Let’s Talk About Online Retailers and Book Covers

Let's Talk About It

 

Many of you are already aware that I am unable to drive and cannot venture out alone. As a bookworm, you can imagine just how many online purchases I can average throughout the year. Yes, I am aware that I am leaving a bad carbon footprint in my wake. I am sorry. I do try to limit purchases until I am ready to buy several titles to reduce this as much as possible, but it happens. I need books and there are people who will supply them. But recently I received my latest haul and found myself frustrated at what is becoming a common incident. This happens…

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And it happens.. and happens. The book is hideous! More and more often I am receiving books with a different cover than what I placed my order for.

ISNB – International Standard Book Number

This little 10 – 13 digit number is a book collector’s best friend. It tells me which edition and variation I can expect. I check it when making purchases that include books with a particular cover that I want to add to my collection. So how is it that the number matches but the end result does not?

I am honestly fed up with the experience and it is not limited to one retailer or seller. So I found myself asking whether this is happening to others who purchase online or is this perhaps some form of terrible karma due to my carbon footprint?

So keeping this on the lighter side, as I often do (I am a slacker ๐Ÿ˜‰ )..

Should online retailers and sellers be obligated to provided the correct edition?

Hands down, I feel they should. You are paying for a specific product and that is what they are promising to provide. I wouldn’t order blue pants and expect to receive the purple ones.

Every seller should be forthright about any possible variations before transactions are complete. If it is possible that they may deviate there needs to be a disclaimer.

I also feel sites that are a platform for individual sellers have a certain obligation to ensure that their software matches the correct items with the ISBN when entered if they do not allow sellers to post their own images. (I scoured some forums recently on specific sites that host sellers and discovered that the sellers have also complained about this. I previously had no idea that several of the larger retailers do not allow sellers to add their own images.)

So Talk To Me!

If you purchase books through online retailers or place orders through mail, have you experienced similar issues?

Do you have an online retailer that you trust to always provide the correct edition (because I clearly need a new)?

What are your thoughts?

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100 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Online Retailers and Book Covers

  1. I think that the only time it’s ever slightly OK to receive a different cover/version of a book is when the version you order is no longer in print and is unavailable. Though, that’s stretching it as you order that version because you like the cover and expect to get it, then don’t and it should be clearly stated that that version is no longer available! But, it’s how Amazon seem to have on some books a cover, and you click on it to look inside and it tells you it’s a different version, fair enough, but…..why not just show the correct version then?!

    To me, it’s not alright to receive a different version, especially if it has a different ISNB number as it’s technically not the book you ordered and if they didn’t/don’t make it abundantly clear that you will receive a different version then no, uncool.

    Oh, that cover you received is hideous! I’d send the book back and tell them it made you barf!๐Ÿคข๐Ÿคข๐Ÿคข

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! It is driving me bonkers.

      Amazon is really driving me nuts when it comes to ISBN. I have found a few titles in my day where the number does not match the received product. And representing the edition with an inaccurate cover is lazy imo. Update your software and images when need calls. I have seen several sellers complain that even when they enter the correct ISBN, the site renders the incorrect image. Not to tear Amazon apart, as I feel the offer some excellent services and are not the only online site to have this issue. But the end result is disappointment. If you do not have the edition, you should not be sporting the image.

      And yeah the cover sucks ๐Ÿ˜ฆ This is the image listed for the Kindle cover. Never in a million years would I have expected this. It makes me question how much or if ISBNs are updated to accommodate reprints?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Itโ€™s happened to me in the past with Kindle books too, you get a different cover to the image shown, it is annoying especially if you end up with a god awful cover like you did!๐Ÿ˜‚

        Canโ€™t understand why retailers canโ€™t just update the damn covers, etc, they seem to have no issue changing the prices!๐Ÿ˜‚

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Oh no! You were perfectly clear! I knew what you meant! I just meant that it’s happened to me with Kindle books in the past, which isn’t really an issue as you don’t see the cover but it seems to be something that happens regardless of whether it’s an e-book or a proper book.

            Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe it is more prevalent here as I know several friends in the US who have suffered this same fate. I am perusing forums and seeing that some retailers seem to have issues with systems lining up proper images, ISBNs, etc when they list product. Maybe that is part of the problem. Maybe I am not as careful as I think? I am so glad you have not experienced this.

