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Permlink Replies: 48 - Pages: 4 [ 1 2 3 4 | Next ] - Last Post: May 5, 2012 5:59 PM Last Post By: cactusu
colinb1

Posts: 8
Registered: 08/04/11
Book returns
Posted: May 2, 2012 1:33 AM
 
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I've been selling on Kindle now for a few months and generally things are going well. I do note however, a trend of ebooks being bought and then 'refunded'. Not many, but enough to be irritating. Perhaps it's more noticeable to me as the stories I write are short stories. However, I did see a comment the other day - on a different forum where someone stated that they felt quite happy buying a book, reading it and then claiming a refund. This person claimed to have read one authors entire output for nothing.
Should there not be a limit on the amount of refunds one person can obtain or possibly a partial refund (say 50%)?
I'm pretty sure that I can't be the only one affected by this and would be interested to hear anyone else's views on it.
Thanks.
angelaanne

Posts: 34
Registered: 09/21/11
Re: Book returns
Posted: May 2, 2012 2:17 AM   in response to: colinb1 in response to: colinb1
 
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Hi Colin

Yes I have noticed my returns (of my shorter novella books) increasing. It doesn't happen for my full-length novels, which does seem as though people can read shorter books quickly and return them without paying. I clearly state that these shorter books are novellas or short stories so I hope readers don't feel cheated (well for $0.99 I think it is reasonable) as it took me long enough to write and edit them. At least it puts your ranking up for a short time when they download. :-)
colinb1

Posts: 8
Registered: 08/04/11
Re: Book returns
Posted: May 2, 2012 2:35 AM   in response to: angelaanne in response to: angelaanne
 
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Hi Colin

Yes I have noticed my returns (of my shorter novella
books) increasing. It doesn't happen for my
full-length novels, which does seem as though people
can read shorter books quickly and return them
without paying. I clearly state that these shorter
books are novellas or short stories so I hope readers
don't feel cheated (well for $0.99 I think it is
reasonable) as it took me long enough to write and
edit them. At least it puts your ranking up for a
short time when they download. :-)


Thanks for the reply. I've just taken a look at the last couple of months sales figures and, I've noticed that there have been no returns on my full length novels.
I think until the policy of giving a full refund is reviewed, then this is a problem which we will see increasing.
Are buyers allowed an unlimited amount of refunds? Surely that must flag up somewhere?
Have a good day! :)
martitalbott

Posts: 4,066
Registered: 07/29/10
Re: Book returns
Posted: May 2, 2012 6:20 AM   in response to: colinb1 in response to: colinb1
 
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Returns were horrible for me last month and I am one who got a whole series of 12 books returned by at least two people. I fear when one person brags about getting away with it, it starts a trend.

I do know Amazon will block accounts for those who return excessively, but I don't know where the "excessive" line is. Mind telling us where that forum is? Some people have no shame.

My author page -- http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003XSYENA
Need formatting help? http://www.eformatters.com
sketchco

Posts: 510
Registered: 08/14/11
Re: Book returns
Posted: May 2, 2012 6:46 AM   in response to: colinb1 in response to: colinb1
 
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If it makes you feel any better, by all appearances, Amazon seems to be very much profit-oriented. :)

But seriously, I do not know why folks keep forgetting to rely on that little fact. Reportedly (and it makes sense), Amazon kicks out "customers" who abuse the system like that. It costs Amazon too, you know, and setting up an automated system to detect who's screwing around like that would be dirt easy...

ees
mellennyum1

Posts: 277
Registered: 11/12/11
Re: Book returns
Posted: May 2, 2012 7:42 AM   in response to: colinb1 in response to: colinb1
 
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I probably publish some of the shortest articles on KDP, rarely over 1,000 words. As such I assumed I'd get a fairly high percentage of returns. A few months ago my biggest seller came within 1 refund of hitting a 50% return rate. Last month I didn't have a single return. (Except for one wanker in the UK.) Go figure.
scribblr

Posts: 3,304
Registered: 05/08/08
Re: Book returns
Posted: May 2, 2012 8:05 AM   in response to: sketchco in response to: sketchco
 
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[i]But seriously, I do not know why folks keep forgetting to rely on that little fact. Reportedly (and it makes sense), Amazon kicks out "customers" who abuse the system like that. It costs Amazon too, you know, and setting up an automated system to detect who's screwing around like that would be dirt easy...[/i]

I'm not saying you're incorrect, but I've never seen that stated in any official literature on the site, and in four years I've never heard of a specific instance where someone had been booted for excessive returns. If someone knows, not hearsay, of a case, I'd love to hear of it.

