B&N finally decided my address is not an APO

As I wrote on this blog recently, my wife and I had a B&N gift card for $50 that would allow us to buy three books. But B&N’s site was screwed up. A message on the checkout screen kept telling me that B&N doesn’t ship to APO or FPO addresses.

So what?

But they thought that’s what I had even though I’ve had B&N books shipped to this address for ages. Finally, the last of the books I tried to order is on its way without any explanation about the checkout screen error.

I would rather order from B&N or Powell’s or Bookshop because I think Amazon is pretty close to being a monopoly. But if alternative websites are screwed up, there’s not much I can do but go to Amazon again. This time I couldn’t because I had a B&N gift card.

The support reps kept telling me to enter and re-enter my purchases again and again in addition to clearing my cache and using another browser. Finally, the company decided to have its programmers look at the problem. I spent a lot of online chat time before B&N decided to do the obvious thing: FIX THE BUG.

So, I’m not in a rush to go back to B&N and put up with all this hassle again. That bothers me because I really want B&N to give Amazon some serious competition.  But this won’t happen until the support reps take customer problems seriously and focus on fixing the bugs instead of asking us to re-enter everything on our account multiple times as though that’s going to fix the error.

Seriously, B&N, do you want to beat Amazon or do you want to allow the bugs on your site to ensure that you will crash and burn?

You have a serious problem if your software “thinks” a street address is an Army or Fleet Post Office address. Fix the thing instead of making your customers jump through hoops.



4 thoughts on “B&N finally decided my address is not an APO

  1. Problems like this are ubiquitous now aren’t they? (Except, pretty much, on Amazon). I had occasion to fill in a proposal form for car insurance a couple weeks ago. Two of the questions were impossible to answer honestly. With car insurance one is never quite sure what will invalidate one’s insurance. So when a girl phone me to ask if I wouldn’t mind answering a few questions about the process of filling in the form I let her have both barrels. ‘It isn’t just your lot,’ I assured her. ‘Nobody now designs a form which is fit for purpose. Since Covid – now that there is no human customer help available anywhere for anything – that situation has only got worse. And only an eejit would imagine that it is going to improve when we are finally allowed out after Covid. If this is the way the world is going to work, then people need to start writing forms which work.’ And, in your case, Malcolm, websites which don’t get their knickers in a twist. Amazon are not completely immune from the form/twisted knickers problem – but they are far and away the easiest company to deal with in Covid times on both those counts. Any company which complains about Amazon’s unfair practices (as you say) has only to look at how robust Amazon’s systems are. Yes, price is a factor. Yes, they can undercut because they pay no tax and underpay most of their staff. But all companies which sell online are only as good as the stability of their interfaces with customers. And most of those interfaces are rubbish. Don’t even get me started on my problems getting Activyl for my dog, on scrip, online …

    1. I try not to fill out forms because when I do, somebody calls up and wants to see me something that I’m not ready to buy. At any rate, there seem to be rubbish interfaces all over the place. As others have said, I think customer support is stupid (or acts stupid) in hopes that the complainer will see getting things fixed such a long shot that they just shut up about the problem and go home.

      1. Oh dear – I thought it was just incompetence. You believe it is something more sinister I can see. And you may well be right. Is this what form and system designers are taught to aim for now (are they taught at all)? One thing’s for sure – they ain’t aiming high!

        In the Eighties I remember people this side of The Pond agreeing that we were living through the Age of Mediocrity. This, sadly, seems quite definitely to be the Age of Incompetence. O thrice woe .

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