I’ve been having a difficult week, so I decided to reward myself with a book. Specifically, I wanted to reread an old, beloved book, but I needed to acquire a new copy. I didn’t even need to justify the expense (though it’s easy to justify spending money on books) because I had a credit at the store I went to.
I stepped into the store and there was my book! I happily exchanged my credit for my book and walked out of the shop.
Well, that's what would have happened, if I had been buying a physical book at a store. Instead, I was trying to buy an Audible book. I want you to imagine what my actually experience might have looked like if it had been reinterpreted in a store...
There was my book. I handed my gift certificate to the cashier and she dropped it on the counter and told me, “Enjoy your book!”
“You haven’t given me my book.”
“Yes I have.”
“Do you want the gift certificate?”
“You already bought this book.”
“May I have it?”
“I can’t help you with that.”
I just wanted my book! I had this exact same conversation yesterday with the same frustrating result. I gave up then, but now I really want my book so I call for help. (“Help!”)
“We can’t give you your book because we need your wallet.”
Again, I hold up my gift certificate. “I want to use this.”
“You can use your gift certificate. We just want to hold on to your wallet while you do it.”
This seems questionable, but I trust the store, so I give them my wallet. They rifle through it, hand it back and tell me to have a good day.
“Um… excuse me, but I still don’t have my book, you still haven’t taken my gift certificate, and there seems to be money missing from my wallet.”
“Oh! I’m so sorry for your inconvenience. Let me return your money and help you buy this book.”
Finally! “Thank you.” I’m polite even when I’m annoyed. My mother taught me that.
“Okay, you’re all set!”
Looking around. No book. Still have the gift certificate. “What do you mean I’m all set?”
“You already have this book.”
“No I don’t!”
“Woah, woah, woah! Slow down! Maybe in fifteen minutes we’ll have caught up to this crazy situation and you can get your book then.”
I take a deep breath. I wait fifteen minutes. I try to buy my book. I have the same issue, but someone new is at the counter now, so I need to explain the whole situation.
“So, I’m trying to use my gift certificate to buy this book. Someone has taken money from my wallet twice now, no one has been willing to take my gift certificate, I still don’t have my book, and even though the previous cashier said she would return my money, I don’t have it yet.”
“Oh… well, it can take two or three days… or up to ten… to return money." I never understand this, since they seem to be able to take it instantly. "You’ll get it. In the meantime, why don’t you leave the store, walk back in, and I’ll teach you how to buy a book.”
“I have bought thousands of books in my life! Over a hundred from this store! I know how to buy a book.”
“I can’t talk to you until you leave and come back to the store.”
Long story short, I leave, come back, try again. No book, but more money is missing.
I speak to a third cashier. So far, this transaction has taken over an hour today, plus the time I spent the day before.
“Can you just give me the book? It’s right there! Just put it in my bag. Don’t use the cash register. I don’t have to be involved. Just put the book right in there.”
“Well… I guess, since you’re such a good, loyal customer I can put the book in your bag for you and take your gift certificate. But you should know if I do that, you won’t be eligible for our return policy because you won’t have a recipe.”
What I wanted to say in that moment was, “YOU HAVE GOT TO BE F****** KIDDING ME.”
What I said was, “I’ve been here over an hour. I’ve been charged over fifty dollars that I’ve been told I may not get back for two weeks. Now you’re telling me that, because you keep making mistakes, you will still charge me but I will not be able to return this book if I have a problem?”
“Well you see, you won’t have a receipt.”
At that point I demanded the book free.
I’m not the kind of person who normally does that, but WHAT KIND OF STORE MAKES THAT OFFER? A giant one who clearly has no concern for keeping customers because they know they own most of the world by this point anyway.
I finally have my book. I don’t have my $53 dollars yet.
Ladies, gentlemen and individuals who identify otherwise, this is why we need to support our small bookstores.