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My Good Cook Club Experiences

Marie Louise's picture

We've talked about them many times before. Your stories had always discouraged me, but one bored summer afternoon I had a lapse in judgement and signed up. The executive summary-they are way, way more trouble than they are worth.

I ended up with 9 books from them; my total savings was 106 dollars from what I would have spent at Amazon. I get free shipping at amazon, so I didn't include any amazon shipping fees in my calculations. If you pay for shipping at amazon, you would have saved more that me.

Was it worth it to me? No. Here's why:

1) They are exasperating to deal with, and impossible to reach if you work on the west coast. They are open M-F 9-5 EST.

2) Any email response takes days and is usually just a cut and paste that didn't answer the question. It usually took several tries and a week or two to get a simple question answered.

3) Their rules are byzantine and it took a series of emails to understand what did and didn't qualify. They'd have good sales, but the item would be just under the price that qualified for the required purchases. Or the book would be five cents over the price that qualified for that sale.

4) Their website doesn't always work; I'd get email offers that didn't work as advertised.

5) I was bombarded with emails-it was overwhelming around the holidays. I was getting several a day.

This week I had some problems with my account. It has took me countless emails and phone calls to get it straightened out, but on general principle I persevered: I bought a book in December on the promise of getting a free book in January, and I wanted it. They did indeed make it right-but I had to talk to a supervisor, who I kid you not, told me that it had to go to a committee that needed several days to review it.

It has been a LOT of work to fulfill my obligation. If you are on a very tight budget, love a bargain, and enjoy a challenge-it might work for you. Me, I can't wait to get my free book and quit. Before this latest episode, I thought I'd stay on as a member and continue to enjoy their sales, but they were way too hard to communicate with.

wonka's picture

(post #62993, reply #1 of 18)

I haven't had the same experience as you although I do find them frustrating to communicate with. I asked them to not send me any books that when I want a book I will order it. They have honoured this.

I now have renewed my membership (another free book that I wanted was offered) but I did have to go through the same process to not receive the regular books that I may not want. I have faxed them but have received no reply and I've had trouble finding an email address to confirm that they received it.

Heather's picture

(post #62993, reply #2 of 18)

You will be joining a huge club of former members. Book clubs like that are dinosaurs. They have to make a lot of changes to their business model and ease of use to compete in today's world of Amazon, Costco, Zooba, Jessica's Biscuit, etc.

And don't think you've heard the last of them! I'm constantly getting emails and packets from them begging me to come back.

MadMom's picture

(post #62993, reply #3 of 18)

I think everyone made the mistake of mentioning me.  I tried to join them three times, but never got a book.  Guess I was lucky!  I'd rather pay more at amazon or jessica's biscuit and know I'm getting the book.

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knitpik's picture

(post #62993, reply #4 of 18)

You have way more patience than I. Tried it once and didn't have half
the hassle you did but it was already too much for me. Never again.
So much easier to work with Amazon.

leonap's picture

(post #62993, reply #5 of 18)

Thank you all for saving me from a momentary lapse of judgment! I have been tempted recently so your posts came at a good time.

Sondra's picture

(post #62993, reply #6 of 18)

Thanks for the in-depth analysis.   I have never joined a cookbook book club, so now when I'm feeling weak, I'll just come and search for your thread, and get over it, lol.

FWIW, I have had nothing but great luck buying cookbooks from Amazon.  And 95% of them are used but most in perfect condition. Though sometimes I HAVE to have a new one and can't wait for a used one to come along, but I still order from Amazon.

Edited to say, I am sorry the book club was such a pill for you.  Lesson learned....

Edited 1/17/2009 3:55 pm ET by Sondra

CulinaryArtist's picture

(post #62993, reply #7 of 18)

I've been slightly luckier than you with them, and yes it takes patience, perserverence sp? and determination to communicate with them. And their site $ucks! During the $11.99 sale I ordered three books before the deadline and got free shipping, was very happy.  After telling DW about it she said: you only ordered 3?  At $12 a book you'll save so much.  So, with that they sent another email extending the sale.  So I picked out two more books only every time I put them into the shopping cart and they remained at regular price. No matter what I did, they never went to $11.99.  So I sent them an email explaining my frustration.  They answered that I could reply with my account number and the books I wanted and they would honor the price.  Unfortuneately I was busy and didn't get back to them before the new deadline.  So I replied to the email and said if it wasn't too late I'd like these two books.  Never got a response.  A few days later there was some other email with another extension of the sale.  So I went onto my account and saw that they had shipped one of the two books I had requested!  So now, I'm getting greedy so I ordered two more books and added in the one that I wanted that they ignored from the email figuring I could always gift it if it got duplicated but assumed that they just ignored it.  I was right!  So I got 7 books for $12 and never paid shipping.  That's a sale I could work for LOL!  Just remembered I did us some of my credit on first order so one book was $4.99!

