View Full Version : Kobo: Gift cards + promo codes may not be a fair deal


CraftyDan
12-15-2010, 10:54 PM
Just wanted to issue a warning to those using the discount codes and have Kobo store credit (from their new gift cards).

I just tried to use a coupon code to buy something on store credit. The preview screen accepted the code for the book and showed the discounted price, but when I purchased it, it charged FULL PRICE.

This may be a bug in their new system -- I've got an email into their help line -- but caveat emptor! Agreeing to a price and charging something different is an egregious breach of trust, even if it is unintentional.

If I hear more from Kobo (fixing the problem or brushing it off), I'll post progress.

Catlady
12-16-2010, 01:24 AM
I have a gift card there and have used coupon codes the past two days, without any problem.

taming
12-16-2010, 05:55 AM
Dan--you would not be the first person who somehow missed clicking the little red word "apply" next to the field in which you enter your discount code. There are several steps before your book is actually purchased--including the whirling thing that calculates the new price after the discount is applied.

HarleyB
12-16-2010, 06:10 AM
Dan I love to hear a bit more detail about your problem.
Can you check the balance of your gift card to confirm that you were charged the full price? There was a bug a few weeks ago where people saw the reduced price and then pressed the buy button only to have the full price appear on the confirmation screen. This happened to me twice but fortunately I was actually charged the discount price.

Currently I am having another problem using the discount codes - instead of the cute little whirling thing that taming mentioned I get just a box with a cross and no reduced price. I haven't ever clicked BUY as the price stays at the original full price. Is that what happened to you?

Not that I'm wishing my problems on anyone else (cos it really stinks) but I would feel better if I knew it wasn't just me. :)

I'd love to hear what the help people have to say. So far they haven't really had much to offer me.

CraftyDan
12-16-2010, 07:01 AM
@tamming - yes, I clicked apply. The storefront accepted the coupon for that book and an updated the price in the "grand total". It wouldn't have done that if I hadn't pressed apply.

@HarleyB - That's how I noticed it. I checked the balance and found $0.11 instead of $5.05 I expected - big sticker shock! (BTW, I know what you mean about not-much-to-offer -- If it wasn't for the promo-codes, their prices usually stink.)

From Catlady's comment, it looks like I fell into a hole in their storefront software -- and it looks like it's not the only one in there.

I don't like it, but I can afford to loose $5 -- once -- on a processing error, BUT I cannot afford to do business with a company that doesn't respect a proper billing process.

Kobo's response will tell if I spend that $5.05 (and more) or abandon the $0.11 and find my books elsewhere.

taming
12-16-2010, 07:42 AM
There have been instances when the website did not reflect the discount, but the correct charge was made to the credit card. can you check your account to see if this happened to happen to you.

CraftyDan
12-16-2010, 05:39 PM
Unfortunately there isn't a credit card involved. This is store credit, and their balance for my store credit is $4.94 shy.

viviena
12-16-2010, 09:35 PM
I hope Kobo CS follows up your email quickly. They're well-meaning, but they can also be slow.

Thanks to Catlady's suggestion, I bought a gift card yesterday, applied it to my own account with store credit, and successfully purchased a book using the store credit and the 25% off coupon code. I really am very very pleased with this, especially since my CC company called me just this morning to inquire about all the little charges from Kobo I had been racking up, hehe.

SensualPoet
12-17-2010, 09:29 PM
On the other hand, Kobo: Gift cards + promo codes may not be a fair deal. Unfortunately, even when issues are resolved or a problem which was a mis-understanding is clarified, thread titles stay as they were originally.

I certainly hope, Crafty Dan, you get your issue resolved quickly and to complete satisfaction. I have enjoyed many discounts, all applied correctly. I haven't tried the store credit thing yet but all the promo codes I have had have worked as advertised.

CraftyDan
12-18-2010, 11:09 AM
Thanks SP. You're right, the issue seems to be "Kobo's storefront is buggy", but the die is now cast.

Did get a reply back from the triage CS -- forwarding it on to billing. I have a feeling viviena is right -- they seem sincere but SLOW.

taming
12-19-2010, 08:59 AM
Glad to see that triage CS is actually doing something. From what I have been told by a Kobo Project Manager, they put most of their staff into triage during the last week to clear up CS requests. I know they have been hiring and training CS workers as fast as they can and absolutely know that the CS has been horrible.

CraftyDan
01-16-2011, 10:13 AM
To report back, 29 days later Kobo has resolved the issue.

To recap since the last email:

At the 28 day mark Kobo sent out a "sorry for the wait, have a $4 coupon" message. It wasn't clear if this was an attempt to bribe me into giving up, an auto-apology for the continuing delay or a precursor to the solution.

In response, I replied that coupon < credit and $4 < $4.94 therefore problem != solved.

On day 29, I got another response that the refund to the credit was forthcoming, followed by another response 5 hrs later saying the credit was applied.


On the bad side, I'm less than thrilled with their turnaround time. There is no good reason for a company to take nearly a month to sort out a customer credit issue. Also, their CS site is nearly useless -- if it's not in the FAQs, be prepared for frustration. Why should I have to create a SEPERATE account for CS issues?!? and why does it take logging in TWICE to review an existing request?!?

