How I retained a customer for Barnes and Noble

Just don’t try to replace your battery.

And everything is all too fast / Just add water, nothing’s built to last

That was certainly the case when my sixteen month old Nook Simple Touch e-reader starting acting the twat last week.  Not overly-used and rarely leaving my bedside, I was left with an unresponsive screen once it was disconnected from the mains.

I did the sensible thing and called the helpline checked online to see what was going on.  I wasn’t the only one experiencing a Nook which reported a battery that was “100%”, whose status was “Unknown” and displayed a question mark inside the on-screen battery icon.

The response from Barnes and Noble to others, as per online postings?  We’ll replace it if it’s under warranty.  Which mine wasn’t.

So I contacted B&N (that stands for Barnes and Noble by the way – it’s just quicker to use this abbreviation than continuously type out the long form (and full legal name) Barnes and Noble when referencing the company Barnes and Noble) to see what sort of engagement we would have.

We went through the usual troubleshooting steps as the pleasant lady (who informed me that she was sorry to hear about my issue and the inconvenience it caused and that she could certainly help me) suggested all the things that I had already tried to get the device working.

Once it was established that it wasn’t going to work (and in fact I was left in a technically worse position as now it was unresponsive when plugged in and not just when disconnected from mains) they laid out the options for me – for $40 I could have a reconditioned unit and for $65 I could have a new one.  Basically not far off the same deal I could get on eBay from people I had no previous commercial relationship with.  This was my punishment for not paying them an additional $40 for an extended warranty when I bought the product for $139 sixteen months ago.

So I hit amazon.com, with the intention of switching sides.  I mean if Nook hardware breaks down after less than eighteen months, should I really keep giving them my business?  I’m not saying that Kindle would be absolutely any more reliable but, fool me once shame on …. fool me once shame on …. oh, just ask this guy.

Unimpressed with Kindle pricing and the epub restriction – and since I had nothing to lose at this point – I decided to ignore the advice from B&N.  I enlisted help from this guy and took my Nook apart with a $4 screwdriver.  B&N (like many manufacturers these days) make the battery non-user replaceable.  So if your battery gives out after 16 months it’s too bad.

I disconnected and reconnected the battery to the motherboard and, hey presto, we’re up and running again.  Easy.

B&N did their best to lose me as a customer but I overcame their attempts in order to make life easier (and cheaper) for myself.  Replacing a battery is routine maintenance.  If batteries were absolutely going to last and function correctly for 3-4 years (not an unreasonable amount of time to own an electronics product) then that’s fine.  But there’s no way that any manufacturer can say that, so why hamstring a customer by leaving them with no choice but to buy an expensive extended warranty or a “subsidised” replacement product?  You are going to lose a percentage of those customers.

So for anyone out there with the same issue, if you’re out of warranty just crack it open.  You’re not the one who has something to lose – B&N are.

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