I sent off a letter today. Yes, in the post!

[my address]
May 3, 2014
Random House of Canada Limited
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th Floor
Toronto, Ontario,
M5A 2P9

Dear Random House,

I’ve had a very curious experience that I’d like your help in understanding.

I’ve been slowly replacing my favourite paperback books with e‑books. Today, I noticed the poor condition of my copy of Dragon’s Egg by the late Robert L. Forward and was pleased to see that Amazon.com has the Kindle edition of the book for $9.99. Starting the purchase process, I logged in, and I quickly noted that the price changed because I live in Canada, and I have to pay the Canadian price. It’s also explicitly noted that the publisher, Random House Canada, sets the price. Imagine my surprise when I saw that the Canadian price is $20.99!

You can’t fall back on the import and transportation costs, since this is an electronic product. This is doubly true since I wasn’t even buying it from the Canadian subsidiary of Amazon. You can’t claim the dollar difference would double the price as today’s rate is a hair under 10% so the price should be 11 Canadian dollars … though Amazon.com takes payment in US dollars so my credit card company would have made the exchange automatically.

So help me understand what’s going on here. Why are your Canadian customers being charged twice as much? It seems like a blatant ripoff, but I’d like to believe that’s not the case. Unfortunately, the facts in my possession show we’re being taken advantage of. I’m hoping you can shed some light on the situation.


Rick Pali

cc: http://www.alienshore.com/2014/05/seemingly-random-house-pricing/

Note that I didn’t sent this letter via the post to make any sort of point. The Random House Canada contact information page simply doesn’t list any electronic means of contact. I do find this somewhat curious because that very same page states,

We receive hundreds of inquiries a day by email, phone and fax, and cannot answer everyone immediately.

I’m guessing you have to be extra-special to get their e‑mail address and we Canadian peons are not. But even more curious, is the directive to visit the frequently asked questions page before you call or write, as your question may be answered there, so they won’t have to be bothered with you. As you might expect, when you go to the frequently asked questions page, everything you need to know is covered in this all encompassing note:

Coming soon

Thanks for that.

I am curious what they will say, and even though I can’t imagine anything satisfactory, it’s only fair to hear them out.

Still, I expect nothing but marketing double-talk on their part and even more determined use of the library on mine.