Thursday, June 29, 2006

Ultimate-ly Screwed

Anyone who reads Ultimates knows that the issues have been very late in arriving lately. That’s largely due to the writer, Millar, having Crone’s Disease, or at least that is what I’ve been told. So, people were asking week after week if we knew when it would finally come out. Last week was the week when Ultimates 2 #11 FINALLY came out. However, ALL of our issues were damaged. Rather than tell people they’d have to wait ANOTHER week because ours were damaged (and some of them would probably go looking for the issue at a different comic book store), we gave people the option of buying the damaged copy and then exchanging it for a better copy the next time they came in, or just waiting for the better copies to arrive. Many people, but not all, took the damage copy because they were so anxious to read the issue.

Let me also note that we’ve been calling in damages just about every week since we started this store. Never once have we been asked to send them back for credit. We just receive a notice that says, “Please destroy” and lists the issues and quantity we reported. On rare occasion we might sell a damaged copy as a last resort, especially in a situation like that above, where we had a high-demand product and no issues, or not enough issues, to sell to customers before the replacements arrived. But that’s usually quite rare. However when ALL the copies of a high-demand book are damaged, we had to resort to this desperate measure in order to keep money from walking out the door.

This week, unlike EVERY week past, Diamond asked us to return our damages from the last few weeks. Any unreturned damages would be billed to us. And, we have only 7 days to return them (keep in mind there’s a postal holiday during the next 7 days too) Well, we have MOST of them all set aside, except the Ultimates 2 issues. Some people brought theirs back, and we have the ones that people didn’t buy last week… but some customers don’t come in every week. How are we supposed to get the damaged Ultimates 2 copies back from people in 7 days if they don’t come back for 14 days? So, we’ll be asked to pay for damaged copies, when we just got replacements this week, and haven’t had enough time to use the good copies to replace all of the damages. I find that QUITE unfair! Give us a couple of weeks, that would be fine, a month would be even better (that’s what we get for returns on the rare other items we can return), but SEVEN DAYS from Wednesday—the day we got the replacement copies in. That’s just not fair.

Let me also explain other returns. Usually when a comic book or other item is overly late, retailers are given the chance to return unsold copies for credit. However, Marvel has what they call Final Order Cut-off (FOC), which gives retailers a chance to increase or decrease their orders on all of the Marvel products set to hit shelves a few weeks later. Doing this enables Marvel to get around having to allow retailers to return books like Ultimates 2 when issues are several months late. So, once I get all of the damaged Ultimates 2 #11 copies back in-hand, there won’t be a second chance to return the unsold ones based on lateness.

I am defiantly going to have to try to get someone at Diamond on the phone who can help with this, which will be tricky since lots of them are taking vacations around the 4th of July holiday. Craig says I shouldn’t bother because they aren’t going to care. And maybe they won’t, but it really can’t hurt just to ask.

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