NOTE: A version of this article was originally posted on my blog about five years ago. I took it down about a year ago when I heard that Book Consignments LLC was no longer selling books for the Berkeley County Library system. My hope was that the powers that be at the Library had finally recognized that the owners of this company did not deserve the trust that had been bestowed upon them.
I had also hoped that an apology would be forthcoming and I would be welcomed back into the fold. That does not appear to be the case. I have ventured forth to the Goose Creek Library and found that, although I was not persona non grata, I was not exactly welcomed back with open arms. Okay…so here we are again.
Since the name Book Consignments LLC is quite long, I am going to abbreviate it to BC-LLC. They may have changed their name. At one time they were also known as Keva Books, then came BC-LLC, and now I see that they also operated under the name Lexington Books. They moved their operation from the Charleston, SC area to Jacksonville, Florida. Once you review the data I have accumulated you will get a better idea as to why these snakes periodically shed their skins and assume a new identity.
~~~~~~~~~~~ Here is my story:
I was a regular volunteer at the Berkeley County, South Carolina Friends of the Library for around three years. As an Amazon book dealer, I needed to make contacts in the community to acquire a few decent books to supplement my meager Social Security income. This was also an opportunity to meet people. Berkeley County operates six libraries but I only went to two which were closest to my home.
This work usually entailed about five hours per week spread over two days. I would help clean, sort, price, and shelve the piles of product which were continually being donated by the public. I was upfront from the beginning that I was a book dealer and needed to offset my time, gas, and labor by finding a few items to sell online. Nobody had a problem with this and the ladies seemed to appreciate that a strong man was consistently available to lift heavy boxes and carry out the trash. Many days I just walked back and forth from the library to the dumpster with seemingly endless boxes of junk books and worthless encyclopedia sets that needed to be discarded to make space for new donations.
This arrangement wasn’t that profitable but I did manage to make a little extra income to justify the effort. Along with my other finds at thrift stores, yard sales, and estate sales, I managed to eke out a very humble living by doing something I really enjoyed.
I also donated a lot of books to the library and, on one occasion, I arranged an estate donation that was so large I paid a $100 rental fee for a U-Haul truck to pick it up. I did not seek compensation for this expense. The library profited handsomely from this effort.
During this time I became aware of an effort by a local husband-wife team (Kevin and Eva Jordan) to get an exclusive deal with the various local county libraries to sell their discards and donations online on a consignment basis. I never cared much for either of them and we had a few run-ins at a local thrift store. They struck me as a greedy pair who really didn’t give a hoot about anybody but themselves. Like the rest of the book dealers in town, they floundered around looking for product to sell online. On one occasion, Kevin walked up to me and yanked a box of books right out of my hands. I would have smacked the fat bastard except for the fact that this particular venue was exceeding profitable and I did not want to jeopardize my status there.
Eventually, they opened a little coffee shop that also purchased and sold used books. My FOL supervisor frequented their shop and gave the couple high praises. This venture turned out to be a bust but they were simultaneously working on the library consignment deal. Thus the birth of BC-LLC.
For a short time, they were associated with the Charleston County Library system but that quickly fizzled. I knew they were going to approach Berkeley County Library so I prepared for this by researching their selling history on Amazon. Over the course of a few hours, I assembled what I regarded as an incriminating array of evidence to counter any effort to dislodge me from my position.
The key was to be found in their feedback. Although it was decent (in the ninety-five, ninety-six percentile) there was a rather disturbing trend that I uncovered. Amazon has changed considerably since those days. Currently, you cannot leave buyer feedback after a transaction. At the time of this episode, however, you could view a buyer’s feedback and leave comments. Buyer feedback has ceased to exist.
Some sellers used this function to thank the buyer for his or her purchase. Other sellers used it to leave bad feedback if the buyer was unreasonable or dishonest and left the seller an undeserved bad rating. They did this to warn other sellers that this individual was problematic.
To this day, there are dishonest buyers who will order books from dealers with very high ratings, then intentionally issue a false negative feedback. A deal will be worked out. The crooked buyer gets a full refund and a free book. The bad feedback will be removed. Technically, you aren’t supposed to do this. It is called “feedback manipulation.”
These buyers are essentially buzzards who prey on honest dealers. If you sell on Amazon for long enough you will have more than your share of confrontations with these creeps.
