February 19th, 2008

Malibu headshot

Scifaikuest + Amazon prices + business practices/ethics

This weekend I received my contributor's copy of Scifaikuest, the little speculative haiku magazine that could. I'd expected a stapled chapbook, but was pleasantly surprised by the production values, including glossy cover and perfect binding. Just did a quick skim, but the zine included many scifaiku (science fiction haiku) by familiar names, as well as tanka, haibun, and a "fib." It's definitely worth a peek.

I've never paid much attention to Amazon.com's prices, but since I've been monitoring the progress of Sporty Spec rather...um...obsessively, I was surprised at some recent developments. Within the past four days the price of the anthology has changed four times, from the list price of $13.95 to a 12% discount of $12.30, back to $13.95, then back to $12.30, and finally back to the list price again. I'm not sure if this is some sort of glitch or business as usual. While I understand the concept of discounts and responding to the market, I never expected the pricing to be so erratic. Seems like you could drive yourself crazy if you're one of those people (I will not name the guilty family members) who MUST get the lowest price on everything.

In other business practices/ethics news, I encountered a distressing situation over the weekend. Bob and I were looking into renting a vacation house in Malibu (the usual one we rent was booked for our desired timeframe), and we got in touch with a different owner, asking if we could see the property, since we are within driving distance. She said yes, and we made an appointment for Saturday. She added that if another party came forward in the meantime, "I will give you first right of refusal for the dates specified."

So we tooled down there on Saturday, about an hour drive each way, looked the place over, and exclaimed, "Yes, we'll take it!" She got a funny look on her face and said, "Well, I've got someone else who wants a longer booking. I'll have to get back to you." We were stunned. What happened to the right of first refusal? I completely understand that she might want the longer booking, but all she'd needed to tell us from the get-go was that she couldn't hold the reservation if another party came along. Then it would have been up to us to decide whether we wanted to book it sight unseen or take the chance of losing it. But she sounded all ethical-like, and then dragged us down there for nothing, so we weren't amused. When she turned us down today by e-mail, I suggested that she might want to modify her business practices. Sigh.