The Astrology Center of America, 207 Victory Lane, Bel Air, MD 21014
Tel: 410-638-7761; Toll-free (orders only): 800-475-2272
Home Author Index Title Index Subject Index Vedic Books Tarot E-Mail: Dave



Frequently Asked Questions


This is divided into three sections:
1. Order Problems
2. Software Questions
3. Other FAQ's

1. Order Problems

On Your Email Address.
April, 2003: Lately I've had a rash of customers emailing for information about their order, typically two weeks after they placed them. These are orders that, for various reasons, either have not yet been sent, or which were sent incomplete. (The usual reason is stock shortages, unavoidable in an operation that stocks as many hard-to-find titles, from as many obscure publishers, as we do.) The puzzling thing about these is that in almost every case, I had sent a timely note explaining the delay, usually within 24 hours of the customer placing the order. So did the customer get my email & forget, or is there some other problem?

As near as I can figure, the explanation goes a bit like this: Many people have more than one email address. People with more than one email address typically consider one to be "public" and one "private". The "public" address given to us is actually considered a spam magnet & is therefore checked rarely if at all. The "private" address is given out only to close friends & associates. Eg, not to us. So when we have a problem with the order, we send email to an address which the customer never checks. (We know the address is valid. Emails sent to invalid addresses bounce back with the speed of, well, email.) The customer waits a polite period of time (far too long, actually) & then, using their "real" address, emails to ask what's going on. We dig up our weeks-old reply & resend to that real address. Where it is promptly acknowledged. Anymore this happens once or twice a week. Not a lot, I suppose, but still. I could tag all my replies with Return Receipts, but I personally find incoming emails with Return Receipts annoying. And it wouldn't solve the problem.

Dear Reader, you might think it strange that people would complain of not getting emails that were not sent to an address that was not provided to us. If you do, you're not alone. It's also possible that my replies get lost among the spam & deleted. Around here we get a couple dozen spams a day. Over a week or so, that's a plain mess to sort out.

As an example, here's a note I got today (April 13, 2003):

Dear Dave,

No, I was not necessarily looking for her e-mail but maybe I should have asked for that. I want to use some of Richard's material in a book I am beginning and the quotes exceed the 50 word limit.

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you, I seldom check my Yahoo address.

Cheers...........Phyllis

Supplied with this email - as with her first - was her seldom checked Yahoo address: *********@yahoo.ca

For the record, we never send spam & we never share our customer data with anyone else. Not names, not addresses, not phones, not emails.

Proper email address ensures timely notification of order problems. Thanks!

On Orders & Emails.
It used to be that occasional emails were a pleasant diversion from the work day, but that was many years ago. Now emails come in great floods & must be handled like any other daily task. Here's how we do it:

The first order of business is to process & ship on-line orders that can be processed. Eg, the items ordered are in stock, the shipping charges are correct, the shipping address is valid, the credit card works. Mercifully, this is true of the bulk of the orders we receive from the net. Aside from the automatic order confirmation, we do not otherwise reply to these orders.

Next, I answer emails that need only simple, short answers. You have a better chance of a fast reply if your question is simple & direct, even though my reply may be rather longer.

After those come replies to emails where I must first research books, check with suppliers, sort out shipping & out of stock items, explain astrological terms, etc. There's only a handful of emails that need this kind of attention, but they can take more than an hour each. Consequently,

Email that asks if we really do stock all the books we display, or asks for current prices or shipping costs (all of which are clearly shown on this site), or which request descriptions of books in addition to the blurbs, all of these emails tend to go to the bottom of the stack, I get to them eventually. It's not that I want to be rude. It's just demoralizing to grind that out all over again, especially when there's so many other emails that need attention. (I spend the better part of every day replying to emails.) For the record, we do stock all the books listed on the Author Index and Title Index. When books go out of print or can no longer be had, we delete them from the site.

In the evenings I reply to incomplete orders. More than 80% of orders go out without delay, so incompletes are a minor problem.

And there are a handful of personal emails from the many friends I've made on the net over the years. These are refreshing but often distracting. I can fuss the better part of a day chatting with an old friend, ignoring piles of other emails. Since you asked, I no longer do real-time, on-line chats. Ran out of room on the hard drive, I deleted ICQ. I never had AOL's Instant Messenger.

