Posts Tagged ‘Blackwells’

Blackwell’s on-line book service (update)

March 11, 2021

Yesterday I reported appalling service Blackwell’s on-line book orders. Two days to process an order, not delivered, messages left on social media ignored, unable to find telephone number on their website, find via google, call, inaudible message telling me not to leave a message as it will not be read, another message left on social media.

Today I received a response, edited ensuing conversation.

Zoe (Blackwell’s Bookshop)

Good afternoon Mr Parkins, I am very sorry to hear of the issues you have had. Could you please let me know your order reference so I can take a look into this for you? With best wishes, Zoe


Coffee – Jonathan Morris

I also added order reference number.


I will expect this book to be delivered by tomorrow, if necessary by courier.

Your service is appalling. I will not be ordering again.

I contrast with Oxford, where service in-store excellent.

Had I ordered from Amazon, it would not have taken two days to process the order. The book would have been delivered the next day. That is why Amazon is always first choice. It is not that they are cheaper, it is that they provide service.

Service an alien concept Blackwell’s on-line ordering.


Thank you for providing this Mr Parkins. I’m sorry that your order has not yet arrived.

To confirm, this order was despatched on 3/3 by standard post to the address on your order. For standard UK delivery, we usually advise 2-4 working days after despatch but at the moment we are finding that it can take longer than this.

I can see here [tracking data] that your order has been handed over from our courier to your local Royal Mail centre yesterday, 10-03-21. Beyond this point, as this order has been sent via standard post, there is no further tracking information available but this does mean that it is in the final stage of delivery.

I’m very sorry that it is taking longer than expected for your order to arrive but I would be grateful if you could please allow a bit more time for your order to be delivered.

If it has not arrived with the post on 17-03-21 then please let us know – this will be 10 working days since the date of despatch and from this point we are able to advise further if your order remains delivered.

I’m very sorry once again for the delay and inconvenience caused – Zoe

Zoe also provided tracking data.


No, if you cannot guarantee deliver today or tomorrow, then I require a refund, with confirmation of refund. I can then place an order with Amazon for delivery tomorrow.


Good afternoon Mr Parkins. I have refunded your order as a gesture of goodwill, when the book arrives please keep it with our compliments.

Once again, I am very sorry for the inconvenience caused – Zoe

I will send an email confirming this refund now, please expect one shortly, and please allow a few working days for the money to show on your account – Zoe


Thank you for your gesture of goodwill. I have received your e-mail.

But …

Your on-line service appalling. It does not take two days to process an order. Handed to your courier service on 3 March, they do not hand to local delivery until 10 March. What were they doing?

I do not know if this is a one off, or the norm. But you either have to pull the plug on on-line or dramatically improve. This is giving Blackwell’s a bad name.

Last autumn I travelled to Oxford to pick up a signed copy of a book by my friend Yanis Varoufakis, Another Now, to take to a friend in Cyprus. I have often passed by, but never ventured inside. I am usually heading to and from coffee shops.

  • Café Society
  • Colombia Coffee Roasters

I encourage support indie bookshops, but no way could I recommend order from your on-line service, not unless wish to wait weeks before receive book.

I would still encourage support indie bookshops, if in Oxford pop in Blackwell’s in Broad Street, an excellent bookshop, the staff very helpful, but on-line, unless can match Amazon for service, let alone price, not unless happy to wait days for delivery, in this case weeks, and as I write, I am still waiting (maybe it will arrive today with the post).

If order from Blackwell’s, their phone number, not that anyone answers and the inaudible message they do not listen to messages left.

  • 01865 333536

What I am highlighting here is not restricted to Blackwell’s. If to compete with Amazon, it may not be possible to compete on price, but have to provide service as good as if not better than Amazon.

To her credit, Zoe did accept that something had gone wrong, as a gesture of goodwill refunded, and said I could keep the book when it arrives.

The book I ordered, Coffee: A Global History, which luckily I did not require next day, my concern was it had not arrived weeks later.

