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So sad! Our hometown Barnes & Noble is awesome, very helpful, friendly , and will literally tear store apart to find something. However I have had a quite different experience in other B&N locations. For about a year we spent as weekend per month in Charlottesville and visited the B&N on each and every visit. The mood in the store was terrible, as if they did not want children there at all and forget finding anyone to ever help with you.

becky dunnell

I would write to both -- tell them the good & the bad at the first -- tell them how refreshing it was at the second...they need to know -- it may help someone in the future :)


I know exactly which lady u are talking about, but some of the employees there are snotty. How about a round house kick to the face?


I had something similar happen for the 1st time ever at our local B&N. Usually I get great service.

This time in answer to my question I got (direct quote mind you) "Maybe you should ask corporate why they want to put us out of business?" I was so stunned I just stood there and then walked out. I did return the next day and spoke with the manager. I had a much better experience and felt better about myself too.

I would write to both stores like Becky suggested. Rarely is good customer service rewarded or recognized. Bad service does need to acknowledged as well.

Nelson's Mama

Oh, just to have a Barnes and Noble.

My only choice is a poorly stocked and inexpertly staffed Hastings. Can't tell you the number of times I've actually assisted customers myself.


It's a situation crying out for a letter - same letter to both stores, letting them know about both experiences. That's not to say you *need* to do it - how many times have I had a situation that cried out for a letter and just got too busy to do it? But, in this case, it might just lead to another blog post!


I encourage you to write the letter to both stores. Things won't get better if we don't speak up. More over, things won't always be what we want if we don't say, "Hey! Thanks!"

And yes, always ask twitter.


If B&N is smart, they have a regional manager or at least a corporate person or 10 who monitor social media for this kind of thing, and you should be getting an apology soon. And a follow up with the store to see why this employee is so rude.

I work at a hospital and this is part of my job. And I've been told before, "I wrote that on my blog because I thought I'd get a response that way."

My guess is the employee doesn't read books, wasn't hired based on any passion for reading, and had no clue how to respond to your question and has only been trained to answer basic, "where's the biographies?" questions. But I don't know.


I'm sad that you had that experience. It seems like teen fiction is what most people know the least about...at least in my experiences.

What's interesting is that on a recent trip to my local B&N (in a mall), I overheard an associate, who was leading a customer to an unknown destination in the store, giving her a lengthy, involved explanation of something that included some literary theory. It warmed my heart! (The same associate checked us out, and was very friendly!)

I hope this was an isolated incident....perhaps an associate who was having a bad day?


I recommend you write to the corporate office and let them know what happened in each store. The good one deserves the recognition and the bad one needs to have higher ups looking at what they are doing. Sadly, my issue with my local B&N is that they have mostly TOYS, not books. :-(


I work in a bookstore sometimes.I have to admit there are times I want to say, "well I really dont know because I dont read that particular subject" BUT I dont say that. I will ask other coworkers or go over there with you myself to look at some of the covers and backs to help you. I do know there are trade magazines that do reviews and employees just have to glance over them to keep up on the trends.She should have been more helpful or found someone there that might be able to. Maybe she was just having a bad day. I would however let management know because if this is happening all the time then that will effect their store atmosphere and sales. You would think BN would have searches on their computers with keywords that could help them assist their customers. We do and we are just a small independent Christian bookstore. It is hard for a store as big as BN for all the employess to be knowlegeable on so many vast varieties of subjects. My motto though when at work there... Pretend you know it,fake it, walk over with them and find something. Works 99% of the time.Guess what? I also learned more on that subject matter by doing that and my customer leaves satisfied .Most return soon wanting another recommendation.


I agree with all the other commenters - you need to write a letter to corporate or regional management. Good service needs to be rewarded. I've never received stellar service at our local B&N, so I guess we're sadly used to having to hunt down the uninformed workers who tell us where the teen section is.

Karen from A Glimpse Into My Reveries

I have to agree with everyone that the letter needs to be written and sent to both stores' managers, cc'd to corporate.

Good sales people need to be acknowledged and rewarded, with words if nothing else! Dealing with the public day in and day out is hard!

I have to say that our Barnes and Noble in Bellingham, WA is wonderful, the people are knowledgable and eager to help!


Yes definitely write the letter. Being the day after christmas, I wonder if this worker was either a "replacement" worker for someone's Holiday? or over stressed because of the holidays?


