Friday, 21 September 2012

Abebooks Disappointments

I used to be a great fan of Abebooks, however my two most recent attempts to buy books have soured my opinion of the site and its booksellers.

When I was able to buy a reading copy of a rare classic in July I was delighted - at least until after three weeks delay the bookseller said it was lost in the post (apparently the seller knew of many similar losses because of problems at his local sorting office) and immediatedly refunded my payment.  I would have given that explanation more credence if an immediate search to find an alternative hadn't produced books at prices at least £30 more expensive. So I'm still looking out for a sensibly priced copy of the book in question. And I'm still waiting to receive and complete the Royal Mail lost post compensation form ....

Then today I received an email from the seller of another book apologising that it was unavailable because it had already been sold. Surprise, surprise, the next availailable copy on Abebooks was £11.00 more expensive.

So in future I will consider that booksellers reserve the right to change their mind about fulfilling contracts if they find the book is on sale elsewhere for higher prices, that is if they agree to me returning the book for a full refund after I've read it. Fair's fair...


Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your troubles with AbeBooks. I work for the company and would appreciate the opportunity to look into this matter. In some rare instances Sellers do have stock-outs that result in them having the cancel an order. There are a few reasons that contribute to this, very few of which are malicious. Any chance you could forward me the order details?

Regards, Shaun

Brian said...

Hi Shaun,

Many thanks for your concern. I was upset because after buying dozens of books via Abebooks with no problems, I experienced two disappointments in a row - it feels worse to be let down by something that was hitherto 100%dependable.
As far as the reasons, might they include:

"There are many possibilities as to why the bookseller marked the book(s) unavailable:

- It may have been previously sold and not yet removed from our database.
- The book was sold to a walk-in customer in the bookseller's store
- There may have been a previous hold on the book
- The book was misplaced but the bookseller did not realize it was missing until they tried to locate it."

Any one of those reasons could have been the plausible reason for the books' non-availability. And the booksellers couldn't be faulted for polite and speedy emailing.
I don't think an investigation would locate my books at the original prices which is the ideal solution. Instead, I'll wait a couple of months and try again with Abebooks - after all, lightning doesn't strike thrice in one place and I've probably had two bad experiences out of hundreds of thousands of successful transactions (just like the ones I had before).