Do judge a bookstore by its services

Today marks the 3rd month anniversary of the special order that I made for Coelho’s Eleven Minutes, from a certain bookstore that boasts its extensive collection, store size and its quality, with plans ‘to take the book industry to greater heights.’  

Hmph. Greater heights, konon.  

Funny there is no mention about any commitment to offering help to customers. The only time the word ‘service’ appeared was in the franchiser company name.  

That probably should have been my warning flag. A bookseller who appears to pay no attention to customer service sounds like an owner of an orchard who boasts about how large the land is and how the fertilizers he uses will take fruit orchards to the next level while failing to mention that he has no fruit trees planted in the said orchard.  

Living next to the afore-mentioned bookstore provided me with the ample opportunity to make frequent visits. In one of my visits 2 weeks ago I found out that my book has left the ship and arrived at the warehouse (somewhere is Port Klang I reckon, and not in Poughkeepsie, NY). Last week I asked the people in charge of special orders about the status of my book. Here’s the reply:  

“I don’t know, miss. I have to check with the Ingram (as I heard it – and I found out later this entity is their warehouse) on the status of your book. I don’t know about this because this was from the person before me” (who has quit already, apparently – maybe went to join THE Ingram)


I received a call from this person a day later. Here’s what she told me:  

“I checked with the Ingram, and they don’t know what happened to your book. They lost it. All the other orders on the same day also gone.”

Now that’s interesting. It sounds to me like someone carried a bunch of books tied up in string from a ship down into the warehouse and told someone in the building, “hey, dude – I’m just gonna put this bunch of stuff here on the floor OK?” and walked off into the smoggy afternoon. The blinking ‘Ingram’ didn’t know what happened to my book and the other books from the May 16 order batch.  

I asked: “Did the book arrive or not?”
Answer: “I don’t know Miss”
I asked: “What happened to the manifest? Someone signed for the cargo when it arrived, right?”
Answer: “I don’t know, Miss. That’s not our responsibility”  


I asked: “What do I do now? I want my book. What options do you have for me?”
Answer: “Do you want your money back, Miss?”  

MISTAKE NUMBER TWO. This may seem like a logical answer to give; however, take note that this particular customer kept on dropping by regularly at the Information Counter to ask for the status of her special order since the 5th week of placing it. Would that be the act of a customer who doesn’t care whether her order arrives? I reckon not. IDEAL ANSWER: I’m sorry to see you upset, Miss. I understand how sad it is when something you’re waiting for doesn’t arrive on time. I can place a re-order right now, and I’m sure my supervisor will be able to help out with something to compensate you with.   

I asked: Can you put in a re-order?
Answer: Yes.
I asked. Can you re-order right away?
Answer: I have to check with my supervisor first, Miss, cos right now he’s busy with the sale at the concourse.
I asked: So you can’t help me with this right away.
Answer: I can record if you want your money back.  

I can’t help it. I exploded.  

“Do I look like someone who wants her money back or do I look like someone who wants her book and wants it NOW???”

Grrr grrr.

It’s not about the bad news. It’s about HOW it was delivered. Let’s go back to shooting the messenger. Maybe then we’ll all care about how we deliver the news we need to deliver.  

-Maybe King Leonidas had the right idea there, Bubba.
Image courtesy of ‘300’ promotional photos


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