Barnes & Noble Nook

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Being a cloud evangelist and an eco-conscious person, I embraced the idea of ebooks early on. After playing around with Sony ebook reader for some time, I jumped over to buy Nook as it had wireless and 3G capabilities. Well, this post is not about Nook per se but my experience with Barnes And Noble eMagazine subscription for Nook. In short, it is a frustrating experience.

For Nook owners, Barnes and Noble offers eMagazines and eNewspapers for subscription on their site. According to their website, readers will get  14 days free trial and their subscription will be charged at the end of 14 days. Their collection of eMagazines and eNewspapers are nowhere close to what Amazon.com has for Kindle but, nevertheless, I was bought into it because I have plans to go completely paper-free before the end of 2010.

Screen shot 2010-01-18 at 12.47.24 PMOnce my Nook arrived, I logged into Barnes and Noble website and subscribed to couple of emagazines. In spite of their ad touting 14 days free trial, my credit card was charged. But I was ok with it because if I like the experience, I was anyhow going to pay for it. Later, I decided against one of the emagazines I subscribed and cancelled it on their site. After I clicked through the link, it gave me a notification saying that the subscription will be cancelled in a hour. It never happened. I went ahead and tried to cancel another magazine I had subscribed. The same thing happened. I gave them couple of days time and tried again. The same thing happened again. Frustrated, I contacted Barnes and Noble customer service through email and they replied back saying that the eMagazine subscriptions are handled through Zinio and asked me to get in touch with them (email content reproduced below. The names and order numbers x-ed out for privacy sake).

We have received your inquiry regarding your order #’s 12xxxxxxx and 12xxxxxxx.

We are sorry you are having trouble with your magazine subscriptions. Your orders were fulfilled by Zinio, our third party partner for digital magazine subscriptions.  The Zinio Team can provide you with answers to all of your questions about your subscriptions.

Please contact Zinio?s Customer Service Center at 1-888-946-4666 or via email at: [email protected] 10AM to 9PM EST Monday through Friday. Email assistance will also be available between 12PM to 8PM on Sundays
EST.

Visit 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,

Mixxxxxx

Customer Service Representative
Barnes and Noble
http://www.bn.com/

I was terribly frustrated because when I signed up, Barnes and Noble never told me that my emagazine subscriptions are processed through Zinio. Still, I contacted Zinio support through email and I got the following response.

Hello,

Thank you for contacting Zinio Customer Support.

I apologize but Zinio does not handle eMagazine subscriptions for Barnes & Noble. We do Digital Subscriptions for them which can be viewed on a computer. The eMagazines are a different type of magazine that is for the nook or their eReader software. I’m sorry you were sent to us but unfortunately I will need to direct you to them for resolution. Since we don’t offer eMagazines, I can’t even see the order to help you cancel it.

You can contact Barnes & Noble at 800-843-2665. I also copied them in on this email to assist them in handling this case and cases like it in the future.

If I can be of further assistance, please let me know.

Kind regards,

Mxxxx Cxxxxxxxxxx
Zinio Customer Support
1-888-946-4666

When I complained about my experience on Twitter, they took note of that and responded immediately saying Barnes and Noble has given me wrong information.

@krishnan Nook mags are ‘eMagazines’, we sell ‘digital subscriptions’ on B&N, agents can confuse the two. Sorry you were given wrong info

I really appreciate Zinio taking time to explain what is going on and this brings into focus some of the questions related to how business is conducted by Barnes and Noble in this cloud based, social media driven world.

  • Did Barnes and Noble learn anything about web based business, in general, and ebooks, in particular?
  • How are they going to compete with the poster boy of the web and leader of the Cloud, Amazon.com, on ebook readers, ebooks, emagazines, enewspapers, etc?
  • While Barnes and Noble took a long time to respond to my email, Zinio responded immediately during the weekend. When I complained about this issue on Twitter, Zinio was monitoring their brand and responded to me explaining the situation. I am wondering if Barnes and Noble even gets social media in this cluetrain based world of business.
  • Irrespective of whether it is a cloud business or a web business or, even, a traditional brick and motor business, training the customer service representative properly is imperative. Especially, when a company is venturing into a new kind of business, they have to go an extra distance to educate the customer service representatives properly about their offerings. Already consumers are confused about new technologies due to confusing levels of information from the media and if the customer service is going to mislead them further, it doesn’t augur well for their business.

I am glad more and more companies are jumping in to offer services tapping the advantages of cloud (I am using the term cloud a bit loosely here) but it is also important that they do it right and not confuse the consumers.

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Krishnan Subramanian

Krish dons several avatars including entrepreneur in exile, analyst cum researcher, technology evangelist, blogger, ex-physicist, social/political commentator, etc.. My main focus is research and analysis on various high impact topics in the fields of Open Source, Cloud Computing and the interface between them. I also evangelize Open Source and Cloud Computing in various media outlets, blogs and other public forums. I offer strategic advise to both Cloud Computing and Open Source providers and, also, help other companies take advantage of Open Source and Cloud Computing. In my opinion, Open Source commoditized software and Cloud Computing commoditized computing resources. A combination of these two developments offers a strong competitive advantage to companies of all sizes and shapes. Due to various factors, including fear, the adoption of both Open Source and Cloud Computing are relatively slow in the business sector. So, I take it upon myself to clear any confusion in this regard and educate, enrich and advise users/customers to take advantage of the benefits offered by these technologies. I am also a managing partner in two consulting companies based in India. I blog about Open Source topics at http://open.krishworld.com and Cloud Computing related topics at http://www.cloudave.com.

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