Saturday, March 4, 2017

Always Check Your Amazon Seller's Feedback

Over a year ago, I detailed how I search for books online.  I use eBay, Amazon, and AbeBooks as first choices when trying to build sets of books.  I also check Thriftbooks, Etsy, Ecrater, Bonanza, and Google's shopping search.

In January, I decided that I definitely wanted to read the River Heights series.  I had started the set and needed to acquire three titles quickly in order to read through the set in order.  I had already started the set, and the books must be read in sequential order.

I needed #9 Lies and Whispers, #11 Broken Hearts, and #16 Jealousy Trap.  I found #9 and #16 on and ordered them with some other books.  I found #11 Broken Hearts on both Amazon and AbeBooks.  I went with the Amazon seller since the price was slightly lower.

When I purchase books solely to read, I do not need for them to be perfect.  Of course, I would rather the books arrive in very good or better condition, but I mainly just want to read the book.  I can deal with a book that is not in the best of condition.  Therefore, I often go with the lowest price online.  Typically, this is never a problem, except occasionally I encounter a flaky seller.  However, that sometimes happens even with more expensive listings.

My orders were placed on January 17.  The Thriftbooks order of #9 and #16 along with other books was shipped on January 18 and 19.  The Amazon order page for #11 had already updated to the status "preparing for shipment."  By January 19 or 20, I began to feel like something wasn't right with the Amazon order.  I actually had no real reason to feel disquiet, but I have an excellent intuition that warns me about potential transaction problems.  When my intuition warns me about a transaction, I am usually correct.

I went back to Amazon and looked at the order.  I clicked on the seller's name and then the feedback.  I had a sinking feeling.  I knew that the transaction was doomed, but I couldn't cancel it.

This is what I saw.

The feedback is great, but look at the dates.  The above comments are the seller's most recent feedback comments.  The seller has not received feedback in five years! Granted, most Amazon buyers do not leave feedback.  I do sometimes, but I forget a lot of the time.  Even though most buyers do not leave feedback, the typical Amazon seller with a storefront should have received feedback somewhat more recently than five years ago.

I decided to go ahead and order #11 from another seller.  I found a listing on AbeBooks.  I knew that I was risking getting two copies, but I considered it very important to guarantee that #11 would arrive in time.  I couldn't wait on a flaky Amazon seller, so I ordered the book again from the AbeBooks seller.

Meanwhile, I sent the Amazon seller a message expressing my concern about the order.  I don't recall what I stated, and I did not have a copy of the message sent to me. I waited one week and had not received a response.  By that point, I was at least 90% certain that the Amazon seller's storefront was untended and that the order would never be shipped.  Meanwhile, I received #11 from the AbeBooks seller.

Since one week had passed without response from the Amazon seller, I requested to cancel the order.  This was around January 24 and was another message sent directly to the seller.  The seller did not respond to the second message.  Amazon would not take control of the situation until enough time had passed.  I had to wait it out.

On February 17, Amazon sent an automated message.  "The following order(s) placed on 1/17/2017 with ----- will be canceled if the order is not ship-confirmed by 2/23/2017." I had about one more week to wait.

Finally, on February 23, I received the long-awaited message from Amazon.

"We're writing to inform you that your order from ----- has been canceled because the seller did not confirm shipment of the order within 30 days. Sellers on Amazon must ship products within 30 days of when the order was placed, otherwise the order is automatically canceled. We're sorry for the inconvenience this has caused. In most cases, you pay for items when we ship them to you, so you won't be charged for items that are canceled."

By ordering from the wrong seller, I had this order hanging over me for five weeks plus two days.  If I had looked at the feedback before placing the order, I would not have chosen this particular seller.

To my knowledge, Amazon does not let sellers list books for free.  It's surprising that a seller has an untended storefront on Amazon.  Wouldn't it be logical not to pay Amazon to list items that one has no intention of shipping out?  It could be that the seller has passed away.  Regardless, I will be more careful in the future so that I can avoid a repeat of this situation.


Lena Dunn said...

Feedback is something I always check before buying. Sometimes I see negatives but they don't always affect my decision to buy, since I know buyers sometimes do not read through item descriptions, based on my own experiences as a seller. However in this case, the seller you mentioned also has an eBay store. Great prices, but I avoid them like the plague. Actually I avoid most (not all) big sellers like that. Takes way too long to ship items and they never respond to emails.

Amanda said...

I sell a smidge on Amazon, maybe 1 title is purchased a month. I sell so little volume, there is no monthly charge. Large volume sellers have a membership fee. Amazon charges fees, but not up front when you are a low volume seller. It's 99 cents, plus a bunch of other fees. It usually ends up being about 10-15% of your sale. Huge impact if you sell cheaply because you only end up with a few dollars if you're lucky, but you don't have to pay upfront fees.

Your Amazon seller account remains open until you close it. Inactivity does nothing. I wish it did. With so little sales, it's easy to forget to check for sales when I only sell something every few months. It just happened as a matter of fact. Haven't sold anything since December, went on vacation last week, and found I had a late sale and could not deal with it - hence a late sale I feel terrible for and much more dramatically affects my seller health because I have so few sales to offset a bad transaction. I really have to remember to set the status to vacation.

So as long as an account is paying fees or if the account has less than 40 sales a month, a dormant account could be active indefinitely. However, as you rightly point out, just because there aren't reviews, doesn't mean it's a dormant account.