I don't want to make a habit of ranting on my blog, but I'm desperate to know how Borders online get it so wrong, when Amazon, Blackwells, Play.com and a whole host of independent retailers and second hand book dealers get it so right. I've had nothing but excellent service from these - you order, the payment is taken (or you post off a cheque (in fact some second hand book dealers will even send you the books on trust once you've ordered from them before!)) and the books arrive. Happy customer. End of story.
Borders however has been a different matter. Normally I do my online book shopping from Amazon, because it's generally cheapest, the delivery is free, and the marketplace is fantastic for out of print books (or just getting a book second hand cheaper than the list price). However, I was seduced by Borders' recent "Buy one get one half price" offer, which was just to good to be true. It's like the credit crunch version of the 3 for 2 (although if you've read my earlier posts, you'll know that sadly Waterstones have probably made enough out of me on this last weekend to keep them going through the recession). I bought a few instore, and then realised the offer was available online and that this was a fantastic opportunity to get things cheaply that aren't available in store (yes, Persephone books!!)(although I have found a few Perspephones in our Borders).
I filled my basket and arranged for the books to be delivered to the store, just in case they didn't fit through the letter box, and because it's nice to have an outing at lunchtime. Unfortunately it all went downhill from there. First I got an email saying that they couldn't process my payment, so I should call the helpline. I called the helpline and the guy on the phone said that I needed to cancel my order online and replace the order. Logged back on, but it wasn't possible to cancel the order. Emailed the helpline who then said that the order had gone through fine. Then I noticed that two items had been inexplicably cancelled, but I wasn't notified. And then I waited. The orders were showing up as "dispatched to store", so I was expecting an email or a phone call to go and collectthem. I waited some more. Eventually I went into Borders to speak to a human and find out what was happening, and the books were there! The money had been taken from my credit card but no-one had informed me of their arrival. I was quite happy to finally see my books, although I did later write to the helpline (who said that books arrive 2 days after their dispatch). Of course the story doesn't quite end there; the bag they gave me was incapable of holding 6 Persephones and fell apart on the way home, and all of this was a couple of weeks ago, and I'm *still* waiting for two books.
Martin Miller's Westbourne with Icelandic Sagas
3 hours ago