It’s not that I really needed another CD. I can’t possibly listen to the 2,000 LPs and 3,500 CDs I already own. In a chillingly biblical bent, my iPod Classic tells me it would take 40 days and 40 nights to listen to every bleepin’ song it currently contains. And when I use up that last scant 8.6 gigabytes, my only option will be to open the device and install a larger hard drive.
So there I was, doing my damndest not to acquire, “The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 (Deluxe Edition),” which covers outtakes from Bob Dylan’s legendary 1967 sessions with The Band, when the dastardly Sunday Tribune published yet another halcyon review of those seminal proceedings. Any further resistance on my part was futile.
But I didn’t want to fork over too much for that double CD either because we’re getting to the point where they’re gonna start releasing box sets of Bruce Springsteen’s various bodily noises. I’m sure one of the tracks will called “Bruce is Hungry!” And the sad thing is, I’d probably buy it too!
After the usual online suspects failed to meet my financial expectations, I thought, “why not give Barnes & Nobel another shot?” Perhaps after regularly enduring losses of $40 million a quarter they might have made some adjustments.
And wouldn’t you know it! At $15.39, the B&N “Basement Tapes” online price was significantly lower than their competitors. Not only that, but to put the transaction squarely into the almost as good as sliced bread category, there was a “Pick up in store” link. All you had to do is enter your name, Zipcode and email address and, after one short hour, the product would be waiting for you “at the counter.”
So I dutifully placed that order while harboring thoughts of enjoying Bob’s not-so-dulcet tones before the afternoon was out. “It’s nice to see Barnes & Noble making an effort,” I thought, “Maybe I should give ‘em another shot!”
Two hours later, I gleefully staked my spot in that B&N queue to eagerly await my prize. But when I got up to the front desk, the CD was nowhere to be found. And just when they were ready to start tearing the place apart, I mentioned it was a music selection and they quickly redirected me to a register in the back.
How difficult would it have been for the B&N webpage to dispatch me to that specific counter right off the bat? Even I can perform that basic level of Net programming.
Sadly, once I made it back to the music section, things didn’t get any better. That conversation went something like this:
“That will be $21.59.”
“21.59,” I exclaimed while pulling out my printed online order form, “The price I was quoted was $15.39.”
“That’s the online price,” the clerk said.
“I know that’s the online price because I placed the order online,” I replied.
“Yes, but the store price is different,” the clerk explained.
“But your website made no mention of paying the ‘store price,’” I added.
“I know,” the clerk said.
“Do you think customers will come back after Barnes & Noble pulls this kind of bait and switch?, I asked.
“I know,” the clerk repeated.
“Do you at least match your online price like Target and Best Buy,” I asked (understanding the irony of temporarily thinking fondly about Best Buy).
“No. We have to charge the store price,” he replied.
While the clerk was clearly affable and appropriately apologetic, I could tell this wasn’t nearly the first time he had that conversation. So I thanked him, walked out of the store, and ended up listening to the excellent Nils Lofgren box set instead.
Considering their insistent fiscal bleeding, Barnes & Noble has managed to survive longer than I ever thought they would, but I will reiterate my previous prediction that the reports of their impending death have not been greatly exaggerated.
And you thought the Bears were bad!