To clear out some of the thousands of album I've collected over the years and as a hobby I sell albums online under the name BadCatRecords. Over the last five years I've sold thousands of albums to hundreds of customers in some 40 countries. I try to be honest and fair and judging by the feedback I get, the vast majority of folks who deal with me are satisified with their puchases. I'll be the first to tell you I'm not perfect, but if something is defective, I'll take it back and cover to mailing costs.
On a regular basis I run into "collectors" and I typically shy away from dealing with them because I know there's just no way to please hardcore fanatics. Someone who asks me to take a photo of an LP corner, or a promo sticker is bound to be so fanatical, that it just isn't worth my time and effort to deal with them. I've turned down some major potential sales just because I didn't want the associated headaches.
And then I occasionally let my sense of empathy and decency get in the way.
I recently had a sale that was so bad as to be comical. I normally would just file it away as a lesson learned, except this customer decided to post their version of the transaction on their blog. They didn't use my name (and I'm not going to name them), but they clearly knew that I would see the posting (chances are I'm the only person who'll ever see it). So here's a little taste of their post:
I am finally
getting to go where I wanted to go to avoid the horrendous deal that just
happened when I go to make amends and make a record transaction I can love on
next Saturday in a PROPER STORE. This is over 3 weeks too late to have saved me
from my sickness, but will be a welcome bright spot in a very black period for
me. How did this all start? How did it all happen? With the worst goodwill
gesture ever from me and the worst nightmare of a record deal I've ever been
through. The dealer whom I am now wishing would be in as much pain as I am shall
go nameless and so will any other details of the last fatal record nightmare.
Let's just say that MOST mail order dealers are parasites who never could run a
store because they'd go bankrupt in two seconds. Some of these people, like the
one the latest nightmare happened with, are decent to good people who shouldn't
be in this business. Honesty is the key and once the lying and conniving starts
you're finished and over with.
Interesting to see someone wish me mental and physical anguish and then go on to essentially call me incompetent. An interesting perspective on things when you consider:
- Customer wanted me to ship the LPs in advance of payment. Not happening.
- This person ultimately bought 44 LPs and returned five for a full refund. I'd actually play graded one of the albums and it sounded fine when I sold it. I played a second one when it came back and don't have a clue as to why it was returned. It sounded perfect on a Rega turntable.
- Customer sends me an email that they are thrilled with all of the other LPs. Two days later they are furious that the albums are all misgraded and I've screwed them over.
- One of the LPs was a sealed rarity. Now in this person's defense, the LP had water damage and I clearly misgraded it. The customer was clearly with their rights to return it. The problem is they decided to return it after opening it, playing it, and telling me they loved it. Two days later they wanted a discount for the condition issue. I asked what they thought was a fair discount and immediately agreed to it. Another two days and they want to return the LP for a full refund. Now this person understands record values better than anyone I know. Clearly an opened LP does not have the same value as a sealed copy. The end result is a major fight where I reach a point where I suggest cancelling the entire deal. Ultimately we reach an agreement where I double the discount on that particular LP and the person keeps it.
- The albums had to be shipped express mail. To accomodate the requirement I took off early from work to get to a post office before closing time. Cost to me was an hour of leave (roughly $80). Even better - I'd never had anyone ask for express mail before so I had to guess at the cost. Naturally I guessed wrong. The cost was substantially higher than my estimate. Buyer said they'd pay the difference, but then claimed that the package had not gotten there in the guaranteed delivery timeframe and it was my responsibility to file a claim with the post office to get my money back.
- I go to the post office to file the claim and they provide me with their tracking paperwork that shows the post office did try to make delivery within the guaranteed timeframe, but nobody was home to accept the package.
- Customer says they were home and the post office is lying.
- Bottom line is that this isn't my problem. I deduct $40 from the refund check I owe for the returned LPs and get an email that calls me a liar (among other things).
And here's the kicker. I felt genuinely bad about the transaction. Music is really important to this person (they know more about obscure bands than anyone I've ever met). As a show of good faith I'd actually pulled out an album the person was interested in but didn't buy. I was going to include it when I shipped the last album I owe this person (my copy of the album had a skip so I found a replacement copy for them). Needless to say, when I read their blog posting, that sense of empathy disappeared in a heartbeat and the 'bonus' album went back on the shelf.
I will say I truly agree with the person's statement "Honesty is the key and once the lying and conniving starts you're finished and over with." The problem with making such a statement is that you better me able to look in a mirror when you make it.
Oh well, it's a hobby, not one of life's essentials and I guess this experience puts me in the company of other record dealers who've dealt with this person like Ashley Johnson, Zac Groom, the folks at Metro Music, and GoJohnyGo Records.
I've spent ten minutes on this post and if nothing else I feel better for blowing some steam. Even better one more LP owed to the buyer and this wonderful episode will be over.
Shipped out the last LP and now actually have a "banned" buyers list. 'Course there's only one customer on it at this time.