Gift Wrap the Wrapping?

I recently bought a Nook for my mom on Mother’s Day. I was pleased with the product, so I thought, why not. Mom’s an avid reader. This could bring her into the 21st century. As an impulse, I opted to also purchase the gift bag. It was a whopping one cent.

The green bag on the left was the one I ordered. It was gift wrapped, not the actual Nook.

You should know that Mom loves gift bags. It’s her wrapping of choice. Every Xmas as a kid, I was tasked with wrapping all the gifts (except my own) because I was mathematically minded about the wrapping paper. I could literally wrap anything. Mom isn’t as spatially inclined. When she wraps, it’s in a bag with tissue paper.

Now, back to the Nook. As I was checking out, I clicked the “gift wrapping” option. It cost only $3.50 and I figured it might look nice and save some time.

So get the Nook in the mail a few days later. No wrapping, but honestly I was too excited about setting it up, I hardly noticed. Then the gift bag arrived later and, you guessed it, it was gift wrapped. Really Barnes and Noble? That’s what you thought I meant by gift wrapping?

It bugged me enough that I emailed the complaint department, asking for a refund on the price of the gift wrapping. Here is their standard response.

Thanks for contacting us. You should receive a response within 12 to 24 
hours, and we appreciate your patience.

A week went by. I sent an email back asking, facetiously, if they meant 12-24 hours or days. This got an email back:

Thank you for contacting Barnes & Noble regarding the order #XXXXXXXXX. 

The order was shipped on 05/07/2012. The carrier's tracking detail shows
that it was delivered as follows: 

Delivered On:
Wednesday,  05/09/2012 at 5:36 P.M. 
Left At:
Front Door

Of course it was delivered. How else would I know that you gift wrapped the bag? Seriously. If not for the meagerness of the cost in question, I’d pursue this farther. Though being a big corporation, I doubt I’d make any traction. This is where I have to give Amazon props. A few years ago, I was given two of the same gift. I was able to successfully return one to Amazon and get a credit.

I’m still waiting for my $3.50 back on the botched gift wrap.

Tim Kane

Life Without Amazon

My New Years’ resolution is to shop, as often as possible, away from Amazon. Why? As an author, I’ve noticed some less than savory practices from this corporate giant lately. It seems that the fellas over at the longest river bookstore are leveraging their power to crush and manipulate consumers and authors.

Amazon launched its KDP Select program for authors selling ebooks through its site. They threw out offers like a $500,000 pool of cash. Also a monthly income of $7,500. It all sounds great until you read the fine print. By signing up, the author cannot sell his/her book anywhere else (including a personal website). Also this pool of cash is based on the percentage of sales of all ebooks that month. So, unless you’re a top ten author, your take could easily be pennies. Plus, you’ve cut off any sales from other websites. Add to that the fact that Amazon has moved the link to opt out and you’ve got a massive ebook collection for them and a lot of starving writers.

Now, let’s look at Amazon’s price check app. This little goodie was a one day rollout where customers were encouraged to enter a brick and mortar store, take a picture of a product, and then buy it through Amazon. The incentive…?  Amazon gave customers a $5 price break.

As both a customer and a writer I was maddened. Yet, why did I continue to shop Amazon? Mostly, it boiled down to laziness. Amazon’s site was just so easy to use. I made it a priority to branch out. Inconvenience myself a little bit.

Fist off, books. I admit, I had already downloaded some ebooks through the kindle app. Loved it. But it turns out there are plenty of other sites out there willing to sell an ebook. I just bought a Nook and I have to say, the reading experience is superior. For dead-tree-books, I have to rely on the Barnes and Noble chain (as it’s the only bookstore in my city).

Then came the wish list. Now I tried other sites like wishlistr. Frankly they sucked. Amazon simply has the best wish list. Even Barnes and Noble was cumbersome to use. So I decided to work in reverse. I’ll keep my lists up in Amazon, but buy from other stores. I use the wish list mostly as a bookmark anyway.

So if you’re trying to quit Amazon, it is possible. Yeah, you might pay a bit more. Plus you’ll have to say toodle loo to the $25 free shipping. No one said supporting authors would be easy.

Tim Kane