well, another anecdote to add to the "bad customer service from B&N" aspect of why they're not doing so well ...
i live in more than one country. in the UK where i live, there are several bookstores within a few hundred meters of one another ... Waterstones, WH Smith, the Works, Blackwells and a £2 bookstore, to name just a few. Especially with Blackwells, it's never a problem to find a copy of pretty much any book I want.
but i'm in the us right now, and was having trouble getting hold of a book that's not in ebook format in the kobo store, so i thought i'd get it at B&N. I check online. They have a "locate in store" feature. I see it's in three stores. Great. I head out to the one at the fancy mall. My mistake. I should have used the "reserve" feature. I get out there, no one can locate the book. They show two in stock. OK, I go ahead, grab a coffee, and reserve it at a store across town.
They text me back to say "sorry, can't find it."
I'm starting to get suspicious of whether their inventory tracking system is working. But I try the third store. My last option.
They text me back half an hour later to say they have it. They're across town and yet further away. But I head up there to pick up the book.
I get there, circle around for a while until I can find any parking spot at that mall, at all. Finally get one, go in, grab my book.
It didn't occur to me that they might sell me a damaged book. They'd wrapped a white printout around it, and rubber-banded it. I didn't think to ask to see the book because I knew what book I wanted, and they said the right title and author, and they peeled away part of the wrapping of the front cover to show it to me. I pay for it, I go home. I should add, I was about an hour from where I live by this point in my wanderings.
I get home, unwrap the book from the printout it's in. The back cover looks like it's been shredded by wild animals. It's torn and the paper and plastic overwrap are separated. The last few pages of the book are damaged as well to the two outer corners.
I call the store. I ask to speak to a manager, who tells me it's B&N corporate policy thate refuses to let them tell the customer if they are reserving a damaged book. So they apparently knew they were trying to trick me into buying a damaged book. We talk for about 15 minutes. She's unapologetic. She just keeps repeating that the corporate poicy says they're not allowed to tell the customer the condition of the book if the book is reserved, and this is a hazard. I ask if I have to drive the whole way back to their particular store to return it, or if I can return it at any B&N. They say I can return it to any store.
So I set off to return it to the closest one to me, about 5 miles away. They refuse to take it back, because it's damaged, and don't believe that I bought it damaged. I tell them they can call the store I bought it at, and talk to the manager I just talked to who knew they were going to give me a damaged book. They say no, I'll have to talk to the corporate office on Monday.
Sigh. My thoughts through this went from "huh. I wonder if all this running around and bad inventory system is part of the bad customer service" to saying "I now see why people get really frustrated with B&N if they knowingly sell damaged books to their customers."
I wouldn't have thought they'd knowingly try to disguise a book to keep me from seeing it was damaged. But let's just say this is one person who will no longer be adding any money to B&N again.
I've sent an email to the main corporate headquarters. But honestly, one book should not be so difficult to find in their inventory, nor should it be so problemmatic to just get an undamaged copy.
And I still need to find a copy of this book ... and figure out who will take this copy back ...