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Why I'd rather pay Amazon.com than use a BN gift card online

  
  
  

Here's the problem: Barnes & Noble is hard for me to do business with online, even though I have an account with them and am a Member. But Amazon.com is not. Let me explain...

I got a couple Barnes & Noble gift cards for my birthday and proceeded to bn.com to purchase a book I've been wanting. I signed in to my account and saw that I could redeem my gift card, perfect. So I proceeded, and was halted in my tracks several times.

I found the book and proceeded with the purchase. But wait, I had to go back and enter the gift card number. It took a while to find where to do this in my account settings, but got it entered okay.

Next I went to find the book again and clicked the Buy Now button. Upon doing so I got an immediate confirmation I had purchased the book. Great. Or so I thought.

Turns out the book I bought was the electronic (Nook) version, even thought I searched for it in "books." I have a Kindle and an iPad. I don't have a Nook (and not about to buy one).

What to do? I'll just go and cancel the order. Not. Turns out (and I checked everwhere on their website) you can't remove or cancel an order such as this. Ugh!

Barnes & Noble order

I'll take some responsibility for this. But I checked and my address was in the system, everything looked right. I just never saw that what I was buying was electronic. Next time I'll take my gift card into a store and just use it there.

I've learned several lessons from this:

  • Things aren't always what they appear
  • Read, read, read before you click
  • Don't trust that things will work the same between similar providers

Regardless of how much egg I need to clear from my face I have to conclude the B&N online purchase experience was very difficult, and disappointing. They just didn't feel easy to do business with. At one point I tried creating a new address. I entered a phone number (required) but kept getting an error message saying it required a phone number. I probably didn't have the format correct, but B&N didn't offer any help on how to enter the phone number.

Next time I'm just going to buy what I want online from Amazon.com.

The experience we give customers and being easy (or hard) to do business with is something to think about. It can mean the difference between earning more business and building customer loyalty - or not.

7/3/2012 Update: After contacting B&N customer service they were able to process a refund to my account, effectively replenishing the amount I had spent to my gift card. I appreciate their timely and effective response. They also said I could now purchase the paper version of the book, however they don't appear to carry it - they only have the Nook version. :-(

 

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