Thursday, July 19, 2007

A vent about unprofessionalism...

A few weeks ago, I learned that some fanzine work by a Golden Age writer was going to be published in book form for the first time by a small press (one too small to even have its offerings on Amazon). I decided to ask for a review copy. I usually don't have any luck with review copies from these very small places, but I figured I'd just ask.

And as I expected, they said no. The book had been too expensive to produce to send out review copies. But, they told me, they'd sell it to me for 20 percent off.

Well, that was a start, but I decided to ask for 30 percent off, because after all, they would be getting free publicity out of it, and since it was an expensive book, it'd cost me more to buy it than I'd get back in advertising revenue from the page. But apart from wanting to review it, I also wanted to read it.

So, when they said no, sorry, 20 percent is as low as we can go, I said, okay, fine. I decided to let them do the math, and asked them what the total was that I should send them. THe email I got back said $29.

Well, I went to their website to try to figure out how to pay them - and it is one of the most amateurish publisher's sites I've ever seen. I hadn't been too impressed with the grammar and spelling abilities of the person I'd been dealing with (the wife of the owner, I believe) and the website reflected more of the same. And I was unable to find a Paypal address to send my discounted money to, as opposed to their shopping cart.

So, somewhat turned off by this, I let things slide for a week. Then I got an email from them saying they'd never received my payment, did I still want the book? I thought to myself... yes I want this book.... so I responded asking for their paypal email address.

And then I sent them the $29 which they had told me it would cost.

I got a rather brusque email back from them, giving the calculation and saying that I owed them $4 more.

I forwarded back to them the email I'd been sent saying that it would cost me $29.

Now, at this point, if they'd responded saying, "Yes, you were sent that, but it was an error by our clerical staff, and the total really is $32, sorry for the inconvenience" - I more than likely would have just sent the extra $4.

But that's not what they did. Instead I got a one sentence reply. "No problem, we'll refund your money."

And at that point they lost me. They obviously didn't want my business, let alone my review. So I sent back a one sentence email: "Please do."

And they did refund the money promptly, I'll say that for them.

But I find myself wondering why anyone who goes to their website and looks around, would even order anything from them...and if anyone has to deal with them...ditto.

Lesson in all this, if you want to be a publishing firm and you're not very good at English, make sure you surround yourself with people who are.

And don't annoy publishers of media - albeit ezines - that can help promote your books!

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