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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » From Soup to Nuts » » The Magic Depot... How to make customers disparear ? (17 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Patrice
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FRANCE, Normandy, Rouen
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Hello to the Magic Community.

I'm a French magician... Not a real one, because It's not my main job ... I'm an apprentice Magician for life... since twelve years.

Let me tell you a magic story... A real story.

I'm a fan of Aldo Colombini as many magicians in France (I translated some booklets into French and they are sold on Lybrary.com).

Few months ago - before Aldo died - I was looking for buying a new set of cards "Shenanigan". This trick was no longer sold on Aldo's WildColombini shop and when I asked for, Aldo told me that this trick will not be available for the future.

And one day, after asking my friend "Google" I discovered that this trick was on The Magic Depot.. but for "reserve only".

It was a wonderful news and I decided to buy two of this trick. One for me and the other one for a friend of my magic club.

It was in March.

As I live in France, I sent an email to The Magic Depot to ask if it was possible to get a refund in case the trick was not available into a delay of one month and I get this answer from Jenne Smith "Hello Patrice! I will let you know if they do not arrive within the month and send over to the refund department. Thanks!"

Wonderful ! A Magic Shop that takes care of his customers.

On April the 30th... Nearly two months after my order... no news about "Shenanigan"... So I asked for my refund and the same day I received this answer from Jenne Smith : "Hello Patrice! I have cancelled the backorder for you. The order has been sent over to the refund department. Thanks!"

Bad luck, I will not have this trick. But I will get my refund.

On the 12th of May... No refund. New email to Jenne Smith and this answer : "Hello Patrice! I have checked with the refund department and your refund is on schedule for this month. You should see it in your account before the end of May. Thanks!"

Okay... I just have to wait. But I don't understand why it takes such a long time... I payed with PayPal and It should be quite easy to refund me.

On the 2th of June... Still no refund. New email to Jenne Smith and this answer : "Hello Patrice! I am sorry for the longer than normal delays on this. I checked with the refund department for you and they say they are working to get this to you in the next couple of weeks. Thanks!"

Hum... Another couple of weeks... Very strange... A refund department ? Wouah... what a big magic shop ! A delay longer than normal... Only for $49.81...

New email to Jenne Smith on the 6th of June and this answer : "Hello Patrice, I apologize for the longer than normal delays. The item you purchased was purchased on the reserve policy. This policy states a store credit will be given if the item is no longer available and we are unable to locate it through other means. I have authorized a refund for you even though it is not the reserve policy method. The refund will take a bit longer. This account is cleared out automatically on a daily basis. I will watch for payments and try to catch it as they come in and get your refund over to you as quickly as possible. Thank you very much for your continued patience. Have a wonderful weekend!"

A wonderful week-end ? Are you kidding me ? I sent a new email and got this answer : "Hello Patrice, I will have this done for you by the 14th. Thanks!"

And on the 13th of June, this email "Hello Patrice, I am checking in your refund status. I also got word the Aldo item may be back soon. I am getting an ETA on this as well. I will get back with you as soon as possible. Thanks!"

The Aldo item may be back soon ? While Aldo told me different...

On the 5th of July as I got no news from Jenne Smith, I wrote to her to say that I have understood that I will never get my refund and to be sure to have "something" I asked for a credit store to download ebooks from Peter Duffie (a good friend of Aldo...).

On the 6th of July I got my links to Peter Duffie's books (and I lost $4.86...)

What a wonderful magic trick... The Magic Depot had a customer and made it disappear... It was a bit long to do it... but they succeeded.

I don't know how this sort of trick is called in USA... In France, it's called a swindle... And I know what I talking about because my main job is ... policeman.

And if you want to buy Shenanigan, you can order it to the Magic Depot as it's still on sell for "reserve only"...

Remember Jenne... A magician never do twice the same trick...


I'have been buying magic tricks and magic items on the Internet from magic shops in USA since many years and It's the first time that I have such a problem.

I wanted to tell my story on this forum and I will tell it on French Magic Forums in order to prevent that other people have the same problem.

I hope my post will not disappear... ;-)
Patrice
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FRANCE, Normandy, Rouen
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A new trick ?

How to get a store credit for $9.95. Not $10... Not $20 or $30... No... $9.95. Why... Because it's part of the trick.

I worn Jenne Smith about my post... And she send me a new message - not to tell me about Shenanigan - It was to tell me that she raised my credit from $4.81 to $9.95... to choose another instant download.

Everybody here knows what is a "force"... This amount - $9.95 - is a force because the only instant download on the Magic Depot is the Ebook "From the Stall by Chastain Criswell". Perhaps The Magic Depot has difficulties to sell it (the previous price was $14.95).

