I'm not an early adopter. I held on to my LPs for dear life (I actually still have most of them) even after record stores (remember them?) made CDs the medium of choice. I took people at their word when they told me how much they loved that first-generation iPod (you know the one that cost about a C-note for each of its 4 gigs).
However, when the Nook Color hit stores a couple of years ago, I was smitten and took advantage of a special discount to bestow upon myself an early Channukah present. Since then, it's been a worthy compact companion whenever I hit the road. Having some books, magazines, apps and Wi-Fi in one attractive package was a treat. The iPad could wait. This worked for me, and for a lot less money.
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to go shopping from the comfort of my bedroom in search of a new read. After subjecting my wife to some harrumphing over the price of new e-books, I came upon a $2.99 deal for "Love Me, Hate Me," a book by Jeff Pearlman about Barry Bonds. I confirmed the download with the press of a button and when I went to check my bookshelf, there it was, as usual. Except, it had been joined by another book I had never heard of, had never seen and never ordered called "Dancers Among Us: A Celebration of Every Day."
And, as it turns out, a book for which I was charged $10.19.
Now I'm sure it's a swell book. But I don't want it. Barnes & Noble is free to take it back. If only.
The next morning, I go to www.Nook.com to find out how to no longer have dancers among my Nook. I thought I hit paydirt under the FAQs:
Is there a refund for books, periodicals or apps? If I accidentally purchased the wrong book, can I return it?
Please contact customer service at 1-800-THE-BOOK (1-800-843-2665).
I did as I was told. Nobody could give me an answer. My misfortune. Turns out, it was Pass the Buck Day at what B&N labels customer service.
Instead, I turned to another tactic I've had success with: Nook Customer Service has its own Twitter feed, where I blithely assume empowered reps toil away to prove their mettle when Nook spews out the wrong book. In under 140 characters, I explain my plight, and was told to email "Dan" and relay him my tale of woe.
Turns out "Dan" was too busy, so I hear from "James." After he gets some additional info, he writes back to inform me that per the T&Cs, I am not entitled to a refund and attempts to prove he's right by sending me link to the UK Nook page, which doesn't open. Nor did James, despite me providing my address, realize that I was writing from the U.S. Nonetheless, he "apologised for any inconvenience." As for where that language is on the U.S. version of the home page, I'm still looking.
So, I write back to James, whose tea time I apparently disturbed, that I deserved more than a generic response, not to mention a link that works. He wrote back:
We have answered your email regarding your individual account and as previously stated we are unable to issue a refund. We will pass along your feedback to the proper department regarding.
That's exactly what he wrote. James couldn't be bothered to finish the sentence.
I have only so much fight in me over $10.19, though a challenge to American Express might be in order. You'd think, though, the Nookies would give me the benefit of the doubt, or at least equivalent of a get-out-of-jail free card for a loyal customer. But no.
To put a sour cherry on top of all this nonsense, I get an email last night that the Nook customer service Twitter lunkheads had favorited my initial message: "Instead of passing the buck on fone, how about resolving refund for downloaded book never ordered?"
And that's one of your favorite tweets, why, old chaps?
Dan and James and Co. must have been having a real bad day. Judging by my experience, one of many.
UPDATE: The morning after I posted the blog, I received an email from Nook that I would be receiving a refund. That was followed by another email bestowing upon me a $10 gift card. That was followed by another email from a Nook rep apologizing (with a z) and insisting that this was not representative of the customer service they strive for. I'll take him at his word. It's nice the company did what they did, but it shouldn't have taken a rant on a blog for it to happen.