Adventures in Customer Service: Barnes and Noble

Adventures in Customer Service: Barnes and Noble

It’s been quite a while since Barnes and Noble made me happy, I’ll admit.  My bias is simple:  shortly after they bought out eReader and deployed their own version of the eReader app–basically just a slight modification of the existing eReader app, with a few quite-nice enhancements (progress bar with chapter markers; in-app access to wikipedia)–I was a happy camper.  Not only could I easily side-load my existing library of eReader PDB books, but it was a sweet app with a familiar interface that I liked quite a bit more than the Kindle app.  (iBooks didn’t exist as yet.)

Then came the nook, shortly followed by the nook app–a completely new piece of software that, well, sucks in my opinion.  Bad home screen design.  Awkward interface.  Missing a lot of the nice features that they already had in their previous app.  I can’t decide if they moved to it because they wanted something more like the nook interface, or if it gave them better DRM.  Whatever, I hated it.  They moved from the top of my list to the bottom, and I now go back and forth between iBooks and Kindle books (neither of which have the all the features as the old B&N ereader app, something that I’ve gone on about at considerable length elsewhere).

So know that when I ordered an ebook through B&N today, it was the first time in a while.  Which means that my credit card information was out of date.  Which led to my Customer Service Adventure du jour:

Ordered my book on the B&N web site.  Opened my nook app on my iPhone.  Tapped the “sync” icon.  “Cool,” thought I, as the book was added to the home page right away.  I tapped the “download” button to download the book itself, and got an error message:  “There is an issue with your payment.  Please contact Customer Service at 1-800-THE-BOOK”.  “Oh yeah!” though I; “I’ve changed my credit card.  Better fix that.”

Back to the web site.  Added in my new credit card, made it my default card, deleted the old card.  Now you would think I could just tap download again, or click something on the screen somewhere to run the order against my new credit card, or some such, right?  They can’t really want you to actually call in when this can be fixed so easily online, right?  Right?


As far as I am able to ascertain, once your order has glitched like this, there is literally no way of re-running the order with a new card or a different card.  You must call in to fix it.  Which is annoying enough, really, but first I had to listen to how the nook is the perfect Father’s Day gift, and then go through a couple of menus in their automated system before I got down to the right menu.  At which the option to fix things isn’t clear, but turns out to be Option 4.  4.  It’s not right on top, like “If you got a message to call in because there was a problem with your order, press 1.”  No, it was some vague thing about payment options, and it was option 4.

So okay, whatever; time to enter in my credit card information.  Again.  After I had already done it on the web site.  Tap tap tap tappity tap.  There; done.  “Thank you.  You will receive an email confirmation of this transaction.”  Back to my iPhone now.  Tap “download.”  And . . . “There is an issue with your payment.  Please contact Customer Service at 1-800-THE-BOOK”.

Well, sometimes it takes a few minutes for this sort of thing to work its way through the system.  Issues like this with Amazon clear almost immediately, yeah, but they’ve had a lot of practice.  Cut B&N a little slack, Doug.  Give them a few minutes.  No big deal, right?

It took 17 minutes.  I clocked it.  17.  Now, I know 17 minutes isn’t that big a deal in the greater scheme of things, but in the computer era, when both iBooks and Amazon almost always are able to perform tasks like this instantly (or so quickly as to make no difference), a quarter-of-an-hour delay, after forcing you to call them on the phone and listen to their friggin’ nook commercial, is simply absurd.

No, this is not a customer service #epicfail, such as those experienced by Dan or Judie or Carly, but it’s definitely a #fail.  And as it’s one more #fail in a long line of B&N (software) fails, I will continue to not patronize them except at uttermost need.

Bad, B&N.  Bad.  Doug no approve.

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. If you are shopping on Amazon anyway, buying from our links gives Gear Diary a small commission.

About the Author

Gear Diary Staff
Gear Diary was founded on September 30, 2006, with the goal to create a website that would not easily be labeled. Everyone who is part of Gear Diary is a professional who uses technology in their work and daily lives. On this site, we share our enthusiasm while exploring the gear we use — the equipment that makes our lives easier, more entertaining, more productive, and more manageable. Our hope is that Gear Diary visitors find this site to be a welcoming, friendly, and accessible place to learn about and discuss interesting topics — and not only those that are tech-related! Gear Diary is a place to discover and explore all kinds of new gear, including smartphones, computers, kitchen gadgets, Toys, EDC, camping gear, or even your next new car! You can follow us on Twitter @GearDiarySite.

3 Comments on "Adventures in Customer Service: Barnes and Noble"

  1. Gary Bunker | June 8, 2011 at 6:26 am |

    I was actually prepared to hear how all your previous nook books got locked out, since the nook user information is tied to your credit card (which is bizarre but true). At least it all worked out eventually, but the idea of using a telephone to complete a computer transaction definitely falls into the WTF category.

  2. If B&N is using the same system as ereader, you can change your cc info on the site and it changes it globally for your library. So even if you buy a book under one card number, cancel that card and add a new one, your old book isn’t locked out even if you redownload.

  3. Gary Bunker | June 9, 2011 at 11:04 am |

    That’s good. I remember reading a while back that B&N uses your CC number as part of the user ID info that locks the books to the nook, but since I don’t own one, I really didn’t look into it too deeply.

Comments are closed.