Off topic: Warning against Alapage.com
Thread poster: Folke Nettelblad

Folke Nettelblad
Sweden
Local time: 08:56
Member
English to Swedish
+ ...
Mar 7, 2009

Do you buy books from France? Alapage.com delivers truncated copies.

I want to warn everyone buying books from France against Alapage.com. They might deliver an incomplete book (many pages missing) and refuse to replace it.

I placed an order for five books and some CDs in early December. All items were to be Christmas presents for my wife. All items appeared to be in good shape as they arrived and my wife was very happy for her presents. Well, naturally it took some time to read the books, and only a couple of days ago did she discover that her copy of the Goncourt-winning novel Syngué Sabour was incomplete. The 20 last pages are missing. Her book ends in the middle of a sentence, and when I checked the book details on Internet, it is clear that it should have 20 more pages.

I contacted Alapage Customer Service to get a replacement, but to my amazement they told me that we should have returned the book within 15 days of delivery and were not entitled to any replacement.

I just couldn’t believe their reply, so I sent a message back, even more clearly stating that they had delivered a defective (incomplete) product, but just curt answer.

I think it’s an amazing way to treat customers, and also an insult against the artistic work of the author, Mr Atiq Rahimi.

I perfectly understand that Alapage.com or other retailers can’t take any responsibility for errors that are discovered several years from the purchase, but in this case it was just over two months from delivery, I had ordered several books that took some time to read, and there was no sign of any problem from the outer appearance of the book, so we just couldn’t discover the problem earlier.

I’ve been a steady customer with Alapage for the last few years. The order this time amounted some 120 Euro, and in total my orders have been for many hundreds of Euros.

I’ve had one slight problem with them before. Some years ago I ordered and paid their additional service of having all items wrapped. For some reason they still arrived unwrapped, That time they sent me a reimbursement for the wrapping cost – although it was in the form of a bank cheque, and the charge for cashing it here in Sweden would have exceeded the amount of the cheque. But that was a very small amount, and a matter you might have to accept when ordering from abroad.

This time it’s a greater amount, and a matter of delivering a clearly defective product.

I, for one, am not going to use the service of Alapage.com anymore. There are so many excellent competitors, like FNAC, Amazon.fr, etc., and I would like to warn all colleagues against the behaviour of Alapage.com

Folke


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:56
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Try to register a complaint Mar 7, 2009

Isn't there some sort of consumer protection agency in France? I would try to find out and register a complaint about this company.

[Edited at 2009-03-07 23:54 GMT]


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:56
Swedish to English
+ ...
No need to go to France Mar 7, 2009

Amy Duncan wrote:

Isn't there some sort of consumer protection agency in France? I would try to find out and register a complain about this company.


The Swedish consumer agency (Konsumentverket) has a division called "Konsument Europa". At least in theory, they should be able to help you.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:56
French to German
+ ...
In case it should be needed Mar 7, 2009

Amy Duncan wrote:

Isn't there some sort of consumer protection agency in France? I would try to find out and register a complain about this company.


Direction Générale de la Concurrence, de la Consommation et de la Répression des Fraudes @ http://www.dgccrf.bercy.gouv.fr/.

Laurent K.


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xxxJPW  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:56
Spanish to English
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What a coincidence Mar 7, 2009

Folke wrote:
I perfectly understand that Alapage.com or other retailers can’t take any responsibility for errors that are discovered several years from the purchase
uote]

This is exactly what happened to me, just last month in fact. I was thinking of posting a thread about it, just to get people's opinions, like, but in reality there is little I can do. Any other book I wouldn't mind, but I really wanted this one. There is an English version, but I wanted to read the original, naturally.

I bought this book from a supermarket in the Basque Country about three years ago. I saw a documentary on it, which inspired me to get the book, one I really wanted to buy. Then I left the country - for good.

I only recently came across it again, as it lay in a box along with other stuff, as you do. On starting to read it, I discovered a total of sixteen 'unprinted' pages, from about the middle, but spread throughout the rest of the book (a lot, even one is too many, what's the point of a book with a missing page??). It would never have occurred to me to check the book at point-of-sale, even though that would only take a minute. You just assume that the book is correctly printed...

Now, I am in another country, I have no receipt, and anyway it is at least three years after the event. I did write a (wishful) letter to the publisher in Madrid, but so far no reply.

My line of thinking was: they'll ask me to send it back and gladly send me a proper copy, since they can pulp the old one anyway.

I admit it was always a sort of lost cause from the outset, but I am a bit of Jack Russell anyway, so I am not letting it lie! Grrrr! I fought BT and I won because the trusty sword of justice was on my side! I fought my credit card company and I won because the scales of reason could not be tipped!! Hell, I fought the taxman and even he admitted I was 'more right than wrong'!!! (That one was a sheer fluke).

So if they still won't see reason, then I'll just shred the f#£&*ng thing and send it back to them anyway, what good is it to me?

Oh yes, and the book: in English, Escape via Berlin. Comes highly recommended.

Well, bits of it anyway.


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Folke Nettelblad
Sweden
Local time: 08:56
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English to Swedish
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Thanks for your advice Mar 12, 2009

Thanks for your advice. I've been extremely busy since Saturday, but I will try to get some advice from "Konsument Europa".

For products bought in Sweden, you have the legal right to put in a claim for a defective products within 3 years from purchase. I don't expect that to be valid for other EU member states, and anyway John Paul would have difficulties claiming his rights without a receipt. I think it was a good idea contacting the publisher, possibly I would have included a Xerox or scanned image showing the transition from a printed page to a blank one. Hope you receive a positive reply.