My review for that trick is that Jenne Smith did quicker than for the previous one... But the climax is quite poor and sincerely I don't like this magic.
AaronSmith
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Patrice, I'm sorry that you are upset with our service. Most of the time, reserve items result in fulfillment. We are able to provide hard-to-find and out-of-print items to our customers at the original retail price. It is a service we are proud to offer.

We accepted an order from you for an item we knew would be difficult to acquire. This was not a secret—you also knew it was out of stock and discontinued. The status was posted on our website. We didn't ask to be paid extra for our work if the item proved impossible to obtain or if it cost us more than you paid. We simply asked—before the sale—that you accept a store credit.

Jenne and I spent a considerable amount of time and effort in an attempt to get the product for you. It took longer than expected, but we had more leads than expected too. Follow-up takes time when we ask a distributor to check their back warehouse for a needle in a haystack.

When you cancelled the order, Jenne tried to get you a refund instead of the agreed store credit even though we still had money out with a vendor. That is tough for a family-owned magic business this time of year, especially since we had to agree to quantity for wholesale.

You weren't swindled. You ordered a service from us and received it. You used your store credit and received the merchandise. Jenne added to the small credit you had leftover to make it easier for you. The combined credit will never expire and it works just like cash on our website—you can use it to buy any item, download or otherwise without restriction.

I appreciate your urge to warn people of our reserve item policy, but it is clearly marked on the website. You read it before you placed your order and others can too. If you, or anyone else would like to check the status of a reserve item before placing an order, email us and we will promptly reply with the details.

Thank You!

- Aaron Smith
The Magic Depot - Free Shipping WorldWide!

http://themagicdepot.com
Patrice
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Hello Aaron.

I placed my order knowing that it was a "reserve only" item and knowing what this meant. And then I sent an email to ask if it was possible to get refund rather than a store credit. Jenne answered "yes". No one used a gun to obtain this answer. If the answer would have been "No" I would have ask for a store credit, and that's all.

What do you think about all the emails I sent and all the answers I got saying that I will be refund. If you had changed your mind you could have tell me and I would have understood... Jenne never told me "Oh dear Patrice, in fact we can't refund and we propose a credit store". She only told me to be patient. Even worse, Jenne wrote "I also got word the Aldo item may be back soon..."

And after all that, why do you still let the trick Shenanigan on your site "reserve only" ?

You write in your post "the item proved impossible to obtain...". So why do you still propose something impossible to obtain ?

If I ordered this item it is because I thought you would be able to obtain it not because I knew it was the item impossible to obtain. I'm not an idiot !

If you want to keep your customers... Don't tell promise you don't fulfill.

And keep your credit store...
AaronSmith
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Patrice, your refund request was cancelled when you used the store credit. Otherwise, you would have received a refund even though it wasn’t our original agreement. Shenanigan is on reserve because it is still out of stock. I haven't deleted it from the website as I am told it may be available again soon and I still have a vendor looking for it. I would like to keep Aldo's memory alive for future generations. Let me know if you have any more questions... Thank You!

- Aaron Smith
The Magic Depot - Free Shipping WorldWide!

http://themagicdepot.com
Patrice
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Oh Aaron, Aaron..

Who do you try to convince ? Not me I suppose. The readers of these messages ? You are pretty good at talking... But you don't tell the real story. And you know, as a policeman, I have been making investigations for over thirty years and I'm pretty good at police questioning.

"Patrice, your refund request was cancelled when you used the store credit" : True, but you forget to tell that my order was placed on the 7th of March. I asked for the refund on the 30th of April... and as nothing was coming and after many emails I finally decided to asked for a store credit only because I understood that I will never be refund. It was on the 5th of July. After four long months waiting. And If I didn't ask for the store credit I believe that I would still be waiting...

"Otherwise, you would have received a refund even though it wasn't our original agreement" : False. You forget that Jenne wrote on the 7th of March (the exact day of my order...): "Hello Patrice! I will let you know if they do not arrive within the month and send over to the refund department. Thanks!". So our agreement was to refund.

"Shenanigan is on reserve because it is still out of stock" : True and very funny answer... And so logical. It is on reserve because you don't' have it. If we had it we would have sent it to you... So funny. But what you forget again to say is that this trick is on reserve since months ans months (perhaps years...) and you wrote about it - see previous post - "This was not a secret—you also knew it was out of stock and discontinued". "discontinued" ? The Collins American Dictionary gives that explanation : "to cease, to stop, to end..." And you still propose this trick ? Is it a new technique for selling ? To propose items that I don't have and that you know that you will not have ? Oh yes I remember you send adventurer worldwide searching for this particular trick because you know you van find one... somewhere. A friend of mine owns a magic shop in France. He has two or three suppliers - no more. And when you ask him for a trick - I ask his suppliers and give the answer very quickly. And he doesn't propose to sell items he perfectly know they're discontinued.