On the good side, the issue was resolved and I did get a $4 coupon -- more than they usually hand out. It's something, but it does seem weak coming from a company that overcharges then hands out coupons like candy.

On the whole, I'll still do business with them, but if another vendor is even close in price, then Kobo will lose the sale -- they're just not worth the trouble.

taming
01-17-2011, 02:31 AM
Dan--the support site on Kobobooks.com is not really the place Kobo is providing day-to-day support any longer. They opened http://getsupport.com/kobo a few months ago.It hasn't been widely publicised, and it is possible that doing support this way is still kinda sorta beta-ish.

Kobo staffers were very clear that they knew their CS was a gong show and it seems like they have worked hard to improve things. They took forever to get through the backlog, but they seem to be getting there.

koland
01-17-2011, 10:16 AM
Why would any customer of kobobooks.com even look for some other site for support? I know they even respond on some of the boards out there (many odd ones, like "getsatisfaction"), but what consumer would even think to track those down? Better they take their limited resources and wall off the high school kids they have working for them (and playing on all these social sites) and make them respond to internal emails off their own site. Or, have their own CS link go to the site they are on in the first place.

taming
01-17-2011, 01:18 PM
Kobo staff are officially the managers of the getsatisfaction/kobo board and they are assigned to trouble shoot there as part of their jobs. This is very different than them choosing to hang out on the Kobo MR forum. The Get Satisfaction site is now the official support site for folks using the Kobo FaceBook page.

koland
01-17-2011, 05:14 PM
How would any customer know to visit a random social networking/third party site to get help? From the company's website, you get sent here: http://help.kobobooks.com/. Looks revamped, at least it seems easy to send in a ticket; I would expect replies via email, though.

As to http://getsatisfaction.com/ ... the roulette wheel is pretty. No reason for me to think the site is more than someone hoping to eventually strike it rich, a la facebook or anything to distinguish it from any other customers-supporting-customers website (none of which I would turn to for a problem with a specific company, especially a bookstore). If anything, it sounds like it wants to be an internet BBB, perhaps a "complain here and we'll go after a company for you, rather than you taking them to court yourself" or other such watchdog site ... assuming it has any teeth.

At least on the kobo facebook page, I can read stuff they put out themselves (but really, most walls of companies are just so much graffiti, so I would never go there to search for help). Twitter feeds are just one-way advertising streams, so again, not a place anyone would go for help.

Assigning managers to work on some third party board might keep you from getting black marks there ... but why would your customers, real or potential, be looking there in the first place? It does explain, though, why their REAL customer service turn-around is often several weeks and you get nothing but an automated email that they received your request and nothing else until it is resolved (if unresolved, of course, you never get anything else and it can be a month or more before you get a follow-up to the automated message).

Better they abandon those social sites and the ones designed to make money for others and devote themselves to actually providing service on their own site. Unless, of course, it's the same owners and they don't care if Kobo makes it, but want to concentrate their extremely scarce resources on the more lucrative looking IPO.

taming
01-17-2011, 09:52 PM
You clearly know far more about Kobo, what they should do, and what their future plans must be then I will ever know. Good for you, Karen!

JSWolf
01-17-2011, 10:03 PM
Dan--the support site on Kobobooks.com is not really the place Kobo is providing day-to-day support any longer. They opened http://getsupport.com/kobo a few months ago.It hasn't been widely publicised, and it is possible that doing support this way is still kinda sorta beta-ish.

Kobo staffers were very clear that they knew their CS was a gong show and it seems like they have worked hard to improve things. They took forever to get through the backlog, but they seem to be getting there.

The requested page could not be found.

Looks like the support page is not working very well. Maybe they closed it know it's a bad idea to have support away from the main website.

koland
01-17-2011, 11:36 PM
You clearly know far more about Kobo, what they should do, and what their future plans must be then I will ever know. Good for you, Karen!

I am just asking ... how would anyone find this random web site that you say they are now using to do support?Assuming it's working, of course?

I don't know what's best for kobo's owners, but as a business owner that consulted with many large employers over the years, I can spot areas that will kill your business. Ignoring customer service is one of the leading contenders.

I still can't tell how you found that Kobo support is on this other, apparently unrelated site (unless a google search found some kind of customer answer there; which I'd rank up with yahoo answers for likelihood of being correct). The roulette wheel is a nice touch though ... it must symbolize the likelihood of a correct answer (or of your customers finding you there, perhaps).

If they use that site for support, that's great ... but they should try to find some method of letting their customers know they are there, or they are wasting the money and time. They really have been doing a lot of promotion and improvement of their website, but customer service is atrocious and they are going to really work to overcome that. B&N is getting known for the same (including charging for free books without notice and super-long delays to get it acknowledged, let alone straightened out).

Then again, look what B&N has been doing with FW after buying them ....

iReaderReview
01-18-2011, 12:09 AM
coupons work great for me on Kobo. Better prices for Nook than anywhere else.

I think your issue is a one-off. With your thread you make it seem like coupons don't work, when for nearly everyone else they're working.

