Civil Dissatisfaction

Think of this as a bit of unsolicited advice from a very small-time Internet retailer who thinks you’re pretty alright.

What if, hypothetically, there was a dude in your neighborhood who we’ll call Bobby who made hammers and sold them to people. Bobby sat in his garage and made the best hammer he could and offered them for what he thought was a fair price. Bobby personally backed his product with a money-back guarantee and wanted nothing more than to see his customers gayly smacking nails or squirrels or whatever with the product he’d worked hard to create.

You caught wind of The Bobby Hammer from a neighbor who had picked one up, or maybe the local rag did a complimentary story about his hammers. Either way, you realized that your current hammer was getting a little long in the tooth, so you pedal down to Bobby’s to check out his hammers. You make your selection, pay him the agreed-upon price and head back home to flatten something. That’s when trouble strikes.

As you’re enthusiastically making fist-sized holes in the drywall of your crappy apartment, the handle on your Bobby snaps clean in half. Clearly, you expected to get more use out of a hand-made hammer, so you hop on your bike and head back to Bobby’s.

When you arrive, do you throw the hammer’s remains at him and call him a charlatan? Do you insist that he’s knowingly moving a shoddy product with the intention of making a quick buck? I’m guessing no because that’s the kind of thing a priggish dickhead does.

I don’t get a ton of refund requests for my little eBook about Evernote, but I do get a few. The vast majority of the time, the person on the other end is cordial (even apologetic, in some cases) and says that while they enjoyed the eBook, it wasn’t quite what they were looking for and politely ask for their money back. In cases like this, I’m happy to oblige because sometimes people make purchases they end up not needing or wanting. But then there are other folks who aren’t quite so civil about it and resort to name-calling and vitriolic accusation. Precisely the kind of shit no sane person would do to a “real life” retailer with a face and a name.

Am I being overly sensitive? Maybe. Hell, probably. The thing is—and this is a symptom of a larger problem with the Internet in general, if you ask me—lots of folks seem to assume that somebody selling something on the Internet is probably a thieving bastard who would eat their children if given the chance. I’ve done my best to dispell this belief, at least for myself.

If you’re not happy with something you bought from me, I’ll do everything I can to make it right and I promise to do my best to not be an a-hole in the process. All I ask is for the same consideration.

And, for the record, my life is much better since I stopped assuming that people were trying to screw me over.

Photo by Runs with Scissors


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