Time Wasters and Tyre Kickers

I sold my first book on my website (A Novel Book) a few weeks ago.
Yeah me!!!
But I it took 5 very long days before the deal was finally done.
It was a strange week.
The first email came through saying she was having problems going through the checkout process. I sent an email back with an explanation – it really isn’t a hard system to use. I got my mother-in-law to test run it and she is computer illiterate.
Another email came through with a “Thank you. Still can’t work it out – but now your website is in French – and I can’t understand French. Is there any way you can translate for me please?”
Oh boy! The only language on my site is English. All the other languages have been disabled. There is no way this site is in French, unless she had been fiddling with her settings. I checked on my computer. All in English. I went next door to my neighbour’s house and quickly borrowed her computer. No French. I went to my local library and used their computer – still no French. I Skyped my sister and asked her to check. Again, not a bonjour or an adieu in sight.
I have encountered my first tyre kicker. Someone who doesn’t really want to buy this book, but is going to ask me a thousand questions about it anyway. Somebody who has too much time on their hands and thinks that I don’t.
I expected to get this in a B & M store. I am absolutely positive that all of you bookshop owners have this sort of person come in every week, if not daily. You know the kind (you may even have a “special” nickname for this person):
“I’m looking for a specific book by this author. Oh you have it? No, I don’t want the one with that cover. Oh, but this is second-hand, I wanted a new copy. Oh – I didn’t realise you were a second-hand book shop. Could you order one in for me? No I won’t leave a deposit, you can trust me.”
You know this customer, right?
Well, this is who I thought I had. But the on-line version. I can’t escort this person from my shop. She can’t hear the tone of my voice starting to get a little grumpy. I just kept getting emails about how hard it was to buy this book.
In the end, I did the on-line equivalent of “it’s time you left my shop now”. I thanked her for her patience & apologised for the “bugs” in my system, but suggested she find the book elsewhere as she would have better luck I’m sure. I even provided her a link to someone else that had the book.
Well, I don’t know if it was because she couldn’t see me banging my head on my desk, or rolling my eyes, or harassing the lovely lady who designed my website – asking why it is in French for this customer but for no-one else, but she bought the book. She paid via Paypal. She thanked me profusely for my customer service and apologised for being a “painful” customer! She said the website was now back in English, not a French word to be seen, and perhaps she’d pressed a button she shouldn’t have.
So not a tyre kicker after all.
But, gee I hope I don’t get too many more of these buyers who can’t read French!

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Discussion

  1. Adrianne

    Lovely. Our manager calls them “outliers,” she says to help you remember that they’re few and far between! (Doesn’t seem like it some days, though…)

    1. Helena

      Well done! Oh, the outliers come quite thick and fast some days. If a customer in our small shop in the UK orders a book, we ask them for their name, and when they come to collect it, we ask them for it again (that figures!) I remember once asking a woman for her name and she said “Roast Chicken”
      which was of course the name of the book. Patiently,
      I asked,
      “And what is YOUR name?”
      She glared at me as if I was a total moron and said, slowly and clearly,
      “My name is ROAST CHICKEN”.
      “And how do you spell that? Is it R-O-A-S-T C-H-I-C-K-E-N?”

      1. Therese Holland

        Roast Chicken! That is quite delightful
        and the customer I see to be tres difficile
        my favourite on-line customer is the one who ignores the difference in time zones
        I had a young gentleman from Denmark buying a book at 3am Melbourne time emailing at 5am to ask if it has been posted yet to which I reply at 7am not yet but in an hour or too yes it will be
        books are more expensive in Australia but wages are a little higher -minimum wage here is just over $15 so not as bad as it looks

  2. Judy

    Congratulations Amanda. The first (completed) sale is such a thrill and a huge achievement. Well done.

    I had the dialogue of Monty Python’s Bookshop Sketch running through my head as I was reading your post. At least online, you have an extra layer of protection between you and the general public. Plus the benefit of time – my initial response to a few emails is often less than polite, but when I take some time to calm down, my replies are a lot more moderate.

    Bookshop owners don’t get to calm down before responding to unreasonable and rude customers. But I’m sure they have a whole portfolio of ‘things they wish they could have said’.

  3. Judy

    I followed the link from this article to your website – There are some things that I couldn’t get to work. There are large ‘buttons’ at the top right of the screen, Login, Contact, Home, Checkout – the home, contact and checkout buttons don’t work. The login butto only worked on some pages.

    And a question about the pricing ~ I switched to the US Dollars listing – does the price amount shown for each book include shipping? I have to claim complete ignorance about what the used book industry standards in Australia are – I’m in the US. But I was surprised to see the prices – used copies of most of the titles you have listed sell here for around $2.00 US. Do you sell primarily in Australia or do you ship worldwide?

    From our website (www.pagemaster-books.com) we used to ship quite a bit worldwide but with the postal increases that dropped off in the last few years.

    1. Judy

      From one Judy to another: Prices for both new and used books in Australia are a lot higher than in the US. Books with a RRP of USD $12.95 will sell for AUD $24.95 – $29.95 here. Australia doesn’t really have mass market paperbacks, and certainly not the range that’s available in the US. Much smaller market and I don’t think the general Australian population reads as much as Americans.

      Did you read Therese’s recent article about shipping a container load of books from the US to Australia? We haven’t quite done that, but we have been on several buying trips to the US, and it’s been worth our while buying used books in the US and selling them in Australia.

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