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Barnes and Noble Nook Trouble, Problems and Frustration

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As much as we would like to, as journalists, we don’t always get to experience things as customers do. When we do have a notable customer service experience, we would like to share it with you.

We wrangled our Barnes & Noble Nook the old-fashioned way. No PR reps, no loaners, no overnight shipment. In the interest of having one around the office, we preordered the Nook months ago alongside every other customer, waited our turn, and eagerly tore open the box last week when it arrived.

To a totally white “color” screen. We had a dud on our hands.

After confirming that we weren’t missing any steps, we dialed up 1-800-THE-BOOK, got a customer representative on the line, and explained the situation. No big deal, he told us. Our Nook was defective. He assured us that a replacement Nook would leave that very day via two-day air, and we could send back the old unit when we got it.

Days passed. Almost a week passed. And no Nook. After 30 minutes on hold with the same number today, we told a customer service representative we hadn’t received our replacement. Not surprising, he told us, because there was no note of two-day air service in our return request, and the soonest we would receive a replacement would be February.

So we might have a chance to give it as a Valentine’s Day gift? Might?

All replacements were now treated as new orders, he said, because Barnes & Noble had burned through its entire stock of replacements from the first batch of Nooks and now had none to send out.

Really? Our previous customer service rep had completely lied to us and we would have been waiting week after week for a Nook that would have arrived in months? We broke cover and told them we were reviewing it. It would be useless by February. We needed one now or never.

After a couple more times on hold and consulting some superiors, they magically stumbled upon some more Nooks and sent one out via expedited mail. (Or so they said, this could easily be the third lie we’ve swallowed.)

This entire experience is unacceptable.

Defective Nook owners (and we have to assume there are plenty, if they already depleted all their replacement stock) are now waiting until February for an item they preordered months in advance. Giving it as a Christmas gift? Whoops. Better find a Zhu Zhu.

And to top it all off, we were lied to twice over the phone by Barnes & Noble: Once when they told us a replacement was on the way immediately, and again when they told us there were no more replacements to send out.

We’ll save our judgment for the actual device until it arrives… if it ever does. Until then, you can decide for yourself whether a company that treats customers the way we’ve witnessed deserves your business.