Barnes & Noble - Easy if you don't mind exploiting customers, destroying your own business, and living off Ramen | Glassdoor
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Helpful (11)

"Easy if you don't mind exploiting customers, destroying your own business, and living off Ramen"

StarStarStarStarStar
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Career Opportunities
  • Comp & Benefits
  • Senior Management
Former Employee - Part Time Book Seller in Seattle, WA
Former Employee - Part Time Book Seller in Seattle, WA
Doesn't Recommend
Disapproves of CEO

Pros

- Intelligent and friendly coworkers
- Very lenient dress code
- Ample paid vacation and sick days
- Usually not very busy, since Amazon and nook are destroying our business
- Discount at cafe makes breaks convenient
- Generally higher caliber of customers than other retail
- While the employee discount isn't enough to keep you from buying at Amazon so that you can pay your bills, you do get to borrow hard cover books for free for two week periods

Cons

Keep in mind the company has changed over the past few years, so this review would have been much more positive if written in 2008. My guess is that things are even worse now, though since my store closed a few months ago, I can't be sure.

The biggest problem is the amount of upselling required by management. Expect to ask EVERY customer if they want a membership, tell them two benefits of the membership, ask if they want to buy a giftcard, demand they tell you their email address (actual suggested wording: "Give me your email address"), and if they have a kid, ask if they want to join the Kid's Club. Management's only solution to sales being down is to raise the goals and micro-manage sales of memberships etc. per hour, then write up cashiers when no one reaches the goals.

Another issue is how the company treats its customers and expects us to follow suit. Cashiers were reprimanded for telling customers they can opt out of automatic renewal when buying a membership, though if they don't opt out, their credit card will be charged $25 the next year. Similarly, the membership changed last year to not even have the option to opt out, to require a credit card to apply, to not be cancellable and to no longer discount hard cover books 20%. This made it worse for customers renewing their memberships, but if you're honest to customers about it, your numbers will be lower and you'll be written up and potentially fired. Basically, management sees customers as walking bags of money to be exploited in the short term and requires its employees to treat them the same or else lose their jobs.

The final major negative is the nook e-reader. Since stores get no revenue from e-books purchased on nooks they sell or even purchased over the store's own wifi, every nook sold means less money for the store in the long run, so less payroll for you. Memberships also don't work on e-books, though they finally changed to give $10 or $25 off one nook per year. Thus while nook sales are pushed hard, they counteract both the store's prosperity and the membership sales which are required to keep your job. So be prepared to shoot yourself in the foot and pretend to like it, though you won't be able to afford a nook with your paycheck, nor would you want to invest in one once you realize how doomed and desperate the company is.

Finally, a con which seems increasingly common in retail. Not only is the pay low, but hours are cut and more workers hired, so that they can have numerous untrained people working for minimum wage 15 hours a week instead of experienced staff that can live off their wages. Oh, and expect a 25 cent yearly raise if you get one at all, and no tips if you work in the cafe.

Advice to Management

I honestly don't think you care at this point, since no one would run a company like this if they expected it to still exist five years from now. But in the off chance you actually want Barnes and Noble to continue as a physical store that sells paper books, instead of being relegated to nook kiosks, bn.com and/or bankruptcy...

- Either give a membership discount on e-books, or discontinue the membership.
- Let cashiers form friendly relationships with customers so that they'll want to return, instead of expecting customers to tolerate repetitive questions and demands.
- If you insist on having upselling goals, at least match them to the realities of what cashiers can accomplish.
- Increase membership sales by either lowering cost or improving benefits, not threatening cashiers.
- Be honest with customers and encourage your employees to value honesty over getting a membership sale. As seen on various customer service rating websites, customers don't appreciate being exploited in the short term and will simply not remain your customers in the long term.
- Give employees a large discount on new nooks, so that they can afford them, will think of them positively and talk them up with customers naturally.
- Arrange it so that stores profit from ebooks sold via the nooks they sell.
- Hire smaller numbers of employees who work more hours, which will improve both employee morale and customer service quality.

A lot of the above amounts to giving customers a reason to choose B&N over Amazon. They want real books they can browse through and at least the illusion of a local bookstore with employees who treat them as people. If they want a giant corporation to shop electronically from, they'll go to Amazon instead, and get better prices and better customer service to boot.

Other Employee Reviews for Barnes & Noble

  1. Helpful (1)

    "Not rewarding."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Customer Service Representative in Oklahoma City, OK
    Current Employee - Customer Service Representative in Oklahoma City, OK
    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Semi-flexible work schedule when one is in school.

    Cons

    No directive, no chance to move up. 25c to 50c raises per year. Even if you were management!

    Advice to Management

    Pay more for the work done.


  2. Helpful (1)

    "very poor"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Part Time Book Seller in Philadelphia, PA
    Current Employee - Part Time Book Seller in Philadelphia, PA
    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    most staff great to work with
    employee discount is good

    Cons

    constantly being changed from seasonal to part time - so dont qualify for vacation time
    after 5 yrs being left out of 5 yr recognition since was seasonal - part time - seasonal - part time - all managers decision - even though on the schedule 12 months a year
    seasonal title means no vacation time or no raises...still at same salary as started
    favoritism very prevelant - some part timers get 20 hrs a week - some 3 hrs a week
    managers communicate with some employees while ignoring others...changes have to be heard through "word of mouth"

    Advice to Management

    upper mgmgt should have meetings with employees. give employees a chance to voice opinions on how things are going...and give comments regarding store managers..especially smaller stores where a store manager seems to have complete control..district mgrs should be around to meet 5 hr employees and ask for opinions

There are newer employer reviews for Barnes & Noble
There are newer employer reviews for Barnes & Noble

See Most Recent

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