"I would like to keep Aldo's memory alive for future generations." : To invoke Aldo's memory that way is a shame ! I hope magicians reading that post will agree with me.

The best you can do now is to forget me. And you shown us that you are very good at forgetting.

Patrice
Chris
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lybrary.com
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The problem with some magic retailers is that they leave discontinued items on their website. The reason they do this is for search baiting customers. These old discontinued product pages are indexed by Google and other search engines. They bring traffic and thus customers to the website. These retailers hope that these customers who come to these discontinued products will buy something instead.

That is why no refund is given on such discontinued items. A customer orders it in hope to get it, but instead he gets a store credit and thus is forced to buy something else. This is how search baiting works. I hate it and as we can see on the posts above others hate it, too. Patrice, you are right speaking out about this. It should stop.
Lybrary.com preserving magic one book at a time.
AaronSmith
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We add "DISCONTINUED" to the product title so that it appears in all caps on search engines. While the manufacturer discontinued Shenanigan, I still have them on order with a vendor who shows a positive number somewhere in overstock. If they cannot find those units soon, I will add DISCONTINUED to the product title and eventually the item will be removed from the site once past orders are archived.

- Aaron Smith
The Magic Depot - Free Shipping WorldWide!

http://themagicdepot.com
Chris
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lybrary.com
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Aaron, but why don't you issue by default a refund if a customer wants to not wait any longer for a product you may or may not be able to procure in the future? I consider it unethical to take money from a customer on a product you may or may not be able to deliver in a reasonable amount of time. Actually, I would suggest you don't take any money upfront for such 'maybe products'. It is great that you make an effort to try to locate hard to find tricks, but taking money, not being able to fulfill your promise, and then not returning the money is simply not the way to do business. You can't be surprised that customers will balk at such customer service practices.
Lybrary.com preserving magic one book at a time.
AaronSmith
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Chris, there is nothing unethical about our reserve merchandise policy. Take Patrice's order for example. We had an item that a vendor told us may be available, but in deep storage. I also show one in stock here, but it isn't on the shelf—probably in a bin out of official inventory.

Rather than leave the item in stock on the website, I marked it out of stock, "On Reserve." The "Add to Cart" button became a "Reserve Only" button and new terms appeared with a bold, red header underneath. It says this item is out of stock. If we cannot get it for you, you will receive a store credit for the full purchase price. No refunds.

Patrice agreed and placed the order. To motivate the vendor, I ordered all they potentially had in stock. Calls were made, emails were sent back and forth. We went digging through boxes.

It is a free service.

I only ask that customers agree to a store credit instead of a refund if the reserve item is unavailable—though most are obtained. Folks can email me if they don't want to tie up funds. I will do the legwork in advance and provide an ETA when possible.

As you can see from Patrice's posts, he was fine with the store credit initially. Our mistake was agreeing to a refund while we still had money on the table, which resulted in a slow turnaround time. He gave up on us and went back to the store credit.

Policy aside, I apologize for the frustration we caused Patrice. That wasn't our intention. As a magician, he is my brother and I would do anything for him, and for you Chris. This is a unique industry and we are all trying to build it together.

- Aaron Smith
The Magic Depot - Free Shipping WorldWide!

http://themagicdepot.com
Patrice
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Oh something new... "I apologize for the frustration we caused Patrice."

I wasted a lot of time sending emails and also writing theses messages to inform magic community. American language is not my language and it's much easier for me to translate American into French rather than the opposite.

But, after all this time wasted, after all Jenne's email telling me to be patient, I needed to tell my story just to let other magicians know and think about that.

Thank you Chris for your post. I really do appreciate.

The problem for me isn't to say that the "reserve only" principle is bad. I think that Chris gave a pretty good explanation about this "reserve only" principle... The question is : for how long an item should be left for reserve only ?

I wanted this trick Shenanigan and only this trick that I have been performing for years. The problem with cards is that one day you can't use it no more : to old, to sticky.

And because I wanted this trick, I accepted the "reserve only" principle as The Magic Depot was the only magic supplier proposing this trick and that is the reason why I put my order... I was hopping.

If Jenne would have say "we can't refund we can only offer you a store credit", I would have accept this principle because you made an exception for me.

But what she did was a very bad commercial practice. Remember, we, the costumers, are the ones who give you our money. And without our money you don't exist. Don't lie to your costumers. Don't act as if they were idiots. Or you will sell no more magic items.

