Tuesday, 15 May 2018

30TH CENTURY COMICS - WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF A COMPANY THAT TREATS CUSTOMERS LIKE THIS? (UPDATED)...



How does this story grab you for sheer impertinence?  I've bought quite a few comics from a company called 30th CENTURY COMICS over the last couple of years and, in the main, been fairly happy with them.  A few recent comics however, weren't quite as described, and I let them know about it in a perfectly polite and pleasant manner.  Surely they'd want to know in order to avoid such a situation in future?  Not just with me, but with any other customers.

Two comics I bought in March were described as 'very good', but one had a piece torn off the back page, and the other had five faces on the cover defaced with a blue biro or felt tip pen.  There were also rips on the last three pages, the back cover sporting two long rips.  I contacted them about it, said they weren't really worth the bother or expense of returning, and asked for comment.  They awarded me £2 credit, which I was perfectly happy with.   

Last week, I ordered three comics from them at one go, and while two were okay, one was falling to bits.  I don't think that even its modest grading of 'good' adequately covered its imperfections.  It looked okay in its cardboard-backed clear bag, but when I took it out and opened it, the front cover came away from the spine - as did the next page.  When I examined it, every page was split at the spine, ready to detach at the merest handling.  The middle pages weren't quite as badly split, but still nothing to write home about.

Of course, I could have returned the comic for a full refund (whether that includes postage or not I don't know, though I'd have insisted), but it was WHIZZER & CHIPS #3, which I've wanted to replace for many years now.  (And when I say replace, I mean replace the original, long-gone copy I had in 1969.)  Still, for a mere £6 I was reluctant to bother 30th Century with a return, but I thought they'd at least want to know so they could take steps to ensure the mistake wasn't repeated.  (And, Microporous tape comes in handy for repairing old British comics, so I knew I could salvage the issue to some degree.)

And so I contacted them, said I wasn't complaining or looking for a refund, but I thought they'd want to know that this particular comic didn't match its description as to grading.  I was expecting a reply along the lines of "Thanks very much for alerting us to this matter as customer satisfaction is a priority with us.  We'll double-check any future orders before mailing to avoid any further disappointment." 

Well, knock me down with a feather.  You should have seen the deceptive, seemingly-'polite' reply I received, which essentially told me to feck off and not to order any more comics from them ever again.  They refunded my £6, which I tried to return, but it hasn't cleared in my account yet.  Imagine having your shopping delivered to your home by ICELAND, then finding a couple of items are long past their sell-by dates or were compromised in some way.  Would Iceland 'suggest' that you never buy anything from them again if you politely brought it to their attention?  I doubt it!
  
30th Century's excuse for their complacency is that the majority of their customers are satisfied (or maybe more easily pleased?), but if I ran a business, I'd be aiming for 100% customer satisfaction, not telling the ones that are (occasionally) disappointed to sling their hook.  What a world we live in when the customer is penalised for the seller's incompetence.  I doubt it would've been different if I'd just returned the comics, they'd have simply seen me as a fuss-pot and a nuisance.  I don't think it's being pernickety to expect a comic to be somewhere in the ball park of its advertised condition, but 30th Century clearly think otherwise.

Tell you what, why don't you make up your own minds?  Take a look at the photos of the comic and then tell me what you think.  It's screamingly obvious that the comic hasn't been checked properly at the grading stage.  One of the two so-called 'experts' (with 40 years experience grading comics apparently) has given it a casual glance, thought it looked okay, and stuck it in a bag.  30th Century Comics?  Not with that prehistoric attitude.  Here's an idea for you, ROB RUDDERHAM - why not just try ensuring that your comics are in the condition described in your catalogue before sending them out?  Or is that too simple a suggestion for you?  Anyone else have this kind of experience?  Let loose in the comments section.

Oh, and given their cheek, I've just now decided I'm going to keep the refund.  Why should I reward them for their incompetence and impertinence?

******

Ah, that explains it.  I've just found out that Rod Rudderham is one of the two graders.  Clearly just pays lip-service to the idea that grading can be subjective, and obviously felt insulted because I (a collector for more than 50 years) dared to question his grading in this instance.  How very dare I?

******

Update:  Rob Rudderham, in response to my review on 30th Century's Facebook page, says the following:

'For anyone reading this review, please note that asking a customer not to place further orders is a last resort we only employ with great reluctance when, after multiple experiences, the customer proves impossible to satisfy.  We have only taken this step 3 times in 25 years.'  (Emphasis mine.)

Well, I suppose that as two is a multiple of one, technically, it could be argued that he's correct.  (I have queried grading on only two separate occasions, once in regard to two comics purchased simultaneously, the other in regard to one comic bought at the same time as another two.  However, Mr. Rudderham is clearly being dis-ingenuous, as 'multiple experiences' suggests a far higher number than is actually the case.  As for being 'impossible to satisfy', on my most recent purchase, I was satisfied with two out of three comics, only commenting on one of them.  How this qualifies as 'impossible to satisfy' is beyond me.  As for '3 times in 25 years', perhaps that's because other dissatisfied customers have simply not availed themselves of his shop's services after their first disappointment, thus taking the decision out of his hands?      




