Barnes & Noble Error Leaves Gift Card Unused, Doubles Charges On Credit Card

It’s bad enough when a glitch on a retailer’s side screws up your method of payment, but Barnes & Noble took so long to investigate and respond to one customer’s emails that by the time they acknowledged they’d made a mistake, they said it was too late to do anything about it. Now the customer is left with an unused $25 gift card and a $50 charge on his credit card, twice what he’d approved at check-out.

First off, I love the site, although I’d probably do better in school if it didn’t exist.

On Monday, I ordered a dvd and a few cds from Barnes and Noble. I paid with 4 gift cards and about $25 of my own money. Tuesday morning, I checked my order status and found that one of the cards had disappeared, and my credit card had been charged an extra $25. I sent a complaint through their customer service form and got this reply on Wednesday morning:

  Dear Augie _____,

Thank you for your inquiry regarding order #********.

After review of your order we can confirm that the gift card ending with **** was used on this order. The balance should still be available on the gift card.

Visit http://www.bn.com and click on the options that appear in the upper right-hand corner to view information about your order.

We look forward to your next visit.

Sincerely,
Amy
Customer Service Representative
BarnesandNoble.com
http://www.bn.com/

This made absolutely no sense to me, so I replied with this:

  I’m confused. As of 2:00pm my order details have not changed, my credit card is still being charged an extra $25, and the gift card in question still has $25 dollars on it. If you can confirm that it was used, why is it still being ignored?

Thursday morning, I received this:

  Dear Augie _____,

Thank you for contacting BarnesandNoble.com.

We received your e-mail requesting a change in your payment method.

Please note that your order has already been shipped and payment has been processed using the existing chosen method. Unfortunately the gift card ending in **** was not applied on this order due to some error in the system. We are unable to make a change to the payment method once the order has shipped. We regret any inconvenience this may have caused.

Visit http://www.bn.com and click on the options that appear in the upper right-hand corner to view information about your order.

We look forward to your next visit.

Sincerely,
Roopa
Customer Service Representative
BarnesandNoble.com
http://www.bn.com/

Here’s my reply:

  I’m sorry, but I can’t accept that. I am not requesting a change in my payment method. I am requesting the payment method that I chose when I paid, and that I was told had been accepted. I did not originally intend to spend more than what I had in gift cards. I made a choice to spend $25 of my own money, but is completely unacceptable for you to spend another $25 for me.

A few minutes later, I decided to see if I could scare them. So I sent them an email informing them that I would be sending all of our correspondences to Consumerist, which I am now doing.

I’m left wondering if there are any legal issues with them changing the payment method without my authorization. If there aren’t, is there any way for me to get my money back?

Another thing that bugs me is how each time I sent an email, they waited until the next morning to reply. They say that they can’t make any changes once the order has been shipped, but if they had simply fixed the error when they first heard from me (or would it be too much to ask to fix it on their own when it occurred?) that wouldn’t have been a problem.

One way to get your money back is to return the items you bought and request a refund, then start over. However, according to B&N’s return policy, you won’t get a refund on any shipping fees. You might want to try calling 1-800-THE-BOOK (or outside the U.S.: 201-272-3651) to see if you can reach a live human and explain the problem. It’s actually a service number for orders placed over the telephone, but it may be worth a shot.

(Photo: grilled cheese)