June 01, 2005

Art dealers are not writers

Rose and I decided that we wanted to buy a couple of prints of the artwork from the latest Andrew Bird album (which you should buy a copy of, because it is brillllliant). In attempting to make this purchase, I inadvertently and uncleverly e-mailed the wrong person, who, despite having a .com extension on his e-mail address, turned out to be located in the UK. I feel, however, that this art dealer could really use a class in the art of writing communicative e-mails. Here is our e-mail exchange, only the tiniest bit paraphrased:

Me: Hello! Do you still have copies of these two prints?

Him: Yes.

Me: Great! How do you prefer to be paid? Paypal, check?

Him: Paypal will be fine.

Me: Okay...does the $20 cost include shipping?

Him: It's 20 pounds, and it does not include shipping.

Me: I see that, like an idiot, I have accidentally written the wrong person, but you realize that when someone asks if a price includes shipping, the proper thing to do when responding is to actually tell them what the shipping cost is.

Him: You asked if $20 includes shipping. I felt obliged to point out that the price was £20.

Me (unsent): Yes, but do you not understand that there are two sensible responses to my question? One is "Oh, if you are thinking that this transaction is to be conducted in dollars then perhaps you have written to the wrong person; is that the case?" and the other one is "On the assumption that you have either made a typo or that you are aware that I am in another country and are interested in purchasing from me anyway, I will correct your misapprehension regarding the currency in which this transaction is to be conducted and furthermore tell you what the shipping cost will be, given that it is not included in the 20 pounds." Your response was a mystifying chimera composed of bits of those two responses that do not make sense together.

Him (response entirely imagined, but plausible): Please stop writing to me.

Posted by Francis at 11:37 AM | TrackBack

you're right, that album is fantastic. I actually was thinking about buying one of those prints myself. which ones are you going to buy?

Posted by: James at June 1, 2005 12:45 PM

Sovay (my pick) and Fake Palindromes (Rose's pick).

Posted by: Francis at June 1, 2005 01:02 PM

You're too hard on the guy. He probably doesn't know off hand what it costs to ship to the US, so he informed you that the base price was in pounds, guessing (correctly) that this would tip you that he was in another country and would therefore probably not want to buy from him (which would have rendered his researching of shipping costs a waste of time), but also knowing that if you were still interested, he could look up the shipping price then.

Posted by: radosh at June 2, 2005 01:06 PM

It's true I am willfully being too hard on the guy, but he was underinformative at every stage of the game. When I e-mailed the correct guy, his response to my e-mail included (1) a confirmation of the availability of the prints, (2) the cost of the prints, (3) the cost of shipping, and (4) types of payment he accepted. It's lame business etiquette to require customers to specifically ask for all those individual pieces of information.

Posted by: Francis at June 2, 2005 01:29 PM

Reminds me of the Dilbert strip:

Marketing guy (strikes thinking pose): "Okay, now my requirements are changing... changing... changing... there, done. But I won't tell you what they are."

Dilbert: "That's okay. I budgeted for some goons to beat it out of you."

Posted by: Todd Derscheid at June 26, 2005 12:17 PM
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