20 comments:

Anonymous said...

wont give my name as i still buy from them now and again. but yes there grading can be wide of the mark. shocking reaction but

Kid said...

I'll assume you mean their reaction is shocking and not mine. It sure shocked me. (Ah, there's a hint of that awesome alliteration for which I'm so famous - even when it's not by me.)

Terry said...

Thanks for this. I won't be buying anything from them with that attitude.

Kid said...

Neither will I - though mainly because they won't let me. (Gotta keep a sense of humour, eh?)

Lionel Hancock said...

They probably did you a favour telling you to go elsewhere if that's the quality they sell. Doubt it will take long before their bad reputation spreads.

Kid said...

Perhaps, but 'two out of three' I could live with, LH. I think it should be the customer's decision not to buy from somewhere, rather than the seller's not to sell.

Anonymous said...

The comic was accurately graded.

Good is really a misnomer, but one that is still readable with numerous defects.

All the defects of a VG comic with more significant wear.
The inside paper quality might not be good and pieces of the pages may be missing.
Books in this grade are almost always creased, scuffed, abraded and soiled, but readable.
Large pieces can be missing from the cover.
Long or many spine splits are possible.
The cover and pages many be detached but not missing and is still in a "collectible" grade.
A significant amount of tape may have been applied to cover and pages.
Book may be fragile.

Kid said...

Actually, you're wrong. That's one of several (and not all of them are in precise agreement on the details) suggested grading standards for American comicbooks. However, it's generally accepted that British comics are graded to a different standard. Here's part of the definition of 'good' from The Comic Book Price Guide For Great Britain:

'A well-read copy with minor tears or splits, slightly soiled and marked, slight rolled spine or creases but still complete and acceptable.'

There's more, though it's not necessarily implying that a comic will have ALL the defects listed, probably only some of them in most cases. However, the important bit is that the tears and splits in the comic I purchased don't qualify as 'minor'.

It is all a bit subjective I suppose, but comics sellers should be aware of this and not take a huffy fit when someone politely questions their grading.

Christopher Nevell said...

Those photos show a comic that should be graded as Fair rather than Good. It’s not Poor but fast approaching that dustbin grade.

Kid said...

'Fair minus' I'd have said, CN. I think when the damage is so pronounced, it should be mentioned in the catalogue so that the buyer has a better idea of what to expect. I've bought comics before graded as 'good' which were in better overall condition than this one. However, debatable as the condition might be, what IS definitely out of order is Rob Rudderham's reaction to me politely drawing the matter to his attention. I even said in my email that I wasn't complaining, only making an observation.

TC said...

IIRC, Comics Collector magazine in the 1980s had a grading guide that said, "Any tape means 'Fair' at best."

Kid said...

I think part of the problem with grading, TC, is that once a comic is anything other than Mint condition, it all becomes a bit subjective. (In fact, even that grade can be debatable in some cases.) One guy's VF is another guy's VG, etc. 30th Century even acknowledge this, and say that's why they offer a full refund if the customer isn't satisfied. What they DON'T say is that if you're not satisfied more than once, then feck off.

Terry said...

Their Facebook page has suddenly received a couple of positive reviews. Most likely a put-up job to offset yours. If they won't sell to someone to avoid complaints it must be because they know their grading is a bit close to the wind.

Kid said...

Thanks, T. Thing is, as I already said, I never complained, so I think RR's indulging a bit of a power complex.

Anonymous said...

Bwah-ha-ha! You did so complain. Perhaps people would be interested in seeing it.

Kid said...

Did you read the post? Let me remind you of what I said.

'And so I contacted them, said I wasn't complaining or looking for a refund, but I thought they'd want to know that this particular comic didn't match its description as to grading.'

Not enough for you? Let's see part of my actual email.

'Hi,

Received comics a couple of days ago, ta very much.

Now, I don't want you to regard what follows as a 'complaint' as such - it's more of an observation, but certainly something that you should be aware of.'

H'mm, seems that I'm right and you're wrong, eh? (Why do I indulge idiots?)

And why aren't you brave enough to use your name - idiot?

Anonymous said...

Why aren't you brave enough to use your name, and I'm sure your older than the kid in the photo.

Kid said...

I do use my name, and that's the age I was when the photo was taken. Somehow I'm not surprised to find that your attention was drawn to a photo of a kid - better watch that, the police will be chapping your door. Let's see now, poor punctuation and bad spelling - why aren't you embarrassed about showing everyone you're an @rsehole? Don't bother replying, as I've wrung as many laughs out of you that you're likely to provide. Back to oblivion with you.

Anonymous said...

Give it a rest Mr.R. You got a rare free comic out of it for goodness sake!

Kid said...

Not so rare and hardly free. I had to pay postage and buy a special tape in order to repair it. What's more, the paper is so brittle that bits drop off almost every time I turn a page. I'd much rather have had a more precise description of just what to expect and thereby avoided disappointment, or decided not to buy it.

Now, why don't you give it a rest? You don't have a leg to stand on.

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