Borders Books Online Reservation Feature FAIL

I’ve seen the “Everything is amazing, nobody is happy” video, and totally agree with it. I complain about way more than I should considering

how amazingly far we’ve come with technology. However, sometimes I just want to wring someone’s neck for being lazy or not caring.

Borders FAIL

I checked Borders for two items: a book by John Eldredge, and a Moleskine notebook. Both inventory reports for the Mission Viejo Borders said that it was “likely in store.” I reserved it online by putting in my name and email address, and the confirmation page told me to wait for an email within two hours to tell me if it was in stock or not. Well, I didn’t want to wait, and figured they would at least have one of the two in stock, so I drove down there.

When I got there, I checked my iPhone for an email, but nothing. I went straight to the Moleskine spinning display and found about 10 of the notebooks that I wanted. I grabbed one, and headed for the other book. I found the last copy on the shelves within about 5 minutes, and headed for the check stand. I checked my email again on the way to find the following email:

We’re sorry to say that the remaining stock of the item you requested has been purchased since our last online availability update. [Edited for relevance.]

The books were in my hands, so clearly the system kinda broke down somewhere. Apparently the website sends an email to the store, which is then taken by an employee to hunt down the request. When they don’t find it, they notify the website that they don’t have it and then you are emailed. When I asked the checkout clerk what might have gone wrong with the system, she said that it probably just got put on the shelves right before I picked it off the shelf. That means that when the employee looked for it, it hadn’t been stocked yet. This doesn’t make any sense because the website said that the book was “likely in store” which would mean that the system had some sort of awareness that the book could possibly be there.

My theory for what happened: Request landed in the hands of one of the lazy, coffee drinking, mohawked, minimum waged employees who wiped his nose with the paper, and then reported back that it wasn’t in stock so that he could go take another smoke break. He probably thought it wouldn’t matter because who would be stupid enough to go to the store when they told you they don’t have what you’re looking for? What he didn’t account for was my impatience… and maybe a little bit of my stupidity.

I guess it bugs me because it could have caused me some inconvenience had I waited and trusted what they said. If they didn’t have it, then I probably would have had to drive to a farther bookstore which would have wasted my gas and time. Or I might have ordered it online which would mean that I have to wait till next week to get it.

I know, I know, I shouldn’t complain because it’s pretty amazing that it’s possible for almost anyone to get their hands on virtually every written word in the world within a week. These huge stores provide vast amounts of learning possibilities and wisdom from millennia ago that would blow the minds exponentially of every reader going back thousands of years. It’s just a shame that forward progress can be halted by one lazy person.

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  1. This is so out of date it’s probably very irrelevant (especially since the chain is going out of business), but you always had the ability to call the store and have them place a hold on an item for you. That way, if they couldn’t find it after you waited on hold for only a few minutes, you wouldn’t have to wait for an email and then waste your time driving to the store and back.

    1. @Caitlin, That’s very true, and I appreciate your comment. I guess the part that annoyed me was that whether I requested the stock check online or over the phone, it still would have fallen to an employee who was too lazy to actually find the two items. Secondly, the woman at the counter tried to wiggle out of any blame by saying that it probably just got put on the shelf, which was obviously not true in at least the case of the Moleskine. Oh well. Like you said, they’re going out of business anyway, so I guess they got some other stuff wrong, too. Thanks for stopping by!

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