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$25 membership at Barnes & Noble overlooked, not booked

Contact The Fixer

Getting the runaround about a consumer problem? Tell it to The Fixer at www.suntimes.com/pcds/ssl/scn/fixer.html. If you don’t have a computer, you can mail a brief description of your problem, along with your name, address and telephone number, to: The Fixer, The Beacon News, 495 N. Commons Drive, Suite 200, Aurora, IL 60504. Don’t send original documents. Due to the large volume of submissions, The Fixer can’t make personal replies. Letters are edited for length and clarity.

Updated: July 29, 2012 9:12PM



Dear Fixer: I purchased a Nook and a movie from the Old Orchard Barnes & Noble for my son for Christmas on Dec. 20. While I was there, they talked me into buying a membership, which costs $25 but saves you 10 percent on purchases. I agreed and was charged the $25.

The problem is Barnes & Noble can find no record of the payment or membership. I can’t find the original receipt, but I went back to the store and showed them the bank statement showing the payment, the credit card used for the purchase and even the unopened movie.

I guess I will file a dispute for the $25 with my bank, but all I really wanted was the membership I paid for. I went to that store twice and also to a different Barnes & Noble store and talked to their managers. I also spoke with their customer service department on the phone for an hour but no one can find any record of the transaction, which included the Nook and movie that are in my possession.

What irritates me is not the money but their unwillingness to fix the problem. As a financial representative, I know how much customer service means and am troubled to see poor service and companies cutting off their noses to spite their faces. There are good people working for these stores that lose their jobs when companies fail due to bureaucratic incompetence.

I know mistakes happen. That is why you have managers — to fix them. If they saw how much money I spent at Half Price Books since they denied my membership, they would be rethinking this.

Thanks for letting me vent.

Bob Sitkiewicz, Chicago

Dear Bob: You told The Fixer the store was super busy with holiday shoppers that day and that the clerk had placed your application on a stack. We’re wondering if some grinch came by and accidentally threw it in the trash.

Though you no longer had the store receipt, you did have the bank statement showing a total charge equal to a Nook, movie and membership, plus sales tax. That was enough for Barnes & Noble’s senior VP of corporate communications, Mary Ellen Keating, to take action. She has promised to send you a gift card in the amount of $25, which you can take to the store and finally get that membership.

Avoiding e-mail scams

Dear Fixer: I was amused to find in my in-box today an e-mail from someone I don’t even know, who was supposedly mugged in Spain and needs me to wire $1,950 to him through Western Union. I vividly recall you playing out this scam and doing an article on it, but I can’t remember if you provided information on where to report this.

I’d love to help catch this scammer. One time I actually was almost conned by a very clever e-mail scam. That time, they sent me a notice from Bank of America saying my card needed to be verified so some purchases could go through. It linked to an official enough looking website that asked for my card number and PIN. Luckily for me, I never take out cash from my credit cards, so I didn’t know my PIN. When my wife contacted the bank later, they let her know it was a scam.

John Filz, Elgin

Dear John: You were smart to avoid these scammers. All of those “Help, I’m stranded in (name a city or country)” e-mails prey upon our natural inclination to assist a friend or relative in need. You told us you strung this scammer along for a while, offering to settle the bill immediately if he’d just tell you which hotel and manager were involved. That’s when the scammer claimed he was stranded at a library and needed the money sent by Western Union.

Finally, you told them you had sent it by carrier pigeon — and they finally gave up.

A good place to report such online scams is at IC3.gov, the Internet Crime Complaint Center. The center is a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center with funding from the U.S. Justice Department.



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