Curious Math VS. Customer Satisfaction

By | Saturday, June 02, 2007 Leave a Comment
Back in May, I placed an order with Mile High Comics. I don't order comics from online shops very frequently because I don't have huge stacks of books I'm looking for, so the shipping charges often double the price of my purchase. But once or twice a year, I'll rack up a list of back issues that I just can't find anywhere else and place an order for several things simultaneously.

Anyway, MHC was running a promotion at the time for 40% just about all of their back issue stock. So I tooled around their site, and found a number of obscure-ish books I had been looking for. When I checked my shopping cart, I found I had a total of around $28, plus another $4 for shipping for a grand total of $32. Their policy, though, is that orders over $40 have no shipping charges. Which meant that if I could find another $12 of goods, I would only pay $8 more than what I was already looking at.

So I found a couple more things that brought my total, without shipping, to just over $40. The shipping charges fell to the wayside and I placed my order.

Now, a curious function of Mile High is that they are large enough that to own several store locations as well as a warehouse. And their inventory system among all these locations is not wholly immediate and transparent, meaning that what their online database says they have in stock might not actually 100% up-to-date. (I can understand the difficulty in tracking individual copies of limited runs of a periodical throughout a network of locations, but it still seems anachronistic in an age after has proven to be so successful at doing just that.)

In any event, they did send me an e-mail alerting me to the fact that some of the items I had ordered were out of stock. I was somewhat disappointed because A) I wouldn't be able to get all the things I was looking for, and B) I figured that now I'd have to pay the additional shipping cost.

The other intersting thing that I ran into was that I had trouble placing my order online. Well, the initial order seemed to go through fine, but I kept getting error messages when I tried to send in my credit card information. It seemed to go through eventually, but I got an e-mail a week later saying that, while my order was received, they didn't have any payment information. A quick phone call got that rectified, but only after the 40% off promotion ended.

I received my package last night and looked over the invoice. Indeed it listed the things that were sent as well as what I had ordered but was not available. But my 40% discount was still there and I was not charged for shipping. They probably could have gotten away with charging me for shipping and not honoring the discount, but they didn't even attempt that.

I used to not be keen on Mile High because their listed prices tended to be a bit high. But their frequent sales can make the prices quite reasonable -- even downright cheap in some cases -- and ordering in larger quantities knocks off the issue of shipping charges altogether. Further, I tend to find that MHC tends to grade their books lower than what their actual condition is, and I've gotten what they called "Good" condition books that were far superior than what I would've given them credit for. All this, in addition to sticking by the sale and discount prices from your original order, instead of trying to make a few extra bucks by using loopholes, certainly puts MHC in a better position in my mind as a consumer. I'm now more likely to return to Mile High for future comic orders than trying to dig through eBay or something for a better deal.

Oh, and in case you're interested, here's what I ultimately got...
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