Faxes: It's messy to generate a faxed reply to a fax. I don't get a lot of faxes. The occasional fax I do get can sit on my desk a week before I get to it.

Regular mail: I regret to say I don't get to the mail much better than I get to faxes. There seems to be a European habit of sending mail or faxes instead of emails. If you have access to the net, please, send emails.

So that's the story of emails around here. If it's urgent, phone. I'm in Monday - Friday, 10 am - 5 pm: 410-638-7761

How much does it cost to ship books/tarot cards to Europe (or Asia, Africa, South America, etc.)?
As of May, 2007, the post office has simplified our lives. We can ship flat rate envelopes to all countries in the world, either by standard airmail, or, for a bit more than twice as much, Express. To find the current rates, put the item(s) in the shopping cart, go to the cart, and check.

P.S. A shopping cart is, in reality, just another page on the internet. You can go there & look around all you want. If you don't put your name & address on it, we'll never know you were there. To get out of the page, click on a link or use your browser's BACK key.

My international order was sent by Surface Mail. It's been a month & still no package. Where is it?
As of May, 2007, the US post office no longer offers international surface mail. Everything goes by air. Border areas of Canada & Mexico may be exceptions, but there are no others.

My international order was sent by airmail. It's been a month & still no package. Where is it?
Packages do arrive eventually. On a statistical basis, lost packages amount to less than one half of one percent of our total volume. If your package is lost, we are happy to replace it. Meanwhile, here are things you can do that may help:

Ask us to check the address. We don't often make mistakes, but it never hurts to check. This means to email us your full & complete address & let us compare that to what we have on our files. I've been known to transpose 114 for 144, though not often.

Ask your neighbors if they may have received the package for you. This has happened to me, it's happened to a customer in Los Angeles. The postman arrives, you're out, he leaves it with a neighbor who puts it on a shelf & forgets all about it. Good intentions, but for you, no package!

Ask your postman. A package from the States comes plastered with stamps & stickers - it's memorable. And for that matter, don't take your postman for granted! Please remember him/her at your holiday gift-giving season. A small gift (not just a card) in thanks for service means a great deal to those guys. If you remember them, they'll do a better job of remembering you. And that means better mail delivery.

Ask at your post office. Your postman doesn't work every day, he gets days off from time to time. When that happens your mail is delivered by a substitute. Substitutes are notorious, everywhere, for poor delivery of packages. One way or another, delivery tickets can go astray & when that happens unclaimed packages are eventually returned - often by surface, which can be extremely slow. Over one summer a package sent to central Europe went unclaimed & was returned. Believing the package lost, I had already replaced it.

My package was sent by UPS/DHL/Fedex (etc.) and did not arrive.
I no longer use UPS/Fedex/DHL. I use US Express Mail international. It's half the price, just as fast, and just as secure.

(International customers) I had to pay a fee to get my package. Why?
Canada & some countries in western Europe, perhaps other countries as well, levy import duties (ie, taxes) on imported books. We don't think that's fair, but that's the law in some countries. Do find out - from your post office - what the rules are for imports. Packages under a certain amount (say, $20 or $50) are usually exempt from duties. If so, we are happy to package your books to meet these requirements (generally as several packages), just ask. You will pay more for postage, but probably save on duties. And duty-free packages may arrive more quickly as well.


2. Astrology Software FAQ's

Where can I get astrology software?

See my sad notes on software here Good luck!


3. Other FAQ's

Are you guys really astrologers?
Uh..... what do you think?

Do you give readings? Can you tell me when I'll get rich, find the right partner, get a good job?
No. Apologies.

Can you recommend a good astrologer?
Wish we could! The tricky part is matching the reader to the client, which means we need to know a lot about both parties to be a good matchmaker. Or the reader needs to be really good to take on all comers. We've met three really good counseling astrologers over the years, none of them still in practice. Their rates ran from $100 - $200 per session. And apologies to all the other readers out there. I only recommend people that I know personally as readers & whom I think are really outstanding. There's lots of good readers out there that I haven't met. Someday I hope to meet you all.

Aren't there lists of astrologers?
Yes. Some of them are members of various astrological organizations & some of them have passed various certification exams, so folks on a list are sometimes known in the profession & might be technically competent. But neither of these qualifications make for good counselors, though they may be. And lists are often old. A lot of people take up astrology with great enthusiasm, print up business cards & then fade out after a year or two.

