Hating on B&N Right Now

I have a B&N gift card to spend, so I decided to use it. Okay, cool. So I found some books online (my first mistake)that added up to a bit over $25 so I could get free shipping and get more actual books for my money, and went to check out. I was filling out the form, and in the first New Customer section where they want your address and such, they ask for your phone number, but that space doesn’t have the asterisk marking it as a required field. I don’t like giving out my phone number, especially to businesses; they don’t need it, I don’t want them to have it, and I give it only when I absolutely have to, so this time I left that space blank, happy that they weren’t insisting.

I went on through the forms, filling things out. I put the gift card number in its space (does it seriously have to be fifteen digits? really?) and kept going. I got to the end, and tried to submit the order. Except I got a glitch message — I hadn’t put in my phone number, and needed to go back and do that. o_O

Ummm, if the phone number is necessary, why isn’t it marked as being necessary? I would think that’d be pretty elementary, right? What, their hosting costs are starting to skyrocket so someone decided that one more asterisk would push them over budget? 😛

Okay, fine, I clicked the button to take me back to the phone number field and entered that, then clicked the button to submit my order again. Everything looked good, except when I got my receipt screen, I noticed that it’d charged the whole amount to my credit card. Wait, what?

Same thing when I got a receipt in e-mail — no gift card. [headdesk]

I hunted around on the B&N site looking for a way to e-mail customer support. (And boy, do they hide that page.) I explained what’d happened, gave them my order number and the number on the gift card, and said I wanted to either have the order cancelled, or have $25 of the charges deleted from my credit card and charged to the gift card. While I was at it, I mentioned that I was annoyed by the phone number thing, and suggested they have their web techs add in that asterisk.

I got an e-mail back which said that they were sorry I’d had problems with their site, and that they thought they could “help me best” over the phone, and that I should call this 800 number. Umm, number one, I gave them all the information. What was stopping them from either doing what I wanted (either option) and e-mailing to let me know, or saying, “Sorry, we can’t do that, try using the gift card again,” in e-mail? Granted that last answer would’ve been annoying, but I don’t have to talk to someone on the phone to get it, or either of the positive answers. Exactly what are we gaining by having me talk to someone live? Number two, I’m pretty severely phone-phobic. I hate to call people on the phone. No, it’s not rational, but then no phobias are rational; that’s why they’re phobias.

It took me a couple of days, but I finally psyched myself up and called. I got the usual robot phone answer system (although they’ve got some long pauses in there, one at the very beginning that made me think I might’ve gotten a live person; I said “Hello?” just as the robot went on with it’s spiel) and worked my way through it to what I assume is the right queue. (It’s the “everything else” queue, by the way. There’s no number to press if you have a problem with an order; I guess they’re pretending to all the customers who call with questions about Borders (that was option number one) that there are never order problems.)

So I got switched over to the Everything Else queue. I was notified that my call might be recorded. There were about four seconds of music, then the voice came back to say that all operators were busy and I should keep hanging on, or whatever. Two seconds of music, and I was assured that my call was important. Another two seconds of music, and the voice explained that all the lines were busy and I should call back later, and then it hung up on me.

Wait, what?

I looked at the time on the face of my phone — I’d been connected for one minute and forty-six seconds.

Now, I know a lot of people hate to sit in the customer service queue for a long time, and complain about having to do it. But less than two minutes and then I get dumped? Seriously? I’m an adult, and if the wait gets to be too long, I can decide for myself to hang up on the answer-robot.

You know, B&N is one of the companies who are currently whining and complaining that Eeeevil Amazon is destroying the book business, but I think that if B&N’s business is having hard times, the reasons for it are a lot closer to home.

Angie, who’ll never order anything from B&N again

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Angela Benedetti lives in Seattle with her husband and a few thousand books. She loves romance for the happy endings, for the affirmation that everyone who's willing to fight for love deserves to get it and be happy with someone. She's best known for her Sentinel series of novels, the most recent of which is Captive Magic.

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