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  2. I have never had this problem The only place I order a lot of books is Book Outlet. I would see where the ISNB number would guarantee the cover of a paperback because it is tied to the edition, I assume, but are dust jackets tied to the edition? Maybe not, because when they change the cover art the new jackets would go on all of the existing jacketless books regardless of edition. I never thought of this before. Book Outlet buys the last of a lot (which would be all the same), so maybe that is why I have never gotten a different cover.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a great question about dust jackets! I am not a hundred percent sure on that, but included to say yes. They are still a specific edition (at least as I understand). But I was also mentioning to Drew that I am not sure how ISBNs work with reprints either.

      I have not used Book Outlet yet. Normally they only carry a few of the titles I am looking ofr or not the edition. But I hear great things and now that they have changed their shipping cost, I will be utilizing them some going forward. It is nice to know they have worked well for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m housebound so do pretty much all of my book shopping online too and this issue drives me mad! I mostly read on my kindle but I buy print books of my favourites to have on my bookcase and I always choose the most gorgeous editions so it’s really frustrating when a book arrives with a different cover. I always check the ISBN and yet so often the wrong edition arrives. It’s really frustrating because I’ve spoken to Amazon about it before and they’ve said I can post the book back for a refund but I’m housebound so it’s a real hassle. Aargh! I hope online booksellers sort this out because it’s really not on. My husband collects records and he’s meticulous in checking for the exact edition he wants when buying online and so far has never had a problem so I don’t get why it’s different with book sellers. I feel your pain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So it is not just me and there seems to be an issue regarding this! I do admit that Amazon is great for accepting returns if needed, but you are right, it is a headache to try to do so. It is not one that should exist. But I think we have to start possibly going through the hassles of demanding returns or exchanges and being vocal to maybe press for a resolution? Too bad really.

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  4. I rarely shop online, but when I do, it’s almost exclusively through Barnes and Noble, as I have multiple issues with Amazon. I’ve never had issues with getting the wrong cover art, but I haven’t tried their marketplace where third party retailers sell used books through the main Amazon site.

    My local used bookstore puts new arrivals on Facebook so you see the exact edition. Maybe one of your local shops does the same and can ship them?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do ship orders from Powell’s when I can. But usually hold off to when I can actually visit them ๐Ÿ˜‰ I have never experienced this with them and B&N has also been very reliable. They may be hearing from me more going forward ๐Ÿ˜‰ I am the opposite with Amazon. Every single service has been excellent aside from this issue popping up. They are quick to amend or take returns, but it is an unfair hassle.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve never had a problem with getting the wrong thing from Amazon. I just don’t like their business practices or how they treat their employees at their warehouses. I like to buy from my little local retailers as much as possible, though I know that’s not always an option for everyone.

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        1. I am always so torn with Amazon. I love what they recently did with Mary’s Place and the shelter. I have spoken to people who have worked for the company and are so happy, but then I read the most conflicting articles. Some so bad, some so good. It is something to think about.

          I agree that local is best. We have Powell’s, so I try to utilize them ๐Ÿ™‚ They are an awesome independent bookstore. We have many others as well, that I have no doubt I would love it I could get out โค

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  5. I agree. That’s bogus. What if that edition is the one you needed for a photo session? (Hypothetically speaking of course).
    I think if that’s what they display, and that’s what the ISBN matches for that display, then that’s the one you should get. End of story.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I definitely agree! It has happened to me, several times I havenโ€™t received the cover I thought Iโ€™d ordered. There are so many titles with different covers – I donโ€™t really understand why but Iโ€™d like to have the one that appeals to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! And if that is the one that the image, ISBN, etc states that I am ordering, that is what I expect to receive. I imagine most places will offer an exchange or refund (Amazon will) but it is a headache that should not be endured. They need to accurately update the info.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I haven’t actually noticed this before, but you are right. If you order a specific product then that is what you should get. Perfect example of the pants! I can imagine it must be frustrating, especially if you get a book that has the ‘movie’ cover on it. I hate that. Probably the retailers if they are not bookish wouldn’t see the problem. But they should be accountable to it.
    Amanda.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I received a movie cover the month before last. I was so frustrated. I detest them. I would have demanded a full refund, but I received such a great price that I let it go. Shame on me though, because I need to be very vocal about this with sellers.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. oh wow… I’ve never had this issue before but I would truly be major annoyed if something like this happened! How, even?
    I’m so glad you wrote about this because, even though I;m a little scared that happening to me ๐Ÿ˜› , it’s good to be aware!
    Also- it’s not your carbon footprint karma! More like false advertisement or incompetent staff who pay no two minds! Or are there machines now to fill out orders? ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha thanks Liz! I can always count on you to come to my defense. Although, I fear my carbon footprint will be a deep one if things do not change. I am working on that though ๐Ÿ˜‰

