Buying books online for Xmas? I’d avoid Waterstone’s if I were you

I’m beginning to suspect that Waterstone’s online isn’t really cut out for the book selling business. The site’s nice. The prices are okay. The selection’s pretty good. That’s all fine. It’s just the getting-books-to-your-house bit that seems to have been designed by complete fucking numpties.

I ordered four books in mid-November, three of which were in stock and the fourth of which was due for publication that Friday. As expected, the order confirmation said, “Ooh, one of your books isn’t out yet. Once it is we’ll send the entire order to you”. Fine, I thought, and waited for the order to turn up.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

So I checked online. All four books were out of stock, said the order tracking page.

I emailed customer services.

Our website is wrong, customer services said. Three of the four books are in stock. The fourth one, the one that hadn’t been published when you ordered, isn’t in stock yet. Don’t worry, though. At 14 days, even if the fourth book hasn’t turned up, the other three books will be sent to you.

The books weren’t sent out on day 14. I checked online. All four books were out of stock.

I emailed again.

The website is wrong, customer services told me.

What they told me was this.

The three books that we told you were in stock weren’t in stock even though the website said they were in stock when you placed the order. They’re not in stock, and when we said three of the four books were in stock we were wrong because they weren’t in stock and they aren’t in stock. We don’t know when you’ll receive those books because they’re not in stock.

The other book, though, the fourth book that wasn’t in stock because it hadn’t been published and then it just wasn’t in stock, when we said it was out of stock we were wrong because that one is in stock and in fact it’s been despatched to you.

When will I get my other three books? It is a mystery!

So, yeah. If you’re ordering stuff for Xmas, Waterstones might not be the smartest choice.