Thursday, July 12, 2007

My Letter to Barnes and Noble

To whom it may concern,

I am writing in reference to the poor treatment that the knitting group at the South Hills Village store in Pittsburgh, PA. We have been meeting at the store since it opened over 2 years ago. We were always greeted kindly and the staff went out of its way to make sure that we had a space reserved and all the chairs we needed. And then something changed, the management, I think. Suddenly we didn't have a space reserved. Then, we were moved across the store to a smaller space, interestingly, away from the knitting and craft book. (We were moved back after talking to a manager that was unwilling to allow us back to the larger space until I pointed out that it saved me plenty of money to not be tempted to browse during my time in the store- we were in the gay erotica section, just happens to not be my type of thing.) At this point there began to be more mobile display shelves in the area when we met and the 4 comfortable chairs became 2 and then nonexistant as we were admonished to not move even the wooden chairs into the space and were begrudgingly given very uncomfortable folding chairs. And when asked about the increasing inconvenience, we were treated with hostility. We were accused of leaving trash (we did not) of purposefully blocking customers from the shelves (never, we often helped people find things) and of "stealing" chairs from other areas (chairs had been brought from near by when we had more people joining us than they had allowed chairs, never was anyone booted from their chairs and never was anything removed unlawfully from the premises.)
On numerous occasions the originators of our group tried to communicate with all levels of management. Always, they were rebuffed and never were they treated as an asset to the store. I began to dread walking into the store, afraid that I would be the first one to arrive and have to ask where they would allow us to sit and endure the attitude of the employee so inconvenienced with our presence.
For some reason the management refuses to see a group of friendly, welcoming, happy, laughing people as a valuable customer base. They seem to ignore that we encourage people to join us, to come into the store and to spend money.
Unfortunately, we have been removed from the store calendar, without even the courtesy of forewarning or offer of day or date change.
What are we left to do?
Vote with our feet, I suppose. Some members of the group think that we should wave our Member card in front of you and let you tabulate what even our small group spends in your store on an annual basis. I am more of the mindset that it shouldn't matter how much we spend. We had an agreement, we are customers, we deserve basic respect and to be treated with dignity. It doesn't matter how much money I will no longer spend at Barnes and Noble. I does matter, however, that I will be sure to tell everyone who will listen about the treatment we have received and where we received it and that we have moved to another venue. It should matter that the competition will supply my book, magazine, video and musical needs.
And it should be astonishing that this is simply a matter of being rude to a group of knitters, poor management and, ultimately, an astounding amount of bad word of mouth.


Isn't this just silly? I really think that they just don't like that we were having fun and they are not. They have to deal with parentless teenagers necking in Sci-fi and the other unsupervised kids tossing books in the biographies, the gaggles of tweeners blocking the entrance doors while waiting for a ride home after a movie and cruising the mall. Yeah, a group of grown-ups happy to be out of the house and having a cup of coffee and a cookie while comparing books and crafty experiences is a whole lot more aggravating. Anyway, here are a couple more letters to BN.
And we will be at Borders in the Norman Center II on Washington Rd at 7:30 on Friday.

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