Why I'm DONE with Chain Bookstores
It's no secret that I much prefer indie bookstores to chain bookstores, but I pretty much love anyplace I can buy books. Except one.
I won't name names, but it's two surnames separated by an ampersand.
What has this book retailer done to warrant my vitriol, you ask? Three different shopping experiences that left me abandoning purchases at the checkout desk.
Disclaimer: If you enjoy shopping at this store, shop your heart out. But you won't run into me there.
Shopping experience #1:
I wanted a copy of the book Voices From Chernobyl, so I looked it up on bookstore website to make sure they had it. The book was $9.50 on the store's website.
But in the store, the book was $16. That's quite a price discrepancy! So I asked a worker if they would price match. After all, it's their store and their website, so I never would've guessed that they wouldn't price match themselves.
I was wrong. So I left without the book, and feeling pretty pissed.
Shopping experience #2:
I go to this store especially for literary magazines. I wanted to see which ones were popular and figure out which ones I liked before I subscribed.
At the store, I find an issue of Kenyon Review, which looked intriguing, but there was one problem. The magazine was BEAT UP. Like, the cover was torn in multiple places, the spine was cracked, the corners were bent, and pages were crinkled. I'd never seen a magazine (which was bound like a book) so damaged. I also didn't see any other copies of the magazine.
I asked a worker if they had any more copies and a search revealed the damaged good I was holding was the last one. It wasn't ideal, but ultimately I just wanted the magazine, so I asked if they could give me a discount on it.
They said no! I found this odd because another chain bookstore I know will knock off 10% if it's the last copy and it's damaged. It just felt wrong that this bookstore would expect consumers to pay for price when their employees are manhandling the merchandise to the point of serious damage.
I was so annoyed that I just left. No lit mags for me.
Shopping experience #3:
I know that pretty much every business is going to have an email list, so if it's something I'm going to be buying frequently, such as books, I want to get on the email list so I know when the sales are.
Employees at this store had asked me to sign up for their email list multiple times, but each time I recited my last name's spelling they must have misheard because I never saw an email. My email is MyFirstAndLastName@gmail.com. (Not literally, but you know what I mean.)
My fiancé, on the other hand, whose email address is also his name, has a much easier and shorter name, so he gets their emails just fine. So he receives their emails even though we signed up at the same time.
One day he gets a coupon for 40% off one item and is all excited about it, so we decide to go to the store.
This coupon was sent out to everyone on their email list, not some special thing for frequent buyers or anything, so I figured I'd just tell them I wanted to be on the email list (AGAIN) when I got to the checkout and they could give me the coupon.
I should also mention that (unless they've changed it in the past few months), the email signup isn't on their website---you can only get on the list by being in a store and having an employee offer it to you.
I tried to explain to the cashier that I wanted to sign up for the email list and get the same coupon that my fiancé and everyone else got, but she said no! Seriously?!
At this point I'm starting to feel like this particular bookstore just hates me for some reason unbeknownst to me. I don't think I've tried to spend money three times at ANY other store before only to be shut down.
The ironic part is that this bookstore's CEO was recently fired and they've reported lower earnings over the last few quarters. Somehow I'm not surprised. Not that my three shopping trips would have put them in the black, but if they're treating even a third of their customers like they've treated me, you can't blame people for taking their business elsewhere.
I've learned my lesson. I'll only be going to my local indies and local used bookstores henceforth.