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,
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 amazon.com! - 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.