I am a big fan of supporting local businesses, especially locally-owned bookstores. However, I have come across one that has got me wondering about their business practices. Like many of the local bookstores, they accept used books for store credit. I have been able to clear much needed space on my bookshelves. This store has a great selection of science fiction and fantasy, which is why I selected them versus another business. The unfortunate part is the way in which they categorize their books.
Store credit can not be used on new books, so I can not grab the latest in the Twilight series (an attempt at humor). This practice is questionable, but understandable. What I can not understand is that this business lists books that are used (some of which were published decades earlier) as nearly new and do not allow store credit to be used in the purchase of said book. For example, I came across a chemistry book (I know what you are thinking, NERD!) that was in used but very good condition. The book is listed as near new because of the condition, though the book was published in 2001 and is grossly outdated. Another example, a Star Wars Encyclopedia (again, NERD!). The book is used, good condition. The dust cover is torn in places and pages within the book are folded. Again, this book is listed as near new condition. All this means that I can not use my store credit for outdated books that are in good condition or collector’s books that are usable.
The part that upsets me the most is the first time that I tried to use my store credit to purchase a book. It was a hard cover history book. The book was obviously in used condition, so I knew that I would save a few bucks over brand new. They told me the total and I told the clerk that I had store credit. The clerk informed me that I was not able to use store credit since this book was near new. I asked the clerk what the difference between used and near new. I was told that the store categorized their used items into one of 6 or 7 categorizes. Only the worst condition used books are eligible for the store credit. To my horror, I have $60+ of store credit and have not been able to utilize it. They also do not allow a cash out of store credit.
As a customer, it upsets me that a local business would employ such deceptive practices. I go to the store on occasion to see if I can find a hot item that I can then resell on eBay. I would love to get my hands on a first edition book that they have stored away on their private shelves, but they have refused to entertain the idea of selling them. I highly doubt that I would be able to utilize my store credit anyway. On the other hand, I applaud them for their shrewd business policies. Employing such policies have obviously allowed them to survive during a time when so many mom and pop shops, along with national chains, have folded like a sack of potatoes. So I am torn as to my approach with this situation.