      They certainly owe it to the consumer to update the info. It is terribly disappointing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. โค Well, hoping things got better or you matter more than your carbon footprint! You're totally lovely thpugh for thinking of the environ. impact – you're putting someone else (a whole planet) ahead of you… big heart, Dani! โค but you're not ever a burden so keep clicking that button! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  9. I can totally see how this would be frustrating! I can’t say this has ever happened to me, but when my Amazon orders for other stuff have come in incorrect they have always gone above and beyond to fix it. They have outstanding customer service.

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    1. Their customer service is stellar! I will give them that ๐Ÿ˜‰ My big issue is that it should not happen period (and I am not just pointing at Amazon here). I don’t to go through the hassle of a return because the posted information was incorrect. I am thankful though that I know Amazon will right it when it happens ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I actually just had this happen through prime so it is funny you mention. I know they will correct it if I reach out though ๐Ÿ™‚ They provide excellent customer service. I am just bummed it has happened, it is not always Amazon though. Definitely other sellers seem to have an issue with this as well. And it is not a constant problem, but one I feel should rarely occur at all ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  10. The only time I’ve experienced something like this was whenever I ordered the last three books in the raven cycle series (all at once – which is why what happened angered me) and the second and third book came in the U.S. edition (what I wanted, since I already had the first book in the U.S. edition) and then the fourth and final book in the series came in the U.K edition! I like the U.K edition and it’s not all that different from the U.S. edition, but the font is different, the height is different, and the spine is different UGHHH.

    Now that I vented a bit, you have it worse with your situation. I think that if you order a specific edition of a book, you should get that edition, no questions asked! And if they don’t have that edition, they should tell you before sending you a different edition.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! And you have it worse I believe. I think it is atrocious when it happens with series. I feel that they should always be consistent. Who would ship out three books in a series and not notify the buyer that one is a different edition.. ugh.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I ordered a book from a German company. It was a mass market paperback and when it eventually arrived they had sent me an uncorrected ARC without a cover. Their response was ‘didn’t think it would matter’. Of course it matters! I’m with you, when I buy a specific edition, cover, format, that is what I expect to receive. It’s what I paid for. If an alternative is offered I expect an email and the right to cancel if I don’t want it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I got nowhere with the company (Momox) even when I told them it was illegal to sell me an ARC but when I told Amazon they stepped in and told the company to refund me. I make sure never to order from them again!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh thank goodness you had Amazon to interact then! I had to have them intervene with a purchase recently as well. They item never even made it to shipping status and they seller seemed to have no qualms about taking my money. Amazon was super proactive though! I did get my funds back. It is a shame such companies even exist ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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  12. I nearly always order my books through Amazon, Danielle. I have never had this problem and the book I receive has always been the same as the one I have ordered. I didn’t know you didn’t drive – that must be a bit difficult for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a change I had to make just this past year as my condition worsened so it is very difficult. I am still adjusting. It can be isolating. I have had this happen several times recently, including with Amazon. Luck of the draw maybe ๐Ÿ˜‰ But I will say that Amazon always offers to correct issues. They provide good customer service.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it has happened more recently. I am not sure what is going on. I am starting to wonder how ISBN and reprints work. I cannot help but think this might be part of the issue. I will have to do some digging ๐Ÿ™‚

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  13. I am with you! This is exceptionally frustrating. Some people buy books multiple times so they can have all the covers. I ended up with a film cover on a book when 1 I didn’t know it was being made into a film and 2, which is more important, it wasn’t the cover I expected!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had this happen a few months ago and was very put off! I generally do not like film covers. I didn’t make a fuss. I am sure I probably could have received a refund or exchange, but the cost was low. I think however, that I need to start being more vocal when this happens.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I didn’t complain and husband (the non reader) said ‘sure it’s still the same book!’ so he wasn’t for sending it back for me. Still haven’t read it but watched the film lol twas The Book Thief! It was a nice cover regardless

