Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hey Barnes & Noble! (Cheap Bastid Strikes Again)

For some reason, when I mentioned Barnes & Noble in my last blog-post it reminded me that this year I finally bit the bullet and joined their “club”. You know, the one where you give them $25 at the beginning of the year and then you get 10% off all your purchases (I think it’s more on hardcover books but remember, I’m the “Cheap Bastid” I don't buy hardcovers unless they're in the "bargain bin" for less that paperbacks.)

So anyway, I have resisted for years simply on moral principal. I think it’s extortion to have to pay for a discount. Are you paying attention to this Barnes and Noble? Think about it. Southwest Airlines didn’t charge me for joining Rapid Rewards and they give me free airplane tickets. Hilton Honors didn’t charge me to join and gives me points for free stays at their hotels. Subway never charged for their card and gave free sandwiches after you had bought a dozen or 10 or something. Even my barber, Ed, has a card. He punches a hole each time I go in for a haircut and the 10th one is free. But Barnes & Noble charged me $25 and for years I resisted. The only reason I bought it this year was that I got a $25 gift card for Christmas so it "technically" didn’t cost me anything (the “Cheap Bastid” thing again).

I’ve still got a problem with it though. After I spend $250 this year at Barnes & Noble I’ll actually start getting ahead. That’s no problem. I’m in there every couple of weeks and buy 2 or 3 paperbacks so I’ll spend about $500 this year. But it still bugs my butt. Of course, that’s kind of the problem with me. The “Cheap Bastid” won’t do it. If I were the “Frugal Bastid”, I’d have joined long ago.

Come up with a different plan, Barnes & Noble. You know every transaction I make at your store. Each time I swipe my membership card or give you my phone number instead of the card you also record exactly what I’m buying which also means that you know how much I’m spending. How do I know that you know? Simple. I get e-mails asking me to write reviews of the books I’ve bought. So, if Barnes & Noble knows what books I’ve bought, they also know how much I paid. Which means that they can change the way they do their membership/frequent buyer/loyalty program.

How about telling me that I get a card for free—just for signing up like frequent flyer or car rental or hotel programs. Then when I’ve spent $250 give me a discount. Even better give me a discount right away and really reward my loyalty. If you don’t want me going to Borders, make it worth my while. I might be gullible but I’m not totally dumb.

So, right around the first of the year, I was in Barnes & Noble. I stepped up to the counter with my books and gift card. The young woman asked if I were a member and I said no. She asked if I wanted to join and started to explain the program. I interrupted and told her that I was going to join but that it was “under duress”. Her response (and I’m not making this up) was, “Oh, that’s nice.”

So, in about 2 more months, I will actually be money ahead with my discount card membership at Barnes & Noble. Now if I can only make sure that someone gives me another $25 B&N gift card this Christmas so the membership is “free” in 2010—someone other than my wife. That’s the “Cheap Bastid” way.

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