There is an old saying that it takes a long time to build a reputation and only moments to destroy it. Today Barnes & Noble undid a lot of good will I had toward them. Let me preface this rant by saying that I have a 3G Barnes & Noble Nook. I love it. It has been one of my favorite purchases ever. Ever! And when the NOOKcolor came out I passed my goodwill onto that device too. I’m learning that it may have been an unfortunate lapse of judgment.
I purchased a NOOKcolor for myself yesterday after a little nudge from my wife. It really wasn’t much of a nudge. It didn’t need to be. I love my B&N NOOK. I love the Android platform in general. I was sold. Our nearest Barnes & Noble is about 30 minutes away. We packed up the kids and headed out. I walked through a set of large double doors and directly in front of me was a counter displaying the NOOK, NOOKcolor and their various accessories. I asked for the NOOKcolor. It was taken to a register. I checked out and I headed home full of enthusiasm for my new device. I’m a gadget guy! This felt more like Christmas than Christmas.
I had a favor to do for my Mom so the NOOKcolor lay on my bookshelf charging until later that night. I walked into the bedroom, the power indicator on the NOOKcolor shone green and I hurriedly unhooked it and powered it on. There were two small marks on the screen so I grabbed my glass cloth and tried wiping them off to no avail. Upon closer review I noticed these two small marks looked like air bubbles or water bubbles. And they were under the glass. There was nothing I could do but return it.
I did what any techy nerd would do it my circumstance. I tweeted out of frustration to any and all who would find my #hashtag.
Come on @BNBuzz!! I got my #nookcolor home and there are two spots under the screen at dead center. It looks like water drops. Or glue. =/
A very short while later I received a response from @eBooksBN. It was a B&N administrator named Michael-V. He wanted me to setup a B&N account (which I’ve already had) and asked me to send him the pertinent information. I told him what I just told you all here. And today his response came:
I am so sorry to hear of your experience. I would advise you contact our Customer Service team and report it. Please contact our Customer Service Team at 1-800-THE-BOOK (1-800-843-2665) and choose option 2 for Digital Support. Please let us know if your issue was resolved.
While it’s nice to be acknowledged at all, this kind of reeks of “Bummer, dude”.
I was going to be running the roads this morning anyway. I took Josh to see Tron 3D, which is another story all together but we decided to run out to the mall to do this return on our way home. The parking lot for B&N is shared with the mall and it’s a madhouse. We finally found a parking spot and walked in. Customer service directed us to the NOOK desk who then directed us to the cash registers where the return would be processed. It was inconvenient but these things happen. I did my exchange and we headed back out into the craziness that is Genesee Valley Mall’s parking lot.
Like wolves on prey, people stalked us with their eyes as we made our way to the car. The moment we identified our vehicle the flow of traffic stopped so the wolf lucky enough to be closest could have my spot. We started to make our way out of the parking lot when I thought that maybe I should check the NOOKcolor out, just in case. I don’t want to make another 1 hour drive. Gas is, after all, $3.09 a gallon right now. I pulled off to the abandoned parking lots that only fill during the Christmas crush and proceeded to unbox my NOOKcolor. I powered it on. And there it was. A dead pixel.
Irritated, I swung the car back around and rejoined the wolf pack looking for parking spots. We found one, headed in to find the crowd of people in the store had multiplied exponentially while we were out. There was now a line at the NOOK desk but we waited. The customer service representative, who I will not name out of consideration to him, was discussing his great displeasure with their local B&N management who short staffed the store and then refused to call anyone in despite the fact that they were two people short on a very busy Friday afternoon. The customer sympathetically offered that it still seemed like a good place to work. The representative countered, “Don’t fool yourself. It’s still retail.”
When that customer was dealt with, and the customer who followed, the representative looked to me curiously and asked if I had been helped yet. I told him the issue with this NOOKcolor. He looked at the dead pixel and shook his head. He grabbed another device from the lockup and told me it was the same process. I asked him if we could open it before doing the exchange. He told me that we couldn’t. He told me that the exchange had to be done before they opened the box.
I went through the register line again. I did another exchange. And when it was complete I stepped off to the side and opened this latest NOOKcolor. I booted it up, watched the splash screen hopeful that I had a good unit. I couldn’t find a flaw with the screen during the black splash screen animation but as soon as the white introduction screen popped up I saw it. Another one of those air bubbles or moisture bubbles or whatever.
Un-wait for it–believable.
I walk over to the same NOOK counter. The customer service rep is helping someone else at this point. When he finishes helping that customer apply a screen protector to their new NOOKcolor he locks eyes with me. His shoulders droop. And he asks: Again? Yep. He shakes his head and says: This is just another one of my issues with Barnes & Noble. They KNEW there was going to be a demand so they just pump these things out as fast and as cheap as they can and this happened. He wasn’t impressed and neither was I.
Then he drops the bombshell that I am not going to be able to do another exchange without talking to a manager first. He says that exchanges this frequent for devices this expensive require a manager’s approval. I don’t know if they thought I had a plastic wrap fetish or if they thought I was one of those people who enjoy wasting a day away by unwrapping retailer’s goods. He steps away to talk to the manager, who is working the registers due to being short staffed. This manager hears my tale, rolls her eyes and tells him to go ahead and do the exchange.
I proceed through the line for a fourth time since yesterday. I find myself thinking that if this unit has a defect that it’s obviously a sign that I’m not meant to have a NOOKcolor. My NOOK has been fantastic to me and I don’t need the extras that the NOOKcolor provides. But I proceed through the line. Trouble the gracious checkout clerks yet again. They frown apologetically as they process my return. I step to the side and I open my fourth NOOKcolor in 24-hours. I need only look at the screen to know that this unit has been previously used. Perhaps it was previously owned. In any case, I ignore the smudges and fingerprints and watch as the unit boots. It finally boots and I find myself looking at a dirty but otherwise pristine screen.
I shut it down. I put it back within its protective jacket and slide it back into the box. I step from the register where the representative at the NOOK counter looks to me questioningly. I give him the thumbs up and he exhales the breath he was obviously holding during my examination of the latest device put in my hands. I walk out into the parking lot, face the parking lot wolves once more and head home.
I feel like I’ve been through the wringer. Three returns in 24-hours to get a device that I had such previous high hopes for. Now I have it home and wonder how many days it’s going to take for it to develop a dead pixel. I wonder if I was just extraordinarily unlucky or if I paid $250 for a device that isn’t going to even approach the value I placed in its predecessor.
And it’s funny how truly quick the landscape changes. 24-hours ago, I was full of enthusiasm for Barnes & Noble. I loved their eReader. I recommended the NOOK to all of my friends and family who were interested in eReaders. We purchased my Mother-In-Law a NOOK for Christmas. I have talked co-workers into the NOOK. I am single-handedly responsible for several NOOK sales. But now I find myself posting words of caution to any who would consider the NOOKcolor. “If you buy one, open it before you leave the store.”
Barnes & Noble: It takes years to build your reputation and only moments to destroy it. My faith in you is shaken. I’ve requested a screen protection kit for my troubles. I guess we’ll see if my opinion is worth much to you at all.
To my readers: I’ll keep you posted. My hopes for the NOOKcolor have fallen from super enthusiastic to cautiously optimist.