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Posts Tagged ‘CBD’

How christianbook.com Mismanages Canadian Credits

Canadian consumers who purchase from christianbook.com generally enjoy a high level of customer service and support. But their system breaks down when they need to reverse a Canadian credit card purchase. Let me explain with an example. (The purchase is hypothetical, but the exchange rates are correct for the dates given.)

On October 1st “John” purchases a Bible. It’s a clearance item, with real leather, regular $199.99 on sale for only $99.99. He’s thrilled about his purchase.

He’s charged $99.99 + 25% flat rate shipping + 5% tax at an exchange rate of 1.30966. for a total of $171.88.

So far so good, right?

Something goes horribly wrong. The Bible arrives but it looks like it was run over by a truck in the warehouse. Or something similar. He phones right away only to be told that the Bible is no longer carried by Christian Book or by their supplier. Not realizing what is about to happen, John agrees to have his VISA or MasterCard credited while he considers a different Bible.

Not such a great plan, John, as you’re about to see.

On October 12th, John’s payment card is credited, but this time he’s not buying US currency, but he’s selling US currency, so the credit is processed at 1.20982.

He does get 13% tax credited however. He was only charged 5%, but he doesn’t realize this extra “blessing” at the time, and it’s just as well, because things are about to go south.

He is given $99.99 + 13% at 1.20966 for a total of $136.68.

That’s $35.20 less.

Do you see what’s missing? The $25 US flat rate shipping charge…

…As a Canadian bookseller, christianbook.com is my competitor. I have no reason to help them succeed, but believing that we’re all brothers and sisters united in purpose, I do, at least once every three weeks, notify them of database errors and the like.

With this situation I’ve reached out to them repeatedly by phone and by email and they just don’t get it. If you’re going to sell to Canada, you should have dedicated people responsible for sales to Canada, and you should make that person accessible. They don’t.

Also, remember that in the example, “John” got back an extra 8%. (This is based on several true stories, and I have received documentation.) That shows that their system is not airtight when it comes to how they process orders for Canada.

What should have happened?

They should have been aware that “John” was going to take a hit in the process — the exchange rate difference alone is about $13 — and told him to select another product or offered him an online store credit.

This has been the system at Christian Book for a long time, and I’ve experienced it myself, going back as many as ten years.

They have no intention of fixing it.

CBD Discontinues Carrying The Koran

September 18, 2011 1 comment

I was in the middle of posting something from Phil Johnson at Pyromaniacs at Christianity 201 today, when I came across this little tempest I didn’t realize was brewing.  CBD was carrying The Koran apparently, and with all the “Chrislam” sensitivities currently happening — making Rick Warren suddenly a hot topic once again — I guess things heated up too much.  I personally don’t have it in my store, nor do we have The Book of Mormon, but I do have the paperback version of The Catechism of the Catholic Church for much the same reason CBD was carrying the Koran. Their market is a gazillion times larger than mine, so they can afford to be more adventurous, I suppose.

The full article is reproduced here, or you can read it at Pyromaniacs.

 I  didn’t have a major problem with CBD selling copies of the Koran. Christians need to know what’s in it. If we’re going to respond to Islam, we must to deal with the Koran from a position of knowledge, not ignorance.

I bought my copies (one English and another interlinear) from Barnes and Noble years ago. I would rather have given the profit to a Christian company.

Presumably, it’s all a moot point now, because CBD have apparently pulled the Koran from their catalogue rather than face an outpouring of wrath from the mavens of online discernment.

Well, OK. I can understand why some might see the Koran in their catalogue and raise an eyebrow, but a moment’s thought (or a simple e-mail query to CBD before blogging about it) might have eased everyone’s concerns. If CBD had an agenda to erase the distinction between Christianity and Islam—or even if they had gone soft on universalism—I’d be up in arms. But I really don’t think that’s what was behind this little controversy.

~Phil Johnson

“before blogging about it” link added (not in original text)

CBD Add Niche-Market Reformed Boutique

It looks familiar, right? Look a little closer.

If the people at online/mail-order Christian book retailer CBD (Christian Book Distributors) were paying attention to the recent Tim Challies poll — and I’ll bet the rent that they were — they realized they are not as big a player in the Reformed/Calvinist book market as they would like to be.    This is a crowd that increasingly prefers to buy from their own.

