by earthmom

#125, 21 July 2008

Who's Afraid of Nebraska Books?

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If you have even glanced at the Amazon forums over the last month and a half, you've seen this name everywhere. Never have there been so many threads focusing on this one book company: Nebraska Books. Never has there been such mass hysteria and screams of "Don't sell to them!" "Cancel! Cancel!" which brings to mind "The sky is falling!" And yet Nebraska Books (aka Tyson Motsinger as buyer) has been a valued customer of mine. I have completed several dozen solid transactions with them. They are my best repeat customer.

I have discussed Nebraska Books with several other sellers who have had and continue to have solid transactions with this company. Those people are not the loud ones you'll see on the Amazon discussion boards. They have repeated to me that they continue to sell and ship, no problems.

Nebraska Books seems to be a large company that buys mostly textbooks. If they order from you and your book does not match what they were expecting to receive, they send an email requesting a refund. They say they're "too busy" to return the book but still want their refund. All agree that this practice is wrong. They should find a way to allocate resources (as in hire some extra hands) just to help return orders that don't meet their specifications. The practice of "refund without return" started raising eyebrows and drawing complaints from other sellers some time ago, but recently the real storm hit.

No one knows for sure what happened but something went haywire with NBCís order system. Was it software related? Human error? Whatever caused it, there were hundreds (possibly thousands) of orders placed for books that were then hastily cancelled within 24-48 hours. [EDITORíS NOTE: To clarify, requests to cancel were emailed to sellers. Actual cancellations were not issued.] According to some sellers, many of these books had already shipped when the cancellations came in. There were also reports that Amazon sided with NBC and granted some A-to-Z claims, letting the company keep the books and forcing the sellers to refund. If so, the fault in that decision lies with Amazon even more so than with NBC. Itís one thing to be customer oriented but not to the point of ridiculous. Still, if this customer had a major glitch with their system, it is their job to fix it and take care of the fallout. [EDITORíS NOTE: See NBCís explanation of this event in this issue.]

half.com has taken the more sensible approach of insisting the customer return the item in order to receive the refund. Amazon, are you taking notes? Amazon's own return policy states that this must be done, but for some reason in the case of this large company they have gone against their own policies.

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Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark
editor@bookthink.com

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