How Barnes & Noble Lost a Sale

How Barnes & Noble Lost a Sale

I normally purchase most books from Amazon. I’ve been dealing with them for years, so I can usually find exactly what I need quickly and efficiently. I’m currently preparing to go on a short vacation and, as is usual for me, I’ve found a book I want to read the day before I’m supposed to leave town. As such, shopping at Amazon is out of the question (because I’m not paying for overnight delivery).

There’s a Barnes & Noble located a few miles from my house, so I figured I’d check there. So I head to their website to find the book. Once there, I clicked on the Books tab, then entered the following in the search field:

managing humans

I then specified that I was searching for a Title in the drop-down menu. This resulted in 318 matches. The book I wanted was not listed on the first page. So I change my search to:

“managing humans”

Again, I specified Title in the drop-down menu. Again, 318 matches. Okay. I’m not going to page through 30+ pages looking for this book. So, off to Amazon, where I enter the following on their first page.

managing humans

I didn’t mess with the drop-down box, letting the search rummage through the entire site. The first result on the first page was the book I was looking for. (It should be noted that the first page of B&N;’s search results dealt with human resources. I was searching for plural humans and B&N; was giving me singular human. Guys, just use Google.) I clicked on the book title, scrolled down to the ISBN and copied it. Back on Barnes & Noble’s site, I pasted the ISBN and clicked search. Bingo. There’s the book.

I scroll down to read the various notes on the book. Amazon has 2-3 paragraphs describing the book and a short paragraph covering the author, Michael Lopp. Here’s what Barnes & Noble has:

Unhelpful Info

I seriously doubt the integrity of the From the Publisher information. It looks to me like a Perl hash was incorrectly referenced. Also note the absence of any information concerning the author.

But … who cares, right? I just need to know if my local Barnes & Noble has the book. There’s a convenient Find It In Our Stores box where I can input my zip code. I dutifully enter the code and click the Find button, which delivers the following information:

Conflicting Info

They found 1 store which may have this item. They then list the store, helpfully providing the address, store hours, phone number and the fact that the store does not have this book in stock. May have the book? Is it too much trouble for the script which produced this page to check for a quantity of zero? Technically, they might be but are comparing it against HASH(0x2bf98d3) rather than zero.

Ok, so their website sucks. I pick up the telephone, which I hate. Nothing puts me in a bad mood faster than having to deal with the telephone. But I call, am immediately put on hold and then, after approximately five minutes, am disconnected. So I call back. This time I succeeded in actually having a conversation with a human. I gave her the ISBN and was informed that they don’t have the book in stock. However, they can order it for me and it’ll arrive in five to seven business days … No, but thanks anyway.

I’ll look for the book while I’m on vacation.

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