To Whom it May concern:
I have been trying for over 6 weeks to buy a book as a “housewarming”
present for my friend Scott Brown of Fine Books and Collections
Magazine. Scott just bought a bookstore in Eureka California, and I
thought it would be a nice surprise gift.
The book I am trying to give him is scarce but not unknown. When I
first shopped online for it, in late December 2007, I found 5 or 7
copies and chose the cheapest one in the best condition. I ordered it
from a vendor on Alibris.com. No sooner did I place the order then the
vendor cancelled it, as that copy could not be found.
Again I looked for the book , and this time I found it on Biblio.com
from David Combes at Back 2 Books in the UK.* I wisely checked on
availability before ordering this copy. I was available and the seller
agreed to drop ship the item. It has been 6 weeks and there has been
no sign of the book, and the seller refuses to answer my emails. I
cannot get a refund from Paypal as he was a ‘non-verified’ member.
All that Biblio.com has been able to muster up are some sternly worded
emails to Mr. Combes. Mr Combes may well not be in any way
untrustworthy, the book may have truly gotten lost, but ignoring my
many emails is hardly the way to conduct business.
Believing that the third time is the charm I gamely searched for
another copy. This time I found one listed on Abebooks.com from a
reputable seller. Chuck Roberts at Wonder Books and Video in
Maryland. After being burned twice, I wanted to again send a
prepurchase enquiry to Wonder Books. Not finding a ‘Contact Seller”
button on the ABE listing. I copied the listing including the SKU and
pasted it into an email which I sent directly to Wonder Books and
video. The preformatted response email that I just received from
Debbie states that “Thank you for your recent inquiry. Currently, our
online inventory consists of over 1 million books, DVD’s, CD’s etc. with
approximately 30,000 added monthly. If you have a question regarding
a particular item we have in stock, we ask that you refer to the book listing that is
provided on the site you are visiting. . . Please contact us when
you are ready to place an order for your book(s). Your satisfaction
with your purchase is guaranteed” This is tantamount to telling me that they cannot
be bothered checking on availability unless I wanted to pay them to do
so. I find this highly insulting and frankly unsatisfactory for a
company that purports to care about my satisfaction.
There is one last copy on the internet, and it is priced higher than
the three aforementioned copies. However at this point the fun has
gone out of the gift – as I have already had to ask Scott and his
employes to look for the book at least 4 times.
What is the title of this phantom book that everyone advertises but no
one wants to sell me?
*since then David has apologized and cheerfully refunded my purchase…the book however is still somewhere lost over the Atlantic.