For a list, try the AFA in Tempe, AZ: 480-838-1751, email: AFA@msn.com . If you live in a big city, look in the white pages of your phone book for "National Council for Geocosmic Research", sometimes abbreviated as NCGR. Believe it or not, they're astrologers. Donna Cunningham has been trying to train better counseling astrologers. See her monthly columns in Dell Horoscope.

My teacher assigned essays & I chose astrology. Can you help?
Yes. Get a good book & read it. We sell lots of them. If you're brave, find a local astrologer & talk to him/her. And while you're at it, talk to your librarian. Astrology is 5000 years old (Hindus think it's ten times that) & has attracted the serious attention of the greatest minds who ever lived. Yet in a typical library you will find more books denouncing astrology than describing it. Folks, that's bigotry, nothing less, and needs to stop. It's time libraries stocked astrology books as a matter of course. Astrology can stand a fair examination, it's time that it gets it. You could be the one to do that, but it will take a lot more than one casual paper.

Do give discounts? What if I make a really big order?
No discounts, sorry. I remember discount bookstores from the early 1970's: They all went bust. Books are not like CD's or clothes. Books are labor & material intensive & have little markup, so cannot be discounted. Neither technology nor the internet are likely to change this.

The reason there's so many introductory books on astrology, and so few advanced, is the commercial marketplace eternally grinds astrology books down into sun-sign nothingness. Discounts (so often phony, if you only knew) are a major factor in this process. If we're going to break this cycle we will need to spend good money for good books. Which is the only thing that will encourage shops like mine to find good books & authors to write better ones.

Do you do wholesale?
We wholesale the books we publish, at the usual terms. See the list of titles
here.

Aside from that, we're a retail store just like you. Here are the names of our major wholesalers: AFA in Tempe, AZ; New Leaf in Georgia. These two suppliers account for about 2/3rds of our stock. Both have webpages, a simple search will turn them up. If you're curious, Baker & Taylor, and Ingram (the two largest book distributors in the country, probably the world) have little serious astrology stock.

Do you ship COD?
No. They are too often refused, and when they are, we lose both the postage & the COD fee. If you have no credit card nor checking account, send us money orders. You can get them at the post office, and at grocery & drug stores.

Do you accept international wire transfers?
No. Our bank makes a mess of them.

On the other hand, Western Union is very fast & works very well. Their money transfers takes less than an hour.

For more discussion of payment options, see Order Info. Scroll down until you get to the section about payment options.

I want to open a New Age store. Can you give any advice?
Yes. Don't. Or at the very least, go visit other new age stores in your neighborhood & ask the owners how they're doing. Outside of major urban areas, like New York, Boston, Chicago & San Francisco, the US has serious demographic problems that prohibit a wide variety of stores of any kind. There are reasons why we're a nation of McDonald franchises. Don't sink $50,000 in a store to find out what those reasons are.

If, on the other hand, you're well-connected in your community, have previous business experience, have some sort of capital in hand (any more, a stack of credit cards), can survive at least a year before you make a profit & are a go-getter, then try, by all means.

I confess that we were lucky. We discovered effective national advertising & got in on the internet in the early days. If you can do the same, more power to you. In the process of starting a store I learned something very interesting: A lot of local merchants work very hard, very long hours, just to hang on. Before I opened this store I knew no shopkeepers. Now most of my friends are shopkeepers. So don't give up a good job, don't blow the family fortune to get into this profession. Heck, even if you've got a bad job, if it pays the rent, keep it. If you're fated to be a merchant, let fate dump it in your lap. Don't tempt it otherwise. And don't imagine you can do it part-time. Your business won't get off the ground & your real job will suffer. To say nothing about what your spouse will do to you.... And don't, please don't, fall for any of the easy money hype you see on TV. Those are all scams.

Any successful start-up merchant can tell you about the string of failed businesses that preceded the one that worked. So if you are destined to try & try only to fail & fail again, pick up the pieces & try some more. Eventually you'll succeed. And it is worth it.



The Astrology Center of America

207 Victory Lane, Bel Air, MD 21014
Tel: 410-638-7761; Toll-free (orders only): 800-475-2272

Home Author Index Title Index Subject Index Vedic Books Tarot E-Mail: Dave


Established 1993, The Astrology Center of America is owned & operated by David Roell.
This entire site (AstroAmerica.com) is copyright 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 by William R. Roell.
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