Barnes & Noble Hates Its Customers, and Wants Them to Suffer

From The Digital Reader:

Some retailers like Amazon try their best to make customers happy, secure in the knowledge that a happy customer is a repeat customer.

Then there is Barnes & Noble, a company out to cause suffering, destroy customers’ futures, and (if they have time ) make blood rain from the sky.

B&N inflicts pain upon customers in many and various ways, but today I would like to focus on the most insidious: Yuzu.

Named for an Asian fruit, Yuzu is a digital textbook platform that Barnes & Noble launched in 2014.  It was in beta at that time, and still under active development.

Alas, development petered out before B&N ever really got it working, but that didn’t stop B&N from continuing to foist the platform on college students.

Every time a new semester started, students would show up in my comment section, complaining about Yuzu. They also left negative reviews in iTunes, where the Yuzu app has a rating of 1.5 stars.

Students were complaining about Yuzu in 2015, and again in 2016, and students were still showing up last week:

Why didn’t I see this before I purchased the textbook with yuzu, its horrible. Do yourself a huge huge favor and buy it from someone else or buy the hard copy. yuzu sucks, it’s very frustrating. it was suppossed to make my studying easier but now I’m stuck with this useless c***. ugh.

It’s now three years later, Yuzu still doesn’t work, and yet it is still the digital textbook solution for all of Barnes & Noble’s 700 plus college bookstores.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

PG says there’s nothing like ruining your brand with college students to build a foundation for future success selling books into your prime post-college demographic.

10 thoughts on “Barnes & Noble Hates Its Customers, and Wants Them to Suffer”

  1. Wow, kinda glad I went to college before all this digital textbook stuff (not that there weren’t problems with paper textbooks). It’s weird to me that all these third parties are coming in and running parts of colleges. At both universities I went to, the cafeteria and bookstore both were run by, get this, the university. Both of those are things that bring in money. Why can the university not simply run itself instead of selling off bits of itself–and, more to the point, its paying students’ captive patronage–to for-profit third parties?

    • Having been in academia all my professional life, I have a few ideas on this point. I’m at a state school in Texas, so other states and private institutions may do things differently.

      Colleges and universities are businesses. Education is the product they try to sell to the public. Even state institutions are having to raise more of their own funding through other means, as money from the state governments dries up. That means they make decisions based on what is best for the institution’s bottom line and not for the students.

      Yes, bookstores and food service can bring in money for the university, but they also cost money. It’s often cheaper to outsource certain services than run them yourself. There are a variety of reasons for this, and not all of the services are outsourced the same way. The comparison that comes to mind is a business hiring through a temp agency rather than hire directly. Add to this legislative mandates about what businesses a university can and can’t do business with along with how that business must be done, and things get even more complicated. (Example: we have to purchase our computers according to a contract with a certain well-known company I won’t name. It would be cheaper to go to Best Buy or Wal-Mart and purchase an identical computer, but no, that’s prohibited by the contract. IOW, the university signed a contract that was not in its best interest for reasons no one in my department can figure out.)

      Institutions are doing whatever they can to save on expenses, and this type of outsourcings is one way of doing it. After all, we have to keep paying our football coaches their million dollar range salaries.

      • Institutional IT contracts are typically bundle deals that include end user hardware and software plus support services, maintenance, and system management. Most IT departments then add service chargebacks to the reported device “price” to hide that part of their true operational cost.

        In that respect it’s not an oranges to oranges price comparison.

        At the day job we used to run our own workstation network with a local sysadmin and our own acquisitions separate from the Centralized IT one size fits all “solutions”. It was cheaper and significantly more effective. We were not popular with the central IT folks.

  2. This doesn’t surprise me at all. My first ereader was a nook, and since I like having access to my ebooks everywhere, I naturally downloaded the Barnes and Noble ereader app to my Mac. It never worked very well, but the last upgrade never worked at all. I eventually installed the prior version which, while it is extremely primitive, allows me to access the one book I regularly use as a reference on my Mac.

    The community message boards (which I don’t think exist anymore because, heavens, why in the world would you have a place where customers might discuss problems and solutions that the company has no desire to fix) were filled with complaints about the app for years. Barnes and Noble never attempted to fix it or reply to the messages. Its solution was to discontinue having a computer app–either Mac or PC–at all.

    So I, like everyone else, started buying all my books from Amazon.

    • Nope.
      But they do have a partial excuse: unlike Amazon, Apple, and Nook, they don’t totally control the user experience. For a good portion of user problems they have to pass the buck to Adobe which all too often passes it right back. Customer Service ping pong.

      The Adept market is too small for Adobe to commit adequate resources to user support and the retailers are at their mercy when it comes to DRM and authentication issues.

      You tie your cart to the wrong horse and your business can end up in the dumpster. Just ask Sony.

  3. “Barnes & Noble Hates Its Customers, and Wants Them to Suffer”

    LOL. If you think B&N wants its customers to suffer, just wait til they zap their stockholders! 🙂

    Oh, wait… maybe they already are! 🙁

Comments are closed.