Returns are a part of doing business, and big companies have very liberal return policies to keep in the good graces of customers who may have been dissatisfied with a product. It's common knowledge that people abuse the system.

Many years ago, I had an employee who had worked at a K-Mart store. He told me that every year, just before school started, a number of 'ethnic' families would come to the shoe department where he worked and complain that the shoes they had purchased for their children the previous year were not satisfactory. Store policy was to exchange the shoes for new, so he did. Every child in each of the very large families got a new pair of shoes for school. The following year, the same families would come in and exchange the free shoes they had been given the previous year for new shoes after complaining that the shoes they had 'purchased' were not satisfactory.
:-)

I have an average return rate of three-tenths of one percent, so it's easy to spot trends. Two weeks ago, I watched as day after day for eight days, someone returned each book in my 8 book series. It indicates that someone purchased a book, read it, returned it, then bought the next etc, etc, etc. Since it doesn't represent a true cost, as the exchange of shoes at K-Mart did, I don't get too worked up about it. my main concern is people asking for refunds due to a problem with the book. When it's something I have no control over, I don't worry about it. If someone wants to steal one of my books, they're generally available illegally in file sharing sites. As with the families that returned the children's shoes every year, people don't see buy and return activities as stealing, but it is.

A year or two ago, when this same issue arose, I suggested that people look on the bright side. When someone buys your book, your sales ranks moves up. Higher sales ranks can mean an increase in visibility for your product. I very much doubt that returns cause your rank to be lowered. So rather than being upset with returns, embrace them for the positive effect they have on your sales, as long as the customer doesn't leave a bad review for formatting, grammar, or spelling.

I did recently receive a notice from Amazon that said:

[i]Dear Publisher,

During a quality assurance review of your title, we have found the following issue(s):

Typos have been found in your book.

Please make the necessary corrections and republish it.[/i]

The book in question has been out for two years and has sold tens of thousands of copies at $6.00. It was professionally copyedited after I and a number of proofreaders had first reviewed it repeatedly (because I initially didn't have the funds to hire a professional service). The final step in the copyedit process is to have the service's proofreaders examine it.

It may be that a typo got past the dozen or so people who examined the manuscript looking for problems. It happens in books coming from the Big 6 so I know mine are not exempt, but it's more likely that one of the people returning a book used that as an excuse. I returned the note to Amazon and requested that they point out one example. I haven't heard back, and don't expect to. It's more likely that the reader who reported the problem is at fault. But a publisher must always be aware that returns might indicate a problem, so we must be sure that there is no validity to the claim

Then forget it. :-)
sketchco

Posts: 510
Registered: 08/14/11
Re: Book returns
Posted: May 2, 2012 9:01 AM   in response to: scribblr in response to: scribblr
 
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Hello Scribblr

You're absolutely right. Can't say I've seen anything official about this. On the other hand, can't say I've seen anything official about anything Amazon either -- maybe I should care a bit more, but I really don't. I'm funny that way. :)

Now that I think about it, I likely read about it first somewhere hereabouts. Probably anecdotal. But undeniably sensible and easy to implement. Not to mention that, speculating further, it's probably not something Amazon would really like to publicize.

Long answer short: No, haven't seen anything official.

ees

PS You should hear the return stories from L.L. Bean and Sears.

PPS Who loses sleep over these returns? I guess the same folks who hyperventilate over reviews, even the malicious ones. All part of the biz. I was thinking of making them lose even more sleep by pointing out, "You know, they could buy your book, write a nasty review, then return the book in less than 7 days." But I wasn't feeling particularly mean. That, however, was 5 minutes ago.

:)
19k54

Posts: 1,027
Registered: 08/13/09
Re: Book returns
Posted: May 2, 2012 10:32 AM   in response to: colinb1 in response to: colinb1
 
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In August of 2009 there was a big purge of Amazon customers who were banned forever with no recourse. Amazon would not even talk to them on the phone. At the time someone here posted links to the discussions all over the web--on forums, on complaint sites, and more. The major reason given at the time was too many returns making them a liability instead of an asset. That letter, and I saw it many times, made people furious. Complaints were launched in just about every venue you can imagine. I am sure if you Googled [i]Amazon bans accounts[/i], you can most likely pull up some of those discussions. Sales associated were even banned for too many bad reviews.

So, it has happened at least once and was much talked about, but will it ever happen again? I don't know.

Message was edited by: 19k54
martitalbott

Posts: 4,066
Registered: 07/29/10
Re: Book returns
Posted: May 2, 2012 11:16 AM   in response to: colinb1 in response to: colinb1
 
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Of course Amazon must make its customer's happy, that's where the money is. It's just sad some people game the system. I don't personally know anyone who got caught doing it, but there must be something in place to stop it. Otherwise, word would get out and everyone would be reading and returning.