There were sellers, however, who used feedback to assail buyers who left reasonable and fair negative feedback. I had seen some really disturbed sellers who left page after page of threats and curses directed at honest buyers who received shoddy, improperly described merchandise… or never received anything at all. These sellers were eventually barred from listing and their accounts were closed.
One thing that remains to this day is the ability of sellers to leave feedback on their own account in response to a buyer comment. If someone gives you a neutral or a negative you could make a notation right under that with either an explanation, an apology, or an insult. This comment will not appear on the buyer’s page. Amazon is very buyer-centric. Think twice before you verbally assail buyers.
As I said previously, BC-LLC’s overall feedback was decent. I noticed, however, that they seemed to go off the deep end when anyone dared to leave them a less than stellar feedback. They had a bad habit of leaving bizarre, inexplicable, and juvenile comments in response to legitimate criticism. I researched their account and printed out numerous examples of strange and/or mean-spirited behavior.
Good thing I made hard copies as this information is no longer accessible on the Amazon site. The feedback comments I include below are cropped from full pages that I printed out. (In the event of litigation claiming that I constructed these comments on my own please note that I saved all of these full pages). I apologize for the poor quality of the comments. This was before I learned how to do a screen shot.
Below is one of the most bizarre Amazon feedback feuds that I have ever seen. On 10/23/2008 a buyer gave BC-LLC a 2 out of 5. I have partially obscured the buyer’s name to give himself and his family the privacy that the seller refused to extend:
For someone with Alzheimer’s disease, this guy was very specific about why he was giving the seller a 2 out of 5. I was very skeptical about BC-LLC’s claim of “family contact” especially considering their next action which occurred on the same day. BC-LLC went over to the buyer’s page and entered the following:
Note that BC-LLC lowered the bar and, instead of giving him a 2 out of 5 as he had done to them, they gave him a 1 out of 5. That will teach the confused old fart to mess with this book dealer! I seriously doubt that the gentleman’s family had any contact whatsoever with either Kevin or Eva.
That incident alone should have been enough to cause consternation among the folks at the Berkeley FOL but there is more.
Assailing an Alzheimer patient was not the only crooked arrow that BC-LLC had in its bottomless quiver of revenge. I noticed that they had a habit of copying bad feedback given to them then going to the buyer’s account and pasting it onto their feedback section. This made it appear as if the buyer had committed some irresponsible act in his or her dealings on Amazon. Kevin and Eva seemed to revel in falsely accusing others of misdeeds which they themselves were guilty.
Here is one where they received a 2 out of 5 then copied and pasted that feedback onto the buyer’s account but, once again, lowering the bar and issuing a 1 out of 5.
The next step is to rush over to the customer’s page and paste his comment onto the buyer’s account but, once again, lowering the bar and issuing a 1 out of 5.
Note that they also lie in their initial response by claiming that Amazon sold the item twice. This is patently false. BC-LLC, like almost all big dealers, uses a multi-site listing service such as Art of Books or Fillz. The advantage of this business model is that when you list your inventory there, the service relists it at numerous book sites (not just Amazon). The disadvantage is that sometimes the same book is sold on two sites nearly simultaneously and the listing service doesn’t have time to adjust their customer’s inventory to delete that item. The result is that you have one happy customer and one unhappy customer. BC-LLC’s solution…don’t accept responsibility…blame Amazon…
Here is yet another example:
That same day BC-LLC pastes this onto uvenkat’s account:
Here is another example. Note that BC-LLC used this same seller response directed at buyer realmail2…blame Amazon for selling the book twice. That is a bald-faced lie:
Time’s a wasting. Time to teach that nasty old hrickhite a lesson!
In researching this less than dynamic duo’s feedback I found some other areas where their penchant for pettiness and outright BS seemed to shine. Here is one that is a bit confusing:
The buyer gives them a 1 out of 5 rating with “n/a” in the comments section. I am assuming that n/a means the book is “not available” as it was already sold. What is unusual about this feedback is BC-LLC’s comment that the buyer’s credit card was declined. That is impossible because if the card was declined there would be no transaction and, if there is no transaction, you absolutely could not leave feedback. On Amazon, all payments go through their system. When you sell an item, you get what dealers refer to as an SSN email (Sold, Ship Now). Once you get that email the transaction is confirmed and the money has been collected. After that, the dealer is responsible for sending the item.
