It’s Not All Mary Poppins

My “Free” Book – updated

Like a few of you, I received an email from Simon and Schuster last month offering me a free book. Of course they were hoping that I’d review it on my blog, thus providing free, grassroots advertising for the price of a book. Not a bad marketing strategy.

“Sure,” I said. “Send me the book.”

Glamorous Disasters arrived a week or so later. I ended up paying almost ten dollars in an “administrative fee”, but that wasn’t Simon and Schuster’s fault. It’s a Canada Customs thing, so I paid up, with only minor annoyance.

Today! Today I receive in INVOICE from DHL Express, the company that brought the book to my door. An invoice for – brace yourselves – $73.39.

SEVENTY-THREE DOLLARS? With the nine and change previous fee, my “free” book is now costing me EIGHTY-THREE DOLLARS.

I sent a terse but pointed email to Simon and Schuster.

Eighty-three dollars and thirty-nine cents.
Eighty-three dollars and thirty-nine cents.

For a “free” book.


And Glamorous Disasters?

It’s a stupid book.

This just in: I received an email from S&S, asking me to fax the letter and invoice to a certain number, and they would take care of it. Apology offered — which of course I accepted!

© 2006, Mary P

July 24, 2006 - Posted by | books


  1. I got a phone call telling me I won season tickets for the Dodgers from a local newspaper, which I did not want. I accepted the tickets. But we started getting the newspaper, and no tickets ever came. I called the company and complained about this scam. They are still sending me the paper.

    On another note, thank you for educating me about “babysitters.” I called my son’s daycare provider a babysitter up until I read your post in which you ranted about the label. My bad.

    Comment by KTP | July 24, 2006 | Reply

  2. Did you send them the link to your glowing review of their book?????!!!!

    Comment by jw | July 24, 2006 | Reply

  3. Ripoff.

    Comment by Granny | July 24, 2006 | Reply

  4. Excellent review–I love it! Sounds like a scam to me.

    Comment by Cheryl (Hildebrand Road) | July 24, 2006 | Reply

  5. I hope you sent a copy of the DHL invoice with that letter! Good grief!

    Comment by laura | July 24, 2006 | Reply

  6. Delurking to say… you should be able to pass the bill to Simon & Schuster, I would think. After all, they offered you the book for free, so they should be the ones to pay for the shipping. And 73.39… for what? Did DHL fly the book to your door in a private jet? Sheesh, indeed. By the way, I love your blog. As a former (and hopefully again oneday) preschool teacher, and soon-to-be mom, I love reading both your observations and advice.

    Comment by Kiera | July 24, 2006 | Reply

  7. I think Elliot Schrefer owes you $83.39. It’s the least he can do for writing such a horrible book.

    Comment by Susan | July 24, 2006 | Reply

  8. Oh, good grief! What scam-artists! Please send them the bill with all of our love…

    Comment by Jennifer | July 24, 2006 | Reply

  9. That is rediculous! This is somewhat akin to a friend of mine who ordered new skis through ebay for $60 (good deal!) and then got an invoice from customs charging her $200 for bringing them into Canada!

    Comment by Haley | July 24, 2006 | Reply

  10. I mentioned this on my blog, but they sent the package through UPS to me without telling me ahead of time. So, I used my P.O. Box. The only reason I got the package to begin with is because the UPS guy knows my family!!

    And, I’m with Susan – Eliot owes you, big time. His book was terribly stupid!!

    Comment by Angela | July 24, 2006 | Reply

  11. Wow! Was this perchance a certain website that starts with a “buzz?”

    Comment by Misfit Hausfrau | July 24, 2006 | Reply

  12. Grrr, that’s crazy! I hope the publisher paid the bill.

    Comment by Lady M | July 25, 2006 | Reply

  13. ktp: I’m not sure whether this is a scam (as I know that others have received the book from the same source with no extra charges), on only disorganization on the part of S&S. I have let them know I expect them to deal with these charges. We’ll see.

    If your caregiver doesn’t object to the label, that would be her call. I like to make the distinction for myself, and I think it helps my clients put me in a different category, too. Different caregivers have different attitudes to the various labels, though. (It’s probably my English degree showing through, the concern with accuracy in meaning!)

    jw: Good idea. Maybe if I make a big enough kerfuffle in the blog world, I can embarrass them into paying up!

    Granny, Cheryl, Laura, Jennifer, LadyM: As I said to the first commenter, I’m not sure if it’s a deliberate scam or just S&S not taking the “other country” factor into account. But you can be sure I will do my level best to see that THEY foot the bill!

    Kiera: Hello, former lurker! Welcome! Glad you like the blog. We had a busy weekend around here, from which I’m still recovering, but I’m hoping to get back into stride shortly with the stories and stuff.

    Susan: BWAH-hahahaha… Eliot has written the book I would have written had I tried to write a book when I was 24. However, I had the good sense (or lacked the chutzpah) not to foist it upon the world. A two-book contract? Sheesh.

    Haley: Not such a good deal after all that, are they? Boo!

    Angela: Your book was truly free, though, wasn’t it? UPS didn’t send you an invoice, now, did they? Maybe it’s not S&S’s screw-up; maybe it’s the courier company. Hmmm… I see another letter in the making.

    Misfit Hausfrau: Here’s me looking out of it: I don’t get the reference. “Buzz”? Who cares to enlighten me?

    Comment by Mary P. | July 25, 2006 | Reply

  14. Oh, we’ve had to order things from the states before for our business. That $83 is shipping and the cost of “free trade” and customs. stoopid.

    Comment by MommyMaki | July 25, 2006 | Reply

  15. Like mommymaki said above – I think it was purely because the book had to cross the border. That $10 customs fee wasn’t so bad – almost expected (except, what did they say the value of the package was? Because that’s kind of a lot even there!)

    Yes, my book was truly free – at least so far. I haven’t gotten anything in the mail lately, but then again I haven’t been home either!!

    Comment by Angela | July 25, 2006 | Reply

  16. “It’s a stupid book.”

    Still laughing!

    Comment by Jenorama | July 26, 2006 | Reply

  17. Someone on here misspelled the author’s name.

    Also, there are people, just so you know, who think it’s a wonderful book. (This isn’t the author).

    And if you didn’t want the free book, you shouldn’t have asked for it.

    And you come off as incredibly bitchy, and I wouldn’t want my kids to be left with you.

    Comment by Anonymous | July 27, 2006 | Reply

  18. Anonymous: Hello!! Goodness. My very first troll! It took me a year, but it finally happened. Heeheehee.

    Of course there are people who think it’s a wonderful book, including the author. And his mother.


    A good friend of mine liked it, too, and, to no one’s surprise, except possibly anonymous’s we’re still speaking. Grown-ups, you see, can disagree and still respect each other.

    I DID want a free book. Problem is, it looked for a minute there like it wasn’t going to be free.

    Is it bitchy to complain about spending $83 for a free book?

    So, everyone else: who do you think this was from – fan of the book, author, author’s mummy, agent, publisher?

    Comment by Mary P. | July 27, 2006 | Reply

  19. Author’s mummy– or possibly author’s wife. Speaking of bitchy… Mrrreow!

    Comment by Jenorama | July 28, 2006 | Reply

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