ATDrake
01-18-2011, 12:36 AM
On the whole, I'll still do business with them, but if another vendor is even close in price, then Kobo will lose the sale -- they're just not worth the trouble.

Glad to hear you got your problem solved, and that Kobo CS actually listened and didn't try to weasel when you pointed out that the actual issue hadn't been resolved on their first attempt.

I've soured on Kobo myself after my own run-in with them. Apparently egregious pricing errors on short stories that also happen to be included in a collection of short stories that the customer also bought on that very day are all the customer's fault, even if the listing later gets fixed in the catalogue. And theoretical online reading access==download for the purposes of interpreting their Terms of Sale which otherwise pretty much say "OK to cancel up until download occurs".

One day someone's going to click on the 15.49 asking price for this single essay (http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Chaos-An-Essay-From-Chuck/book-Q9Wv1zEiLEaaVBB8qbYtrA/page1.html), expecting to get something like this full collection (http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Chuck-Klosterman-IV-Decade-Of/book-kV9HxQleg0Gz-9ErpNtczQ/page1.html) (priced at 10.19), and get a thorough runaround when they try to get it fixed.

But in fairness, after they gave it up as a bad cause once I'd gotten my money back via my credit card company, the Kobo CS people did offer me a $4 off coupon, which now seems to be their standard apology credit in these situations.

I won't stop shopping at Kobo, because I still think they mean well even if they carry it out very poorly, but it's no longer my go-to place for purchase planning and it's going to take a fairly substantial $/% off coupon to get me to buy anything.

taming
01-18-2011, 02:01 AM
I am just asking ... how would anyone find this random web site that you say they are now using to do support?Assuming it's working, of course?
I found it from a link on one of the Kobo employee's MR profiles. 350+ people have registered to use it so far, so it can't be all that hidden. My sense has been that this is something they decided to try, with the Kobo site pages (which is actually zen desk), being reworked as a source for FAQ and not much else. If the trial works for them--and by that I mean that people are getting faster and better solutions, I would expect it will be linked in various places.

Kobo staff were dropping in on a bunch of boards/sites before this. The support page on FB was an unholy mess. Now when you open the "support" tab on their FB page, you get the Get Satisfaction site Kobo product. I would not usually think to turn to FB for support for a product, but a surprisingly large number of people actually do, it seems. 14,500+ people there have decided they "like" the Kobo page.

If this works out, and Kobo staff actually has one community type forum/site to monitor and support, it should be a plus. This is not the first tech product I have used that decided to do support via Get Satisfaction. It seems to promote the development of a user community whilst making it easier for employees to spot trouble points/trends and solve problems for folks.

Things change. If the end result is that Kobo CS improves, I don't much care how they do it. I do know that there had been a problem someone very frustrated (and angry) brought up on the Kobo forum on MR as his first post ever. It was suggested that he try GetSatisfaction, as it was an issue having to do with the iPAD app and we don't seem to have a lot of iPAD users on the MR Kobo forum. He didn't do it, and posted angrily again three days later. I decided to post his issue on the Get Satisfaction board, and had an answer (complete with screen shots) in less than an hour. That is just one anecdotal event, but it was valuable, in that case.

I guess time will tell.

CraftyDan
01-18-2011, 08:04 AM
I found it from a link on one of the Kobo employee's MR profiles. 350+ people have registered to use it so far, so it can't be all that hidden.

Tamming,

I have to say this is a bit of a dubious reply.

First, a link from a profile of an "employee" on a public forum isn't an official channel for support -- at best it's a back-channel, at worst it's a clever phishing hole. If it was the official channel, even in a Beta try, it would be linked from the main site or sent in a CS interchange.

Second, I think your 350+ metric is as fragile as the 14,500+ facebook metric. Of the 350, how many were already using this support site and added Kobo when it became available? Of the 350, how many are Kobo employees testing the service from both ends? Of the 350 how many are inflated by the site to make their numbers look better? After all, everyone starts of facebook with at least one "friend."

My point here is the metric is unreliable and the only known vectors to this site are "already knew it was there" and "somebody who says they work for the company listed it in their social network", THERFORE it's not a ligitimized source for support. I don't blame your IPAD poster -- I wouldn't have gone there either!


It is patently obvious you "like" Kobo, perhaps even beyond reason, however many others prefer to keep business relationships business. I don't owe Kobo any more loyalty than my store credit balance -- at least that's no longer $0.11! If I've been burned by their CS, I will be twice shy about future dealings. It's up to Kobo -- not it's fans -- to convince me otherwise.

queentess
01-18-2011, 08:46 AM
Thanks SP. You're right, the issue seems to be "Kobo's storefront is buggy", but the die is now cast.

Did get a reply back from the triage CS -- forwarding it on to billing. I have a feeling viviena is right -- they seem sincere but SLOW.

If you ask a mod, they can rename the thread title for you.

taming
01-18-2011, 09:08 AM
I didn't mean to get folks all worked up. My only point was to say that while I agree that CS has been lousy, they are trying something new to see if it makes the situation better. Maybe it will work, maybe it won't.