Monday, March 16, 2009


So I think Cathy deeply confused a Chapters' operator this evening. I suspect as I write this he's telling his co-workers about the deeply confusing phone call he just got.

Here's how it goes.

Back in February we placed a fairly massive Chapters order. It was about 20 books or so. This was due to me getting a lot of Chapters money for my birthday and it being awhile since our last order. So Cathy ordered some of her books, I ordered some graphic novels and we ordered some travel books for Australia. The books were all scheduled to arrive around the 20th of February.

Three of those books arrived very promptly. However, the other 17 were MIA. And by around March 5th Cathy was getting antsy. Chapters tracking information said the books were in Montreal, but it had been saying that for more than 10 days at this point, which is a touch unusual. So she called Chapters to see if they could put a trace on where the books were.

Now, I can't say what happens next is what really happened, but I'd bet money on it. And that is the Chapters operator Cathy was dealing with took one look at our account information, saw how much we spend at Chapters in the run of a year and went "holy crap, let's keep these people happy." So they sent the 17 books that hadn't arrived out yet again. It would be one thing if these were all cheap paperbacks, but at least one of these books was expensive...about $60 (Absolute Batman: The Long Halloween). Yet, Chapters sent it out again without blinking. And they sent it priority post, which is expensive.

So, you know, for a massive, evil small bookstore killing chain, that's a pretty decent response.

Anyway, you can imagine where this is going. On Thursday last week the first box of books finally shows up. Lord knows why it was stuck in Montreal for more than two weeks. I had someone at First Air tell me they had 150,000 pounds of backed up cargo stuck down south waiting to get shipped up. Maybe that box got caught up in that.

Today, the other shoe dropped when the second box of 17 books showed up. For me, this was a mild dilemma. It never was one for Cathy, especially after she checked the Chapters website and discovered you could print a label, attach it to the box and send the books back without any postage cost. However, that was for if you wanted a refund. So to make sure we didn't accidentally get a refund on the books that Chapters never would have come looking for in the first place, she called one of their operators to make sure they didn't accidentally refund us money when we sent back the books.

The operator was that confused he had to put her on hold and see what he had to do because no one had ever called with this kind of request before.

But yes, the books will be sent back over the next day or so. My wife is a more ethical person than me, since I would have been tempted to keep and perhaps resell the books. How many of you would have sent the books back?

Last Five
All from "No Line on the Horizon" - U2


Way Way Up said...

I've never heard of Chapters doing something like that before. I've actually been waiting on an order myself for close to a month now......hmmmmm......

Nancy Crozier said...

Gee, thanks - now I have Billy Joel's "Honesty" stuck in my head.

Anonymous said...

I would donate the surplus books to a local library or school. Paul

Mireille Sampson said...

I'm with Paul, hte library is the first thing that popped into my head.

towniebastard said...

I'm sure Ron could probably clear this up, but there's a small problem with donating books to the local library. Most of the time those books will never make it into circulation. A lot of books get donated to the library and most of them are just resold at one of the quarterly bargin book sales ($5 for all you can carry in a shopping bag).

If I thought the books were going to be read by a bunch of people, then that's one thing. But donating them to the library so they could make an extra $10 or so at a book sale, well....

If Chapters had said it's not worth the money to send them back the books, that's probably what would have happened to most of them. However, the more I think about it, they had enough faith that we were being honest when we said the books didn't show up. The least we could do is be honest when both orders showed up.

Nancy, sorry about that. It's not even like it's a good Billy Joel song.

And Darcy, you should give them a call. Once you spend the 10 minutes trying to find a 1-800 number to call, that is...

Ron said...

Librarians have a love/hate relationship with donations. We love the new books and the commitment of our patrons to expanding the collection. We hate the old/worn/weird stuff we get in donations which would never circulate in a billion years.

The basic rules are: nothing obviously old worn or damaged in terms of the condition of the book. In terms of content we generally won't accept a donation which is more than than 5 yrs old. We also won't take duplicates unless there is a really really good reason (made of gold etc.)

Anyway - all of that said the Head Librarian at ICL governs the sorting of donations. As a Manager I try to stay out of the process as it is a good way to get your eye poked out with a card catalog. LIbrarians like to have control or at least the illusion of control over their collections and what goes in or comes out of them. If you want to know the criteria being used the best thing is to ask and accept that you might end up seeing your donations in the booksale next fall.

WJM said...

We hate the old/worn/weird stuff we get in donations which would never circulate in a billion years.

I love the stuff you consider old/worn/wierd, especially when I resell such titles to far-away countries. Thank you, in particular, the clueless librarians at the public library here in Rand McNally, who have been very aggressive, and idiotic, with their "weeding" in the past six months - but boo hiss for basically destroying the language-learning section.

dups said...

FYI, and I have said this before but I will say again (and I know you know all this...). Just goes to prove, Cathy is awesome.


Anonymous said...

What Chapters did was good customer service. What you and Cathy did was good ethical behaviour. I like both and commend you for your honesty.