Message was edited by: martitalbott
scribblr

Posts: 3,304
Registered: 05/08/08
Re: Book returns
Posted: May 2, 2012 11:26 AM   in response to: scribblr in response to: scribblr
 
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[i]I did recently receive a notice from Amazon that said:

Dear Publisher,

During a quality assurance review of your title, we have found the following issue(s):

Typos have been found in your book.

Please make the necessary corrections and republish it.

The book in question has been out for two years and has sold tens of thousands of copies at $6.00. It was professionally copyedited after I and a number of proofreaders had first reviewed it repeatedly (because I initially didn't have the funds to hire a professional service). The final step in the copyedit process is to have the service's proofreaders examine it.

It may be that a typo got past the dozen or so people who examined the manuscript looking for problems. It happens in books coming from the Big 6 so I know mine are not exempt, but it's more likely that one of the people returning a book used that as an excuse. I returned the note to Amazon and requested that they point out one example. I haven't heard back, and don't expect to. It's more likely that the reader who reported the problem is at fault. But a publisher must always be aware that returns might indicate a problem, so we must be sure that there is no validity to the claim[/i]



Update:

I was surprised to hear back from Amazon today, and even more surprised that their letter was correct. They did correctly identify two typos in the 132,000 word manuscript. One was 'convey' when it should have been 'convoy', and the other was 'thorough' when it should have been 'through'. It just goes to show you that such errors can slip through no matter how hard we try to make everything 'letter perfect.'

I've corrected the typos and uploaded the new version. But now I have to decide if I should correct the printed book. :-(
19k54

Posts: 1,027
Registered: 08/13/09
Re: Book returns
Posted: May 2, 2012 11:30 AM   in response to: scribblr in response to: scribblr
 
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Scribbler, I would. You do not have to buy a proof copy, so it should be easy.
scribblr

Posts: 3,304
Registered: 05/08/08
Re: Book returns
Posted: May 2, 2012 11:46 AM   in response to: 19k54 in response to: 19k54
 
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[i]In August of 2009 there was a big purge of Amazon customers who were banned forever with no recourse. Amazon would not even talk to them on the phone. At the time someone here posted links to the discussions all over the web--on forums, on complaint sites, and more. The major reason given at the time was too many returns making them a liability instead of an asset. That letter, and I saw it many times, made people furious. Complaints were launched in just about every venue you can imagine. I am sure if you Googled Amazon bans accounts, you can most likely pull up some of those discussions. Sales associated were even banned for too many bad reviews.

So, it has happened at least once and was much talked about, but will it ever happen again? I don't know.[/i]



Thanks for the info. I did as you suggested and googled : Amazon bans accounts.

Pretty much everything I saw involved hard goods such as computers and electronics. It makes sense that they would target that area as that can represent a substantial expense in handling returns. I didn't see anything for eBooks though. The cost for handling the return of an eBook book is negligible, so they may allow much greater latitude there. But it's nice to know that they would be willing to take action if the buyer gets too carried away with a 'buy and return after reading' gambit. :-)
sketchco

Posts: 510
Registered: 08/14/11
Re: Book returns
Posted: May 2, 2012 12:03 PM   in response to: scribblr in response to: scribblr
 
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allow much greater latitude there. But it's nice to
know that they would be willing to take action if the
buyer gets too carried away with a 'buy and return
after reading' gambit. :-)

It wouldn't be a stretch to imagine that if Amazon does check -- say, with something as simple as an alert that flags them when Customer A returns X number of items within Y number of days, etc. -- that it also would have an algorithm that would weigh Customer A's questionable transactions against his legitimate ones.

The lesson here kiddies: Mix it up, and you'll fly under the radar. If you think that's obvious, then you need to hang around more criminals. Call it research. :)
sketchco

Posts: 510
Registered: 08/14/11
Re: Book returns
Posted: May 2, 2012 12:11 PM   in response to: scribblr in response to: scribblr
 
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I was surprised to hear back from Amazon today, and
even more surprised that their letter was correct.
They did correctly identify two typos in the 132,000
word manuscript.

That's good! What I want to know is why they didn't just say so in the first place. Well, actually I have an idea what the answer to that one is, but it's still pretty irksome, and that practice seems to be at the root of a lot of issues with Amazon that you read about in these forums. I think they have to rethink their practices a bit, differentiating how they deal with stuff like QC issues versus, say, content scrapers they want to kick out.
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