Check Before You Checkout

            I try to make time, within reason, to listen to the complaints of donors and customers.  For one thing, sometimes it’s a matter than can be easily fixed, or explained.  For another, it’s good to know what bothers people.  And third, it’s part of my code that if you’re going to dish it out, you should be ready to take it.

            Of course, another reason I take complaints is that I have a blog, where I can COMPLAIN about them.

            A complaint that I get on a regular though infrequent basis is that of price mixing.  No no: not price fixing.  That’s for people much higher on the economic ladder than I expect to be, barring that Mega Millions jackpot.  (If I don’t win this time, I’m going to sue.  Surely it’s illegal to demand that I buy a ticket before I can win.)

            No, it’s the sort of thing I had to listen to in the early days of the box of prints.  There has been a box of prints on the Collectibles table since at least 1990; sometimes there are two.  I put in the cardboard pictures of big-eyed puppies, and the reprints of William Blake illustrations, and anything else that shape and size: collectible sheet music or catchy little poster cards from somebody’s dorm room.

            Twice, people have given us the Real Deal: Daumier cartoons cut from magazines of his day, and hand-colored early 18th-century botanical prints.  And I put those in the same print box with the pictures costing a buck or two.  Anybody who likes to look at pictures ought to want to look at those, too, right?

            I didn’t expect the cries of anger.  “Why did you put those in there?”

            “Er, ah, so people could buy them?”

            “You shouldn’t have those right there where just anybody can pick them up!”

            “Um, ah, but just anybody can buy them, so why can’t….”

            “They should be in another place!  I almost fainted when I saw the price!”

            By the way, 2012 will mark 27 years that I’ve been working out of this lemonade stand and, just for the record, I have yet to see anybody faint when they look at a price. 

            A couiple of years ago, just to set my mind at rest about it, I looked up prices on a vast collection of textbooks on endocrinology we’d been given.  Our practice is to throw old medical textbooks away, but upon investigation, I found that a number of these particular texts were still in print, some of them for $600.  So I thought I’d give them a try in our Health section, at $200 or $300 each.

            The screams of agony!  “How could you put a $300 book in with the $3 diet books?”

            “Er, ah, so people could buy it?”

            “I nearly fainted when I saw the price!  This should be in Collectibles!”

            I actually had considered that.  But I asked myself how many people, looking for a textbook on the latest works on kidney repair, would search in the Collectibles room.  Frankly, I had been told by a number of my volunteers that I should have thrown the silly books away, that nobody would even look at an old medical textbook.

            I did learn one thing from the experiment.  If nobody looked at medical textbooks, there wouldn’t have been any complaints.  This year, by the way, I have a large collection of reasonably expensive books in pathology.  They will be in the Health section.  If you are prone to fainting spells (or prone afterward), please be warned.

            Of course, if you win that Mega-Millions jackpot, you can buy those AND the Daumier cartoons.  I may even listen to you complain about them.  (At so much per hour or billable part thereof.)

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