Category Archives: wily merchants

Barnes & Noble Update:

I sent an email to B&N regarding the unfortunate lesson I hinted at in my previous post.  I received a response today.  I thought it only fair to share it with you.

Dear Customer,

Thank you for writing to us.

For many items on our website, you can check for availability at a store location by entering your zip code in the space located under “Pick Me Up” on the product page. Then, click on Find In Store.

We display the following on each screen:


Inventory changes frequently, so we cannot guarantee the availability
in our stores.
Store and online prices may vary.
To confirm availability and pricing, please call the store directly.

If the item is available in your local store,complete the online form and you will receive a response from the store in one hour, during store hours.   When the store responds with availability and pricing, you have the opportunity to cancel your request or reserve your title for pickup. The item will be held for you for three days.

If the product you are looking for does not have a search or pickup option, we invite you to contact any of your local Barnes & Noble retail stores directly. For a full listing of retail locations, including store hours and phone numbers, please visit our website and click on “Stores & Events” and enter your zip code into the store locator.

If your local store does not carry the title you are seeking, we recommend ordering directly from our website.  You’ll receive free standard shipping direct to your home for qualifying items totaling $25.00 or more, which may be the most convenient option for you.  For more information, click on Fast & Free Delivery at


Customer Service Representative
Barnes & Noble

So I went back to look for this information.  I finally found the “Important” information at the bottom of the list of stores in my area that carried the book.  Here’s what it looks like:


  • Inventory changes frequently, so we cannot guarantee the availability in our stores.
  • Store and online prices may vary.
  • To confirm availability and pricing, please call the store directly.

May I repeat that this information was at the bottom of the list of local stores that carry the book?  Who looks beyond the closest store listing to search for fine print?  Which is exactly why it’s put in that spot.  But never mind that.  What about when the store responded to my request “with availability and pricing”?  (see email at beginning of post, 2nd paragraph after “IMPORTANT”)  I went back and found the email I received from the store.

Dear [Foo4luv],

Good news. Your search is over!

The distance between you and Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume I (Barnes & Noble Signature Editions) is only as far as the [nearest Barnes & Noble*] Store. Our booksellers have reserved 1 copy, and they are holding it until 02/01/2015. (After that, we have to give other customers their turn.) If you have any questions, please give the store a call at xxx-xxx-xxxx.

Thanks for trying our Reserve In Store program. Our mission in life is to get you the item you want as quickly as possible.[**] We’ll see you soon.

The Booksellers at Barnes & Noble

It said nothing about the price — just that my book was waiting for me.  Lucky me!  So go back to that IMPORTANT information and remember that it’s your responsibility to call the store directly and confirm what price you will actually be paying.

So what do we learn from this?  Merchants are sneaky.  Very, very sneaky.  They assume that once they get you in the store, you’ll just pay whatever price they want.  You came all this way.  Surely you can’t walk away and tell them where they can re-shelve their lovely book.  Oh, but you can, Dear Reader.  You can.  You hold the money.  You are the one with the power in this situation.  Seize that power with both hands, and walk away.  Telling them where to re-shelve the merchandise is optional, but it could be perceived as an over-emotional response.  Me?  I settled for informing them that I would be sharing my experience with you.

And now, to cleanse the mental palate and soothe away harsh feelings, here’s a cute bunny:


*I thought it best not to post specifics regarding the store branch.  I’m not comfortable giving away that much information about my location.

**The faster a purchase is completed, the easier it is to sneak a higher price past the customer, you know.

Ever try that in-store pickup option on Barnes & Noble’s website?

Yeah, I wouldn’t do that without checking the full retail price of the item in question because that’s what you’ll be charged. 

Can’t find it?  Oh, it’s right above the online price.  It’ll look a little something like this: List price: $15.00 and will be located right above the obvious, discount price.  That’ll look something like this: Online price: $3.99 (only the red print will be one or two sizes bigger than the grey).

Pretty sneaky, huh?  Yeah, that’s what I thought, and I told them so.