Friday, September 22, 2006

Barnes and Noble.com: Definitely Not A Bookstore

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: ,

this is not a book

It’s been a few months since I’ve sung the praises of our Citi mtvU Visa card which has been earning us 5% back on all our restaurant, movie, bookstore, and intercontinental ballistic missile purchases for quite some time. Imagine my horror when our two recent bookstore purchases–totalling over $200–showed as earning a pitiful 1% back on our previous statement.

“Perhaps Citi ran out of ThankYou Points,” said my adorable wife. “Maybe it’s because we didn’t give them any You’reWelcome Point back.”

So in some spare time this afternoon, I phoned the ThankYou Network redemption hotline (1-877-7-REDEEM) in an effort to retrieve our missing 800-or-so points. Here’s how that call went, and I am not making any of this up.


Operator Guy: Thank you for calling Citi ThankYou Network. How may I help you?

Me: Yes, hi. I made a couple of bookstore purchases in August with my Citi mtvU Visa card that weren’t awarded 5% back in ThankYou points. I was wondering if I could have that adjusted.

Operator Guy: Certainly, sir. May I put you on hold for a moment?

Me: I’d rather you didn’t–

(On hold music plays for about three minutes.)

Operator Guy: All right, sir. Can I verify your…

(Seven minutes of verifying my existence omitted.)

Operator Guy: Great. Now I can help you get started resetting your password.

omg teh pain

Me: R–resetting my password? That’s not why I called. I’m calling for a ThankYou point adjustment.

Operator Guy: Oh, right. Sorry, sir. Let me transfer you to a customer service agent who can help you.

(On hold for a few more minutes.)

Operator Girl: Hi, how can I help you?

Me: Yes, hi. I made a couple of bookstore purchases in August with my Citi mtvU Visa card that weren’t awarded 5% back in ThankYou points. I was wondering if I could have that adjusted.

Operator Girl: Certainly, sir. Can I verify your…

(Another ten minutes of verification.)

Operator Girl: All right. Now you say you’re supposed to be receiving 5% back on bookstore purchases with your Citi mtvU Visa card, correct?

Me: Well, that’s what you guys told me when I signed up for the card. And I’ve been getting 5% back on bookstore purchases for a while. So I kinda just figured, you know?

wtf, citi girl?

Operator Girl: I’m actually not showing that promotion on your card.

Me: I’m looking at the Citi mtvU Visa card website right now, and it says “five ThankYou Points for dollars you spend at places you already go, like restaurants (including fast food), bookstores, record stores, movie theaters and video rental stores.”

Operator Girl: If you have documentation showing that you’re supposed to be receiving that bonus, then you can go ahead and send that into us–

Me: No, I think I’ll just talk to your much smarter supervisor instead.

Operator Girl: Okay, one moment please.

(A hundred moments later.)

Really Great Supervisor Lady: Yes, how can I help you today?

Me: Yes, hi–

Really Great Supervisor Lady: Wait, I’m sensing something. You… have two bookstore purchases for which you weren’t awarded the proper ThankYou Points?

Me: Um, yeah, how did you–

really smart supervisor lady to the rescue

Really Great Supervisor Lady: I have corrected your point balance, and I’ve also arranged for your favorite music band to perform for you and your wife live at your house tonight.

Me: You mean The Beatles?

Really Great Supervisor Lady: Yes, sir. They’ll be at your house shortly.

Me: But… two of their members aren’t alive anymore.

Really Great Supervisor Lady: You’d be surprised what Citibank can do, sir. Have a lovely weekend.


Okay, I might have exaggerated a little near the end, but that’s pretty much what happened.

barnes and noble, no books here, sorry

One serious item of note that came up during my conversation with Really Great Supervisor Lady is that, for reasons unknown to mortal man, Barnes and Noble.com does not report itself as a bookstore to Visa. Hence the reason I was not originally credited with 5% back on that purchase. This makes about as much sense as WeSellOnlyPies.com not reporting itself as a pie seller. Heck, Amazon.com reports itself as a bookseller on virtually all of their sales, even if they’re not remotely book-like.

Oh, and the other bookstore purchase was from Montgomery College Bookstore. No, they don’t think they’re a bookstore, either.

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