While the Challies.com survey revealed that just under 50% had made an online purchase from CBD in the past two years, only 8.8% considered the company their “most often” choice; with Westminster Books scoring 9.7% and Monergism garnering 6.6%.   Of course, the commanding lead was held by Am*z*n, with a whopping 69.6%.

So it’s not surprising at all that we see the launch of CBD-Reformed (tag line:  Serving the Needs of the Reformed Community).  The company is hoping to win back customers at a time when the Reformed book-buying market clearly outstrips the former market-leader, the Charismatic market.

Does this distinction matter?   Time will tell.   As the screenshot shows, there’s no attempt to disguise the fact that this is simply a boutique within the same old CBD.   They’ve simply isolated certain titles, authors and publishers within the existing framework; and in fact, one’s order cart transfers back and forth between the Reformed site and the main site.

What does all this say to brick and mortar retailers?

A Christian bookstore trying to be all things to all people may have a Charismatic or Renewal section; there may be a Roman Catholic section; but I’m willing to bet many have never considered a Reformed or Calvinist section.   Reformed publishers greatly dominate our industry already, with Eerdman’s, Baker, P&R, and even Zondervan owing their beginnings to Reformed roots.   (Elsewhere however, Zondervan rated a low 20% on the question of publisher credibility.  With stats like that you could assume some Reformers have come to despise the company, and sure enough, asked in the reverse, the company got a 64.6 ranking for “low credibility” nearly double that of Nelson at 32.6%.)

But perhaps there is a need for a Reformed section in our stores given the current climate.    What then does that say, if you walk into a store that has Catholic, Charismatic and Reformed sections?   Shouldn’t the Christian bookstore be a melting pot, where divisions disappear, and books are classified solely on their distinctions as prayer, devotional, family, commentaries, fiction, etc.?

Or I suppose you could segregate some inventory and just call it the “Crossway” section.

CBD Obliterates Anything Close to a ‘Level’ Playing Field

Existing in a marketplace that borrows some of its commercial bookselling mindset from England, and some from the U.S., Canadian stores enjoy the advantage of what are called ITPEs — International Trade Paper Editions — on titles which are otherwise hardcover in the U.S.    When a retail customer suggests that a book is in paper, and we know that the publisher in question does ITPEs, we simply ignore the U.S. databases, and default to an ITPE list, where we usually find the title.

So I was completely unprepared today when a customer asked for the paperback of Who Stole My Church by Gordon MacDonald, published by Thomas Nelson.

It would appear that CBD (Christian Book Distributors) has an exclusive paperback edition of this title that even international accounts can’t touch.   This on top of the many gift pack editions and custom products that CBD enjoys from Zondervan, many of which never find their way into mainstream retail.

Now, at this point, I could be tempted to type, “That’s not fair.”   But fairness in our industry is an expectation that vanished years ago.   I’m 34 years in this, and I’m completely jaded.

What I want to ask instead is, “Where are the products that are exclusive to Christian retail, that aren’t available to CBD?”

Guess what.  There aren’t any.   Not one damn one.   And the thing that makes this doubly annoying is that CBD doesn’t need exclusive products to survive.   But the little independents do.   The idea that “the rich get richer” may be a fact of economic life in the general marketplace, but in the Kingdom of God, Jesus allowed no such option.   If he were running the show, the little guy walking up to the booth at CBA would get the 52% discount and the buyer for the big chain would get the standard 40%.   I mean that literally.   That’s the WWJD lowdown.   It would be the complete and total insideout, upsidedown, reverse, backwards opposite of everything we think is ‘normal’ in this industry.    There would be grace for those who need it.    Mercy for those in a hard place.   Charity to those just starting out.

So if you’ve had enough of all this nonesense, you can vote with your “open to buy budget” and simply not support the suppliers that are playing this game.   And yes, that includes the ones that are supplying all the exclusive products to Parable as well.

Thomas Nelson thinks they are a large enough company that retailers can’t live without them.

I think I’m about to prove that one wrong.

If they don’t like it, we can meet at a Christian bookstore in Ohio or Michigan or New York, and there they can point out the products that that aren’t in the CBD or Parable database.   And they can show me their invoices to Amazon while they’re at it.