| A couple of days ago, I had the sad duty of handing out the first-ever demerit on Atomic Avenue. At some point—possibly in the too-near future, I’ll be handling our first seller banishment. And once you’re banned from the system, you’re through for good.
In case you’re wondering, here’s a not-at-all-complete list of things you can do to get yourself banned from Atomic Avenue:
Don’t Ship Your Books on Time
Frequently shipping a day or two late isn’t a good way to win friends and repeat customers. Habitually taking a week to get the book to the post office is likely to bring complaints to the system administrator (me).
Don’t Pack Your Books Properly
If I were feeling daring, I might risk putting a book in one of those Priority Mail envelopes, provided it was surrounded with plenty of cardboard. Even then, I’ve seen monstrous things done to comics that weren’t packed in a hard-sided mailer or box. Box your books unless you want to issue the buyer a refund for their damage.
This may be the #1 way to turn a little problem (“Hey, did you forget to ship my order?”) into a big one (“What the heck are you trying to pull, you thief!”). From what I can tell, the average length of time between the first question and the second is about two days, if no response has been gotten from the delinquent shipper/con artist in question. Let’s face it, when we don’t hear from people with whom we've been having problems, we tend to assume the worst. When you’re selling—and especially when there’s some question or problem—be reachable.
So what are you supposed to do if you have to go out of town for a few days? For a start, it’s a good idea to use the “On Vacation” setting under My Profile on Atomic Avenue to automatically pause your books from sale. It’s also a good idea if at all possible, to let anyone you have any current dealings with know in advance, or set up an autoresponder on your email to let people know when you’ll return.
I started off writing this with a fairly long list of bad practices in mind (habitual misgrading, being grouchy about returns, etc.), but in retrospect, the three mentioned above have something especially aggravating about them that makes people file official complaints (leading to demerits and banishment) vs. simply giving out terrible ratings and vowing never to do business with you again.
At its heart, I think it’s that they lead the buyer to fear that they’re being taken advantage of, and that the only way they’ll get satisfaction is to contact the authorities. Obviously, the best method to avoid this is to not tick off your customers in the first place. Still, there will be times when—despite our best intentions and efforts—things will go wrong. When that happens, it’s crucial that you (the seller) be seen as working diligently to set things right.
Be reachable. Answer your emails promptly. Give refunds graciously. If you can do that, you’ll find that the majority of people you deal with are really astonishingly reasonable. Go the other way, however, and you’ll find that little problems can turn into big ones with alarming speed.
As a system administrator for Atomic Avenue, my job is to make sure that Atomic Avenue stays the safest, most trouble-free place you can buy comics on the internet. Part of that job, unfortunately, means getting rid of the few bad apples that make things hard for everyone.