A book-selling friend of mine who specialises in language books, Marijana Dworska, was recently railing against an email she received from a purchasing bookseller, that was basically treating her as if she was an idiot.
There has been an expansion of mega-lister sellers with barcode scanners, who add hundreds, neigh thousands of unwanted charity shop books a day to their price-comparing databases daily. Standard descriptions, covering all the bases (may be ex-library; may be marked or highlighted; may not actually be a book) have become the norm, as have standard their email responses. The business model is based on a light human touch. Let the database do the work of pricing, comparing to the competition, repricing etc etc. It's why you see so many common paperbacks on Amazon at 1p. They are making their money on the postage in these cases.
Don't get me wrong, I'm sure most larger businesses use some form of 'standard' template for parts of the emails they send out on a regular basis, but it is just meant to be a starting point in my book.
This standard response, now seems to have transferred to some bookseller's purchasing formats too. Marijana was initially offended by the tone of the message from the purchasing bookseller's email, but calmed, and retracted.
I penned the following response, which amused her:
Dear [INSERT CUSTOMER NAME HERE] , thank you for contacting us about retract
Unfortunately, despite an outward appearance of a customer friendly website that values YOUR every movement through our system. Fosters' bookshops – purveyors of outmoded educational tools and antiquated entertainment devices, is now run by a central computer, and all responses are determined by our extensive research of what YOU, as a customer want.
We no longer offer a direct contact option via telephone or email, as we have discovered that not staffing those options had an impact on your experience. We're sure you will agree this is an improvement.
If you are contacting us about retract that you ordered, or the rubbish delivery company we have chosen to use because of their cut-price rates, please persist with their hopeless website and similar automated services rather than bother us with the minor details of actually getting the goods to you.
We are sure you have enjoyed this experience, so please fill in the customer response form on the link below, where you will unwittingly have agreed to us selling on your details to a number of spamming companies who will pester you over the coming years.
Thank you for shopping with Fosters' Bookshops, and remember, keep spending the money!