And remember Aaron, you aren't my brother and I'm not yours. You only make business and not charity business. But try to make your business respecting your costumers and that will do.

Have A Nice Day (a wonderful trick also...)
AaronSmith
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Patrice, that is a good question. Typically, we let manufacturers and distributors decide when an item is gone for good. Discontinuing a product because it is temporarily out of stock—even for a year in this industry—is akin to a waiter clearing your plate mid-meal while you were away from the table.

A reserve program is a great way to show suppliers that an item has genuine demand. It has motivated production on many occasions. I am putting policies and technology in place to ensure the issue you experienced with the refund does not happen again.

It's not just business to me. I am honored to have been a part of the magic community for the last twenty years and I will do my best to contribute positively for the rest of my life.

I understand translation is a pain. Thank You for the dialog.

- Aaron Smith
The Magic Depot - Free Shipping WorldWide!

http://themagicdepot.com
Patrice
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"I am putting policies and technology in place to ensure the issue you experienced with the refund does not happen again."

Great ! You wrote about The magic Depot that it is a "family-owned magic business". I think that you just to tell Jenne about your new "policies and technology" and it should be okay ;-)

Bye
Intrepid
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Not my field of expertise, but failure to provide a prompt refund certainly sounds like a blatant violation of Federal law. See FTC's prompt delivery refund requirements.
http://www.business.ftc.gov/documents/al......ry-rules
Bob
Patrice
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Thank you for your contribution Intrepid... but you know, I leave in France and I know quite well about laws and about international rules (as my main job is policeman) and how long it is to get something. And for only $49.81, I'm sure that this case would have been close without nothing done.
So, I decided to buy ebooks from the MagicDepot with my money as I couldn't get any refund. I was not really interested by these ebooks but I felt that I was the only solution to finally get something and not loose my money.

I will still buy items from magic shops in USA (and I have done it since).. but not from The MagicDepot.
AaronSmith
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Intrepid, there was no violation. Patrice agreed to a store credit before placing his order due to the nature of the added services. The original transaction was complete when we issued the store credit. Patrice changed his mind and asked for a favor, but when the turnaround time was longer than expected, he used his store credit for the products of his choice.

- Aaron Smith
The Magic Depot - Free Shipping WorldWide!

http://themagicdepot.com
Patrice
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Aaron. I'm really fed up with all your false arguments.
I'm French... and I apologize I forgot to read all your terms about refund and so on.
I placed my order because your shop was the only one (in the world) to propose the trick that I have been looking for for many months...
Then I saw that I couldn't be refunded if the item was not available.
So I wrote to ask - saying that I was living in France - whether it was possible to get a refund rather than a store credit in case I cannot get the item.

And Jenne... your wife I think - said Yes.
I didn't use any gun or any knife to obtain this answer. And ME, when I say YES to somebody, I don't change my mind some months later.
YOU changed your mind. Not me.

I asked for a store credit. You never proposed me to have a store credit and you never told me that you changed your mind.

And If I decided to ask for a store credit it was only for one reason : To get something for my money because Jenne was still telling me "Wait a bit... The item will be available soon".

All you could say against that would be lies.
AaronSmith
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Patrice, despite the language barrier, it appears you were aware of the policy before you placed the order. To add the item to your cart, you clicked the "Reserve Now" button directly above the one-paragraph reserve policy and you expressed knowledge of our reserve policy here in this thread and by your request via email.

I love magic and I am a servant of the magic community, but that doesn’t mean I should net a total loss for my hard work. I spent many, many hours finding and following leads on your behalf and I placed multiple bulk orders with sources in attempt to secure the product for you.

All I asked in return via the posted policy—before you placed the order—was that you accept a store credit if the item was unavailable. You and I both knew it would be a difficult item to find, but I was happy to do all that work. Just PLEASE accept a store credit instead of asking for a refund.

You agreed. You placed the order. I did all that work. And then you asked for a refund.

I told Jenne we would issue a refund as soon as we received our money back (in credit mind you) from the vendor in which I had last placed an order. Before she conveyed that information to you—a lapse in communication from me due to the special circumstances of the product—you used the store credit. Another week and you would have had a refund instead.

All of this is indicative of a store trying to serve their customer, even bending the rules to accommodate the individual. In fact, I would still like to see you satisfied. If you want to discuss remedy, my inbox is always open. Thank You!

- Aaron Smith
The Magic Depot - Free Shipping WorldWide!

http://themagicdepot.com
Patrice
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You know Aaron... I'm satisfied... with many other magic dealers in the world...
As you're convinced that you did all well... Come on... Go on like that.
I stop here because I'm wasting my time.
Russ
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Patrice
Thanks for the heads up about this dealer.
"All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten" by Robert Fulghum
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