Sporadic Sequential
Friday, December 14, 2007
Friday Frustrations: Anyone Else Having Problems with BN.com?

Has anyone else been having issues with orders from Barnes & Noble's online site lately? One of my favorite things about ordering through BN.com used to be how fast orders shipped: if items were listed as "Usually ships within 24 hours" they often shipped the same I day made my purchase, often just hours after I'd placed my order. But recently my orders all seem to run into "unexpected delays," even when everything in my order was supposed to ship within 24 hours. For example, on Tuesday of this week I placed an order for two items, Steven Weissman's Mean and the fifth volume of Banya: The Explosive Delivery Man, and everything was originally scheduled to ship by the next day. But on Thursday I received an email saying that both items had run into "unexpected delays." Checking the site, however, showed that both books were still listed as shipping within 24 hours. I sent an email to customer support asking what was going on but still haven't heard anything back.

This problem with delays seems to have started occurring right around the time Barnes & Noble upgraded their website, back in October. Searching back through my email, I found that 60% of my orders since the site upgrade have been delayed. I couldn't find any order delays prior to the site upgrade. (It's possible I deleted some old emails but I doubt it. Now that Hotmail and Gmail offer so much storage, I hardly ever delete any emails.)

Was something broken when the B&N site was updated? Is book availability not being updated or reflected accurately on the site? I know when the site redesign launched, members were asked to update their communication preferences in order to continue receiving coupons and there were problems with that: I would update my preferences and save them, but the next time I logged in they had reverted to the old settings. Which caused Barnes & Noble to send me repeated emails reminding me that I needed to update my account preferences.

And speaking of the site redesign, while I'm happy with some useful functionality that's been implemented (the search is much better than it used to be, and I like being able to add items to my wish list from the search results rather than having to click into an item's detail page), aesthetically I think the new look is worse than the old one. On the old site, the layout was clean and easy to navigate, while now it feels busy and cluttered. And I hate that stupid scrolling Flash ad on the main page — it takes up so much space! Apparently I'm not the only one less than enthused about the revamp.

So, what are your thoughts about the BN.com redesign? Let me know in the comments!

UPDATED 12/17: I just noticed this message for the first time tonight when logging in to check some delayed orders:
We are currently experiencing delays in updating order status. If your order is shipping later than we promised, you will receive an email providing a new delivery date. Otherwise, your order will be shipped within the time frame promised when you submitted your order.
Hmm. If this is on the level, I wonder if it's at all related to the recent site update? Also, I find it interesting that the message mentions an email providing a new delivery date. BN.com never guarantees a delivery date, only the shipping date, so it's an unusual slip-up..

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