How A Tip From Consumerist, A Credit Card, And Some Determination Got Me A Brand-New Nook

Kyle really liked his Nook…until it decided to freeze up and no longer work. He was unhappy: it was only two months out of warranty, and he didn’t like the only option that Barnes & Noble presented: trading the non-working device in for a relatively small discount on a brand-new replacement. He had purchased a lot of books he uses every day for work on the Nook platform, and decided to take a loss on those and get a Kindle instead. Unhappy with the whole experience, he vented to us about it.

Only 14 months after getting one as a birthday gift, my Nook Simple Touch bit the dust. Over the course of a month it went from freezing occasionally and requiring a restart to my not being able to use it for more than 20 seconds before it would freeze up and require a restart. I called Barnes & Noble tech support and went through the whole diagnosis process with them and they could not determine what the cause was, but did determine that because it was out of warranty there was nothing they could do unless I was willing to pay for any repair.

But I could trade in my useless Nook towards the purchase of a new Nook Simple Touch! All a new NST would cost me then would be $65…a trade-in value of 35% of what a new one costs, or a whopping 15% of what my wife paid for my device last Summer. Given I could get nowhere with customer support I did some research, found the President of Digital Products for B&N, wrote to him and asked him for help. A few weeks later I received a call from a member of the Escalations department (who I’ll refrain from naming to protect her from being flooded by Consumerist readers) and she said her purpose for calling was to let me know if I thought the $65 price was too much to pay for a replacement NST that B&N sold certified refurbished NSTs and that would cost me only $40. When I asked for something better—I think it’s fair I put some money towards a replacement since mine was out of warranty, after all—she turned me down flat.

I loved having the Nook (while it lasted) on which I could carry a LOT of my work-related books and files in my job as a pastor without having to tote around a wheeled cart. Though it may mean losing money on the handful of e-books I bought from B&N, I’d sooner switch to a Kindle—my wife’s Kindle has been reliable and flawless for three years now—than give more money to a company that doesn’t really stand behind its product or want to work with its customers. So good-bye, Barnes & Noble, from a (now former) customer and stockholder.

Sometimes, when we get letters like these, we offer (quick) bits of helpful advice. The editor who happened to get Kyle’s message asked whether he had used a credit card to buy the device, and to investigate whether that credit card offered some kind of warranty extension. This hadn’t occurred to Kyle, and he investigated. His first update came ten days later:

Thanks for the lead—as it turns out, Chase does have such a thing and it didn’t require my registering the device with them first. I will have to provide all sorts of proof of purchase, ownership, and the diagnosis that the device is blooey, but that I can do. So we’ll see what happens from here. Still, given the “hey, take it or leave it” attitude at B&N, I may still switch to a Kindle anyway…

More than a month passed, and we assumed Kyle just went ahead and got a Kindle. Then we heard from him again. Victory was his!

Wanted to update Consumerist with the end-news: it took a bit of back-and-forth with Barnes & Noble customer support and in-store support, but I got the final piece of paperwork Chase services wanted, submitted the claim on my dead Nook Simple Touch, and got the email today that said since B&N said they could not repair the device to go ahead and purchase a new one and they would reimburse me. Good to know sometimes these systems work without much agita!

Thanks again for giving me the lead on credit card companies’ extended warranty programs!