Dear Barnes and Noble,
My name is Sari Nichols. I’ve been a Barnes and Noble card member since 2004. Since then I’ve received countless announcement e-mails from you. Your company is really good about announcing book sales and alerting members about new releases. Hell, I have to endure Barnes and Noble ads while surfing the web, because I buy books from you. Everywhere I look, there you are; hoping to entice me to buy yet another book. And yet, despite the fact that I buy Stephen King books from your company, you failed to alert me and every other loyal card member about how you were going to handle the hosting of the Stephen King book tour; the first in many long years. You didn’t think this was worthy of even one lousy e-mail notification? It’s STEPHEN KING, for god sake! In case you didn’t know it, he is considered a literary giant among those who he loving dubs his “Constant readers” and these people are legion.
When the tour was announced early this year, I scanned your website to see how one would go about getting tickets to hear him speak. In fact, I checked it for months. Shockingly there was no mention of his tour. In fact the only reason I knew about it is because I follow him on Facebook and Twitter. Could you have a least put a notice somewhere on your website? Did you know, according to his on-line biography, Stephen King has sold over 350 million copies of his books? Would it have hurt you to announce how you would choose the lucky ones? Because, as it turns out, scoring tickets to see King hinged on two things; knowing which Barnes and Noble Facebook to look at and on which day.
To be fair, maybe it was not up to you how the lottery would go down. Perhaps it was up to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, but as a partner in the tour and as the host, the least you could have done was alert your loyal Stephen King buy book members on how to watch for the official announcement.
As it so happened, customers had to read their local Barnes and Noble Facebook page on a particular day, as there was only one brief announcement. The posting directed those wishing to see King to e-mail their local B&N on a certain day between certain hours. You couldn’t have just announced up front that you would be doing this?? Jesus, you’d think you were hosting Edward Snowden, freshly smuggled back into America to give a talk on spying.
So as you can guess from the tone of this letter, I missed the announcement. I found out the day after customers were to e-mail you. My son’s fiancé posted that she scored two tickets on Facebook. See, I follow her on Facebook because I know her. I had no idea Reno’s B&N even had a separate Facebook account! How many does your company need??
Now, here is where my rant really begins, here is where you’ve lost me as a customer. I am not so much upset that I didn’t get to see King speak, I am upset by what happened next and how Reno’s B&N handled the event.
Once I found out about the cloak and dagger approach to seeing King live, I called my local B&N in the hopes that a last minute e-mail was possible; that as a loyal card member I might have the opportunity to see him if Reno did not receive an overwhelming number of e-mails (which it turns out they did not). I was told in no certain terms would a last minute e-mail be accepted, and under no certain terms would I be able to see King live (which turned out to be lie).
I don’t fault the young man who answered my phone call. I am going to assume he was passing on the information he was given. And at the time, this may have been the plan. That only those who e-mailed on the day of instruction and prepaid for a signed book would see King live. And when I called a couple of weeks ago to see if there was even a small chance, I was told no. Again, only those who prepaid would be get to see King live. Keep this in mind as you read further. I was told there was no chance to see him.
So imagine my surprise, when I received a text message from my son on the day of the event that read, “Hey mom, if you can get over here, B&N are allowing the shoppers to stay to see King”. WHAT??
As it turns out, on Saturday, as instructed those with e-mail conformations lined up at 8AM in order to get their wristbands and signed books. These King fans waited in line for two hours for the doors to be open to them. But then, after they got in, weekend shoppers, who had no idea Stephen King would be speaking, were allowed in. Worse, they were allowed to stay, even though callers (turns out, I was not the only one) were told that this would not be possible.
Now understand, if I lived in Reno I would have jumped in my car and headed over as quickly as the speed limit would’ve allowed. But unfortunately for me, Carson City is my hometown and with summer road construction getting there in time would have been impossible.
So thanks to Reno’s B&N decision to tell callers there was no chance to see King without an e-mail conformation, yet allow just anyone into the store that day, I twice missed a chance to see my favorite modern fiction writer. Thanks, B&N, thanks for nothing.
Well, I got something out of it. My son gave me his signed copy of “The End of the Watch”. A fitting title as this is the end of my loyalty to your company.
Ex- card member of B&N