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Oh, wow! I’ve actually never had this happen before. I can definitely understand why that would be frustrating. The covers are part of the reason I buy physical books. If I don’t like them, I typically stick with ebooks, so I’m with you on that one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! It is actually easier to read ebooks the majority of the time. I purchase the books I want to collect normally. It is a major let down to be waiting for a new edition to arrive and discover it was not what you believed. The worst is when it belongs to a series!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It really is. I don’t even touch most of my physical copies unless their ARCs. They are for book shelves and to be carefully guarded and loved. LOL. I am so bummed that that happens to you! I have never heard of that before even.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Yes, I hate when it happens! Quite recently Amazon actually sent me a different translation than the one I had ordered. I do complain but usually can’t be bothered returning the book, and I’m sure they just apologise and then file my complaint under G for Garbage…

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I don’t buy many books online so this hasn’t happened to me yet. But Milliebot Reads wrote a post awhile back about her struggles to find the book cover she wanted. It seems that online retailers don’t really care if you get what you wanted?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, I know that struggle, it stinks. I think it is sometimes a lack or concern and others a more technical issue. I was perusing forums and noticed sellers commenting that on some retail sites they have to submit the book details (ie ISBN) and it generates the image for them. Well it seems the system is not always correct. But in my case I have been checking that the ISBN matches, so I have to fault the retailer for not verifying that their consumers are being supplied correct info ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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      1. Unfortunately, I don’t think the ISBN refers to cover art, only to the text. My understanding is that as long as the contents of the book haven’t changed, it’s the same edition so the ISBN could be the same even if the cover was changed. So I could see how you could buy the correct ISBN and receive the wrong book. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ But I think retailers should try to be clear about what cover they’re giving you as there are certainly covers I would never buy!

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        1. Ah this makes more since. That is why I was starting to question whether reprints are really reflected in ISBN or not. Thank you! It is something to look into. I would have thought that specific covers where tied to specific editions.

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            1. Yes that is my question! I was under the assumption that the cover varied with specific editions and did. It is curious that they would not? You have given me a lot to look into before making any important purchases ๐Ÿ˜‰

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              1. I think the covering is more about marketing than changing the content of the book. So if a series isn’t selling well they change the covers mid-series to try to appeal to more people, but they wouldn’t ask the author to rewrite the book and probably wouldn’t bother adding extra content. Maybe we need a separate number for cover art! I kind of get it, though, because you have to pay for ISBNs and that would be annoying if you were just changing the cover.

                Liked by 1 person

              2. From ISBN.org:

                If changing the cover of a book, does a new ISBN have to be assigned?
                US practice is if the book is just out or the idea is to give a marketing boost to the product, then no, a new ISBN should not be assigned. However, if the change in cover substantially changes the product (ie., would lead to customer complaints), then a new ISBN should be used.

                We’re in the right ๐Ÿ™‚

                Liked by 1 person

  17. They should deliver the cover you want, I agree!

    I buy a lot of used books online and if there is a specific cover I want, I order by ISBN (well, search first as my preferred choice may not be available).

    I’ve only ordered books from Amazon once (Copper Cat trilogy) and one book, the first, is smaller than the others. But I didn’t think to check for a size difference! Ha

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t encounter it too often with Amazon, but it still happens. I admit they will correct it and it seems to be more of an issue with their “software” matching the ISBN incorrectly. But is a not something I feel I should have to go through the hoops of a return for. Being unable to drive, it is not always possible. Smaller sizes drive me absolutely nuts! Why do series do that?!

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      1. Doesn’t Amazon use UPS for returns? I know my last two were via UPS. You should be able to schedule a UPS pickup. Or flag down your driver when you see him.
        (you still shouldn’t have to do a return you should get the right cover from the start!)

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, regardless, I feel a retailer should be delivering what they are “offering”. I do not feel it is ok to purchase an item and then receive something that looks entirely different. There needs to be a more clearly defined expectation in the print if this is a possibility ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

      Liked by 1 person

    1. This was with Prime ๐Ÿ˜‰ It happens rarely with them, but still has a few times. I can contact them and am sure they would take a return. They always provide great customer service when something comes up, but it is hard to deal with having to send titles back when you cannot drive or venture out alone. I hope retailers start to put more focus on the importance of providing exactly what is being promised and being more proactive about ensuring that is what is delivered ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow it never happened to me before ethough I honestly receive more ARCs than I buy books simply because I can’t afford it. When I do though, I do get the product I ordered. What happened to me quite a few times was that I bought a book from a publisher and then the second book of a series came in a different format! That is really awful bc if you want your shelf to look nice, you have to buy at least one book twice ๐Ÿ˜ง

