, more in the past than present, but occasionally
I do err. I am only human! But - what I take from my mistakes is a
lesson in how to provide better customer service, especially if someone
contacts me with a problem.

I have been buying and selling online for many, many years. (Husband
and I buy a
lot of books and items for our respective collections.) I
know what I like and what I don't. To be blunt, I have dealt with many
wonderful, wonderful buyers and sellers and some complete morons
(99% are sellers.) who are totally devoid of common or business sense
and occasionally even ethics! In this vein, a small group of trusted,
respectable booksellers, with whom I am friendly, and I trade
information. We share information on the gems, but possibly more
importantly we spell out who are the losers to avoid at all cost and

As such, I have decided to share this information to better assist the
public.Of course, all names have been changed to protect the guilty.
The beacons of excellence will be known via their business names,
unless requested otherwise.

Here is the most recent example of egregious seller behaviour in
response to an email. We bought a book misdescribed as "Mint."
Yeah, yeah, I know, that is a dead giveaway in itself, but my
husband really wanted the book. Once it arrived, he was
extremely angry and was going to immediately leave a neg on
eBay for the seller. (Yeah, yeah, I know eBay... ugh!) The book
stunk to high heaven of mold, to which I am extremely allergic.
Of course, it had to be taken immediately out of the house by DH
to be properly treated before either I went to the ER or the book
caused problems in our house. (Which is why DH was so very

I told DH maybe the person selling it couldn't smell the mold.
(I don't know how!) and that I would write the seller to explain
the situation. He told me to add in that the book was
misdescribed, also. OK, not everyone selling books is a
professional bookseller, especially on eBay, so I added in a
reference to IOBA.org for help in describing and grading books.
I tried to be nice while explaining our problem with the
purchase plus a little useful info. As the saying goes, "No
good deed goes unpunished."

Immediately following is the reply. Below that is
my original contact with the seller. I did not edit either except
to remove user name.

Dear fraubucher

Hi there, I my self buy and sell antiques, on line, i find them at
yard sails and grage sales,they come from basements , and
attics, were they are sold, not every one takes a book from there
book shelf and sells it.here we have a book from the collection of
the man who wrote it ,and had the greatest bottle collection of all
time, and was signed by him, and you complain about your
condition. i think if you are dealing with antiques of any kind you
might want to find a different hobby, old things smell just like that
OLD... no matter were they come from, be it a barn or an out
house, sory the price was not cheap enough for you , and better
luck next time, if you can find a better copy put your nose in it and
dont wast my time..... "
Ignorant and Illiterate 06/29/2008 11:02 PM

My email dated
June 25, 2008 8:55 AM:

Dear ...,

Hi, The book has an strong odor of mustiness, mildew to it. You
may or not have noticed it, but if you did, you really need to add
that to the item's description. I am extremely allergic to molds
which cause me severe asthma attacks. That fact heavily effects
my decision to buy something. Had I known in advance the book
was mildewed and musty, I would have had the option to open it
outdoors using necessary precaution measures and then
properly treat it before inspecting the book. A book that smells
musty has live mold in it, even if not visible, and will infect an
entire collection. Also, a very helpful reference site is IOBA.org
for their book description standards. It's a great aid if you expect
you may frequently sell books. In my experience books and
bottles are commonly found together in collections. Just to let
you know. Thanks,"

Nota bene: I have dug bottles and bought books 200 to 500+
years old. There is a big difference between smelling "old"
and smelling moldy and musty!

Have any suggestions for the Hall of Shame? Let me know.

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