Greedy customer + Amabots = Business destroyed

The NSFE thread details a scenario that scares the daylights out of me. I’m in my 24th year of selling used books on Amazon, and this OP is experiencing something that could shut down one’s entire business only because of a customer’s poor choice of words and Amazon seemingly employing no sentient human beings.

Synopsis: Seller acquires a textbook from a charity sale, sells it on Amazon, customer keeps it long enough to complete her continuing education course, then decides she deserves a free book and demands a refund, which apparently the seller gave her. But she still sees fit to ship the book back, at the seller’s expense, and claim the book was “not original.” Seller is slapped with an authenticity violation for which he has no recourse, even though he has photos of the book and confirmation from the publisher that a sticker on the book has nothing to do with the item’s authenticity and was added by a retailer.

Bottom line: Amazon seemingly has no understanding of what the heck a used book even is. This poor seller is being victimized by a greedy, lying customer and an uncaring, dysfunctional megacorporation. I certainly hope an NSFE mod is able to help this person.

@papy, if you see fit to move this thread to the Booksellers area, that’s fine; I’m posting it here because I’m hoping some of our more seasoned forum users who are not booksellers may have some insight into how this type of thing can be fought.

One caveat: This situation does lend credence to the practice of carefully and thoroughly removing all stickers from books before selling them. The sticker in question was an inventory sticker, not an access code as the buyer allegedly thought (though I suspect that was just a convenient excuse to include with her return).


This is a nightmare that could happen to any of us, unfortunately. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.


Part of the solution for this is to never sell anything used on Amazon that has a code or access device, or that may have had one. In my case, anything that looks like a textbook, or might even be used as a textbook goes to eBay.
If you sell new, make sure that you have a copy of the invoice.

Another partial solution is to never compete on low-end prices. ( Sure, you might price your damaged copy at $1000 to get under the competitor who is selling at $1250, but never drop your price to $10 to get under $12.50 )
This applies to any venue, not just Amazon. Bottom feeding scum can be anyplace.

A third partial solution is to always remove any sticker or tag and erase any writing placed on the book by a third party. ( I am appalled that we should even be discussing something so basic, but it appears that such an errant sticker was involved in our colleague’s misfortune )
If you can’t remove them, at least obliterate all text with a sharpie. Sandblast them if you have to, but don’t leave anything readable.


Seems like more details are needed here. Amazon definitely used to search return requests, emails, etc. for words like fake, not original, counterfeit, etc…and you would receive an infringement complaint as a result.

However, as happened to us many years ago, I’m sure a huge number of these didn’t actually have anything to do with the item being fake and the buyer wasn’t even trying to accuse the item of being fake. Thus, I believe Amazon stopped sending these notices based on emails, return requests, etc. because it just wasn’t accurate.

Seems odd the buyer would receive an infringement notice based on that now…maybe this is different for textbooks.


I stopped selling textbooks years ago. Too many problem buyers. They want a refund for every little “not what I expected” reason. And Amazon helps them obtain their refund and holds the seller at fault ever_single_time. SMH


I just want to agree with you a whole bunch of times.

Yes, should not even have to mention removing labels, stickers, etc.

Pricing too low leads to trouble (bookjackers, cheapskates, etc).

And mostly, just stay away from textbooks.

Selling textbooks is nothing like selling used books in general.

Textbook buyers have been forced to buy a book they do not want. They readily rationalize any sort of behavior that follows. After all – this wasn’t their fault – it was your fault.