Complaint Review: Half Price Books
Half Price Books Don't Be a Sucker Des Moines Iowa
*Consumer Comment: The Difference...
*Author of original report: Ignorance is Bliss 3.0
*Consumer Comment: Hey Fred Astaire (or Ginger Rogers) as the case may be...
*Author of original report: Ignorance is Bliss 2.0
*Consumer Comment: And brevity is the soul of wit
*Author of original report: Ignorance is Bliss
*Consumer Comment: PITA to the max
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Visited Des Moines, IA, store on 10/3/17 for the purpose of testing this chain store. I have seen multiple bad reviews of this chain and wanted to test them myself to see if the bad reviews were are true. Unfortunately, the bad reviews are true, if not a major understatement.
I have been involved in online selling of books, antiques, collectibles, and other goods for 17 years and similar offline sales since the late 1970s when I was buying and selling items as a kid. I have sold on eBay, Amazon, my own web site, and other other 3rd party web sites. Frankly at this point time I can practically sell online in my sleep due to the many years of past experience I have. I've written software for inventory management and photo product photo manipulation for internal businesses use. [continued below]....
I took approximately 875 pounds of items to the store carefully sorted into numbered boxes which were cross referenced to a description sheet. These items included 343 pounds of recent magazines which are sent to a couple of businesses I own for free by various publishers for research I conduct for a 3rd party company. A wide variety of subjects were covered such as fashion, celebrity, home improvement, music, and so on. Some of the magazines are specialized subscription only publications on subjects such as cigars, wine, sport fishing and so on and are not sold in retail outlets. Many of these magazine have covers with celebrities and recent political activities and commanding prices on eBay for $6.00 to $20.00 each even though they are newer issues. The magazines were in like-new condition, with no external or internal wear - any slightly damaged issues had already been donated to charity at my end.
Also included were 66 pounds of DVDs, VHS tapes, CDs, cassettes and a couple of computer games, 75% of which were factory sealed and unopened, with some items dating back to the 1980s such as a sealed IMB DOS PC game and some sealed cassettes dating from the 1970s.
I also included several dozen small ephemera items such as postcards, booklets, valentines, and so forth dating from the 1930s onward. These were in plastic protective sleeves and labeled on the front as to content. I frankly doubt if any of the 20-somethings working in the store would even have a clue what the items were if they were not labeled let alone what their worth was.
I also included several dozen hand made laminated bookmarks made from old paperwork.
The approximately 466 pounds of books included materials from the 1930s onward. One box of books were what I considered "seconds" - in good condition, but missing their jackets or with minor cover rubs thus they would sell as reading copies. As these books were from my own inventory many included small purple of white lined paper bookmarks with hand written notes denoting the year, edition, any condition issues such as creases and highlights such as the volume being signed by the author. The books included 1st editions, and even a couple of privately printed books with only a few hundred copies in existence. The value of these privately printed books can't be looked up online as almost no copies exist which makes one wonder exactly how the store is determining their value. To make the test more interesting I included three obviously sought after leather bound factory sealed books from Easton Press (To Kill a Mocking Bird, Fathers & Sons, and Great Expectations) that have a current combined selling retail price of $160.00 on eBay with the Mockingbird edition being sold $109.00 alone. The store's own "collectible" section contained a used copy of Fathers & Sons for $10.00 plus other Easton Press editions thus the store can't claim ignorance.
The boxes, some of which weighed 69 pounds, had stickers on five sides which denoted their contents and crumpled newspaper had been added to prevent any movement of the contents to thus prevent damage during the movement of the boxes. The store lacks a loading dock and is located at the edge of a mall so that means parking your vehicle in the mall parking lot and loading books onto two wheel carts, moving across the parking lot, across traffic on the main access road that runs along the front of the mall, up a long ramp into a front entrance of the store, through glass swinging doors that you have to hold open while moving the two wheel cart inside, and then to the back of the store. I had brung along a folding two wheel cart in my vehicle to help out on the unloading. The store sent out one helper on the first trip, then two employees with carts. With three carts it took three trips. I was told it would take 20 minutes, which I knew could not be true because of the volume of items.
It took way longer than 20 minutes during which time numerous other customers were bringing in various quantities of books and being paid thus the store does not serve you in the order you arrived. During the long period of waiting I milled around the store and occasionally glanced over at the buying counter in the back of the store where they were still working on my books. I really didn't get a good impression of the store staff starting with first box that was opened. The employee immediately grabbed a large paper bound volume and and held it by the spine, page facing upward, in one hand while quickly fanning through the book. Not exactly how to treat a large size softcover book as that handling puts stress on the spine and can easily cause damage, but the employee was only interested in going from one book to another as quickly as possible. When they pulled the 1980s sealed PC DOS game out of the box one employee attracted the attention of another employee and said "sweet" to denote a great find. After well more than an hour I finally received a call over the intercom that my "offer" was ready. Upon reaching the buy counter I found that only a portion of my items were still visible on the counter - most appear to have disappeared to a back room to make room for other buyer's items. All my boxes had been cut open and were laying on the floor in front of the buy counter. My offer was $133.00, which I decided to take solely to document and complete this test and review.
Do not take your items to this book store chain. They are far worse than any reviews could construe. The prices they pay for items should be denoted by terms such as flimflam, cheat, scam artist, con artist, and so forth. Their prices are a tiny fraction of even wholesale pricing. If you itemize your taxes you are far better off donating the books for charity and taking a tax deduction. I suggest taking group pictures of your donated items and using printed price guides available online for your deductions so you have documentation for the IRS. Make of the charities and dates you drop items off. You are far better off selling your books online yourself or enlisting someone, such a consignor, to do it for you for a commission. Other alternatives would be a local book store or a auctioneer located in a larger city that specializes in partial or whole estates. Make sure the auctioneer has their own web site to showcase the items in addition to advertising within auctions. Many sellers on eBay actually buy their items at estate auctions thus you may at least get some competitive bidding for you items as opposed to being ripped off by this store chain. Some auctioneers will also offer online bidding or may alternatively consign items for you on eBay and/or Amazon.
Remember to consider how much time its going to take to box up the books, take them to the store, and then waiting, waiting, waiting - it might be cheaper for you to actually throw the books in the garage when considering their prices. Do not be fooled by the slick videos they place on the site to try to entice you into bringing books into their store under the guise of perhaps making some good money. Their job is to con you out of the most money as possible. For example, If you bring a group of dozen hardbound books and one of those happens to be a Stephen King volume worth $2,000 count on them offering a few dollars for the lot. Don't count on them pointing out any valuable items in your lot and thus offering fair price.
Don't bring in large quantities of books as their entire process of unboxing everything and then making an offer on everything is designed to put pressure on you. If you reject their offer then you will be faced with carefully boxing everything back up. I strongly suggest taking some rolls of 3" tape and tape gun with to box your items back up. If you must take books to this store chain take only a small number of books. Research your books on completed sales on eBay and print these off for any valuable books in order to counter their offers. Use completed sales and not just what people are asking to establish at least a minimum value. Keep in mind many things sell at lowered prices on eBay these days as compared to alternative sites. Alternative value guides include Amazon and such multi-dealer sites as AddAll and AbeBooks. This chain store best elicits memories of a phrase "There's a sucker born every minute", which is closely associated with P.T. Barnum. Don't be sucker and be forewarned.
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 10/04/2017 09:04 PM and is a permanent record located here: https://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/half-price-books/des-moines-iowa-50325/half-price-books-dont-be-a-sucker-des-moines-iowa-1404295. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content
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