I used to be a teen librarian, so I hope you don't mind if I chime in and say -- ask your librarian! They can help with readers advisory, finding booklists of similar books, picking a book based on a book your daughter already liked, etc. :)


Just like everyone else I think you do need to write the letters. If no one ever speaks up about poor CS then nothing will ever change. The higher ups won't realize there is a problem. Also, when CS is great that needs to be acknowledged as well. CS can be an emotionally taxing job and to have someone recognize when someone does a great job is a good thing.


Personally, I'll be the lone dissenter. As much as it is awesome when people working in bookstores love books, I don't expect it of a minimum wage employee. It's awesome when it does happen, but I don't set the bar that high. Not everyone reads. I expect a store employee to know on a general level where things are in the store, what promotions are in effect, and as a bonus, how to direct people who have more detailed question or what is selling well in each genre. But I don't expect every employee to know more than the basics. It's a minimum wage job and not everyone is a superstar. In fact, the average human is not all that literate. Sure, it's sad, but it's true.

It would have been better for the employee to admit "I really don't have any recommendations for you as I'm not familiar with that genre/age group/etc." I would rather hear disappointing honesty than just blank "teen books are over there."

ellen g

I'd have to say after visiting many a bookstore across the world (and being in the industry) that sometimes people who work in a bookstore are there for a job. That's fine. They rely on the automated systems to look up books and store layouts to help find things. The expectation of having someone working in a bookstore who considers it more than a job and a calling is dying with chain bookstores taking over where we used to have small, locally run independents. You know the kind - stores where "buyer's picks" were true picks and not selections based on cooperative marketing dollars.

Not to say that I haven't found B&N, Borders, and Hastings employees very helpful at times, but they can't be all things to all customers.

Best thing to do is rely on recommendations from friends, book groups, librarians and the like.


We visit two different B&N's in two different cities and both have very different attitudes toward the customers. I agree with those who say you should contact the stores about the customer service, the one with praise and the other with a complaint. Even if the worker didn't read the books in the section you needed help with, they could have at least said so politely or even offered to find someone who did know.


Do whatever you think best, but also pray for the employee who didn't give you the advice -- in case it was a bad day, in case she was a minimum wage employee or even more likely, someone who was hired only for the holiday sales and will find herself unemployed again in a few weeks, in case the customer she had just helped was rude to her, in case her head was aching with a migraine, in case, in case, in case. In my own case I only make customer service complaints if the experience I had shopping revealed something illegal or immoral, or something that was so destructive to the business that it is likely to cause irreparable harm to it.


Had the employee said, "I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with teen books; I can direct you to the section and perhaps find an employee who might be more familiar," that'd be different -- but it seems like you met with a dismissive, rude person. With unemployment at record highs, frankly, it can't be "just a job" anymore -- and the person could've done better. I worked in a book store in college (best job ever!) and loved it, and I sought help when I couldn't answer questions. It's that simple. So yes, I'd write your letters, to both stores, and maybe include a link to this post. If the stores are managed well, they'll be glad to get some feedback.

All that said, thanks for the idea to tweet out questions like that ... great idea next time my 10 y.o. is stumped!

And one more idea: maybe next time, make a list with a local librarian first, then choose what to buy versus borrow. I've started shopping that way for holiday gifts for other people's kids since so many books (The Mysterious Benedict Society series is one great one) are new since I was a kid!


Next year ask for gc to a local bookstore. Service usually never falters in a locally owned bookseller. They value every customer who comes in the door and leaves some of their money behind. It's what they do to continue doing what they love and keeping their doors open and the lights on.
check out www.the350project.net to see just how valuable your discrentionary spending dollars are locally.


I vote write the letters. One singing praises of the people that helped. The other detailing exactly the exceptionally rude treatment you received. That clerk needs a new job.

Jennifer Joyner

It's a losing battle unfortunately. I worked in retail for many years, and I have found a general, consistent decline in how much pride people take in their work, no matter the pay. Your time is better spent researching the options yourself than writing letters that will only generate a placating response with no real result. Sorry that happened to you...it bums me out all the time!

shaiya gold

good luck. plz keep it away.

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  • Carmen Staicer is a whirlwind of energy and execution who rarely sleeps and loves coffee and happens to have six outstanding awesome kids. A concentration of asthma, food allergies, spectrum disorders and learning disabilities means that she has learned more than she ever thought possible and knows less than she ever could imagine. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, boxing (she has her Black Belt in Muay Thai), rowing, sleeping, exploring coffee shops, homeless ministry, photography, and cooking.