Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Bad Book Buying Experience

First of all, let me apologize for not posting more in the last week, but the holidays have been taking a lot of my time.  I do promise that I will start posting more very soon. I have read so many good books I'd love to share with all of you!  But sadly, this post is not about a good book, but a poor experience I recently had shopping for books from Borders.

Once upon a time most of my book buying was done through Walden books.  It was the only book store in my home town, and when I moved away to college and had more options, I still shopped at the local Waldens.  The prices were comparable, but they had more sales, and then they offered their rewards card, giving me even more reason to shop there. That all changed in the last few years, as first the Walden Books where I now live closed, and then the Walden Books back home closed as well.  Now if I want to buy from this company I have to go to Borders, which I wouldn't mind if the closes store wasn't an hour away, so I decided to invest in a Barnes & Noble card, so I could get some savings at local stores.  The website for Borders hasn't appealed to me, since I can usually save more money saving up a moment to buy more books through Amazon and not pay for shipping, or by through Barnes & Noble where I always get free shipping.

This means it now takes a bit more to convince me to shop at Borders.  I mean I always go there when I'm in a town that has one, but I don't usually go out of my way to shop there anymore. 

Then, I noticed yesterday that I'd received an email from them letting me know that I had $10 in Borders Bucks.  I had originally disregarded this email since they kept telling me I could earn $10 by upgrading to their new pay rewards program. I immediately started thinking about what I could buy from Borders, and went about placing an order.  I decided to purchase only one book, since the reward was expiring that night, and I didn't want to lose out.  I tried for a full hour to get to the payment screen.  Half the time it would time out and give me an error about the site being overloaded, other times it would go to the next page, but it would lose my mailing or billing address, and if I made it past that screen it would lose my rewards card number (and when I re-entered it, I would either get a message saying it couldn't or it would go too the site busy error).  I tried it on both my computer and my boyfriends and in both Internet Explorer and Firefox, but it just kept timing out, and every time I got to the payment screen I couldn't get my card entered.  finally I sent them an email and went to bed because I was so frustrated.

Today I got their response, and I felt..brushed off.  This was not a direct response to my complaint, but a blanket email to all rewards card members.  That wouldn't have bothered me, but it sounded like they were saying "We're sorry too many of you wanted to use it so some couldn't, we're not doing anything about that, but everyone will get other stuff later."  Perhaps I misunderstood, but the people I showed it to all got that impression as well.  We'll see, maybe they'll still do something, but after this email I don't expect anything.  I understand that it was a special bonus, and I wouldn't mind if it was my fault that I missed out, but their site going down doesn't seem fair.

For those interested, here's the email they sent:

We are reaching out today to our most valued customers to inform you that we received a huge response to our recent reminder for Borders Rewards members to redeem their $10 in Bonus Bucks. Such a huge response in fact, that the customer experience was impacted. If you were not able to redeem your $10 in Borders Bonus Bucks online, we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. Please look for additional exclusive rewards and incentives throughout the Holiday Season.

Thank you for your patience,

Mike Edwards
CEO, Borders, Inc.


  1. It's funny (not really) but I had this same thing happen to me but I wasn't using a coupon or discount or anything. I like shopping at Borders (particularly with the 40% off coupon) and my experience is good, but online- yeah, not so much. They definitely need to work on their checkout and the whole card number thing has been an issue every time for me. Apparently my Borders card doesn't exist, unless I'm in the store, then it's fine. Weird.

  2. In other words: "Sorry but we won't do anything about it." =(

  3. :( How bothersome!
    I just saw this and thought you might be interested to know:
    'Get 50 percent off one kids or teen book set (The Mortal Instruments, Twilight, Vampire Academy, Vladimir Tod, Harry Potter — all included on this one) at Barnes & Noble with code W4A4B4Y. Coupon good through Nov. 30.'

  4. I feel your pain. I just tried to start an account on Borders website the other day because I signed up for their rewards plus card. The website timed out so much just trying to start my account. I guess all rewards I'll drive the 15 minutes to get to the store to use.