What makes a book 'good' or 'bad'?
I'm interested in hearing what criteria people use to assess whether or not to play in a particular sportsbook/casino etc.
A major (but by no means the only) factor I consider is customer service.
One example of this is, perhaps surprisingly, Cashpoint; Their website is very flaky, even more so of late, it can be frustrating, but it mostly gets there in the end, and payouts of late are in hours rather than days. More importantly, when things have gone wrong, like a disappearing deposit issue I had a few days ago, a polite email to their customer services has lead to a swift and pleasant resolution in this and the several other times that I've had to contact them. Now, it would be better of course if such issues didn't crop up in the first place, but it's how the problems are resolved which makes the difference imo, between a book I can trust, and one which I would avoid. In the majority of books which are not blatantly rogue the majority of customers will not experience problems. A difference between between the books becomes apparent in how they react when something goes wrong.
There's been a bit of a debate in the forums in the past couple of days about another book, where, again, while the vast majority of people do not experience problems, it's clear that when they do occur, people can have a job to do to get things resolved, and in a small but not isolated number of cases, there looks from what I can see to be a danger to the customer's funds on the whim of a company representative.
Now this one factor is not the whole story, by any means, as, for example, you don't want a book to die on you with significant funds trapped in there, you don't want to be limited mid way through a WR, or palped willy nilly.
What other factors do people look for?
Communication - (phone, email, live chat, memo system, different languages) - usually the more the merrier but you can take a book like Pinnies which is email only and yet still seems to provide fast and accurate CS in front of many others who offer phone/live chat for example.
Basic training - it's no good being fast if your staff are unable to be accurate and clear with their information. Even with BF, a huge company, the other day a player asked about a rule which the CS should have been able to find themselves or at least find out about. This didn't happen. Ok, so I'm a nutcase and can stream thousands of words of rules in a second but I found it in 2-3 minutes. His custom is worth 2-3 minutes.
Decision making - ok, sometimes things go wrong but making a fair decision on how to proceed is important to the player and the image of the company (since many players now share experiences with thousands of people in the click of a finger!). Again with BF (holy crow, they're taking my wrath here!), they failed to credit a refund claiming I had deposited by Moneybookers. I had previously done so but the funds used for the offer were from my card and the terms didn't mention that if you had ever funded by MB you couldn't take part. And they emailed me the promotion direct with my username. Presented with this, common sense would say 'instead of refusing this player a refund, I will forward it to promotions or my manager' or something! But no, two replies both saying I couldn't get a refund... and it was me who had to tell them to send it to promotions. This happened and they duly apologised and gave me the money. But it was totally un-needed. Was I trying to scam them? No. I've paid in a fair amount of commission... why treat me like that?
Certainly it can be a bit of a put off if sites only operate in one or very limited currencies or they only use one or very limited methods to deposit and withdraw. Beyond that, most European players are probably used to having free payouts in the main but venture into the US-facing world and it can be a bit shocking when you first start. Funnily enough, and it's like a Stockholm Syndrome kinda thing, the more you play at places, the more you become accustomed to what would initially have probably seemed unacceptable things - delays for payment ('well I have £25k so it's ok to pay me my £250 next month!') and the aforementioned fees.
The variety, the prices and the limits are obviously all important but depending on who the book caters to, different people would see the same book as being good or bad depending on wha they are as a bettor. If you find an 'arb city' book, you may think 'good, I've found arb city!' but you're probably not stating it is actually a good book normally (though some good books may well have weak areas of course).
Functionality and up time is important... how many times do you get frustrated with ... er... BF (again!) with its bizarre ability to mess up, or Pinnie going down, or major 'UK' books coming to a standstill in the hour before kickoff on a Saturday?
Terms, rules and licences
Where you can see unfair terms, lacklustre rules talking even more nonsense than I do, or licenses ffrom countries which don't even return a result in google... you can probably call that a bad bad book!