My other favorite source is to buy used from Amazon, have had great success with that.  Of the two dozen or so that I've gotten only one was used looking!  It is paperback and was definitely used, bent cover etc.  Most were probably thumbed thru or publisher's seconds and work just fine.  You do pay for shipping but I always make sure the price is so much lower that with shipping added it's still cheaper than the best price elsewhere.





Marie Louise's picture

(post #62993, reply #11 of 18)

You described several of my frustrations in great detail. I got A Platter of Figs for 11.99 (plus 3.99 for shipping). A great bargain, but I didn't realize that only purchases over 12.99-or 13.99, I've already forgotten-counted towards my required purchase. That sale went on for weeks, so I couldn't buy anything that fulfilled my commitment. I didn't want to buy anything elsewhere, because I wanted to get out of this commitment.

They had a sale right after Christmas in which their shopping cart did not work as advertised. I just gave up trying to purchase these books from them (these are the two that I am still waiting for from JB.) I can see where you would click on purchase without paying attention to the fact that the sales price didn't populate at the last minutes, and then you would get stuck trying to straighten out your bill with them. (And once you've done that once or twice and realize how awful they are to deal with, you come to the conclusion your time is too valuable to waste an hour to save a few bucks... and they increase their profits.)

I don't know how amazon does it, but they have really raised the bar for customer service.

CulinaryArtist's picture

(post #62993, reply #14 of 18)

Amazon has always been a delite to deal with.  I emailed them that a package sent USPS was tracked to a spot in NJ several days after being shipped but three weeks later hadn't made it over the Hudson to NY.  They replaced the order, while it didn't make it for Xmas it arrived shortly afterward along with the original order!!  Go figure!





leonap's picture

(post #62993, reply #17 of 18)

Amazon was amazing for me this Christmas. I had several issues with orders/shipments and they practically bent over backwards on every one, even the ones where I caused the problem.

Lee's picture

(post #62993, reply #8 of 18)

I've been a member for years and years, but only buy from them if there is a very special sale and free shipping.  I find that Jessica's prices are always cheaper and the free shipping over $25 works out to considerably less than TGC would charge.  I've had a few problems over the years, and they are difficult to deal with.  It used to drive me nuts that they would advertise a special price in the monthly catalogue, but wouldn't honor it if you ordered online, or vice versa.  They've remedied that.

I can say the ditto for Book of the Month Club.  Some good sales, but otherwise, Amazon or is a better deal.

Marie Louise's picture

(post #62993, reply #9 of 18)

Jessica's Biscuit is a whole other frustration if you are on the west coast; I think people on the east coast have better luck. I ordered 2 books from them on Jan 2. They shipped on January 6, and have still not arrived, 16 days after I placed the order. I needed to send an email to confirm that they were shipped and get a tracking number-but they are en route via USPS. They promise delivery in 7 to 21 business days after shipping, so that could be as late as February 5-more than a month after ordering. The USPS site only says it is "processed" and "delivery date is unknown."

I feel like such a sucker! I am waiting more than a month to save a few bucks. Since I live on a hillside, it is really important for me to know the delivery date-they leave things in the strangest places, and if it is raining I need to find the package sooner rather than later.

I'm sticking w/ amazon from now on. I used to feel like it was important to support Jessica's Biscuit because I liked that they had lots of new but out-of-print cookbooks, but 5 weeks to get a cookbook is ridiculous. And why not send an email that your order has been shipped and here's the tracking number?

leonap's picture

(post #62993, reply #10 of 18)

I wonder if you could request that they use a different shipper? I hate having packages sent by USPS. Tracking with them is not an option.

Marie Louise's picture

(post #62993, reply #12 of 18)

I think I could have-it was just more expensive. They use that regional shipping pricing, and all of their costs to the west coast are expensive.

Jean's picture

(post #62993, reply #13 of 18)

Right now I'm so happy with the USPS that I could sing. I had a package to send to a DF and wasn't sure that the address was to XXXX street Big City or to Big City Suburb. I sent it to Big City and found (too late) that her mailing address was indeed,  BCSuburb. Besides that I had the zip wrong.  I fully expected to get the package back and warned her, but the very next day she emailed me that it had been delivered. I was one happy camper!

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Marie Louise's picture

(post #62993, reply #15 of 18)

I like our mailman, and the people at our local post office are a delight. It's just amazing to me in this day and age that a package is "delivery date unknown." I'm not even sure what is possible to do when and if 21 business days come and go and my package hasn't arrived. I'm guessing it will be one of those, we need to wait another month before we send out a new one...

leonap's picture

(post #62993, reply #16 of 18)

I'd be happy too! That is impressive.

Marie Louise's picture

(post #62993, reply #18 of 18)

My Jessica's Biscuit books arrived today: 18 days after I placed the order.

I'm sticking w/ amazon from now on.