Saturday, August 7, 2010

Reason #10,456 Why Bricks and Mortar Bookstores Beat Online Shopping Hands-Down

A week ago: I placed an order with a large online bookseller for a book unavailable in the US.

A week later, now Day One: I get an email from the bookseller saying my order has been cancelled. No explanation is offered. The email says to respond directly to this email with questions, so that your order number is attached.

I replied to the email and asked why my order was cancelled.

Day Two: I receive an email from the bookseller asking for the order number. I hit reply and copy/paste it from the original email.

Day Three: I receive an email from the bookseller asking me for "the nature of my enquiry." I hit reply and type "I would like to know why my order no.##### was cancelled.

Day Four: I receive a reply from the bookseller stating that my order was cancelled because the book was temporarily out of stock. But the book is now in stock again, and I can re-place my order if I want.

I send an email back saying that there was no reason for it take 3 days to answer a simple question and no need to cancel my order simply because the book was out of stock for all of one or two days, and now thanks to your lousy service I'll give my bookbuying business to a bookseller who can act like they actually want it.

I place an order for the book elsewhere.

Ever have this problem with a bricks and mortar store? I didn't think so.


bermudaonion said...

I am all about indie bookstores these days - they are always happy for my business and give me excellent service.

Marie Cloutier said...

Kathy, and the sad thing is, this IS an indie, albeit not a very good one.

Claire (The Captive Reader) said...

I had an equally frustrating experience recently: placed an order on July 14 for three books and, at that time, estimated delivery was August 4. July 28, received message that one of the titles was out of stock and was being removed from the order (it still shows in stock on the site). On August 5, another email saying that the second title would not be available until mid-September. The third title was shipped yesterday.

Bricks and mortar all the way!

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I love going into the bookstore itself, too -- I feel more in control, I can get an answer right away, and no one can hind behind the computer from a gazillion miles away and forget to respond to their emails. I love, love a good independent bookshop who welcomes me when I walk in!

Alexia561 said...

Too bad about the lousy customer service. It's incredibly frustrating when it seems like your email wasn't even read and they just wanted to empty their in-box. :(

Another reason brick & mortar stores win is tha atmosphere. I love wandering the aisles, surrounded by books, waiting for one of them to call my name, leap out at me, and insist I take it home. And I admit that I also get a silly little thrill when I see so many authors on the shelves who I follow on Twitter. I'm such a geek. *L*

caite said...

I love the bookstore experience...even if there is not a decent indie nearby.

But...for simple selection, and often price, you can not beat online shopping for books.

Now granted, I have ordered countless books online, from many, many sources, from other countries and can't say I have had an experience as bad as yours. That might give me pause...but in the meantime, online books sources are a big part of my shopping experience.

Zibilee said...

How rude to make you wait so long for a simple answer! I am trying to get out of the habit of internet book buying and actually get myself to the bookstore, either indie or big box. I have been doing better lately, but I still need to work a little harder.

Mystica said...

I often wonder whether there is no guidelines laid down by management. e.g. emails must be replied same date or something like this. Have never done online book buying or for that matter shopping so my experience is only with bricks and mortar stores and a bookshop is something so very special. Just walking in and recognising titles, books discussed with other bloggers gives me a high!

Anonymous said...

How frustrating. I would have done the same thing you did, place the order elsewhere.

Howard Sherman said...

Your frustrating experience is not limited to online booksellers but to online sellers of every stripe who operate with an inadequate system.

Don't misconstrue what I'm saying; I can't imagine the experience of browsing a bricks-and-mortar bookstore ever being replaced.

At the same time, an online bookseller who gets it right can be a true life enhancement.

Serena said...

that is the craziest thing I've ever heard!

Anonymous said...

I'm totally with you on bricks-and-mortar versus online.

I think we get way too clinical and calculating when we think "price and convenience" are the only factors that are important in our purchasing experience. What are we -- living calculators?

There are so many other factors that are important, such as the ability to look over a book in person and decide not to buy it. And browsing to find other books you hadn't been aware of. And comfort. And just wandering around, discovering.

I really dislike the coldly clinical view that's developing with the advent of online buying.

-- Phyl from Bookishgal (Can't use this blog as my sign-in ID for commenting. So you get two of my blogs. Ha!)

Anonymous said...

As a Barnes & Noble gal for years, I always try to support the Bricks and Mortar, indie or big box.