The Land of Slow Return

I know why Barnes & Noble will eventually go out of business. (Yes, they’re still in business.) They are acting like Blockbuster and Best Buy in terms of what they offer (a (possibly) dying commodity) and customer service (buying just one CD? It STILL takes at least three hours here!). It won’t be long until they close their doors for good if they keep this up.


Not my bookstore. Who has time to browse the stacks when I have an all-day return? Pic: Pixabay.

I purchased five books, online, for home delivery. (I know, I’m part of the problem.) I was going to go to a thing that had a reading list so I bought the reading list items then decided not to go to the thing. I decided to return the books, within the 15 day window of return opportunity. As I made my return, I decided the 15 days mentioned on the back of the receipt was how long the transaction would actually take.

I purchased five books, in one shopping session: click, click, click, click, click. Five books in my “cart” when I checked out. Five books on the emailed receipt. They, however, arrived in two shipments with two separate packing lists. OK, so the transaction will be two returns, I thought. Not too bad.

The quiet-spoken girl behind the counter scanned the one packing slip, but nothing came up. She scanned the book, then asked for the credit card I purchased the book with. She entered some of the numbers, tapped her screen several times (“I had to find your order through your card”), then proceeded to try to scan the second book that came in that same shipment. Nothing happened. She tried again. Nothing happened. She called for help from a more experienced bookseller (or in this case book returner).

“Actually, these are supposed to be returned online,” he said, looking at me.

“The receipt says I can bring them back to any store, so here I am,” I replied through a smile.

“Well, it’s just easier there, but it can be done here,” he said. “The problem seems to be that the books were purchased separately.”

“I bought all five in one session and received one email receipt,” I replied to his barely cursory glance of this situation.


Yeah, f*cking Oh.

He watched as she reenacted and explained what she had done. He told her that if the machine wouldn’t accept the scan for both books at one time, she’d have to do them individually. She and I shared a deep to the left eye roll on that one.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“It’s not your fault,” I replied.

And so she began. She tried the scanning of the receipt technique again and it didn’t work, so she looked up the first book via my credit card. She punched the screen indicating my return, then handed my card back to me to slide through the scanner for the refund, which I did. Two receipts popped out — one for the store and one for me, which she asked me to sign and print my name, which I did.

“We’re going to have to do this four more times,” she said.

I nodded, already aware of the inanity that awaited us.

She took the signed receipt, then started the process with the second book.

“I need your card again,” she said, and I handed it to her.

Punch the screen, hand me the card, which I slide through the reader. Receipts print. I sign and print my name.

Again. Only this time, before she asks I hand her my card. My hand waits in the air for its return so I can swipe. Meanwhile, she has pen in hand waiting for the receipt to pop out to hand to me, with the pen, to sign and print my name.

Again. Again.

“By the time we’re done, we’re going to be so good at this little dance,” I said. She chuckled.


And then it was over.

She stapled my five receipt copies together; she kept the five accompanying store receipts. She also kept the two packing slips because I said I didn’t need them and plus they caused so much trouble, a good shredding is what they deserve.

We both thanked each other for our patience.

I can’t remember the last time I bought books at Barnes & Noble prior to this exchange, though I used to be a frequent visitor and could spend hours wandering the stacks of books. I can tell you that will be the last time I order anything from them for a long time. Unless I only need one book. That seems like the most load they’re able to handle if, goodness forbid, you bring it back.

5 thoughts on “The Land of Slow Return

  1. T,

    You are so right about B and B. I haven’t shopped there, actually shopped there for books, in ages. I’ve gone to write or hang out with someone and chat over coffees, but for books? I can’t really remember the last time. And it was because of stuff like this, really.
    I never, ever thought I would be an e book person, but now I do all my reading that way. It’s a couple taps and I’ve got my book. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the feel of a book. But I don’t dig he hassle. Plus, when I want the feel, I will usually just re-read something I already have.

    Peace and hassle free book purchases


  2. What a mess. Glad you finally got it straightened out. We go to our B & N all the time, as it’s the only book store in town. Never had a problem, except whatever I’m looking for they say they’ll have to order it for us. I can usually find something else at the time, though.


  3. I can relate to your ridiculous customer experience. B&N isn’t the only brick and mortar store that has lost its way and your experience is part of the reason why. Make shopping easy for a customer, no matter where or how they buy something from you. Seems like retail common sense, doesn’t it? What a world we live in.

    Liked by 1 person

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