Adventures in Customer Service

Yesterday morning I woke up to an email from Coverville’s Brian Ibbott pointing me to a blog post that referenced Timely Persuasion:

Customer Service – Compare and Contrast (Most of the relevant content is crossed out – a good thing I’ll get to in a minute…)

The owner of the blog had heard about the book on Coverville and purchased it.  But when the book arrived, it had the correct cover but the incorrect interior.  The pages were for a different book altogether!

The paperbacks are printed on demand via Lulu, so these things happen on occasion.  I’ve heard of one other instance where this happened with my book, and that time it was resolved quickly and painlessly by Lulu.

But not this time.  As the blog post details, Lulu demanded visual evidence of the defect by either scanning or photographing portions of the book.  They also promised a followup from someone and a week had passed with no further contact.  All the poor guy wants to do is read my $15 time travel novel and it suddenly turns into a huge ordeal.

Upon reading this I immediately jumped into customer service mode by posting a reply comment letting him know I’d file a complaint on his behalf and in the meantime I’d be happy to send him a free autographed copy for the trouble.  Although technically I know that as the author I shouldn’t need to dole out compensation for Lulu’s mistakes, my past (and likely future) work experience kicked in and said “Take care of the customer first, figure out what went wrong and prevent it from recurring second.” And although the error was Lulu’s and not mine, I feel I do bear some responsibility for selecting Lulu as a partner.  But above everything else for me at that moment was not losing a reader over the snafu, and I figured I could sort out my own reimbursement with Lulu if necessary.  Fortunately it didn’t come to that.

I posted the problem to the Lulu support forum; 90 minutes later I had an email from Angela Hooper, an assistant manager saying this was certainly not the policy and assuring me it was an isolated incident that she’d address after making things right for the customer.  She kept me in the loop during her contacts with him, compensated me for the trouble as well, and later in the day the blogger struck-through his first post and added this new entry:

Way to Go Lulu.com!!! – Making Things Right

I find it most interesting how the resolution was a team effort all around.  Thanks to Brian for the heads up that got the ball rolling, Angela for stepping up to the plate to set everything right (with both the customer and myself), and Scott for being such a good sport about the whole mishap.

All’s well that ends well.

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