Temporary exile

Rant About B&N

On new years’ eve, I took a little trip to the local Barnes & Noble with Sarah and Ari to return some books that Ari got as gifts. We walked up to the customer service desk and were told that we needed to conduct our return business at the front registers. Fine. At the registers, we were told we needed to go to a special register and wait there. Also, fine. After a brief moment, a sales clerk met us and asked for our receipt. Since these items were given to Ari as a gift, we didn’t have reciepts.  The clerk informed us that without a receipt we could not receive “refund, return or credit”. After insisting that this was unfair treatment of a customer (because they were gifts!), she informed us that, “only during the holidays” we would be able to exchange them for something of equivalent value so long as we purchased more than the total amount. A little push can go a long way, but the premise is kind of silly to begin with. To their credit, the sales clerk asserted that the B&N decision not to keep sales records or honor transactions without a receipt is in response to customers’ privacy concerns. That’s a respectable sentiment regardless of how much of a hassle the resulting policy is to the end consumer. The clerk wrote down that we had a little over $25 to spend and Ari promptly went looking for another book he wanted. When he couldn’t find it, customer service politely informed him that, although there have been several printings of the book, they didn’t have a single one in stock. They could order it for him but it would take at least 3 business days before we had to drive back to the store for it. Ari found another book while Sarah and I got a few things to push us over the $25 mark. The one good piece of this was that I bought Stephen Wolfram’s A New Kind of Science for about $5 instead of the $\~50 it started at. In the end, we walked out having made due and but we were still annoyed and Ari didn’t get what he wanted. This brings me to my main set of concerns. If B&N doesn’t have the books we want, they take too long to order and we’re going to be hassled about basic components of doing business, why am I buying from B&N? Amazon Prime members have free 2-day shipping, which surely beats the order time of B&N, along with lower prices and an excellent return policy. After years of looking toward B&N, I don’t think their policies are doing much to keep me or my family as customers.

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