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Way to Miss the Point, Amazon!

I’ve been in a fair bit of a "fight" with Amazon for nearly a week, now, this time around.

On Monday, September 26th, 2016, I placed an order for the newest Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide (Vol. 46). I don’t usually buy these, certainly not as an annual thing, but the other one I have is from mid 2011, PRE-New 52, and I figured I could handle one every half-decade or so in terms of owning.

More specifically to be able to know "Guide Value" for various books that I’d be interested in as I look toward the "back issues" side of things on an increasing basis…and unfortunately, far too many comic shops don’t bother to "price" their stock, leaving the poor customer unable to actually KNOW what price they’ll be quoted at the counter, and surely impacting what they’ll try to or consider buying. Buuuut that’s a topic for another post.

amazon_open_box_01     amazon_open_box_02

Anyway. I am an Amazon Prime customer. That means that I pay the annual fee, to be a part of Prime, and I do so for the physical shipping, to get stuff shipped "free" with 2-day/ASAP shipping. It may be labeled as or considered "free," but it is paid for by paying for the year TO BE a Prime member.

Nowhere that I have seen or heard of, does it include anything regarding some sort of "lesser" form of shipping as a result.

So, order placed on Monday, 9/26. Item arrived Wednesday, 9/28. The book’s damaged because it is over 1150 pages, very thin paper, and heavy. Since it was NOT packed to remain immobile…it slid around and was damaged in transit (beyond any damage prior). I requested a replacement immediately.

The first replacement arrived two days later, 9/30. This one was in the same sort of mailer, but with gaping wide openings (it was NOT properly assembled) and I could see daylight THROUGH the thing as well as clearly see the book contained within. Which was, of course, damaged in transit.

overstreet_46_third_time_damages_againI immediately requested another replacement, once again citing the damage and leaving "packaging feedback" about the issue with "heavy book + room to move = damage" and waited.

The second replacement (3rd copy) arrived the next day, 10/1. The mailer was slightly better-assembled, but I could still check out the book without even opening the package…and the book was damaged. I requested yet another replacement.

Meanwhile, I’d separately ordered a Green Arrow tpb, which arrived separately on Saturday. That one was in a flimsy yellow bubble envelope a good 50-75% larger than the book…and with no inserts or markings, it was folded and stuck into the mailbox. (So it earned a replacement-request as wel!)

The second copy of the Green Arrow book arrived the same way–overlarge flimsy envelope, folded and stuck in the mailbox.

It was then that I realized I had not seen any notification of the replacement of the Overstreet book being on its way…it was still held up in some hold status, apparently for my having requested multiple replacements.

amazon_missed_the_darned_point

When I contacted them about it, through their site, through their process, as a question on the item checking on "Where’s my order"–I was told that they would issue me a refund, please send the other books back.

To which I complained that it is not a satisfactory resolution–I’m now out a week of time (I could’ve bought the book from two different bricks-and-mortar stores and had a satisfactory CONDITION copy long before this). And to make me do the administrative thing of juggling receipt of packages and re-ordering, and then my own printer/ink/paper and gas to drive packages to a drop-off, and after 8+ days be back at square one? NO!

Their response to my continued explanation of the situation and emphasis on the fact that the book keeps arriving damaged because they refuse to use packing material and a proper sized box?

They made it entirely (temporarily) unavailable for sale "while they investigate the issue."

HELLO! 1. use a box 2. put packing peanuts or crumpled paper or several air pockets or foam or stick it between a couple sheets of cardboard, shrink-wrap that and toss it in the box, where the book itself will stay put, and any banging/beating suffered will be by the cardboard and not the book that I have paid for.

Halting their sale of the book entirely is so totally, completely missing the darned point!

Supposedly they’ll "resolve the issue" within 7 days; I can only imagine they’ll find that their stock is in undamaged condition (it’s getting damaged in transit for their inadequate packaging process).

Meanwhile… wonder if any of those 3rd party sellers will jack their prices up significantly, thinking the thing is outta print?

And my apologies to anyone else who might’ve been planning to order this from Amazon right now and using Prime shipping. It seems I’m the reason the book is (temporarily) not available for purchase through Amazon itself at the moment.

How Amazon Invalidates its own Prime Shipping

When one orders something on Saturday, is a current (has paid through November) Prime customer, and the key thing about that is the “free” two-day shipping, it’s reasonable to expect to happily have the (bought) product in-hand Tuesday (Two-day shipping: Monday is 1 day, Tuesday is 2nd day). If the time of day means they count Saturday (or apparently Sunday) and the item is delivered Monday, great.

…Except when that item arrives damaged.

Which is apparently such a common thing that they have a built in system to just generate a replacement order and return-mail label and such.

So, Item arrives Monday, damaged. What I’ve taken to calling “an oversized paperback” in my Amazon feedback, sent in a flimsy, oversized bubble mailer. Sure, bubble mailer. Ok, it’s not just put in a paper envelope and shipped; maybe the plastic of the bubbles helps protect from potential water damage (?!?). But that’s really about all–it certainly does not protect against bending, creasing, folding, denting, nor the book sliding around in the envelope, and depending on the angle, pressure, and whatever beating it’s taking, sure allows plenty of room for the cover to be creased and folded, the books corners and top/bottom spine to take damage and dents, etc.

I immediately turned it around–initiating the return/replace mechanism. Replacement was due to arrive Wednesday. Didn’t arrive Wednesday. Didn’t arrive Thursday. Amazon’s own “tracking” only shows the thing at some in-between “on its way” stage. Will it arrive Friday? Or will I be waiting til Monday?

