Canada’s largest bookseller distributed what it claimed were autographed copies of Wayne Gretzky‘s new book when in fact the books were machine-stamped instead.
“We have ordered thousands of author signed books in the past and have never had an issue. But in this case, unfortunately, we unknowingly received auto-penned versions instead of the promised autographed books,” Janet Eger, vice president of public relations for Indigo Books and Music, wrote in an email to Global News.
Gretzky has been on a book tour promoting his new memoir 99: Stories of the Game and appearing in person to sign copies of the hardcover, which is being heavily promoted by Indigo. Those autographed copies are all bona fide.
But Indigo was selling online what it claimed were autographed Gretzky books at a premium until recently when consumers noticed they weren’t the real deal.
“It looks like a lot of people like me figured out that these autographed copies we paid Indigo for aren’t actually autographed, but I wonder how many of your viewers also ordered an autographed copy and will never know Indigo sent them a fake?” wrote Tom Grainger of Victoria, B.C.
Grainger and other Global News viewers pointed out that the signatures were made by an autopen, an electronic signature meant to mimic a real one.
Indigo admitted it was distributing autopenned copies and said it would immediately offer refunds to customers who had bought them. The company said consumers could keep the books.
But that position is different from the one customer service representatives were giving to some buyers who called the company to complain.
“Indigo told me that they acknowledge that they were given fakes which they didn’t expect, and either the regular return policy applies or if I keep it they’ll send a $15 gift card because the books were $15 more expensive than unsigned copies,” Grainger said.
Indigo said it is serious about correcting the mistake.
“Our goal is always to be open and transparent with our customers and this note was planned to be sent today (Friday) along with an offer of the full refund of the purchase price of the book, with no return necessary, to our customers’ preferred method of payment,” Eger wrote.
“We have been responding directly to customers who have contacted us, and we have reconnected with the publisher to jointly find a solution to this disappointing customer experience.”
Indigo declined a request for an on-camera interview and refused to disclose the number of copies of Gretzky books it shipped with the autopen signature.
Book publisher Penguin Random House Canada told Global News it attempted to reach Wayne Gretzky for the purpose of getting more autographed copies, but that Gretzky could not be reached.