I’m a reader. I use an ereader, and more often than not, I purchase the books that I read. I like having a digital library for a variety of reasons, mostly so that I can go back and reference things.

A few months ago, I tried to purchase a book through Barnes and Noble for my Nook app on my ipad. When I hit PURCHASE, I got a notification that there was an issue with my credit card and I couldn’t but the book. But at the same time I got this note, I got an alert that my AMEX was charged for the amount of the book and the charge was from BN. (I have an alert every time my card is used- I find it convenient on many levels)

hmmmm

I call AMEX. They see the charge, but tell me that it’s “pending” which means it won’t actually hit my account for 3 days. But they see it, and there’s no issue with my card.

OK

I try to contact Barnes, but it’s late and their customer service is closed.

Next morning I get a rep, I explain the problem, I get switched to like five different people, and they get me my book.

Two days later I see a book from my TBR that is on sale as an ebook. I go to purchase the book and the exact same thing happens- denied buying a book, yet pending charge is there.

Call the rep- repeat the process- yada yada- get book…

A few days go by- I have book club- find out new book…

Same thing.

I repeat the entire process. Except this time I add:

Can you have a manager call me back and explain why this keeps happening and how can we fix it?

To which I got the reply:

No. Management is instructed not to call people back.

How do you think I reacted to this little nugget of information?

Well, if you guessed: LA emailed the CEO and the top five executives at Barnes and Noble you would win a prize…

I actually wrote in the email: I’m trying to buy books from your company. Is Barnes and Noble interested in selling books?

Amazing how someone from “management” called me back without twenty minutes of the email going out…

It turns out, that the issue I’d reported had been reported by a bunch of other customers. But because people are 1) working remotely and 2) no one is looking for a pattern, no one at BN had been aware that there was a problem. And this computer glitch was so involved the fix could not be executed till the end of the month when the big patches go through.

Two weeks later the issue was resolved, and I no longer needed a personal assistant at Barnes and Noble..,

I must wonder though, with all these customer satisfaction surveys, all this tech…how could an issue this large, an issue impacting selling books, could have gone unnoticed until I hounded people? I received an email thanking me for being vigilant, because this could have been a massive problem- but really, while I appreciate the note, when did it become the responsibility of the customer to be the vigilant one?

49 thoughts on “Can’t I Just Buy a Book?

  1. I’m surprised they actually told you that management doesn’t call people. It is amazing how fast they respond when you get to the higher ups. Back when I got the physical newspaper I had constant issues with my delivery. No one in customer service seemed to care and many times tried to claim I ahd called to cancel my account. I found the name of the head of the department, found him on Twitter, told him all of the issues, and suddenly the person in charge of delivery in my area was personally delivering my paper.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You have just described my change over with health care coverage, within the SAME company mind you, to a tee. The right hand very often has no clue what the left is doing- or not doing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s inconceivable to me that a thing happening multiple times to multiple people could go unnoticed. Do we think it is infallible?

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  3. Unfortunately that is the way of the world today. They think we should take whatever they hand us. That doesn’t work for me. I too call and complain. But why do we have to call. You’re right. When did it.become our job to fix their.problem? We should get paid their hourly salary

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I wonder if all the companies that have moved their “customer service” to online technology only will ever stop and consider that the techies who design the systems are not customer service people. These systems require frequent testing and responsiveness from well-trained, pleasant, listening human beings. Companies forget this at their peril.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Exactly what I thought. Apparently they put through a minor “fix”, but how do you not check to make sure the minor fix didn’t impact something else (which in this case created a nightmare) and…isn’t someone checking the customer service call logs to see if there’s repeated patterns of things?

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m so glad you were vigilant! This kind of thing happens to me all the time! I’ve shut down credit cards for crazy stuff like this! I use my own bank card rather than Amazon’s card because the exact same thing happened with that card . It also happened with my bank card too at a particular merchant. I want to say perhaps it is Hackers? Russia! Bad employees? Dunno. Maybe a combo of everything. These days weird stuff always happens electronically .

