The "Like New" Lie, or, One Man's Misadventures with Amazon Marketplace

[Contact Me]] | [FAQ]

[Some "Dougisms" Defined]

[About Dickens of a Blog]

Saturday, 16 May 2009

(14:27:07 CDT)

"The "Like New" Lie, or, One Man's Misadventures with Amazon Marketplace"

I order what best could be described as moderate amount of used goods from the Amazon Marketplace, or whatever the devil the thing is called now. There are reasons. In order from least to most pressing: 1) I order a lot of out-of-print and/or hard-to-find stuff, 2) it saves me money, 3) I don't worry about having to be at home when UPS runs. For the longest time, my target descriptions were "Good" and "Very Good", though I have recently started avoiding "Good" because that seems to mean "Not actually growing mold, yet" in a lot of seller's minds. The last few things I have ordered "good" have come with cracked spines, heavily yellowed pages, water damage, and a whole host of other issues. Depending on what I am ordering, older books that I want to read and not necessarily collect, these things can be fine. Occasionally, though, I trust the seller when they say "standard used condition", except, apparently people now "use" books to wipe up spills on the counter and to kill small furry things.

What has begun to severly aggravate me is the misues of the "like new" tag. "Like new", to me, means that the book is so like a new book that if it were on a shelf I would be unable to tell. Let's call this the Bolden Test of Book Newness. If I put a dozen used books on a shelf full of new books, the inability to guess the twelve properly means the books are in a "like new" condition. Over the last two months, I have receieved two "like new" DVDs that were heavily scratched and just today I received a "like new" book that had Coke or something spilled on the cover. I have also received, mostly from British sources, a couple of "like new" books that are missing dust jackets. The latter is debatable, since there are different schools of thought about whether or not to keep dust jackets, anyhow, but those first three cases are still irritating. I only really complained in one, and I got a full refund and got to keep the item. In one of them, I just gave them neutral feedback (while the disk was scratched, the DVD player did not seem to skip from it). I am not sure what to do with the last one, the book with a big old stain and sticky splotch. The pages of the book are fine and crisp and it does not look like it has been read, but should I accept their "like new" status for a book that no one would actually buy in a store? I do not know. I think the book was fairly cheap, though, so I will probably just ignore the splotch and move on.

I am just more and more annoyed by this, because even if it is not downright dishonesty, it is pretty bad salesmanship. I have a feeling that a lot of sellers are using a generic marker for their items. The Book Gallery did that when it was an Amazon seller. It would mark everything as "very good, has remainder mark". Most of their stuff would have been "like new" and some would have been "good", but that standard mark meant they did not have to individually check every copy, and most people would rather pay for a "very good" book and get a "like new" one. The other way just brings out anger in folk, even when the price is low enough that it probably is a good deal to pay "like new" and get a "good" book.

Of course, even if the person is super sweet and takes the return right off and such, it ends up being a waste of everyone's time. That's aggravating, too.

Si Vales, Valeo


If you wish to comment, please use the form below or contact me in some other way and I'll add it as soon as possible. Thanks!

Written by Doug Bolden

For those wishing to get in touch, you can contact me in a number of ways

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The longer, fuller version of this text can be found on my FAQ: "Can I Use Something I Found on the Site?".

"The hidden is greater than the seen."