Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Barnes and Noble Re-Turn Around

As I was paying for my purchases at my local Barnes and Noble the other day, my bookseller informed me of their new return policy, even going so far as to highlight it on the back of my receipt. It was obvious from her practiced tone and quick movements that this act had become routine. Not surprising, as she’s probably been saying it since March 3rd.

For those not in the know, B & N now requires that all items be returned within fourteen days of their sale accompanied by the receipt. Though not on the official website as it appears the policy won’t go nationwide until October, it is clearly in affect here in the Northwest.

Though I’m an infrequent Lloyd Center B & N customer, the new return policy was not that shocking. The bookselling businesses in our area have long been the target of thieves. They range from those who try to sell their stolen merchandise to Powells as used to those who simply exchange the goods at another location for store gift cards. Since many book retailers have no recourse when it comes to accepting the returned items due to their broad return policies and inability to prove theft allegations, booksellers are forced to provide store credit. The return credit gift cards they received could then be sold at a discount online.

And for every few people committing out and out theft, there were those who had carefully read their book and wanted their money back to purchase something else. While I have no problem with people returning books they started only to realize they didn’t like—much like I have no problem returning clothes that once viewed in my full length mirror at home reveal their problem areas—I do have a problem with people treating bookstores like the library. Libraries are funded by tax payer dollars and there for a reason. If you don’t want to pay to read the book, then visit one. I’m sorry if you’ll have to wait on a list to get possession of the coveted title, but that’s the price you pay for not paying for the title in the first place.

So, again, new returns policy shocking? No, but I’ll interested to see how it pans out during the holiday season. This small window for returns means that any gift book bought by people who do their holiday shopping ahead time will be giving something that the giftee won’t be able to return even if they have a gift receipt. Too bad for those non dog lovers who receive Marley and Me, so sad for the person who already owns two copies of Tuesdays with Morrie.

Guess you’ll have to try and return that book elsewhere.

I wonder how long until other book retailers make changes to their policies given that they’ll be the ones picking up B & N’s returns slack.


Paul said...

Thakns for the even-handed description of the issues booksellers face regarding fraudulent returns. A bit of good news for gift-givers: the new B&N return policy allows 60 days to return or exchange with a guft receipt.

Becky LeJeune said...

Well they won't be taking them to Borders. My borders just posted their own new returns policy that also requires all receipts from now on.

Bookseller Chick said...

Paul, thanks for the news re: gift returns. It wasn't spelled out at the register and the B & N site has nothing.

Becky! How are you? What are you up to? And that's interesting to hear about Borders. I wonder if it is store specific or company wide. I'll have to call around.

Alyssa said...

Yep, there was a notice at my local Borders as well.