Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Books and Nooks and Crooks oh my!

Uh oh. I'm about to go off on Barnes and Noble again.

As Christmas approached this year, my sisters and I debated what to get my father for a gift. He's in his 70's and loves to read. But his eyesight isn't as good as it used to be. And he lives in a rural area with only grocery store racks to buy books from since Borders closed. We decided it was time to bring him into the modern book age.

We were torn between a Kindle and a Nook, and we weighed the pros and cons of both. The Kindle was cheaper and had a better, less expensive book selection. There's a B&N about an hour drive from his house should he have a problem with the Nook. Plus, he refuses to use his credit card online, so he was going to need to be able to find gift cards. Amazon cards are harder to find near him. Still, we were leaning toward the Kindle when I received an email from Barnes & Noble offering a free $25 gift card with the purchase of a Nook if I used my Mastercard. I called my sisters, we talked it over, and I clicked the link and made the purchase.

The email promised two things - a free $25 gift card (which would surely get dear old dad to actually use the Nook), and delivery by Christmas. There were no disclaimers that I could find.

Well ... the Nook arrived on the 21st, in time for Christmas. Yay! Only there was no gift card enclosed. Boo! So I emailed customer service....and received no reply. Christmas celebration at my parents was the 23rd, so I had to make a decision. I rushed out and bought a $25 gift card. Without that, I knew the gift would bomb.

I emailed again from my parent's house ... and again ... and FINALLY got a reply saying that the gift 'certificate' would be issued to people's accounts (in other words my account) by Dec. 29th. So I waited.

And waited.

The 29th came and went.

I waited.

On the 2nd, I emailed B&N again and asked where my $25 gift credit was since it was 4 days past the date promised. Today I finally got a reply. Not from the original customer service rep, but from a different rep who told me to contact Mastercard since it sounded like it was their problem. What?!? The promo wasn't from Mastercard (at least not according to the email or fine print). It was from B&N. And besides the original rep said the money would be applied to my account. SHE obviously knew what promo I was talking about.

As I sit here now, I've emailed B&N again. I was far less polite this time (but not rude). I mean, come on - if you promise something, you ought to deliver. They promised a Nook & a $25 gift card for the cost of a Nook, delivered by Christmas. I didn't get that. And now they're telling me to complain to Mastercard? Hunh? How about I call Mastercard and demand that they get $25 of my charge back? Believe me, if I don't get that card its what I'm going to do.

Here's what I think. They ripped me off. I think they knew this was a big year for e-readers and they knew Kindle was going to sell better than Nook, so they were trying to offer a deal that would get people to go with their product. And it worked. Am I happy about my purchase? Yes and no. My father likes it. He can make the print big enough that he can read more easily. And he likes that there's actually a store he can take it to if he has problems (not that I expect him to get helpful service based on my experiences with them). So that makes me happy that he's happy. (He doesn't know what he's missing with the Kindle and Amazon.)

But I am not happy that B&N reneged on their promotion. And worse, I'm not surprised based on the way they deal with customers.

Do I think I'll see that $25? No, I honestly don't. I think they'll give me the run around until I give up. Frankly, I'm annoyed enough to just chalk it up to lesson learned and give up now. We paid $45 more for my father's gift than planned, but I alone ate $25 of that (because I was told they would credit my account that $25).

So I'm boycotting B&N and buying from Amazon from now on. I haven't shopped there for myself except in several extreme circumstances because of the way their staff treats people. I guess that if I want to go to a bookstore, I'll go to New England Mobile Bookfair or the new indie store Book Shack that just opened where Borders used to be in Plymouth. Between them, I should be able to get my book loving needs met.

And once again, even though I'm a regular Barnes & Noble customer, I hate them with a passion. They've shown me once again how much they suck.

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