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Unfortunately, Ive had the same issue with B&N on and off for serval years. I finally switched my payment method to Paypal and it has worked fine since then. Same result with their help(less) desk which made me think try a different pay method. I didnt bother with an email sicne I sent a physical letter to Verizon several years ago (before Covid so there is no excuse) when I had issues. It was ignored so I didn’t even bother B&N.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I had to laugh! LA you are a trooper for sure! Or … nope a trooper!
    Loved it that you emailed the executives at Barnes and Noble!!! I actually had the same issue with an order back in June with “real” book order with them. Card not working message then it hit my account as pending and then I received a shipping notice! Really, if I did as I normally do, let’s try a different card, order again… I could have had multiple copies!
    As far as being our own customer bitch lines, it is so true and sad that we are having to take these issues to the next level because 1) management doesn’t do Jack about anything anymore!
    2) That customer service no longer is about the customer but how to push off or delay issues with resolving them!
    Keep up the good fight to all your f you out there that are just like LA!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was just ridiculous!! I wonder if my issue was related to yours because I think this happened in June for me as well. But yeah…I tried buying in my phone which is android, switched the card…so I had all these pending charges!!😆😆😆😆😆

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just remembered that it was strange but then that does happen to me from time to time because I am an American that lives in Europe and has a cc attached to an address stateside but ordering from an EU IP. Flags go off at the cc company or bank all the time. I just have learned all the work arounds to limit customer service calls. But, the B&N was different for sure. Just glad you got to the bottom or should I say THE TOP to get it resolved! Not isolated to one person as they want us all to believe.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Vigilant humans might have picked up on this, but I wonder how many “vigilant” workers there are these days. It seems to be one of those qualities that have gone out the window to be replaced with “it’s not my job.” As to the computers that this all goes through, with all of our teenage, computer geniuses supposedly hacking away in their basements, you would think someone could write software to detect patterns like that? I honestly don’t think it would be that hard.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m glad you pursued it, but no, it shouldn’t be your responsibility to let the upper management know that there’s a problem with their sales process. Sadly, few people take any ownership of problems these days. I was in Target this morning and asked the check out clerk if they sold matches. Her answer was simply, “I’m not sure.” No offer to find out, no apology for not knowing, nothing. At least she was honest!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right? What happened to people actually checking things for you? Last year I was in macys buying shoes. They didn’t have my size. Back in the day, the clerk would say would you like me to check another location and ship them free (shoe people often work on commission) now she just walked away. While I was in the store, I went on the website, ordered the shoes and had them two days later. It took me five minutes. It would have taken her 3…

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Where do you look to find the e-mails of the CEO and top 5 executives? Did you just google that? That is a VERY helpful tool, and no it is not our responsibility to do that stuff. That would have been maddening!!!!!!

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  11. I’ve had a similar experience with insurance and I won’t go into it. When you don’t give people at a lower level of authority to actually fix consumer problems, though, then you’re going to have BIG PROBLEMS that only upper level management can fix…if they’re interested. I read that B&N won’t sell hardcover books of an award-winning children’s author because the author doesn’t have proven sales records. I think this was a debut author! Don’t get me started with B&N. This isn’t the original article I read, but it gives you a little more info if you’re interested.
    https://bookriot.com/barnes-noble-hardcover-stock-change/
    Mona

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah…heard that about BN too. The problem is, if BN fails, then all physical bookstores will suffer the same fate, and Amazon will be it. I don’t want Amazon to decide what gets published and how. We need competition

      Liked by 1 person

  12. This is part of why I buy almost exclusively physical books. Buying ebooks can be such a hassle, especially when apps don’t want to talk to each other (or to your cc account). I’d rather just wait for the thing to come in the mail, or browse my local used bookstore for unexpected gems. Plus, I can loan out physical books to people or resell them for more credit at the used bookstore. Also, companies can’t just pull physical books from my collection because they’re closing down their ebook catalog, or just don’t want to provide a particular book anymore, as has happened to readers before. I know there’s a lot of convenience involved with ebooks, but the advantages don’t outweigh the disadvantages for me. Especially when the physical and ebook versions cost nearly the same.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For me…I’ll admit it…it’s an age thing. I see the ebook way better, because of the backlight. My book club book a few months ago was only available in printed form and it was tough for me to read…I needed a book light and a regular light. I don’t need to make the print bigger, but a lot of my friends do, and large print books are huge….

      Like

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