Sunday, December 14, 2014


I sell records as a hobby and to make a little extra money.  It isn't a career
for me and I don't need to squeeze ever last cent I can out of buyers.   I try
to treat customers with courtesy and respect.  Repeat customers frequently get a
healthy discount.  I've even occasionally been willing to break a cardinal rule
and accept trades.  The result is that I have stellar customer feedback on
various online selling cites.  

A normal transaction is someone finds something they want to buy.  They submit
and order.   If I still have it, I'll send them an invoice.  They pay.  I mail.  
Start-to-finish the process usually takes me 10 - 15 minutes of dedicated time.

And then occasionally it turns bizarre.

- A customer orders two dozen albums.
- I offer the person a 10% discount on the order since it is fairly large.
- The customer then spends two weeks literally making dozens of changes via
never-ending emails and phone calls.   It gets so convoluted I have to set up a
spreadsheet to try to keep track of the changes.
- The customer insists on getting trade-in value for albums I have no interest in.
- The customer decides to reduce the size and value of the order and I elect to
reduce the discount and reject the trade-in LP.
- The customer repeatedly insists they have finalized their list and wants to
know if the albums can be sent in advance of payment
- Even after I pack the order (being told the selections have been finalized),
changes come in.  Having packed the order, at this point I simply refuse to make
any more changes.
- I get a personal check for payment (which doesn't actually cover the full cost
of the order - they promise a post-dated check for the remainer), and whereas I
would normally wait for it to clear, agree to send the order out in advance of
it clearing.
- Customer gets the order and tells me one LP is in poor shape; one LP is
missing (amazing given changes continued  until the very end), and one of the
LPs is missing an insert.   Customer says they are 85% happy with the order.
- The LPs are guaranteed so there's no problem returning a $10 item.   I find the
missing LP and the missing insert; pack them, and am ready to ship them out the
next day.
- Customer starts berating me for mis-representing LPs; mis-grading LPs, and
various other sins.   
- Customer DEMANDS I send a series of high priced replacement albums to make up
for the LPs that are flawed ad the ones they don't like (including a couple
they'd previously told me were priority buys for them).  The fact those albums
cost more than the ones to be returned doesn't seem to be an issue.   It's a
life or death issue for them.
- When I respond "not happening" I am told they want to return the whole order.

At this point I've already invested countless hours answering emails,  pulling
LPs, re-shelving LPs when the list changes, packing the material, taking it to
the post office, deleting LPs from on-line listings,  etc.      I've reached a
point where I'm simply happy to take my losses and move on.   The outcome is I'm
a little smarter in terms of what I'm willing to do with respect to this hobby
and I now have my first "banned" customer.

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