Faber & Faber, or “How to screw up”

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Me on the warpath1

About four weeks ago I tried to order Viv Albertine‘s book “Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys.” from Faber & Faber2 as it would be delivered signed.3

Wow! Brilliant! I’d go for that. So, I tried to order it, but Faber & Faber’s site stopped working.

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I e-mailed that message to Faber & Faber. The problem reoccurred a number of times until I was able to finally order the book. Faber & Faber then sent me an e-mail confirming my order. Yeay!

Forward three weeks.

Came home from work, opened an unmarked, brown enveloped which contained the following:

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The following picture of David Bowie from “Fire Walk With Me” can illustrate my feelings about this:

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Now. I checked the receipt. It was for the book I had actually ordered. I wrote Faber & Faber about this mistake and received the following e-mail soon thereafter:

Good Morning,

We are sorry to hear that you have received an incorrect book.

I have checked with the warehouse and unfortunately we do not have any more signed stock available so we will have to refund you for your order.

We are sorry to hear that you will now not be able to give this as a gift as you intended.

Please keep the incorrect book as in this instance it would not be cost effective to have it returned to us.

We are very sorry for the inconvenience caused at this time.

Kind Regards

X on behalf of Faber

Let me picture my first reaction to this:

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Then:

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So, I wrote back:

Hi X,

Thank you for your swift reply. However, I must add a few words of constructive criticism to help Faber & Faber in the company’s future endeavours:

1. Fix your site. When trying to order the book I wanted, the site went down in technical flames a few times. It’s very hard to order from. I could – no doubt – construct a more reliable site by using papier mâché and Microsoft Word. And a few monkeys. Scratch Microsoft Word, just keep the monkeys and the papier mâché and you should be fine. Just set that up and keep it as a backup solution the next time your site dies from someone actually trying to order an item.
2. Make sure the right stuff is dispatched.

Having said that, I know I’m being a gripe. Still, I’m a correct gripe. I’ve been waiting for this book for ages, and I know that mistakes can happen.

Thank you for letting me keep the book that I actually got. I will use it – “Public Affairs in Practice: A practical career in lobbying” – to pursue a successful career where I shall lobby against your site, and to secure employment with sites like Amazon, eBay and their likes, and whenever a member of your Board of Directors orders something, be sure to know they’ll receive framed pictures of Sphynx cats or signed copies of a VHS titled “The Best Of Westlife” (unless that’s what they actually ordered).

Ps. Don’t forget to feed said monkeys once in a while. Otherwise they’ll die. Just thought I’d mention this if the people who built your site and/or package your parcels will be responsible for tending the monkeys.

Sincerely yours,
Niklas

I then received the following e-mail:

Hi Niklas,

Thank you for your feedback below and although you are communicating in a light-hearted manner I appreciate has been a very frustrating experience for you and I will forward on the issues accordingly.

We strive to give the highest level of service and in this instance we have not attained this and again I apologise.

Kindest Regards

X

P.S I will personally look after the monkeys.

Yeah! That was funny.

But not as funny as not receiving the book. Well, fuck that. I’m not ordering from Faber & Faber again, unless Morrissey personally calls me and tells me to do so. That would perhaps make me reconsider. Perhaps.

Until then, I’ll just learn some more about lobbyism from the book I got to keep:

GAH! Out of my way! That book reminds me of what Bill Hicks said about working in marketing and advertising.

I’ll end on a positive note, with a quote by Viv Albertine, culled from the mentioned interview in The Quietus, about intuituion; and if your intuition tells you to order books from Faber & Faber, tell your intuition to pipe down.

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  1. And no, I’m not holding fish, those are arrows…or spears![back]
  2. From here referred to as “The Devil”; I kid.[back]
  3. Don’t miss the brilliant interview with Albertine in The Quietus, available here; if you only read one bit, read what she has to say about intuition. That actually reminded me of what one of her former band mates, Ari Up, said about hearing reggae for the first time: “it struck a hard core feel“.[back]
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