Saturday, 24 October 2009

Amazon Pending Orders Problem

Amazon's official time for expiring and re-listing pending orders has been increased from 3 to 7 days. In reality, many sellers have been reporting that it can take up to 12 days or more for the pending orders to expire. From other Amazon sellers' comments and my own experiences we now know that:
  • Pending orders are not cancelled by putting stock on vacation.
  • Pendings can still convert into orders after 11 days.
  • It can take 12 days for pendings to expire and re-list automatically.
  • Customer Service refuses to cancel pendings at any time.

So, if I want to be sure that I don't get any orders while I'm on holiday, I need to put my books on vacation 14 days before I go - even if I am going to be away for only a couple of days. I will, of course, continue to sell my stock on other sites - which don't have Amazon's pending policy - until 48 hours before I leave.

Alternatively, I could take the pending items on holiday with me, ready to post if a pending converts into an order.

Or, I could carry on as normal, apologise to the customer if any problems result and take the hit on feedback and metrics.

I would be very interested to hear of other sellers' and customers' experiences. I would also like to see a copy of the email that Amazon sends to a customer when an order goes pending.

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Monday, 3 August 2009

IOBA Membership

I recently applied for membership of the Independent Online Booksellers Association and, although I was turned down for unspecified reasons, I was invited to join their mentorship programme. Joining this programme does not guarantee future acceptance into the organisation. Does anybody know anything about this scheme? Is it a hurdle that all applicants have to jump? Is membership of the IOBA worth the effort of participating in what seems an open-ended scheme? - Buy 'Direct from Seller' Links

I was checking the price of a book (ISBN 0586042385) on when I noticed that several of the copies could be bought 'direct' from sellers who are not listed as one of's sellers. Obviously, this gives sellers a big price advantage if they can sell their books directly. Does anyone know how to do this is?

Thursday, 30 July 2009

DHL Problems

I have been experimenting with selling new books on my website. To do this, I set up an account with Bertram's who provide 'next day' delivery through DHL. Out of the twelve deliveries that I have had to date, five went on the wrong van to be 'returned to base' and delivered one or two days later, and the latest delivery was delivered and signed for by a shop that is seven miles away!

Am I just unlucky? Is it a problem with my local depot or is it that DHL don't understand post codes? I would be interested to hear whether anyone else has had similar problems and whether any of the other couriers are any better.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Amazon Erases Orwell Books From Kindle

These George Orwell books which include 1984 and Animal Farm were added to Amazon's catalogue by a third-party who did not have the rights to the books. When Amazon were notified of this by the rights holder, they removed the copies from their systems and from customers’ devices and refunded customers. Amazon did not notify their customers or give any reason for the refund - the books just disappeared from their Kindles.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Amazon Web Services - Authentication Changes

Just a reminder that, in a month's time, data requests to Amazon Web Services (or Product Advertising API or E-Commerce Services or whatever they are calling themselves now) will need additional authentication.

This may not effect many booksellers, but if you use Book Listing software, Book Scouting software or use the Amazon database to create Amazon Affiliate adverts and you have problems on 15 August, then the new authentication requirements may be the cause.

I have managed to make the changes to my software, but only after a lot of difficulty: Amazon WebServices help pages are next to useless - the best help you can get is from the AWS Developer Forum:

I also had to get my web hosting service to update my server so that my PHP programs could use the required encryption functions.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Nochex Problem

When I first started an online shop, I accepted both Nochex and PayPal on my website. I used Nochex as my main payment service provider because customers didn't have to join Nochex to make a payment and Nochex also accepted debit cards. When PayPal introduced these features and when eBay bought PayPal, I decided to make PayPal my main provider. I still accepted Nochex for those people who preferred Nochex, but very few payments were made with Nochex.

After a while, I tried to log into my Nochex account only to find that my account had been suspended due to inactivity. As it is Nochex's (security) policy not to send notification, I had no idea of how long the account had been suspended and how many customers I had lost.You can't re-activate the account online — you have to download and print a two-page form, answer security questions, provide two original (?) proofs of identity (they don't return these so they recommend you send photocopies!) and a cancelled cheque or paying-in slip - and then post it to them. It took two weeks and two emails after they received this documentation to get my account reactivated. Nochex do not have a customer service number.

When I finally gained access to my account, I discovered that Nochex had charged me a £20 dormant account fee - again without any warning or notification. I have now closed my account and will no longer be accepting Nochex on my website.

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Credit Card Processing

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Lyme Regis Plans Literary Festival

Lyme Regis is to have its own literary festival (LymeLit) during October either annually or every other year. The first festival will be in 2010, but some of the events will have a practice run in this year's ArtsFest. For details of the book-related events in this year's ArtsFest, please go to:

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Bookselling Website

I am developing a website that is aiming to provide useful information and resources for booksellers. If you would like to see what I have done so far, please go to:

Monday, 6 July 2009

Amazon 'Seller Connection' Forum

I don't know about other Amazon sellers but trying to find the jewels among the off-topic and sometimes unpleasant postings is taking an increasing amount of time and effort.

I tried setting up an alternative book selling group about eighteen months ago but it withered after about a year because too few people participated.

Recently, I asked the forum whether anyone would like to take part in a survey to try and understand the reasons behind sales fluctuations. I have had very little response.

Perhaps people are happy with the myths and are happy with the forum as it is. I'd be interested in hearing other sellers' thoughts on this subject.