This Is Not A Rant

So I see some books I would like to buy an ABE, otherwise known as Advanced Book Exchange, the Canadian company that is probably the best book selling site on the internet.

Now when I say it’s the best, you might think it is without fault, but that is far from the case. Ask any bookseller what they think of ABE and once they tell you how it sells more of their books than any other site, they will also tell you that ABE is replete with problems, that the people there just don’t get it, that talking to them is like talking to cable TV idiots who seem capable only of corporate-speak.

But let’s cut to the chase. The book dealer from whom I made my purchases was not responding to my follow up e-mail questions, including my plea to have him send me his phone number so I can resolve my issues. He eventually sends his phone number, but tells me not to call for a few days because he lives near Buffalo, NY. He informs me of his ice/snow/roof problems that he needs to resolve quickly.

No problem. I wait about three days and then call him. The dealer is at least 80 years old and a nice old guy.  I’ll probably be there myself someday, so I bear with the fact that he can’t hear well. Asking and answering questions is…difficult, despite changing phones. He hears better on one vs. the other.

In the end we strike a deal. He says I can get his address from ABE. I think this is a good idea since our communications were so difficult. So, I look up his address on ABE, or at least I tried to look him up on ABE. ABE, which doesn’t list his phone number, also doesn’t list his address — just the city in upstate New York.

So, I call ABE. The otherwise pleasant person on the phone gently tells me ABE cannot give me his address since the transaction he and I completed was accomplished without ABE which wants its cut. That’s true I counter, but I did buy books from him, via ABE, just a few days previously. ABE did get its cut.  Once these books arrive, I’ll have his return address. I just don’t want to wait until then. Since he and I struck our deal, I’m thinking it would be bad form to wait a week or two to send the check I just promised moments before.

This debate continues with the ABE rep until I point out how ludicrous its position is and ask to speak to a supervisor. Smiling through gritted teeth, she says someone will have to call. I ask when, since this was on a Friday and ABE not only doesn’t work on weekends, their offices actually close around 2:30 Pacific time.  While wishing I had those hours, I wait for the supervisor to call me back.

It’s been about three days now. What do you think my chances are of ever receiving such a call? Or ABE coming to its corporate senses? Okay, maybe it is a rant. But jeez….



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2 responses to “This Is Not A Rant

  1. Since you have noted you are dealing with the corporate mentality and in my twenty years with Abe have never spoken to anyone with a hint that they might have actually every bought (or perhaps read) a book, it is best to try again or as in some cases write lesser issues off. Remember these are not professionals but be thankful they have not chosen to have their people answer from India or Pakistan. Actually, once you realize their intellectual limitations, I have found them relatively polite.

    I remain a former griper about the world that now keeps most peeves to the occasional miscreant who wanders into the store. Such stories have been told many times in the annals of the antiquarian bookseller.

    Richard Murian
    Alcuin Books

  2. My friends know me as a tilter of windmills. Old habits die hard. But I
    ‘m trying. Thanks for the comment. Jim

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