More Angry Internet People

June 9th, 2006 by Bob Bly

Here’s another example of (to me) inappropriate rage caused by Internet marketing:

“I am ANGRY,” said LE in a voice mail he left me. “I ordered your World’s Best-Kept Copywriting Secrets, but instead of getting a BOOK, I get some computer file I have to download.

“I don’t want to read your book on the computer screen. I want a BOOK I can hold in my hands. Either send me the book or cancel my order.”

Well, here’s the copy from the landing page where LE ordered the book:

“The World?s Best-Kept Copywriting Secrets … is an e-book. There?s no printing or shipping cost. The e-book is delivered as a downloadable PDF file.”

What part of that do you think was unclear to LE? This wasn’t in fine print or a footnote, either. It was part of the sales letter.

Of course, I gave LE back his money.

The lesson for those of us selling information online?

Make the format VERY clear in your copy. Specify whether your information is an e-book, e-course, MP3, audio CD, DVD.

But LE, if you’re reading this — don’t you feel your “anger” was perhaps a tad inappropriate, given that I clearly told you it was an ebook you were ordering?

BTW, LE, you don’t have to read an e-book on the computer screen. You can hit the print button, print it on your laser printer, and read a hard copy. I do that with all the e-books I buy, punch three holes in the print out, and store it in a 3-ring binder.

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17 responses about “More Angry Internet People”

  1. Dave J. said:

    Bob, apparently you’ve never sold anything on eBay. This kind of bickering about what was offered and what was desired goes on all the time.

    That’s why you see all these auctions with the terms in large type, not fine print.

  2. AN (user) said:

    What if LE just did not see the written words? Maybe he quickly scanned the text and decided to buy?

  3. Bob Bly said:

    AN: You are right. We actually talked to him and that is exactly what happened. That’s typical and I understand it. But that’s why he should have been nice about it and not acted angry. DJ: You are right. I have never sold anything on eBay.

  4. Joel Heffner said:

    “But that’s why he should have been nice about it and not acted angry.”

    Ah, wouldn’t it be nice if folks were nice. Unfortunately, that has nothing to do with business…it’s just the way (too) many people are these days. :(

    Joel

  5. AN (user) said:

    Quick scanning — that’s what I see on many sites. I’ve conducted a little study (split-testing). I asked 5 users to surf a little site (5 pages). Other 5 users got another site to surf.

    1. First site contained long straight texts with no spaces between paragraphs and no

    2. Second site had shorter texts, the pages were divided into clearly visible logical blocks (such as main story, testimonials, links, technical data, download area)

    3. Both sites contained the same information.

    Then I asked users 10 questions about what was written on that sites. Users from the first group made much more mistakes. I think that’s because reading the whole text from top to bottom was not comfortable — they just scanned the text.

  6. Bob Bly said:

    Joel: I agree that’s the way it is, but in the larger scheme of things it is not acceptable. Rudeness never is. Historian David McCullough laments that we live in a coarser society. Alfred Hitchcock’s Magazine published a story decades ago about a man who, discovering he has only months to live, goes on a campaign to stop rudeness by killing impolite people!

  7. SpongeBob Fan said:

    Gee, Bob – you’ve had a tough run of contacts lately.

    I hope only pleasant people contact you for the next year!

  8. Bob Bly said:

    Sponge: everybody who sells information online deals with this kind of behavior. It’s the cost of doing business. And I don’t plan on writing about it here again.

  9. Steven Pam said:

    “Sponge: everybody who sells information online deals with this kind of behavior. It’s the cost of doing business. And I don’t plan on writing about it here again.”

    Aww, go on. It’s interesting, we enjoy it! I’ve written a couple of posts in a similar vein in recent months, about how not to get a job as a photographer’s assistant and how not to get a free modelling shoot.

  10. Mordechai (Morty) Schiller said:

    Hey Bob,
    Don’t sweat it. I don’t think it’s the Internet and I don’t think it’s you. It’s just the way we are. People are uptight about a lot of things and as soon as you give them a place to vent… you’re a target. Only online, you get it instantly. And because of who you are, you get it yourself instead of some faceless “customer disservice” dept.

    Better Internet rudeness than road rage ;)

    PS: Thanks for the tip on unsolicited advice!

  11. Craig Hysell said:

    Is consumer accountability as lost a concept as the terms “please” and “thank you”? Or is confrontational tone more readily available in a realm where face to face contact does not exist? There are certain things as disheartening as watching adults fire temper tantrums from the hip without walking down the avenues of communication and patience first. What could they possibly be teaching their children?

    The immediacy and facelessness of the Internet will lead to the downfall of civilization… Unless of course people can be reminded that on the times they believe they are the most important person in the room, the chances are they are the only one with that opinion.
    Since I’m not ready to give into apathy just yet, I guess I’ll just keep reading these kinds of instances with a sense of humor. I wonder if LE was as quick to apologize?

  12. Bob Bly said:

    Craig: LE did apologize when I pointed out to him that the site from which he ordered clearly stated that the product was an e-book.

  13. Craig Hysell said:

    Ha! Congratulations to LE for showing some amount of class. I guess the next question would be, “Did LE learn a lesson?” But only LE can answer that one. The rest of us can only hope.

  14. Internet "Idiot in Charge" said:

    People seem to be willing to be rude via email as a first response these days. I got this email from a guy who’d signed up for a free email series via autoresponder. Apparently the links in his email hadn’t worked (they worked fine when I tested them and I hadn’t had any other complaints).

    ===============
    Your H-links aren’t working.
    THIS is a HUGE blow, to your creditibility, in MY book! But, if you’ll fix it, THA’ll
    negate it, Ok?
    ===============

    Note the attitude. If I fix the hyperlinks (which aren’t broken) he’ll bestow his precious gift–he’ll give me credibility. Oh thanks you, great and noble gentleman!

    I wrote him back that I had tested the links and his unsubscribe link had worked perfectly.

  15. Andrew Cavanagh said:

    Being a good natured soul Bob I think you missed what was really going on here…

    I expect LE knew perfectly well that he was buying an ebook.

    And once he got the download he did what many online hucksters do…

    Made up any excuse to ask for a refund.

    If you only had one person complain this way and you sold a ton of ebooks doesn’t that tell you something?

    Don’t you think if your copy was really confusing more than one person would have mentioned it?

    The real lesson is that online refunds are not always what they appear to be and there are a lot of dishonest people out there dreaming up ways to get free downloads of your products.

    Not something to get bent out of shape over though.

    Just a part of doing online business.

    Kindest regards,
    Andrew Cavanagh

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