Folke


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:56
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Could not get rid of them! Mar 12, 2009

I once registered in alapage.com, years ago, and after that I could not make them stop sending more and more and more promotional emails every day. I completely recommend not to use this supplier. Not a very serious company I'm affraid.

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Folke Nettelblad
Sweden
Local time: 08:56
Member
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Alapage breaks the law Mar 12, 2009

I received a quick reply from the Swedish "Konsument Europa" service, and it is absolutely clear that Alapage is breaking the law as they refuse to replace the incomplete book.

The EU Directive 1999/44/EC, which underlies all national consumer protection legislation within the EU, states that:

"The seller must deliver goods to the consumer which are in conformity with the contract of sale".

It also defines what is meant by "in conformity with the contract of sale". E.g. the goods should "show the quality and performance which are normal in goods of the same type and which the consumer can reasonably expect, given the nature of the goods..."

It should also be "fit for the purposes for which goods of the same type are normally used"

My contact at the Swedish Consumer Authority, says that it is obvious that a book lacking the last 20 pages could not under any circumstances be regarded as being "fit for the purposes for which goods of the same type are normally used".

The directive also states " The seller shall be held liable under Article 3 where the lack of conformity becomes apparent within two years as from delivery of the goods." So my 10 weeks delay is of no importance.

I have only read the EU directive, not any additional French legislation, but addtitional legislation is only allowed to be in favour of the consumer.

I will now present the content of the directive to Alapage customer service, but it seem ridiculous that a major retailer should not be aware of this legislation from the beginning.

Folke


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:56
German to English
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I wouldn't say "breaking the law"... Mar 12, 2009

...though, technically, that is--in a way--correct. They do, however, seem to be breaching their contractual obligations.

I am glad you were able to get some good (legally correct) advice from that Swedish agency. I also wish you good luck in getting the company to honor its obligations.


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:56
German to English
+ ...
Sorry for the double-post. Mar 12, 2009

Folke A. Nettelblad wrote:
I will now present the content of the directive to Alapage customer service, but it seem ridiculous that a major retailer should not be aware of this legislation from the beginning.


Not only does it seem ridiculous for them not to know, it is ridiculous--they surely do know. You'd be surprised... or, perhaps, not.

As unethical as it may be, many companies use this method (because it saves tons of money); in fact, I've heard estimates that 9 out of 10 consumers actually believe what they are told and leave it be.

You'll know for sure, when--after making an even bigger fuss about it--your matter is sent up to the "escalation desk."

Insurance companies are also experts at this.



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Folke Nettelblad
Sweden
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English to Swedish
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Breaking the law Mar 12, 2009

[quote]Derek Gill Franßen wrote:

"I wouldn't say 'breaking the law'... "


Well, I was aware of the fact that this might be somewhat strong expression (but I neither do legal transaltions, nor translate into English). Still, as you say yourself, not adhering to existing law is technically breaking the law...

Hope I didn't annoy anyone by using the phrase slightly out of place.

Folke


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Folke Nettelblad
Sweden
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English to Swedish
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Alapage still dont honor their legal obligations Apr 3, 2009

Derek Gill Franßen wrote:

I am glad you were able to get some good (legally correct) advice from that Swedish agency. I also wish you good luck in getting the company to honor its obligations.



Well, did you beleive they would bother about me telling me their legal obligations?

I just received this reply:

"Cher Monsieur,

Je vous confirme qu'il est impossible de donner suite favorable à votre réclamation.
Vous avez dépassé le délai de 15 jours pour faire votre réclamation, l'article livré est réputé conforme à la commande et accepté par l'acquéreur.

Merci de votre compréhension et à très bientôt.


Karima"


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Folke Nettelblad
Sweden
Local time: 08:56
Member
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Taken over by "Konsument Europa" Apr 6, 2009

As Alapage still claims to be an "outlaw" (i.e. that their 'conditions générales' overrides French law), this is now a case of the Swedish "Konsument Europa", who will take it to the French authorities.

I repeat my warning against Alapage. Even if this is a single case, and the original error of the book is not caused by Alapage but ty the binder, the handling of the case shows a contempt for the customer, for the author and for the law in force.

Folke


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Folke Nettelblad
Sweden
Local time: 08:56
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English to Swedish
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TOPIC STARTER
Uncertain about correct number of pages Apr 8, 2009

As I have scolded a lot about the wrong-doings of Alapage, I want to make sure that I am right myself.

I originally claimed that 20 pages were missing from the book, but I am now not absolutely sure about how many pages there should be. Different sources state that it should contain 154, 160 or 164 pages.

What is clear is that some pages (the very end) of the book is missing. Our copy ends in the middle of a sentence at the bottom of page 144, which is directly followed by the back cover.

So in my complaint to the consumer protection authorities I only state that an undefined number of pages are missing.


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Folke Nettelblad
Sweden
Local time: 08:56
Member
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
It worked! Apr 22, 2009

Well, it seems that the Swedish "Konsument Europa" (through the French authorities) succeeded in convincing Alapage about their obligations.

I suddenly received an e-mail message containing post-paid label and a letter telling me to return the book. No excuses, no explanations, just the standard message that they should have sent when I first complained two moths ago.

Only problem is that the label is only valid within France... but at least the intend to replace the book.

I assume that it must be the result of my complaint through "Konsument Europa", but just possibly, it might also be due to my informing Mr Rahimi's publisher.

Anyway, my warning against Alapage remains. They obivously don't care much about their customers and you wouldn't want to have to go to the authorities just to get a replacement for an incomplete book.

One might also wonder why a big company of rather good reputation would start treating their customers in this way. Might it possibly be that the financial crisis has caused a beginning insolvency? In that case, you would be at risk of losing your money if you prepay any orders to them. Well, this of course is mere speculation, but I for one will stay away from them (apart from getting the book replaced).


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