This next feedback is similar to the previous one with the seller claiming the order was canceled. The only way that could be true is if the seller canceled it because they didn’t have it in stock. Otherwise, the buyer could not have left the feedback:
The feedback above has a funny twist because, in their rush to teach this buyer a lesson, they quickly scurried over to her page and retaliated by calling her an “idiort.” Then they lamented the waste of her parent’s money on a college education. I need not point out the irony of the comment due to the misspelling of the word idiot.
This last exchange is the cherry on the poo. A buyer called booksandcookies left a 1 out of 5 because BC-LLC sold them a fake CD. He uses a lot of abbreviations so one has to read slowly to understand the gist of his complaint:
BC-LLC was wired and ready for this guy. Off to the races! Their first step is to respond on their own page by accusing the buyer of engaging in a repeated pattern of fraud. Yikes! Fraud my butt! Booksandcookies feedback page clearly shows that no such pattern exists. Booksandcookies had a 100% rating. Also, note that BC-LLC once again pastes the buyer’s feedback from their account onto his page. This nasty BS did not count against booksandcookies feedback rating because it was bogus. This exchange proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that BC-LLC views lying and defamation as an integral part of their business model.
At the time I was perusing page after page of BC-LLC feedback I didn’t see a single instance where they accepted responsibility for anything that went wrong in the selling process. I don’t pretend to be a psychologist or a psychiatrist, but I know enough about those disciplines to understand that people who view themselves as blameless in all circumstances and react with anger and vengeance towards those who question their behavior are generally categorized as either narcissistic or sociopathic.
I figured that the pages full of damning information that I gave to my Friends of the Library supervisor at the Goose Creek Library would be enough to cast doubt on the character of these book selling grifters and that, given my service and dedication to our local libraries, their consignment offer would be politely declined and things would continue as before.
Whether she delivered this crucial information to the head honchos of the Berkeley County Library system, I have no way of knowing. I will say this: my supervisor did not seem the least bit concerned when I tried to emphasize BC-LLC’s disgraceful behavior towards the gentleman with Alzheimer’s. She dismissed my legitimate concerns with a wave of her hand.
I would have had more success if I gave a gorilla a jar of pickled eggs on the condition that he recites the Gettysburg Address in Mandarin Chinese.
Quite frankly, she was a royal pain in the butt to work around. This silly old woman ran around like a decapitated chicken and engaged in often incoherent, non-stop 78-RPM blathering even when no one was around. I will never forget her unhinged excitement when the author of the children’s book “Marley and Me” (John Grogan) was scheduled to give a presentation to the library. In her mind, this was the literary event of the century. The way she kept going on and on about this one would think that F. Scott Fitzgerald was going to come back from the dead to talk erotica about Zelda. Each to his own I suppose. Even Bozos have a right to be entertained. Speaking of entertainment, I would rather dress in a dog suit and run up and down the beach whizzing on unsuspecting sunbathers than have to listen to yet another word jumble sputtering from the pie hole of my ex-sup.
BC-LLC started a whispering campaign based on a totally fabricated lie about my service on behalf of Berkeley County Library: “He’s stealing you blind and making a fortune off of you!“
The relationship that was being nurtured was akin to that which Carnival hustlers cultivate with unsuspecting rubes. This bit of psychological manipulation was enough to get the ball rolling and the rumor mill circulating full-force. I heard about this and mentioned it to my supervisor who stated that she didn’t believe their assertion was true but it didn’t matter because they were going to go with BC-LLC and I could stay on but I could no longer buy any books. WTF?
I probably should have contacted the head of the Berkeley County Library system and requested that I be allowed a hearing to confront my accusers face to face. I seriously doubt that the scurrilous lies that BC-LLC squirted out of their underdeveloped consciences would be repeated in front of such a gathering, especially if an attorney was present.
So, with the assistance, support, and encouragement of my former supervisor, the bad guys won the day. She told me that the decision was not hers. She was just implementing what was decided by higher ups. I don’t believe that for a minute. I believe this was her baby from the get-go. What did she have to gain by her slavering devotion to these reprehensible slobs?
Berkeley County Library was supposed to get 35%*(see footnote) of the sale price of whatever BC-LLC sold their product for. This was their business model. These book crooks especially liked targeting public institutions which would rather sweep scandals under the rug than to bring charges and face bad publicity.
