Friday, June 24, 2011

Dear Banes and Noble,

As a military wife, I try to only use military friendly businesses. It's just not smart to use any other kind, because if someone is not willing to work with me even though things might be difficult because my husband is deployed that's fine, because there is a different business out there that will be more than helpful and understanding of my situation. All military spouses know the murphy's law of deployment: anything bad that can happen, WILL happen while your spouse isn't here to help with it. So, it shouldn't come as a shock to anyone that I have spent my share of HOURS on the phone with different customer service representatives throughout these past 10 or so months of deployment. I have discovered that Apple will bend over backwards to help you troubleshoot a device that you don't have in your hands or even have a serial number for because it's in Iraq/Kuwait with your husband. The Apple people were so incredibly helpful and understanding of my situation, even though they weren't able to actually fix the problem, they did everything they could, and they did so respectfully. On the other hand I have learned that Barnes and Noble is NOT military friendly. Before you go thinking that I'm just slandering a business here, let me explain the entire situation, and then you can logically see how I came to this conclusion.
     Jake and I both have nooks, we LOVE (well loved) them! We are actually personally responsible for at least 5 or 6 other people purchasing nooks over kindles. When we first got them we talked them up, and showed them off, and were just so in love them that we tried to convince EVERYONE we knew that they needed one as well. Jake was so glad to have the nook to bring with him on this deployment, he loves to read, and planned on bringing his nook with him everywhere he went to take up his downtime. This was a huge morale booster for him, this is one of the comforts of home that he was able to have with him, and I was so thankful for that. However, Jake got into theater to discover that Barnes and Noble does not support internet from outside of the United States. So even though he is able to get on their website, and look at all the books he could get, he is not able to purchase a single ebook off of their website, for the simple fact that he is not using US internet. Though this was extremely annoying, we set up a system so that I would purchase it for him and then it would get sent to his email and he would download it (but remember, Barnes and Noble doesn't support outside internet so he couldn't just go to the internet cafe hop on the wifi on his nook and download it, he had to use the cord to download it from the computer and then it was in PDF format and not ebook format, and the page numbers were all messed up, it was formatted all wrong, and wasn't a simple or enjoyable reading experience). We have thousands of servicemen and women overseas right now, Barnes and Noble. Don't you think that they would be a really good source of income for you? While over there, my husband goes through books 2 or 3 times as fast as he does while he's home. So why are you making it so that he has to jump through hoops just to GIVE YOU MONEY for a book. Doesn't seem like a smart business choice to me, also doesn't seem like a wise PR choice either, because you are making it abundantly clear that our servicemen and women, the ones risking their lives for you, are not a priority, or even a thought to your company.
     On top of the fact that their set up is not military friendly, their customer service is also not understanding of military situations. This winter my husband's nook broke, there were lines and weird boxes all over the screen, so I called Barnes and Noble to ask if there is anything I could tell him to do to troubleshoot before attempting to exchange it, because honestly, I just wanted him to have a working nook in the fastest way possible. They flat out said there was nothing that could help with this particular problem, and that it needed to be replaced. So Jake mailed the nook home, to me, which took about a week. I then called to get the return process started and they refused to help me because I am not Jake, I was one underscore off on his old email address, and did not have his credit card number (it was his wallet in Iraq). I understand that these are security measures, however I had the password, the serial number, and was holding the nook, which I have since found out has the email address in it, so they could have directed me to find it instead of refusing to help me at all (the man i spoke to was rude and not at all understanding of the fact that this was a unique situation). So we had to wait until I was able to talk to my husband again and get the correct info, I called back and they were still sketchy about letting me do it, but they did let me in at that point. They then refused to just replace it, and made me go through all these troubleshooting steps (you know the ones I specifically called and asked for and they said wouldn't help at all) like taking out the battery and charging it over night. So there is another day wasted. I then finally call back and after much persuasion convinced them to just replace it. I chose not to do the rapid replacement (they send you a new one but if they don't get the old one back in 14 days they charge you close to $200 for it) because I did not trust them one bit at this point and did not want them to charge me for something I should have gotten for free. So I sent them the nook. 10 days later I had heard nothing so I called and they said it could take up to 14 days so be patient. I called back on the 15th day, this time really frustrated and they claim that they have never received it, however the UPS tracking number claims that it was delivered over a week ago. After finally snapping and making it perfectly clear that they weren't getting off the phone with me till there was a new nook on the way to me they "discovered" the nook I had sent them, and it had just been placed in the wrong pile or something. who knows how long it sat there, or what really happened. I finally was shipped a new nook and was able to send it to Jake, so a good MONTH after it broke he got a new one. I have heard that soldiers, specifically in jake's unit, that have had problems with their kindle have been able to contact Amazon themselves and get replacements in less than a week. To be fair I ended up having the exact same problem with my nook a few weeks ago, and had no problems replacing it, I went into the Portage, MI store and had Josh (the nicest Barnes and Noble person I have ever met) call customer service for me, because I just simply had had enough with it. But, because my replacement wasn't difficult or unique in any way there were no problems. What kind of message does that send to our troops Barnes and Noble? You are more than willing to help other people but because it might be a little more complicated or requires you to be a tiny bit flexible you aren't going to go out of your way to help the men and women that fight for your freedoms? Well that says quite a bit about your business, and makes it extremely clear to me that you are not a military friendly company.


  1. Yikes. Not only is that SAD, it is really NOT SMART business-wise. :( That being said, I have a Nook Color and I love it.

  2. I'm really sorry about this Claire. I have a Kindle over here in Kuwait, and it lets you download straight from WiFi still. I have yet to have a problem with it. My brother and sister use Nook in the states and are big fans as well. There is a lot of power in social media, forward like a rock star to your other military and non-military friends and see what you can do. Do you have a twitter as well? You could @barnesandnoble (or whatever there handle is) to them. Maybe you could effect some change. They should really take better care of our service men and women who I'm sure thousands are just like Jake and love and take comfort in reading.