How Barnes & Noble Lost My Business

Not for being rude, or anything of the sort — but simply because they don’t “get it.”

So, I was in Store 2930 in Irving last Friday, and ordered a book on Mudbox (a 3d modelling software).  I was promised by the store clerk that the book qualified for free expedited shipping, but that because of the Memorial Day holiday, shipping would take until Tuesday.  Perfectly reasonable.

Tuesday passed.  Wednesday passed.

Thursday I called the store.

Within the ten minutes of my phone call, the expected arrival date they quoted changed from 6/2 (a day late, but they ship UPS, and UPS is often late, I think that’s why they throw the boxes at your door rather than setting them down gently), to 6/5.  Wait a minute, that didn’t make any sense — how could the date change?  So the receiving manager, who saw the change, got me in touch with the store manager, who promised to check in on it and call me back.

Everything was courteous and professional, and she called back within ten minutes.  The answer, it turns out, is that my order had not gotten into their system until 6/2, Tuesday.  For a Friday order, because I ~”ordered it in the afternoon, so it was perfectly reasonable that it would get into the system on the next business day.”

In other words, B&N promised one thing, couldn’t deliver, and then tried to sell me on the idea that the problem was with my expectations, rather than that they overpromised and under-delivered.

That’s not how a successful business operates — certainly not in the 21st century, where any competent electronic store system should have purchases “in the system” within minutes maximum:  what are they doing, waiting for some data-entry drone to enter it manually from a sheet of paper?  That kind of system was on its way out in the 90s.  I know, I temped a couple of them. 

I’m still waiting for my book, which will arrive hopefully by Friday.  Because I really don’t have a choice.  But a company that oversells, underdelivers, and then tries to sell me on the idea that the problem was my fault for being a rube and believing them, is a company that’s not getting any additional business.  Sure, I’ll come by the cafe and have some quiche and coffee, browse for some scifi.. but for anything serious, they’ve lost my business.  I’m sure they’ll survive:  my wife and I are small fry, ordering maybe $5-700 bucks a year in books.  But that’s 5-7 that will be going to Amazon.

For one and only reason:  when they say I’ll have it on Tuesday…. by damn, I have it on Tuesday.

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