By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, June 22, 2010 at 12:33 am
As of today, Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-reader costs $199. Yesterday, on Father’s Day, it was still $259, but with a special offer. My old pal Brad Grimes continues, in a comment from our post today on Amazon’s Kindle price cut:
I bought a $259 Nook yesterday (Sunday) as a gift for my father, enticed by an offer for a “free” $50 gift card. When I saw the price today, I called to see if I could get the difference back. I was told I could get only $10 back. It turns out, after looking at my receipt, they didn’t charge me for a $259 Nook and then give me a “free” $50 gift card, as advertised. They gave me a $209 Nook and charged me $50 for the gift card. Was I just shafted by Barnes & Noble? Harry, help an old friend!!!
I’m on B&N’s e-mail list, and got an ad for the offer Brad mentions. Here it is, plus the fine print:
B&N’s explanation of the offer seems pretty clear: It’s a free gift card when you buy a Nook, not a $50 discount on a Nook when you buy a $50 gift card. The fine print does talk about B&N deducting $50 from refunds unless the unused card is returned, but Brad didn’t want to return the card; he wanted B&N to do an after-the-purchase price match.
I can’t find any information on the B&N site about the company’s price-guarantee policies, so I’m not sure if the company was honor-bound to offer Brad a retroactive refund at all, or whether it would simply be a smart move to keep a customer happy. But here’s what I’m wondering: B&N obviously knew that it was about to knock the price of the Nook down by $60. Did it institute the odd $50-discount-on-Nook/$50-charge-for-card accounting so it wouldn’t have to give Nook buyers a $60 refund and let them keep the $50 gift cards?
Fine print on the original offer could have clarified things: I don’t think it would have been unreasonable for B&N to stipulate that it would deduct the $50 value of the card from any price-match refunds. But it didn’t do that. Any thoughts on what it should do for Brad and other recent Nook purchasers?