Pete Lee

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Powell's Responds

For the record, despite the fact that I was recently irritated by an experience at Powell's, I continue to support the store (heck, I spent $35 there yesterday). I should also note that I received exemplary service from every employee I encountered.

My friends from Chicago (Kara and Alex) toured Powell's yesterday, and were completely jealous. They sadly noted that their only practical bookbuying option was to go to The Great Satan: Barnes & Noble.

The majority of books I've purchased at Powell's are at list price, unlike the discounted prices found at and the large sale tables at B&N. However, I like to support local business as much as possible, and would hope that the extra money I spend there supports good service and fair treatment of their employees.

Date: Sat, 13 Aug 2005 14:35
Subject: RE: My comments on the Powell's college text buying experience

Hello Mr. Lee,

Thank you for your message. I appreciate your taking the time to write to us and share your experience and your very valid frustration. It sounds like you were treated very rudely during your recent visits to our store and for that I do sincerely apologize. I will check in with the managers of our buying counter and make sure that your feedback gets to them.

Regarding pricing, we generally pay 25-30% of what we expect to be able to sell a book for. That margin is standard in the used book industry and accounts for the large degree of labor involved in our business. The price may have been lower than you would have liked because, as I'm sure you know, we're now all competing in an online universe that has dramatically driven the price of books down. If another business will pay you more for your textbooks, then of course that makes more sense for you as a customer.

Regarding student ID, we require a student ID from folks selling textbooks as a means of verifying that the book is currently being used in classrooms. As I'm again sure you know, textbooks go out of date very quickly. Our hope is that a current student is selling us a relatively current textbook. If we buy a book and then can't sell it because no schools teach that text any longer, we have to absorb that significant cost.

That being said, all of the documents that you presented should have been sufficient verification for our buyers. Clearly the person you worked with felt more comfortable simply following our standard policy, but that doesn't excuse their poor service. I apologize.

I hope that I have addressed your concerns to some degree. And, again, I will speak with the managers of our buying staff about your experience. If you have any further questions or concerns, or if I can help in any way, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards,


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