        Liked by 1 person

      2. They really do. Though I don’t buy as many books as you pronably bc I simply don’t have the money ๐Ÿ˜‚ What happened to me quite a few times was that I bought a book from a publisher and then the second book of the series and the second book had a different format than the first ๐Ÿ˜ 

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  18. Yes! Yes and Yes! I hate this so much! I’ve also had it where I’ve bought a Kindle book had the beautiful cover thaen randomly the book has been updated and bam new cover that I hate! Like did I ask for them to change my bloody cover? It’s very rude.
    I also have times where I am limited to staying home, when I am really sick, I often lose my driving licence, my anxiety will get so bad I can’t leave the house so I’m limited to what is available online. It would be nice if they stuck to what we asked for!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! They seem to update Kindle covers automatically. I am wondering if this has something to do with digital licensing at this point. I am just going to have to be vocal with companies about expecting to receive the promised product. I am tiring of this very fast!

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  19. Oh my god. That must’ve been a HORRIBLE surprise. I know I would’ve been pretty sad and frustrated if I opened my bookmail and found that thing in it…. Honestly, such a issue would annoy the hell out of me if I ordered a “new” book. But if I go after used books, I don’t pay TOO much attention; unless it’s crazy ugly… Then I’d definitely want to stay away from it and hope and pray no mistakes are made in the online process.

    I haven’t had such an experience yet and hope to never run into it (wish the same for you!). What do you when this happen? Do you contact the seller/company and fight your way to victory (get the right edition)?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope this is an issue you never encounter. Specific sellers are willing to replace or refund when I contact. Unfortunately, in some cases that means I have to be able to make my way to a shipping center, etc. Since I cannot drive or take public transportation solo, it is not always an option ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I should not have to figure out how to jump through hopes for incidents that should not occur. Sometimes I will end up keeping the unexpected version if they can only refund. It depends.

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      1. Oh… the hassle… Hope this never has to occur again with you.. The only places I buy my books online from are amazon, bookoutlet, indigo chapters and abebooks (used books where I usually go after academic books). Wish ya good luck on your future purchases, Danielle!

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  20. Yes, this is very frustrating. It seems to be more of a problem on sites like Amazon and Ebay. I now ask sellers if the edition pictured is what the item actually looks like and I am stunned at how many have said “No.” What! I think they should definitely be obligated to sell the correct edition. It’s false advertising. The best is when they send a book without a dust jacket.

    Book Outlet and Book Depository have never let me down with the correct versions, though. I make a point to have my Goodreads reflect my correct edition so why a retailer can’t be bothered to do the same with something they are selling is beyond me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well it is good to know that it is not just myself experiencing this with Amazon. It seems to be more common of late. I suppose I will have to start reaching out to confirm this information as well. It is sad that it would even be necessary though. The dust jacket scenario happened once to me, and I cannot lie, I threw a terrible fit.

      I will be checking out book depository and Outlet more going forward ๐Ÿ˜‰

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      1. Only thing with Book Outlet is the Scratch and Dent section. For the most part the books I get are as pictured and I can’t tell they have any noticeable damage but I have had one come without a dust jacket. However, I do seem to recall all of them being the correct version. Which makes me wonder why it seems to be a hard thing for Amazon/Ebay? Yeah, I was really mad at the no dust jacket from Ebay because it was on there in FINE print so I couldn’t return it. I had to buy another with a jacket and I guess I’ll give this one to the used bookstore. Nasty way to do someone.

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        1. I had two back to back horrible experiences with Ebay anc that was the end of that for me. I had to have Pay Pal go after the refund. It was a fiasco both times. I did wonder about the “scratch and dent” section so I will keep that in mind. Still worth it to read at those prices ๐Ÿ™‚

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  21. Though I’ve never experienced this myself, I have seen this issue come up a few times in the blogosphere/bookish community lately! I would be FURIOUS if I ordered a particular cover, but was sent an alternative… I wonder if some sellers have an oversupply of the less popular covers and are trying to move them off their shelves?! I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am not a hundred percent sure. It seems there are a multitude of reasons as to why it can happen. Bottom line is it should not. I will tip my hat to companies and sellers who go the mile to make it right when it does though. Sometimes that is not always the case ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

      I am glad you have not had to deal with it โค

      Like

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