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Thursday, October 10, 2013

An Open Letter to Barnes & Noble

10 October, 2013

Barnes & Noble
To Whom It May Concern;

On September 11, 2013 I placed an order for three books on I had a $40 gift card and was excited to share some of my favourite children’s books with my son. I chose to order on to make the most of the money I had, and was able to choose the free shipping option, making the total of my order $40.02; pretty good. I entered the gift card information and placed my order. I saw the confirmation page but didn’t write down the number; the email would surely arrive shortly, and if not, would still have the information. A few hours later, I checked back and there was no sign of my order. I called customer service and they confirmed that there was no pending order and that the full balance was still available on the gift card. I placed the order again, upon their recommendation and received two email confirmations of my order. Later that day I received a shipping email. Instead of telling me that the two books that were available would ship immediately (as I expected), it said all three books would ship October 2. I called customer service again because I thought it was ridiculous that I would have to wait almost a month for the books I ordered when 66% of the order was available immediately. When I called I was informed that because I chose the free shipping option, they would package the items in “as few packages as possible.” I didn’t realize that meant “1 package, regardless of the delay time.” I tried to explain this would be past our celebration, since one of the books was a gift, but to no avail. I resigned myself to waiting.

On October 2, I received two shipping notifications. Finally! However, upon opening the email, I saw that only the two immediately available books had shipped and the third was not included. So I had waited a month for absolutely no reason. I called customer service again and was informed that the third book should ship within a week. This is also when I realized that the order had been duplicated and my credit card had been charged. I was mad because I had been assured that no other order was there. The supervisor was unavailable until the next day, so I was told I would receive a call the next day. After speaking with a supervisor, I was told that the order on my credit card would be cancelled and refunded, and he would try to stop the delivery of the duplicate order. I was very upset because this order had now taken up much of my time and would take up more, since I was sure it would be delivered and I would have to find the time to drop off the box for return. With a 12 month old, this is not an easy feat. The supervisor offered me a $25 gift card for my inconvenience.

On October 8, I received another email telling me that my delayed order required my attention. When I clicked on the link, I was told that the order would ship on October 24, much later than the week I was promised by customer service. I called back because I am moving to Alabama on October 21, and would have to change the address to reflect my move. I was assured that the product would ship on the 24th as there were currently 90 copies in stock for 400+ orders, and that more stock was coming in from the publisher. The address was changed without issue, and it changed the amount of the sales tax, dropping my order to $39.87. I realized on October 9 that the balance of my gift card had not been refunded. When I called customer service again, I was informed that once the order was placed, the remaining 13 cents would go back to the card. This makes no sense—the gift card would be charged when the order was shipped, but despite the order amount having changed, I couldn’t use the extra money until then. I know it’s not a lot of money, but it’s the principle and it would’ve made a difference on an order I placed later—I was 9 cents short, and this would’ve made all the difference. I was offered a $5 gift card, which was very kind. I was also told that the previous supervisor should not have told me any numbers on the books, and assured that stock was being replenished even now and that the book would ship on October 24 as I had been told.

On October 10, I received an email informing me that my order was cancelled. I was infuriated, irate. I was so mad that I was shaking. After all of the problems with this order, this was the last straw. I called customer service again (this makes 7 calls to customer service about this one order) and was informed that they didn’t know why the order was cancelled. At first, the representative told me it was because the book was out of stock. When I said I had just spoken to someone yesterday who assured me the inventory had just arrived, he changed his answer to “we don’t know.” He offered to place a new order for the book. When we got to the payment, I said I wanted to pay with the same gift card I had originally used, since the balance should be returned to it. I didn’t have the gift card, since I thought I had used up the entirety on the original order, but the representative looked it up and found the information. When he told me I would be responsible for hipping charges, I really lost it and asked to be transferred to a manager. This time, I wrote down the name. I spoke with a manager named Rhonda. After explaining the entire situation, she agreed that I should not be responsible for the shipping charges. I maintain that with all of the problems, I should not have to pay for the book, but would accept free, expedited shipping. She placed the order as a pay-by-phone order since the funds would not be returned to my gift card for 24 hours, and said that she would make sure she checked on the gift card and applied payment the next day so I wouldn’t have to worry about it. It would be shipped to my current address wit the understanding that it would arrive before my move. I was and am so angry that I am shaking. The price for the book has now changed. Instead of the $14.99 that it cost on October 2, I am now going to be charged 15.86 plus tax. She did not apply the coupon I asked the original representative to apply (I was so upset I forgot to mention it to her) and I was offered absolutely no recompense for this issue, which is by far the most ridiculously asinine problem I have experienced. She also could offer no explanation for why or even how the order was cancelled.

I am a loyal Barnes & Noble customer. I have a nook and have spent a fair amount of time, energy and money building up my nook library. I love supporting brick and mortar bookstores, only using the online feature when I need to save my money. But this, this is asinine. This is unacceptable. I do not know how you keep customers when you treat them like this and expect them to put up with a SAGA to receive the products that they are paying good money for. I do not have the money to switch my e-reader and my e-book collection to a kindle, but it is an appealing idea with all of these unnecessary, unexplainable problems I have encountered (this is not the first order I have had issues with.) I cannot believe that your company expected me to shoulder shipping costs, and still expects me to shoulder the change in price when I had no choice in the cancellation. I am disappointed and furious with your company right now.

Feel free to contact me with any questions, I am more than happy to answer them. I will be posting this on your facebook page as well as my facebook an my blog as an open letter to your company.

With disappointment,

Emmi Lawrence

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