Barnes & Noble’s has a problem and it’s not Amazon


I’ve been a life-long Barnes & Noble’s fan. I pay for a Membership. I have a Nook. I spent a huge portion of my teen years in my local B&N. I order, pre-order, and physically buy dozens of books and e-books from them every year.

I’ve never had to talk to their customer service. Until this last week. And it was awful.

This isn’t a B&N bashing post, so I won’t go into all the gritty details of what happened. But I’m going to list my grievances, because these are fixable things.

  1. An email instructing me to contact them, but not providing any (literally any) contact info. Replying to the email gave me a mail error.
  2. A live chat person who couldn’t help me because I was ordering from the website and not using my Nook.
  3. An account services department that requires me to physically call them and can’t communicate via email or chat.
  4. An account services department that is only available by phone during certain (read business) hours.

I was also told my issue was fixed when it wasn’t, delaying the delivery of a book by 3 days, but that’s more specific to my situation.

Here’s the thing. I understand that customer service is expensive. I understand that customers sometimes want totally unreasonable things.

But we are the customers. And we expect good service because we’re normally talking to the customer service reps when something is wrong. We’re already annoyed. You need to fix it.

Barnes & Noble, you have to up the customer service game. People have been complaining for years. You haven’t listened, clearly.

Some ideas for things to change:

  1. Make your customer service available 24/7 by email, phone, chat, and Twitter. You’ve already outsourced to Manila, so paying for a 7-hour shift that covers US night hours shouldn’t be that difficult.
  2. Rewrite your automated emails to a. sound less like the problem is the customer’s fault and b. provide the necessary information.
  3. Hire customer service people who can actually deal with problems instead of pointing customers to different departments every time.

I’m begging, honestly. I’ve had to order from Amazon twice this week because you couldn’t fix the problem. I’ll have to call your service line AGAIN to get things fixed. If that call doesn’t do it, I may have to switch completely. I don’t have hours to pour down the drain so that I can spend my money with you. None of your customers do. Research good customer service practices and get your act together.

Other readers, have you experienced problems with B&N customer service? Have you had good experiences? I’d love to hear in the comments. Maybe B&N will listen this time…

Addendum: since I repeatedly complained on Twitter (and linked them this post), the Barnes & Noble customer service Twitter team has contacted me and resolved the problem. Many kudos to them for that.

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2 thoughts on “Barnes & Noble’s has a problem and it’s not Amazon

  1. This has happened to me also! Frustrating and in need of immediate resolution. It took me a week to get a book downloaded and the customer service reps never knew how to fix it. Somehow I was transferred to the “right” person.

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