Monday, September 29, 2008

The Book Depository - sorry we can’t fulfil that order after all

Shopping for books on Amazon (what I normally give up for Lent) must be one of the seven joys of the modern world. And if a book is even vaguely notable or popular, Amazon will often knock 10–20% off the cover price. But just occasionally, an Amazon Marketplace trader (basically another retailer listing their wares on Amazon’s website) will undercut Amazon’s price for a new version.

What’s very sickening is when a week later, this kind of email arrives from The Book Depository:

Subject: Order Cancelled; Xxxxx Xxxx Xxxx by Xxxx, Xxx

I am terribly sorry, We have had a problem fulfilling your order as we have run out of stock.

Xxxxx Xxxx Xxxx by Xxxx, Xxx


We have tried to find other copies, but alas we can't locate one even from the publisher's agents currently.

We sell on a number of other sites and although we update our amazon records daily, there is always a slight discrepancy between our actual stock and amazon stock. As result, we sold our last copy of the above title just before you purchased it.

We will request that amazon refund your credit card in full for the transaction today.

I apologise for any inconvenience this has caused you,

Thank you,
Andrew Crawford
The Book Depository UK

It’s not that Amazon itself is perfect ... but they seem to offer a more consistent, pleasing customer service. In ten or more years shopping with Amazon - the first books came all the way from the US via! - there has been the odd wobble. They once serially delayed shipping a book three weeks at a time for around six months, before I eventually gave up and cancelled the order.

But disappointments seem to happen much more frequently with the Marketplace Traders.


Anonymous said...

That's very disappointing - I've had particular problems like this with sellers on abebooks, where I'd say about half of my orders have been cancelled over the years for this reason - so much so that I only use it now as a last resort.

I should say that I'm a big fan of the Book Depository but usually order through their own website, which offers free delivery worldwide on everything. In fact I use them (or if the Book Depository don't have it in stock) in preference to Amazon, after reading offputting stuff about Amazon's strongarm tactics against publishers who don't accede to their discount demands.

Anonymous said...

Just bought three books off waterstones to use up a gift voucher and got an email for each individual book that "Unfortunately the items below are not currently in stock in our warehouse, so we have placed an order with the publisher."

And it was only CS Lewis and Vonnegut, hardly obscure stuff...

Will stick to amazon in future!

Anonymous said...

I have to say I've generally had good experiences with The Book Depository in the past as well - perhaps just a spot of bad luck?

Stu said...


All those xxxxxs what on earth were you trying to buy?

I'm with John & Harrison - have ordered regularly from Book Depos and have yet to encounter any difficulties. Hope you got your hands on the mystery book!

Anonymous said...

Even tough roughly 25%-30% of my orders get canceled, I still buy from them. Most of the times I just repeat the order.