Barnes & Noble Drops Support for Nook Windows 8 App in the UK, Leaving Customers Stranded
B&N may have announced a month ago that they were withdrawing the Nook Windows 8 app from all markets except the US (and thus abandoning the global ebook market), but someone apparently forgot to tell the Nook customers in the UK.
Hisham El-Far likes to read Nook books on his Windows 8 tablet, but that got a little more difficult a couple days ago when he opened the Nook app and was surprised by this notice:
If you can’t read the text in the photo, it says that as of 7 August, the Nook Windows 8 app was no longer available outside the US, and that customers may be eligible for a refund from Microsoft on any ebooks purchased with their Microsoft account.
That closely mirrors the email that B&N sent last month when they announced that they were pulling back from the global book market, so you would think that B&N would have also told its UK customers that they could lose access to their purchases.
Alas, no. Hisham El-Far told me on Twitter that he first learned of this issue on 11 August – four days after B&N withdrew support. He had no advance warning.
And to make matters worse, B&N apparently didn’t even tell anyone in their UK operations that they would cut off access to the Nook Windows 8 app this month. The Nook UK website still mentions the Windows 8 app as I sit here writing this post, and even the Nook UK support account on Twitter was unaware of the fact that the app was no longer supported.
They told their customer:
@HishamElfar We are no longer accepting MS Wallet as payment method, you may need to update your payment information on your NOOK account.
— NOOK UK Support (@NOOK_Care_UK) August 12, 2015
@HishamElfar Pls try signing out and back in. U may also try our other NOOK Reading Apps for IOS and Android. We apologise for inconvenience
— NOOK UK Support (@NOOK_Care_UK) August 12, 2015
While that is factually correct, it is not at all helpful or supportive nor does it solve the problem. A reader should not have to buy an expensive new device after B&N summarily cuts off access to his ebook library.
However, it’s not clear whether B&N really expects that; two days have passed and this issue has still not been resolved. In fact, Nook UK has yet to respond to the first email sent on 11 August.
That is on par with B&N’s usual stellar levels of customer care, but hopefully this post will get their attention.
This screw up is the latest in a series of digital blunders made over the past month. In addition to abandoning its international customers, the retailer has also had numerous problems with the relaunch of its website.
When the site first went live a month ago, the ebook section was effectively nonfunctional, and there were other reports that B&N’s marketplace sellers could not access their accounts and weren’t being paid. The payment issue cropped up again last week, but have reportedly been resolved (again).
With the majority of content sales having gone digital and more physical media sales being made online, this does not bode well for B&N’s future.
image by col_adamson
Peter August 13, 2015 um 12:47 pm
…and people still come up with wild conspiracy theories about why Amazon is the major player in the ebook market. When your competitors range from "awful" to "wildly incompetent" you don’t need to do much to dominate.
erfte August 13, 2015 um 4:44 pm
There should be regulation to prevent customers from such business practices. Meanwhile, it is to be hoped, that people still entangled with this company find a way to free themselves and that there won’t be much of a future left for that B&N.
Alexander Inglis August 13, 2015 um 9:25 pm
It also underscores how very, very few sales B&N made through its Nook Windows app in spite of Microsoft money and motivation. It’s incredible that the exit strategy is to refund all of the money every customer on the platform spent. That suggests it’s the cheapest exit … and how small that customer base truly is. Sad on so many levels.
Hisham August 14, 2015 um 1:09 am
Hi, I’m the Hisham mentioned in this story.
Just to update & expand upon what I’ve already tweeted about (but with no 140 character constraints), here is what has happened from my point of view so far.
On the 8th of August, I purchased 7 books to read over the coming 2 weeks. Through the website. The website had no mention of the withdrawal of Windows app support. The website still does not, in fact when buying a book – it STILL lists a Windows 8 reading app as a viable means of receiving books purchased – both before and after payment.
On the 9th, in preparation for 2 weeks of confinement on various trains, I turned on my tablet to sync and download the books. (My last use of the nook app before this was on the previous Wednesday.)
Upon opening the nook app, a pop-up notification pinged up on screen (pictured in the story above.). This was the first warning I received – 2 days after it was too late.
I have since checked my email archive from the last 3 months (including spam folders), the only emails I’ve received from nook* have been promotional or confirmation of purchases.
I tried contacting Nook via their customer support web chat. But despite the opening hours listed, they are never online.
I tried contacting them through their twitter support accounts. I had little hope of any reply after noting their last tweet had been a month previous. (surprisingly I did get a response from them on twitter eventually – more on that later.)
I sent them an email detailing my problem, explaining my concerns and seeking some sort of resolution. That email has had no response as of yet.
With regards to the twitter response, I was advised that they had stopped accepting MS wallet payment as a payment option. I was told to update my payment method of my account. Sign out of the app, then sign back in.
I didn’t need to update my payment details, as I had never actually used the MS wallet as a payment option. (I have 3 different bank cards linked to my account, so lack of a payment account wasn’t the issue).
I signed out of the app as instructed. Then I tried to sign back in. The much mentioned pop-up notification pings when I tried to log in, and then I’m returned to the log in screen. Still signed out.
So. Now not only can I not download any of my new purchases. I cannot access any of my old purchases that were previously downloaded!
I have had no response from Nook regarding this.
A few points I’d like to make.
Here in the UK, all correspondence of email is from Nook. (Barnes and Noble branding is hidden away deep in the "about Nook" description on their website.
In the UK, Nook (or B&N), as I’m still unclear on who or where the business is being administered by/from – are in clear violation of the trade description act. By advertising the availability of a reading app on the Windows platform on their site in the product description and during the payment process, they are leaving themselves wide open for legal action – which I am not ruling out at a later date.
Nook/B&N haven’t actually withdrawn from the UK, they have withdrawn support for the Windows reading app. The app by the way was working fine for me on Windows 10.
The withdrawal from Windows as a platform, seems to be about an issue of payment processing within the app? (this is conjecture on my part based on the mention of MS wallet as an issue)
The Windows app is STILL available to download from the Windows app store here in the UK.
The iOS and Android apps are both still fully functional here in the UK.
The iOS app does not have a Store function to buy books, users have to buy through the website, then later sync and download the books in the app.
The above iOS information has been confirmed by a friend who uses it on her Ipad.
I haven’t paid for my ebooks on Nook with the MS wallet option, therefore I am not eligible (as I understand it) for any refund.
Even if they have sent an email to some users (but not me), one email isn’t really sufficient warning. There was an ebook retailer here in the UK that shut down called Blinkbox. They sent out an email every week for 3 months warning about the withdrawal of service. Nokia had an ebook store at one point, when they shut it down they sent out advance notice (months in advance) and regular email reminders. Both of these are examples of reasonable notice periods and reasonable warning attempts.
Nook had the ability to send out a notification in-app. Why didn’t they use this ability to warn their users – THIS would have been a reasonable process to use.
I’m sure there’s more that can be discussed on this, but If I go any deeper I’m going to get angry. Again.
Nate Hoffelder August 14, 2015 um 7:41 am
"The withdrawal from Windows as a platform, seems to be about an issue of payment processing within the app?"
I don’t think it’s a wallet issue; that could simply have been disabled.
And I’m still trying to figure out why the app still works in the US but not elsewhere. That just makes no sense if this were a wallet issue.
fjtorres August 14, 2015 um 7:57 am
fjtorres August 14, 2015 um 7:56 am
Do you have a consumer-protection agency to police consumer businesses in the UK?
Might be time to call them up.