My question is this: If someone is of such low moral fiber that they feel the need to construct a pack of despicable lies to get their way, what other dishonest acts are they capable of committing? I have a gut feeling that harassing an Alzheimer’s sufferer and playing “nana-nana-boo-boo” with the feedback system was only the tip of the iceberg.
Assuming that they are still plying their trade, if I were a client of Kevin and Ava Jordan, I would be very concerned about these revelations and would reevaluate any arrangement I had with them.
At the various Berkeley County libraries, they were allowed to go through countless box-loads of donated and withdrawn inventory with their bar-code scanners and pick out all of the good stuff. They were not required to sit down with a library employee and make a list of what they were loading into their vehicle before it left the library premises.
In essence, Berkeley County Library allowed these charlatans to operate under an honor system. How dumb is that?
The powers that be in our local Library system had to know that these two individuals were of questionable character. They read a version of this article years ago. They knew about the bizarre feedback. Why didn’t somebody ring an alarm bell? What are the chances that people who would maliciously screw around with an Alzheimer’s patient would be totally honest in their dealings with any institution?
UPDATE June 2017:
When I returned to the library three months ago I spoke with my former volunteer supervisor who assured me that everything was just hunky-dory. Nothing to see here. Time to move on. BC-LLC did a great job and the FOL really profited from this arrangement. Everyone was sad to see them go. She said that their accounts were squared away and money owed had been paid. She also told me that I should just move on and forget about it. Leave it be.
Over the ensuing months, I did some sleuthing and spoke with several people who were not just suspicious of Kevin and Ava but were disgusted by their overbearing, rude behavior as well. One person told me that they were always late in making their payments and that they left owing money. Who is telling the truth here?
I can only imagine my ex- supervisor’s response had it been her own ox that was gored. What if she had been viewed as an obstacle to BC-LLC’s crooked scheme and they spread false rumors questioning her honesty and integrity? In this case, a picture is definitely worth a thousand words:
Turns out that this BC-LLC left a trail of ripped-off “customers” here in the Carolina Lowcountry. I know of two others: 1) Berkeley County Habitat for Humanity Thrift Store and, 2) Pet Helpers Thrift Store. That could go a long way towards explaining why these two con-artists moved to Jacksonville, Florida. I tracked them down there and saw that they purchased a home and, for a while, were renting a building to ply their nefarious trade. I recently checked on them again and discovered that the business was closed down. I have no idea what they are up to these days and I don’t really care anymore.
*(footnote) My supervisor told me that the actual payment went down to about 28%. Given the character of Kevin and Ava Jordan, I seriously doubt if this figure is close to accurate. She also told me that BC-LLC earned the library around $3,000 per year. That is a ridiculously low figure for a system that has six locations. The gross MONTHLY sales for the library from donations and withdrawals should have been (at the very minimum) in the $2,000 to $3,000 range. If BC-LLC gave the library $3,000 per year for their sales that would mean that they were claiming that their gross yearly sales for Berkeley County was only around $10,000. Nonsense. This is what happens when you have zero accountability.
I am a small book dealer without anything close to the product flow of the Berkeley County Library system. I constantly scrounge around thrift stores, yard sales, and bookstores in hit-or-miss efforts to find marketable product. Even then, in 2016 I had gross book sales of $12,941.53…far more that the amount BC-LLC claimed from the Berkeley County Library Goldmine.
Thank goodness somebody in the Berkeley County Library finally figured out that something wasn’t right with these two book crooks. From what I have heard everything surrounding this debacle was very hush-hush.
Update August 2017:
I tried to initiate a conversation with the current head of the Berkeley County Library, Gene Brunson, to see if we could come to some sort of agreement to avoid publication of this article. At first, he was very receptive but ultimately he decided not to meet with me despite my offer to do so in the presence of a county attorney. I informed him that there were still some very serious issues at the Goose Creek library that needed to be addressed but he did not seem interested and tried to deflect my concerns with a load of bureaucratic bull shit. Add to that the fact that my former supervisor has latched onto another weirdo who I can only describe as a cross between Frankenstein and the Pillsbury Dough Boy.
Mr. Brunson may not have been in charge of the Library when BC-LLC was active but he was a bigwig in the system during that time and he had to know what was going on. Maybe it’s time for him to trade in his new Mercedes for a Chrysler.
I believe that it is time for Berkeley County Council to review its decision to hand the reins of the Library over to this man.