Update, May 13, 2016: We encourage you to check out Delphi again. The site assures us: “We have spent a considerable amount of time improving our new website and service, while restoring past purchases to our loyal customers’ new accounts and we feel that these blog posts are now no longer relevant to our new site, etc.”
Delphi Classics has been a favorite Web store of mine for over a year. In fact, I wrote about them as recently as this week, when I talked about my DRM-free January. And just as that story was going up, their site went down, due to a mysterious ‘deletion’ on their servers. I have been anxiously checking to see when it came back, and just a short while ago, I received the following email:
We are writing to inform you of changes to our website. Unfortunately, last Friday our webhost company deleted from their servers the entire files of several websites, including the Delphi Classics store. This was an error which we had no control over. We have managed to salvage web page information, eBook files and other data, but all customer accounts and order details were lost. The server on which we stored the backups was also affected, losing the details of thousands of orders and accounts.
We have been working hard over the last five days to build a completely new website, with improved performance and features, as well as a more secure location. Sadly, we are simply unable to restore your previous account details and you will need to create a new account to make a new order. When registering a new account, you can re-use the same username and password if you would like.
Updates of eBooks you purchased before
Over the next 12 months, if we make an update to an eBook you purchased before, you can send us an email claiming a free update and we will provide you with a coupon code to repurchase that title.
If we release a new version of Charles Dickens between now and 31st January 2014, you can claim a free update for that eBook with the four-digit Order no. from your previous order email (e.g. Order no. 5019). Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
SUBJECT: APPLICATION FOR UPDATE COUPON
MESSAGE: Charles Dickens Kindle eBook. Order no. 5019
This order number will allow us to confirm your previous order and issue you a coupon code for the Dickens eBook, which you can use at once to re-purchase the title for free.
With regret we are unable to provide customers with coupons for every order made over the last two years due to the sheer number and complexity of orders. We apologise for the disappointment this has caused and ask for your patience while we complete the construction of our new website.
Savings and Discounts
We shall continue to offer our eBooks at the cheapest prices possible, with large discounts and special offers throughout 2013. At the moment we are offering our most generous discount yet: 50% off all Delphi Poets Series eBooks.
DISCOUNT CODE: SKYLARK
I applaud Delphi Classics for getting back in the game ASAP with a prettily re-designed new site, but I have a few questions about how this is all going to play out:
1. How are we supposed to get transaction numbers to send them if we can’t access out past accounts?
2. How useful would transaction numbers even be if they themselves have lost all their customer data?
3. What will the upgrade process be for customers who can’t produce these transaction numbers?
4. Will books which get updated after the one-year deadline need to be repurchased, or can those be upgraded too?
Almost 200 customers have logged into a thread on MobileRead pondering these very questions, and many of them are disgruntled, to say the least. A few choice comments:
From jgaiser: I *don't* save receipts. I expect I'll be able to go back to the site and retrieve books as I need to. Delphi is going to have to do some pretty fast talking to get me back.
From RogerVA: I really don't think they have any idea how bad this is? I'd be falling over backwards to make things right rather than saying this is the way it is, take it or leave it. Pretty crazy stuff, in my opinion..!
Personally, I am reserving judgement until I have heard back from Peter at Delphi Classics. I sent him an email asking for clarification on some of these questions, and I’ll be sure to post an update once I hear more. At the very least, I think Delphi Classics owes its loyal customers a better explanation than what we’ve got right now, and I think perhaps they’ll need to adjust their stance on a few things before this is all cleared up. Stay tuned to TeleRead for further updates!
Personally, I’m inclined to cut them some slack – after all, they’ve just had basically the equivalent of their whole offices and warehouses going up in flames through no fault of their own, and I’m sure everyone would be more than a bit shellshocked if that happened to them. Under those circumstances, I think they did an excellent job getting the site up again so quickly, and I get the feeling they’re doing the best they can to repair the damage. I’ve never had any but the very best experiences with Delphi Classics myself and so far I see nothing to seriously shake my confidence in them – maybe things might have been handled even more smoothly in an ideal world, but we are all human after all, and everyone would reel under the impact of such a major desaster happening to them. Again, considering this, I think they are handling things very well and remain one of the best e-book stores around.
I had a look a look at the Delphi Classics website when reading this and although it looks like a nice enough webshop, the selection of ebooks made me wonder why one wouldn’t choose gutenberg.org instead. Lots of classics there but of course free of charge since the rights to these authors works have expired.
Just wondering …
It’s astonishing that anyone seriously in the online business does not have tested failsafe procedures for company records. How do they plan to comply with local business laws (such as taxation)? Plus, presumably there would be a record of every sale they made through Amazon? Bad things happen to people (and companies) sometimes but in this day and age not to have secure near real-time backups of customer accounts is quite shocking.
Alexander – That’s exactly what surprises me the most about this whole ordeal. As Palinurus rightly pointed out above, a very unfortunate thing did happen to Delphi, and they have done a very good job of whipping a new site into shape very quickly. They seem to be on the ball. But then, how is it possible that their data wasn’t backed up anywhere aside from their main server?
Perhaps it’s the hosting company’s fault—maybe they suggested to Delphi that their data was backed up in multiple locations when it really wasn’t? Who knows.
It’s hard to point fingers at the hosting company since Delphi owns and is responsible for the data. It’s not enough to think you have backups; these need to be tested and confirmed regularly. Imagine if VISA had a server crash and couldn’t recover customer records, relying on customers to send in an old email reference to prove they’d paid their bill ….
I’ve also emailed them pointing out that I can supply Paypal receipts rather than the order emails, but I didn’t get a direct response to that.
Delphi also told me that Updates weren’t guaranteed to keep occurring in the future because it was an expensive exercise, so whether the updates are doomed in the long run I don’t know?
Ive made many purchases from Delphi, before and after their servers crashed….they are great, very helpful and made sure that I had access to anything Id purchased before the crash. Ive never userstood the handful of petty haters of them, they are great, really nice folks offering excellent cheap products
Doesn’t sound like they care much for their customers at all.
They’re all about being the cheapest option and getting the majority of the sales by authors in the public domain, but seem to go up in arms when they make the outrageous mistake of not backing up customer data. This is their fault!