Blemished Books & Tools: Why We Don’t Sell Them on the Website

We have been flooded with requests for us to sell our blemished tools and books on our website. There are many reasons we don’t do this – and don’t plan to. Here is a short explanation.

With these products, we have already lost money on the sale. We had to pay to have it shipped back to us, then we had to pay for the replacement item and ship it to the customer. Add to that all the other charges for picking, packing and the boxes and tape. Oh, and paying our customer service people to handle the problem.

These problems happen. And we are happy to fix them and try to make the customer happy.

So when dealing with the damaged goods left in our hands, we have to be careful. We don’t like pulping books or recycling tools. But if they are damaged beyond the point where they are useful, we will do that. So those items are a total loss for us.

For those items that have cosmetic damage, we want to recover our losses as much as possible. And we don’t want a damaged product to disappoint a customer. So we sell them in cash and in person only. Why cash? So we don’t lose 3-4 percent on credit card fees. Why in person? So the individual can inspect the damage and decide if they can live with it.

Why not sell these items on the website? We’d lose even more money. We’d have to spend time describing and photographing every item so the customer would know what he or she was getting. We don’t have the time do it ourselves, and we don’t want to pay someone to list them (we’d lose even more money).

I know that commenters will have a million suggestions for how we could do this differently (drones! Robots! AI! Crowdsourcing!). Chances are we’ve thought of it. And this is how we’ve decided to deal with damaged goods.

— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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16 Responses to Blemished Books & Tools: Why We Don’t Sell Them on the Website

  1. boclocks says:

    No problem. Good for you, good for us!

  2. you should make your book covers out of wood then if they are damaged you could repair them. I’d pay a premium for a book with a butterfly repaired spine

  3. RustedTinMan says:

    Its the right decision, for any Small business!

  4. Jacque Wells says:

    Impeccable logic and —in my opinion — impeccable policy.

  5. bachlynch says:

    Don’t find any fault with your logic , now how to find you in person with some cash in hand. That is the question.

  6. Eric Dobson says:

    Having absolutely no experience in manufacturing… I don’t understand how you would ship products to customers knowing x% are probably blemished/defective. Is it basically a calculation that quality control by returns is cheaper than quality control by inspection before shipment? Honest question, as I said, I know nothing about any of this.

    Personally, I’d buy a blemished item sight unseen if you say it functions perfectly, the problem is cosmetic, price is 51.55% (to cover credit card fees) plus shipping, no returns. But, I absolutely realize there are people who’d freak out upon receiving the tool and say, but I didn’t think you meant blemished like THAT. So your policy is disappointingly understandable.

    • When the postal service runs over the box with a truck, the book gets blemished. We don’t ship X percentage of books that are blemished. Every book is inspected at the warehouse before it is wrapped and packaged. After that, we’re at the mercy of the carriers.

      • tsstahl says:

        Lest anyone think this is hyperbole, I did receive a book from a large used book clearinghouse site with tire tread marks clearly across the packaging. Yes, the spine was damaged. Fortunately it was a cheaply bound trade book and the needed information was unharmed.

        In case you missed that part, this was NOT an order from LAP. 🙂

  7. Jeff Silverman says:

    Well said and rational. It’s the correct decision.

  8. Michael Price says:

    Sound reasoning, and good buisness sense!

  9. Mike Nicley says:

    Even though I’d love to buy your damaged books and tools online at a huge discount (each item individually described, shipped for free, paid with credit card, and guaranteed), I now understand and appreciate that I cannot. Thanks for taking the time to explain it.

  10. rons54 says:

    Good choice. Anyone who sells used goods or “antique” goods on the internet would instantly understand why. I’ve seen items with a complete description and 20-30 photographs cause a storm of protest because the buyer didn’t grasp the overall condition of an item. Besides, you need one more reason for people to come to the store and visit.

  11. neitsdelf says:

    “Seconds,” “irregulars,” etc. could at one time be purchase only in person at a factory outlet. Such things as true factory outlets are endangered.

  12. Iain Perkin says:

    Let’s see, 8 1/2 hour drive each way. Add 2 tanks gas… You know you are making this difficult! One of these days I’ll make it down.

  13. jayedcoins says:

    This policy makes perfect sense.

    I can’t help but wonder if people that have been unhappy with it are missing the fact that the large reason you ever have blemished items to sell is because you are warranting the carrier’s “mistakes” (understanding sometimes in shipping, nobody makes a mistake and things still get dinged up). Some companies would say, “You should’ve paid for insurance,” or, “The carrier insured it, take it up with them.” People should take a second and realize that LAP is doing right by the customer for situations that many other similar businesses wouldn’t.

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