Barnes & Noble Will Happily Price-Match Website…When You Return Something Without A Receipt

Marjorie has discovered a really irritating flaw in Barnes & Noble’s online price-matching procedures. As we discussed shortly after Christmas, you can place orders on the chain’s website for in-store pickup, but prices differ on many items between retail locations and the website. Unlike many other stores, orders placed online but picked up in person go for the in-store price, not the online one. This annoys a lot of customers, and may hurt the company’s real-life retail operations. Marjorie discovered an interesting flip side to this, though: she had to buy a gift in the store, even though the online purchase price was $22 lower. When she went back to the store to return it, after her son had lost the receipt, the only price they would give her was the lowest one they had charged for the same book online.

I wanted to purchase a cookbook, “Thai Street Food,” at my local Barnes & Noble, cost $60. Checked online, there offered by B&N for $38. Called local store to ask if they’d match online price, manager said “No, we don’t match online prices.” Because it was close to Xmas, and a call to customer service made it clear the book was unlikely to arrive within the promised 5 business days if I purchased it online, I broke down and bought it at the local store for $60.

Post Christmas, my son the giftee said he’d rather not have it, but of course he had misplaced the receipt. So I went back to the local store — they would only give me store credit and only for the online price of $38 despite the fact that I had tried to get the online price and the book had never been on sale in the store for less, than $60.

So they won’t match the online price when you buy, but will only give you the online price when you return one bought at a store.

I complained to the store manager, no luck. I sent two e-mails to the online customer service address — no luck, both times I got a “thank you for your e-mail, we’ll get back to you soon” note but never heard back.

This is why you should keep receipts. Unfortunately, offering only the lowest price that an item was ever sold for when a customer returns an item without a receipt is standard.