Despite the fact that digital giants have all but replaced the feel of a hand-held book, Barnes & Noble has withstood the test of time to become the #1 book retailer in the nation. The journey began in 1971 Manhattan when businessman Leonard Riggio founded Barnes & Noble’s name. From that moment B&N became the biggest store in the book industry with more than 150,000 titles ready to sell and trade. As time carried on through the 1970s and into the 80s the company, in its early infancy, saw the increase of stores and by the time the 90s rolled around the “superstore” concept emerged. Here, the superstore concept was simple; maximize the store’s space and available selection while adding additional products such as toys, music, and gifts. Needless to say, the concept took off within a few short years and nearly the mid-90s B&N started public trading and even introduced a brand-new website. Furthermore, by the mid-2000s, B&N made the stores more welcoming by adding food and drink options as well as comfortable seating. Up to the present, B&N was acquired by UK investors who acquired other book retailers thus making the company into a major retailer giant in the book industry.
What Is Price Matching?
The concept of price matching can best be defined as a store policy that sells all items at the same price as its competitors. What exactly does this mean? As it pertains to the context of this article is that the policy allows the customer to get the best price for any and all purchases. Furthermore, not all stores have the same price match policies in place. As such, Barnes and Noble price match policies state that its customers get the best value through the vast amount of competitive offers attached to various items. That said, matching prices for individual items also sold by a different competitor are not honored as per the policy definition for price matching. For instance, say a customer walks into a brick and mortar store stating that he saw that a DVD at Wal-Mart was sold for $8 when the same DVD at Barnes & Noble is being sold for $10. Barnes & Noble will not honor the Wal-Mart price by giving the customer the item at a cheaper price. Subsequently, should the customer be in the market for a particular identical item, such as a book, then competitive offers may be applied.
On the other hand, a price adjustment can best be defined as a refund of the purchase difference between the price originally paid and the current on sale price. The customer has a certain timeframe to revisit the bookstore before the refund can no longer be honored and the refund is commonly given in cash instead of being refunded to the original payment method. While the common period in which a customer can get this type of price difference refund is typically no more than two weeks the time frame is known to be different for each retailer. Additionally, an example of a payment adjustment would be, as it pertains to Barnes & Noble, a customer who has purchased a Nook HD+ online on the Barnes and Noble website for $150 only to discover that the next day an identical item is on sale in store for $75. The customer can go to a physical store and get a refund of the price difference $75.
What is the Barnes & Noble Price Match Policy?
Overall, the entire price match policy that Barnes & Noble has in place has been a constant point of confusion for many customers just looking to get a fair shake in terms of getting refunds, exchanges, and other deals like any other customer shopping from the plethora of retailers continuously honoring such policies. Although it has been previously stated it is worth reiterating that the price matching policies of this franchise are confusing enough at the ground level, so to speak. On one hand the policy TOC states that the company is competitive when it comes to price matching various items. However, almost in the same breath it is also stated that price matching on individual competitor items is not honored, not even between the B&N website or store. Ultimately, everything with the B&N franchise runs on a different wavelength when it comes to this particular policy and subsequently doesn’t even make sense. The perfect scenario for this situation would a customer wanting a calender stating that the online price was $5 but none of the retail stores refused to honor the online price match request.
So what about price matching differences on specific items? While the general consensus with the B&N franchise is that there is no price matching allowed there was a brief period in 2017 when the company website and brick and mortar stores joined forces to allow price matching during the holiday season. During this time in-store purchases were matched with prices that were stated online. This didn’t apply to third party sellers nor any amazon price. What this did mean was that if a customer who was searching for an item online on the Barnes & Noble website that was out of stock the customer could come into any B&N store and get the same item for the online price. The beauty of this was that more money was saved due to the fact that in-store prices were traditionally higher than they were online. Furthermore, because this was just competitive price matching within the company the difference wasn’t necessarily in a specific item but in the time of year it was provided.
Because B&N doesn’t honor a price match request in the traditional sense there are several different online and in-store promotions presented to its customers throughout the year in its retail stores. These promotions typically include a coupon or a advertised offer that may be something like 20% off storewide sell or buy 1 get one half off. The latter offer doesn’t require the second item to be an identical product but still is applicable to the original conditions on the coupon. Furthermore, the coupon and promo code terms for B&N state the traditional terms that include the coupon not being redeemable for cash, the inability to replace lost coupons, and that any coupon can b used only once per customer. Coupons can also be found online and applied to online retailer purchases from the B&N website. These digital coupons traditionally offer the customer a certain percentage off the entire purchase price and provides a promo code or gift card to be applied to the online shopping cart at the time of purchase.
Other Details and Exceptions
Quite the opposite of its price matching policy from any other price match program offered by a given major retailer B&N offers a fairly standard refund and return policy. As a whole, the policy states that items returned in a specified time frame can only be honored. However, there are stipulations beyond that for an item to be successfully returned and refunded. While there is no price match guarantee, some of the most common items to be returned include, toys, games, and media based entertainment such as DVDs. As per the policy, customers have 30 days from the date of purchase if the online purchase is deemed non-satisfactory. that said, the returned items must remain unopened. Needless to say, this would mean buyer’s remorse. Opposite that, returns can also be made to a local B&N store within 30 days and customers must have the original receipt. Also, worth mentioning here is that all PayPal transactions done prior to a return will result in store credit or B&N gift card.
Just about everything can be returned for a refund at B&N, rather purchased in-store or online. There are, however, limitations placed on returning electronic items. Typically, the only electronic items that are returnable apply only to Nook devices. This does include all variations of the actual device such as HD, and HD+. As far as the return limitations are concerned these devices can only be returned within 14 days of purchase and must include the receipt or packing slip. Additionally, the only two options stated in accordance with this particular policy include calling customer support for a return authorization or simply returning the device to any B&N location. Furthermore, it is also stated that for any gifted item return the instructions on the packing slip state how one should proceed to initiate a return.
When it comes to the proverbial shunned items that B&N sells but refuses to accept as returnable there is somewhat of a short list although it is worth mentioning here. Common non-returnable items include anything that has been downloaded such as digital movies, music and the like. Furthermore, gift cards, and unwrapped items that have been previously shrink-wrapped are also deemed unreturnable. That said, the company invites any customers who are dealing with compatibility issues as it pertains to any electronic item and device to give customer service a call for support.
In conclusion, while the whole concept of Barnes and Noble price match doesn’t really exist in the traditional sense of the practice doesn’t mean that other third party sellers like a local competitor or online retailer (like the Amazon price) doesn’t oblige its customers with such service. Overall, the price match policy (while entirely non-existent) is confusing to B&N customers. The company initially states that competitive pricing exists but then goes on to state that competitor pricing on a single item cannot be honored on prices from a national or local competitor such as a Walmart or Target store. That said, while price adjustments can be made in-store other policies such as the return and refunds are limited to 30 days for toys and games but limited to 14 day returns on electronic goods. One final note, aside from non-returnable items that include gift cards and digital content B&N does offer textbook rental services. Digital textbooks, course materials, and school supplies for Barnes and Noble college students is a great way for them to get affordable learning materials outside of the campus bookstore and other online competitors.
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