Friday, 24 April 2009


An odd thing happened today. I was called to process a refund on a book that a man had purchased, not 10 minutes previously - it was a Rita Hayworth biography, priced at £2. He said, quite aggressively, that the thing was falling apart and that he didn't want it. I politely explained that we did not refund books but in this case I'd be happy for him to choose another book. No, he didn't want another one, he just wanted his money back. He shoved the book under my nose and told me that it was falling apart and I had to refund the money. Examining it, I found that the edges of the book had not been cut properly, but I pointed out to him that none of the pages were in fact falling out as he had said. Any attempts to assure him that the book was perfectly fine only resulted in him getting angrier and angrier - he showed me a loose section at the back that he claimed had fallen out, but on closer inspection it was a separate pamphlet. I tried to explain this by pointing out that the pages were unnumbered, there were no torn edges and the paper was smaller than that of the rest of the book, but I may as well have been trying to sponge bath an irate rhino. To avoid a scene I agreed to refund the money in order to get him out of the shop as quickly as possible, during which time one of my volunteers became involved and the 'conversation' rapidly degenerated into the familiar refrain of 'you get this all for free, you should be giving me the money, I'm charity, ra ra ra'. Fortunately he left swiftly as soon as the £2 was back in his sweaty little palm.

Now for the serendipitous part. I put the book back on the shelf, then spotted a sticker on the front that I had not previously noticed - 'signed copy'. Sure enough, when I opened the front cover, it had in fact been signed by the author. In the light of this it seems quite likely that it was the first copy off the presses, hence the ragged edges! The book had been woefully underpriced and I pretty pleased he had returned it after all that. I restickered it at £6 (probably still too little but hey, it's a charity shop and no one is willing to pay the full value) and put it in the window display. Hehehe.