Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Last Thing That I Ever Buy from Chronicle Books

You know that feeling that you get, that powerless feeling when a company tricks you out of your hard-earned money and then treats you unfairly and acts like a jerk in the process? You totally know that feeling, right?

I hate that feeling. I should never have bought from Chronicle Books the second time.

The first time that they screwed me out of my money, I thought it was a fluke. I made a big book purchase from Chronicle as a birthday present to myself, using a coupon code for 30% off my purchase plus free shipping. But the Chronicle web site did this thing, where it showed me the coupon code discount and the free shipping to process my order, but when it emailed me my receipt, it showed me that it actually charged me the FULL price plus shipping!?!

Oh, man, and have you had to deal with any big company's customer service lately? Matt sent those emails that you're supposed to send to the Chronicle Books customer service email address, and NEVER got a response. What's up with that, by the way? Shouldn't you at least get back a form or something? And then he battled the phone tree, over and over again, and NEVER got to an actual human. NEVER. It's like they didn't have any actual human employees working that summer. And we didn't want to just return the stuff and have to battle to not pay return shipping. We NEVER got our money back. Never! And it was a ridiculous amount--something like seventy dollars. Who gets screwed out of seventy dollars by a book company?

Moleskine 2011 18 Month Weekly Notebook: Black Soft Cover X-Large (Moleskine Srl)So yes, I should never, EVER have gone near Chronicle Books again, never should have ordered from them again, never even should have looked at their site again. And yet I really want an 18-month planner that starts in July, and Moleskine makes one, and Chronicle has such a good selection of Moleskine, and, oh, look! a coupon code for 30% off my total purchase and free shipping!

You guessed it. The shopping cart showed me my discount and free shipping and processed my order with that total, but guess what my emailed receipt looked like?

This time Matt was finally able to get ahold of an actual human, eventually--I think he might have sold his soul at a crossroads in the middle of the night to do it, but he did it. And I won't even tell you how awful it was to have to talk to customer service--how my story seemed to be doubted, how last summer's order was deemed to old to correct, how my request to just cancel the order for that one little planner if the amount that I was charged couldn't be corrected was denied because it was going to ship later today, how I betrayed my own dignity by shouting at the customer service person--but I will tell you that eventually, finally, somehow Chronicle managed to refund the extra charges on that one little planner purchase.

The sick thing, though, is how one incident can make you angry all over again about the incident before. So yay, I got back this money that they were never supposed to charge me in the first place, but I'm still furious, and I still feel victimized. And it's gross how powerless you can feel in the face of personal injustice--they should never have overcharged me last summer, and yet I'm never going to get that money back, and there's nothing that I can do about it.

Fool me twice, shame on me, indeed.

UPDATE: I received an automated email from Chronicle today with the order number for last summer's large purchase in the subject line. The text of the email read, "per Joseph, credit for 174.68." $174.68 was the total of that order. Is Joseph my savior, a deus ex machina who has swooped in with an extremely generous compensation for my troubles? If so, I am now infused with happiness and gratitude and other good feelings evocative of one's power in the world, and thank you, Joseph! Or, since my credit card company hasn't actually noted any credit to my account yet, is it just more administrative weirdness? Time will tell, and I'll keep you updated.


cake said...

it does make one feel small and powerless, dealing with those big companies...and yet, i want you to have that 18 month date book!

you sure know how to tell a story.

Stephanie said...

Let's hope they actually give it back!

julie said...

My 18-month datebook IS awesome! My credit card company still hasn't noted that refund that the email sounded like it was giving, so I may ask Matt to do his customer service magic again on Monday to ask about it. We'll see...

julie said...


Okay, Chronicle, you got me back.