January 23rd, 2006



Has anyone else tried to order the book from TheBookCellar.com? Because I've got at least two people now who are saying they haven't received the book and can't get their money back. If this is a scam, I need to know how big it is. (Interesting side note: my book isn't even on the website now. It's a Boston-based operation, so I don't even know how they were going to get hold of it in the first place, except as an import.)

ETA: Read the comments here, which are both hilarious and informative. What we've figured out so far is that there are already 16 complaints with the Better Business Bureau, and "the bookstore" is apparently "a condo."

ETA2: Just to clarify, TBC is apparently located at 357 Commercial Street in Boston. Any other real, brick and mortar, walk-in store by that name is probably not related.

ETA3: I *do* have the business's contact information. Do not call or harass this guy. I'm going to post a list of things we can do a bit later today, but they all involve getting legitimate law enforcement agencies to wreak vengeance for us.

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Someone Set Us Up the Book. Make Your Time

Okay, here's what we've come up with from the previous entry:

>> TheBookCellar.com is operating out of Boston--a Commercial Street condo, to be specific. There are legitimate bookstores named "The Book Cellar" in Boston; this does not seem to be one of them or related to them. Henceforth, we will refer to the site/store.scam as TheBookCellar.com, TheBookCellar, or TBC. This is not intended to discourage you from walking into a brick-and-mortar store of unfortunately similar name and buying an actual book that you can pick up. 

>> Sixteen complaints had already been filed against TBC with the Better Business Bureau.

>> What's this guy doing, anyway? He may be, at least regarding the orders he does fill, a dropshipper. (Thanks, meril.)

>> What can we do about it? all_ephemera's suggestions:

1) If you have ordered a book and have not rec'd it, contact the Better Business Bureau and file a complaint. They can't force a resolution but it looks a lot better later on if you take this to another level and say, "I tried to resolve this through the BBB and got no-where..." [My addition: The more complaints that pile up, the worse it will look for TBC, as well. Definitely file with the BBB. Note, however: the BBB only has the authority to mediate.]

2) Go through your credit card company and file complaints. Even though it's a pain in the ass, it will still bring this company up short if suddenly they're being attacked through Visa and Discover. Credit card companies WILL file suit if they feel they need to.

3) Send letters in to the Boston Globe (www.boston.com). It's the most-read newspaper in this area and they have a lot of clout. Getting the word out that way will help, plus boston.com has message boards that a lot of people read and comment on. [My addition: If there are, in fact, legitimate bookstores with similar names, the paper might be interested in picking up this story as a means of defending legitimate local business.]

More suggestions:

4) porcupine8: "Report them to the FBI's internet fraud department."

5) jurph: "State Attorneys General generally frown on fraud being perpetrated in their state. Scroll to the bottom of this page and notice that the Massachussetts Attorney General has an entire page set up for internet fraud. You can file a complaint (PDF warning) which may take several weeks to resolve, but if a 'large segment of the public' has been deceived, they can file a State of Massachussetts vs. The Book Cellar lawsuit. ...at which point I predict a series of fast and effective shipments." [Or refunds, I hope.]

6) elbales: "So because the Internet crosses state lines, the feds get involved. Hurray! They even have an info page about net fraud, and they have many links including one to the aformentioned *DUN DUN DUHHHHH* Internet Fraud Complaint Center."

7) drpeprfan: Write to Amazon, who sends him "buy this book used" referrals, and insist that they cancel his referrals.

If you're up for it, I would honestly suggest doing as many of these options as apply to you. That is, if you didn't buy anything, you won't have a credit card charge to deal with or an incident to report; but you can write to Amazon and boston.com, certainly.

>> a) Pranks are fun. Whee, P-P-P-Powerbook! eBaumsgate, wasn't that fun? Yeah... but we're not doing any of that. No illegal or malicious activity, thanks. I have enough headaches right now, and besides: this guy is based in Boston, not Romania or East Budahell or Scamistan or wherever. He is within the reach of American law. Won't it be much more satisfying to pwn him with law enforcement?

>> b) We have looked up TBC's contact information; I have screened that comment. If you figure out how to obtain the info as well, do not call, visit, vandalize, or otherwise harass this guy or his location. All that's going to do is make it harder to nail him. Yeah, all that YTMND stuff was great for the LOLs, but I personally feel like receiving C&Ds from a scammer is just insult to injury. Don't. Do. It.

>> Again: Still working on getting American distribution for the book. You can get it at Amazon.co.uk for a little extra in shipping at the moment. Until we get it on Amazon.com/US and in American bookstores, be wary of any U.S.-based seller online claiming to sell the book new.

More as it develops.

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