Buried Under Books, Borders Goes Above and Beyond

Reader Katie writes to us with an amazing Borders customer service story, full of love, loss, credit, and a fiery inferno of possible death. Katie’s letter inside.


Just wanted to write about an amazing customer service I had recently. I went to the Borders at the Providence Place mall (in Providence RI) on December 22nd, and it was crazy busy. I anticipated this, and had reserved a copy of the book I wanted for in-store pickup the night before. I got an email confirming the reservation the next morning. When I got there, the line was huge, so I went to the end and waited. While I was in line, an employee named John came by and asked if anyone had any reservations that they wanted him to go get for them. I wanted to look through the book before I bought it, so I gave him my last name and he went to find it.

After about ten minutes (I was about halfway through the line at this point) John came back and apologized, saying he was having some trouble finding it. I gave him the title and he went to see if it was still on the shelf in the store. After another ten minutes I was at the front of the line, but he was still searching for my book, so I stepped aside to let the cashier keep ringing up customers. Sue, another employee, started helping me (I think she was either a manager or some kind of customer service person or something) and looked up my reservation in their database. It turned out I had reserved the only copy, and that they had pulled it off the shelf for me, but they were so overwhelmed with reservations that it was most likely buried somewhere in the back room. She gave me a $5 coupon, and went to look some more.

Five minutes later, both employees come back empty-handed. They apologized, but it was so busy and there were so many books in back that they just couldn’t find it. I was disappointed, but told them it was OK, and that I would find another book. John replied, “It’s not OK. This isn’t the way we like to do business,” and Sue told me that to make up for not finding the book, she was going to give me a $50 gift card. I was shocked – I had only reserved a copy, not purchased it, but Sue told me that not being able to find it was unacceptable, and she wanted to compensate me for my time.

THEN, as if giving me $55 wasn’t enough, Sue took down my number and told me that she would call me as soon as the book surfaced, and then I could pay for it with the gift card and use the rest however I wanted to.

This was at around 11:30am. At 2pm, I got a call – they had found my book. I went over, picked up some CDs, waited in line, and got $55 worth of gifts for free.

This whole thing absolutely floored me. Afterwards I went to the website where I reserved the book (http://www.borders.com/online/store/CustomerServiceView_shoppingatborders#reserveinstore) and looked, but nowhere does it guarantee that the book will be there if you request it. These two people went out of their way to help me on one of the busiest days of the year, not because it was required, but because they felt it was the right thing to do. Even with the 20-minute line, my trip to Borders was hands-down the absolute best customer service I have ever witnessed. I wrote them a nice thank-you letter as soon as I got home, and emailed a copy to the customer service email address online.

When I went back to the store at 2 the fire alarm went off and the employees evacuated everyone, so not only did they give me $55, they probably saved me from dying in a terrible inferno, which was also very nice of them.

So that’s it!


A+, Sue and John. You are a shining example of great customer service — especially that whole ‘terrible inferno’ part.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.