October 27th, 2014

The Trouble With Download Cards

Let me preface this by saying that I believe that no dishonesty was involved in any of this.

A number of the folks whose albums we sell have asked us about selling their download cards. Generally, we decline, partly because we're not really set up to sell download cards and partly because we've had this nagging intuition that told us that people were going to assume that these were giveaway business cards or promotional items of some kind and would pick them up and take them with them without paying for them. It's easier to disabuse someone of that notion when things aren't particularly busy at your table -- "not particularly busy" are not words I would generally use to describe OVFF.

Debs & Errol had asked if we'd carry their merchandise for them at the con, which we were happy to do once we'd worked out the finances to everyone's satisfaction. :) They had three items: a CD (which we bought a chunk of after the con so that we can carry them regularly), a book of their webcomics (which aren't really the sort of thing we usually carry, so the remaining copies went home with them), and the dreaded download cards where we said "Sure, let's give it a shot."

For the last year, we've been running all of our transactions through Square. Recently, Square has been working to improve their inventory handling and one of the things that I just noticed that you could get was a report of the items that were sold. It will also keep track of your inventory in hand which is a nice feature as well, although I will probably still want to inventory as we pack up, because a physical inventory is always trump in these situations.

Anyway, when Debs came by to check out after the con, we counted the stack of download cards. It had started at 20, it was now 10, and I paid her for 10.

Checking our Square report, I see that we sold eight.


I'm pretty firmly convinced that the two missing cards did not go to someone who intended to take an item for sale off the table without paying for it. I think they assumed that they were free promotional items of some kind, despite the hastily crafted note we'd put next to them indicating that they were download cards. And spot-checking the rest of the inventory tells me that people aren't just walking off with things, which is exactly what I'd expected, because folks are basically honest. And this was an honest mistake, in my opinion.

But we can't sell an item where we're losing two copies for every eight copies that we actually sell.

So Gretchen and I are kicking around ideas for how we could handle download cards without people making this mistake and also without making selling them a major pain in the butt. So far, we've got no magic bullets.

Maybe you've got some ideas...