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BarnesandNoble.com Complaint - Terrible customer service / Not standing behind claims of product made on website.

Review by Anonymous on 2003-07-12
I recently placed an internet order for 15 books and 1 DVD at Barnesandnoble.com. The condition of all but two of the books was poor - several marks and stains on covers and jackets, water stains and "shriveled" pages and jacket, glue everywhere on the back of one jacket from continual removal of stickers, ripped and dog-eared covers on paperbacks. While all this would be cause for complaint in itself, my problem arose when I called Barnesandnoble.com to exchange one book in the order. What I thought was going to be quite simple turned out to be a ridiculous exchange between myself and two different people over the phone (including a supervisor). The problem was a very simple one: I ordered a hardcover book (Jonathan Kellerman's The Murder Book) but received a paperback. I simply expected to be setting up an exchange for the correct item. The website clearly specified that I was looking at the hardcover version of this book. The paperwork that I printed as my receipt after payment clearly stated that the version I ordered was a hardcover book. My account page at their website after the order was filled clearly stated that I had "received" a hardcover book (meaning the website account information states that in my already filled order they had "picked" a hardcover book for me). The first person that answered the phone at Barnesandnoble.com was a very unhelpful person who could not get it through her thick head that I was "wronged" and was trying to tell me to send the paperback back to them and purchase the hardcover. The supervisor had me fax all the supporting above-mentioned paperwork to her (glad I saved all my print-outs) and said she would call me back. When she did call - the next day - she informed me that I could return the paperback and buy the hardcover at a 10% discount off their regular price. We argued about this a little and she claimed that disclaimers on the website cover them when they send a consumer the wrong version of a book. No amount of reasoning would budge her warped thinking, including an analogy to buying an audiobook if one were sightless and getting a print version of the book. She agreed that my paperwork proved what I had bought, but would not send me the book, because that would have been below the price of the hardcover that day. She was even unwilling to make arrangements for me to get a refund through my local store and said I would have to return the book to the internet company or, if I chose to return the book to the store, would only receive merchandise credit. I couldn't believe that this happened. I will never again purchase anything from Barnes and Noble or Barnesandnoble.com. When told that we just had a brand new beautiful Borders open in town and from now on all my book purchases would be from them or Amazon.com, she just didn't care. How could a person ever believe they were going to get a hardcover when they order one or a paperback or an audiobook? Barnesandnoble.com believes that it has the right to make mistakes in format and not correct them - or brazenly substitute and not have to take an item back. I am still flabbergasted by all this and just wanted to warn everyone out there about this experience and their reaction to their mistake. If every company behaved this way, we would all just have to keep whatever mistake merchandise they sent us in our orders. Unbelievable. As a postscript, and in fairness to the local Barnes and Noble store, the woman who took my wrongly received paperback said that their response had been ridiculous and she gave me a credit card credit rather than a merchandise credit. As an aside, had I kept the paperback, I would have paid more than they were selling it for.
Comments:1 Replies - Latest reply on 2004-07-20
Posted by hekct on 2004-07-20:
I've worked for Barnes and Noble (the actual stores, not the online version) previously, and still love the company. *However*, I have encountered the same exact problems as you when I order from their online site. And judging by what my customers who came in the store had to say about their experiences... You and I are not alone. Although I continue to recommend the brick and mortar stores, I'm leery of the online site, and let others know this. My best experience with ordering books online has actually been with Amazon. As an aside, if you had brought that set of problems into one of the stores that I've worked for, they would have called up a manager who almost certainly would have refunded your credit card. I saw it happen several times. The brick and mortar stores are far more reasonable. After all, they are the ones who have to interact with customers on a daily basis.

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