Two other items I’d ordered at the same time arrived together Tuesday. One was another paperback, the other a large, heavy hardcover. Both of which were tossed loose in a cardboard packer together, with a gaping corner not even sealed off from the elements or external exposure. Both, of course, damaged. Corners a bit dinged up, some dinging to the spine, on the hardcover. Not horrible, but noticeable to me for looking for the damage. The paperback was banged up as well–sliding around, hitting the sides, and not exactly helped by being somewhat loose with a heavy hardback (which seems to have helped drive the paperback against the sides of the package with just a little more force/pressure than it would have managed on its own. So again, I initiated the return/replace process for both of these.

Despite initiating the process back to back, only the paperback immediately got a replacement “order” right away, the hardback was apparently held up in some kind of queue to be reviewed by a human first, resulting in it not making the cutoff for a two-day turnaround.

Wednesday, nothing arrived, despite expecting that first paperback’s replacement.

Thursday, the replacement of the second paperback from Tuesday arrived…and like the first one Monday, this was loose in a bubble mailer, and actually in more of a beat-up condition than the other book. Of course, I’ve initiated a second round of return/replace…but because I have these delivered to work and it won’t allow me to edit what address to send to…a two-day turnaround on Thursday means Saturday–I’m not at work, no one is there to accept deliveries…making it a four-day thing with Monday being the earliest I’ll be able to get it.

Still no sign of the replacement of the first paperback.

At present, I’m expecting possibly that one arriving Friday, along with the replacement hardcover (3 days instead of Prime’s 2 days).

And really, I should have just gone through something like InStockTrades or CheapGraphicNovels, because I might have received stuff tomorrow (Friday) or possibly Monday…but at least they’d’ve been thoroughly, securely, safely packed to prevent damage in-transit.

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Possible Packaging for The Avengers?

packagingthumbThe other day, my roommate and I got to talking about the Avengers movie coming out in a couple days, and then of how we oughtta watch the “solo” films this week in the lead-up to it.

We then got to talking about DVD packaging (I have the original Iron Man in a case shaped like his helmet mask, and I have The Dark Knight in a case shaped like Batman’s cowl; he has one of the Transformers films in a transforming Bumblebee figure. And the gem of the special cases–his model of the 2009 Enterprise, with the film encased in the saucer section of the ship. (Something we’d joked about the time the film first hit theaters: how cool would it be for them to do a case that was the Enterprise, but the saucer held the DVDs? And then sure enough–the idea proved fruitful from elsewhere.)

So our conversation turned toward the packaging of Avengers and/or the solo films. Captain America’s shield–that’s round. WHY Target (they did those other ‘special cases’) didn’t have an “exclusive” packaging shaped like the shield is beyond us.

But then we got to thinking about how there’s bound to be special collector sets when Avengers comes out on home release, with it boxed with the other solo films.

Why not a box/case with Avengers, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Captain America, and Thor attached to a handle–the disc case part being the head of Thor’s hammer?

Or returning to the idea of Cap’s shield…and this is the idea I think we liked best…have the films packaged in a much larger replica of the shield.

They could put the films around the outer rim, with Avengers locked in the center. Have the main front of Cap’s shield as the lid (screw-on, snap-on, hinged…whatever works).

How cool would that be?

capblurayshield
Above: Mock-up of 6-film Avengers package idea

“Packaging” is important, too!

It’s certainly not a new topic by any means. But it re-occurred to me today as I was leaving Borders just how much the “packaging” of a product (specifically book or comic/collected-volume) matters.

I went in planning to purchase The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks with my 40%-off coupon of the weekend. The volume, however, seemed both too skinny for its retail price, and too small in dimensions overall–larger than, say, the Zombie Survival guide itself, but smaller than a standard (Marvel or DC) graphic novel. For $17 and flipping through and seeing it more flash than substance (more art than words) I actually decided I’ll hold off on it for now. Sure, it’s still on my want-list, but it can definitely wait.

I also noticed a couple of Marvel books in particular where the “Premiere Hardcover” was next to the TPB. With Captain America: The Man With No Face, the paperback is $15.99 while the hardback is $19.99. Now, I know as well as ANYone that $4 can be quite a bit. But these days, for the price of an average Marvel comic, I’ll pay the “upgrade fee” and get the hardcover when there’s so little difference in price! (when available/able, of course). But there’s something discouraging (for lack of better word) about seeing a nice hardcover with a paperback next to it…and realizing they’re practically the same price despite the price differences. (For that…I’d like to see the paperbacks go to a standard digest-size and be about half the price of the hardcovers.)

I happened across a Zombies anthology (different from the Living Dead anthology)…massive paperback. Granted, it’s all prose…but $20. And for page count, it DWARFS the average Marvel/IDW (and even DC) $20 paperbacks. For sheer size, it would certainly beat out a number of other books for the price.

I listened to a Comic Geek Speak podcast today where they talked about the TMNT Collected Volume One; the content’s good, obviously…but the packaging is very minimal…no text/pictures/description on the back, the spine is just text on a background, and the cover is simply a closeup of one of the Turtles’ faces…no logos, even on the cover.

Now, granted, in bookstores or even at home, the spine is probably what’s gonna be seen most…but still…it’s always nice when a book’s entirety just looks good as well as containing good quality content.

As a book person, I also prefer when things look good TOGETHER on the shelf…and for a series to look like a series…that is, a common trade dress and size. I have actually opted AGAINST buying books because they don’t fit with others or otherwise waited til I could get a different edition that WOULD fit. (I also specifically AVOID the extra-tall mass-market paperbacks…I mean, what’s the POINT of these? I suppose that’ll be a topic for another post).

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