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Don’t we just love excellent customer service

Regular readers of this blog (I have to say that the readers are far more regular than the writer over the past few weeks) will recollect that I do have a tendancy to comment on my customer service experiences, whether they be good, bad, or terrible. It took a really good experience this week to shake me out of my blog-writing lethargy, which is quite a feat.

Back in October of last year, about the time this blog got its first post and resulting spam comments, I hopped over to Chicago (as you do) to run in the very excellent marathon they have over there. The race was on the Sunday, I arrived on the Thursday, so that left Friday and Saturday to see the city. Well, Friday was sufficient for what I wanted to see, and I certainly wasn’t going to spend my time doing anything else too strenuous. Therefore a leisurely stroll around the centre saw me browsing through Borders, the bookshop, and coming out with what I thought was a fair-priced copy of the most recent novel of one of my favourite bedtime authors, Jonathan Kellerman (he shouldn’t be too proud, the sole objective of bedtime reading is to get me to sleep).

August 2010, and I finally got around to wiping the dust off the book with the intention of having a few early nights.All went well until page 187. The reasons are outlined in the note I sent to Random House, the publishers, on 22/08 i.e. 9 days ago.

“Dear Sir or Madam,  Back in October 2009, I travelled over from France to Chicago to run in the city’s excellent marathon. During my stay there, I purchased a copy of Jonathan Kellerman’s True Detectives, published by yourselves, ISBN 978-0-345-49518-1, at Borders in the city centre.   I finally got around to reading it this summer. Imagine my disappointment when, having read 186 pages, I was to find that the following page was 251. You probably have received a number of complaints by now indicating that page 187 to 218 were replaced by duplicate pages 251 in 282 during one of your production runs.   Ideally you could send me a correct version of the book. Failing this, and seeing as I will be travelling back to Chicago this October to run the marathon again, I will return the copy to Borders and ask for an exchange. I would however obviously prefer the first option.   Thank you in advance for your reply.”

Fairly direct, but it worked. The very next day, I got a reply.

Thank you for contacting Random House, we appreciate your feedback and continued interest in our publications.

I have ordered a complimentary replacement copy under order #10462555 to be delivered to the address below.  Orders generally leave our warehouse within 3 business days and are delivered internationally to western Europe within 11-14 business days.

It is not necessary for you to return your misprinted copy to us.  You may be able to submit it as scrap to your local recycling center or regional arts group.

We appreciate your patience and hope you will continue to enjoy Random House publications in the future

And lo and behold, today, 31 August, 9 days after my initial message, DHL turned up with the book. I can’t say that I have anything to complain about.

If this had happened in France, I’m not sure what the reaction would have been. Or maybe it wouldn’t have happened, as I’ve never known such a gross printing problem occur. I can’t imagine what kind of QC procedures the Random House printers use. And no, they don’t outsource to China, at least according to the information on the front cover of the book.

So tonight, I’ll finally get around to reading pages 187 to 218, which should be interesting, as I’ve already finished 219 to 462!

And so, yes, in five and a half weeks, I’ll be back thrilling the crowds (well, they were clapping and cheering last time) over the 26 miles in Chicago. And paying a little more attention to the number of pages in any books I buy.

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