Lost: Customer ServiceWhen Chapters started taking over the bookselling market in Canada a few years ago, I was one of very few people who thought it was great. Ordering books online with delivery to your door at a decent discount was fine with me. Others complained that it was putting the little booksellers out of business, that the market was being undercut in favor of a Chapters monopoly. I guess I wasn't close enough to the industry to have an opinion and there were no small, helpful bookstores near me worth visiting. I was happy that I had the books delivered to my door with a few extra dollars in the bank.
Well, when Indigo.ca took over Chapters a few months ago, the honeymoon ended. Abruptly.
Customer service, which, in my experience, was excellent with Chapters, has completely evaporated.
After doing some research, I had decided to purchase a specific PHP book, but when I compared the description of the book on the new Chapters.Indigo.ca site with the description of the book found at the publishers site, they were quite different.
As the book has only ever had one edition, I was suspicious. More comparisons revealed a lot of differences between the two books:
The number of pages is off by almost 400 (Chapters: 500, Sams: 896)
The published date is incorrect (Chapters: Jan 2001, Sams: March 2001)
The authors stated are different (Chapters mentions that William J. Gilmore is the author of the book, Sams has no mention of him anywhere on their site)
The book descriptions mention different versions of PHP (Chapters: PHP3, Sams: PHP4)
Having received no response from an email I sent 4 days ago (not even an auto-respond "Thank You"), I decided to call their Customer Service. In the past, my experience with Chapters customer service was quite good. They were always willing to accomodate and any errors on their part were met with swift 'make-good' gestures. No so on this call.
First, the woman who answered could not have been less interested in my problem. After detailing all of the discrepancies, she paused a moment and said "So, what is the problem you are having exactly?".
This time I went slower, emphasizing the 400-page difference between the two books. Her response was that the book listed on the Chapters.Indigo site was what they were selling.
When I tried to explain that, according to the publisher, the book was never published with the information listed on the Chapters.Indigo site, she made a frustrated sound, interrupting me.
"Look, if it's such a big problem, I can tell the people that take care of that kind of thing about the problem. Thanks for calling."
She was clearly milliseconds away from the release button on her phone, but I managed to jump in.
"Wait a second....how does that help me?"
Again, another pause.
"I mean, I want to buy this book from your company. Can't I get some kind of feedback here?"
She clicked around for a second, not acknowledging my question, and then:
"Do you have a name and number?"
I gave it to her.
"Okay, I'll call you when I know. Thanks for calling." <click>
This time she got to that release button faster than I could say anything.
Uninterested in my problem. Unwilling to try to understand the problem. Unwilling to help. Unfriendly.
If this is what I can expect from the new Heather Reisman-run Chapters Online, I'll go find a small bookstore worth visiting.