Coffee: A Global History has been turned into a podcast, A History of Coffee, a collaboration between James Harper of Filter Stories podcast and Jonathan Morris, Professor of History and author of Coffee: A Global History.

A History of Coffee a six-part podcast.

Note: Late afternoon, the post delivered long awaited very late delivery from Blackwell’s.

Blackwell’s on-line book service

March 10, 2021

Appalling service.

Order placed 1 March 2021.

Two days to process.

Still awaiting delivery.

Message left on social media. Ignored.

Contact number not shown on website, or if is is there, well hidden and not possible to find. Obtained number indirectly via Google.

Tried calling. Inaudible message, told do not leave a message as will not be read.

Had I ordered from Amazon, would have been delivered next day. Had there been a problem, it would have been dealt with promptly.

This is why people use Amazon, it is not because they are cheaper, it is because they provide service.

The Quest for Never Seconds continues

November 21, 2012

Well, that’s the first print run of NeverSeconds gone. In less than a week. Special high street offers available from next week. — Cargo Publishing

The plan was Wimbledon, then Putney for a concert, but it was awful day, change of plan, Charing Cross Road, hit the bookshops, eat at Food for Thought, then Putney for Il Siglo d’Oro.

The Quest for Never Seconds continues.

I started with the secondhand bookshops. I did not expect much joy, but you never know, I might strike lucky and pick up a review copy.

No such luck, nor did I find Hydrogen Sonata which I had hoped I might find.

Next stop Blackwell’s. Unlike Waterstone’s which is a sick joke, Blackwell’s is an excellent bookshop and I rarely leave empty handed or I find must have, to keep an eye out for. But no time today for browsing, I was on the quest for NeverSeconds.

I spoke to a couple of guys. To be fair, it was not their area. Neither had heard of NeverSeconds. But they were helpful, and agreed it was a book they should have in and on display and they would get onto it. Something Cargo Publishing must follow through on.

I noticed they had Nook. First I realised Nook was in UK was the day before when I walked out of Godalming Station and saw a large hoarding for Nook. Until I saw it said Nook, I thought I was looking at a Kobo.

In Blackwell’s, first time I had seen a Nook. Very cheap and tacky, not the quality of a Kobo. Like a Kobo advantage over Kindle is that it reads ePub Open Source format.

The guys I was talking to knew to use Calibre to manage an e-book library, but both said books were better. I agree.

Next stop Foyles, Bookshop of the Year 2012.

In the 1980s I used to practically live in Foyles. A bookshop of character, the world’s largest bookshop. It had almost every book you could wish to find. But do not ever expect the staff to know, as they never knew where anything was. That was half the fun of visiting Foyles.

Oh but how it has changed, and not for the better.

Did they have NeverSeconds? I asked several members of staff. None had a clue what I was talking about. All were able to tell me, yes, we had one copy, we sold it today.

I eventually found the appropriate section, food writers. I asked. Sold today. I was told what size it was, because I asked the person who had actually seen a copy what it was like. It seemed rather small. I picked up a book, literary fiction size, and asked this size?

I could not believe the reaction I got. The woman was bloody rude. I am not continuing this conversation, I have already told you the size. I told her her rudeness had been duly noted.

I went downstairs and complained to a manager. He knew who I was talking about. I expressed surprise they did not have NeverSeconds on display, a book that had had masses of media attention. I think he got the message. Something Cargo Publishing need to follow through.

Foyles also were flogging Nook e-book readers.

Lessons have not be learnt from Borders who spectacularly went bust. In 2011, they did a deal with Amazon, they outsourced all their e-commerce to Amazon. It smacked of desperation, as does Waterstone’s selling Kindle, and simply handed on a plate their customers to Amazon. Too late in the day, Borders tried to claw back, but they were too late.

Yesterday I contacted Daunt Books, had they got NeverSeconds? They have not had the courtesy to reply. Nor has One Tree Books, Bookshop of the Year 2010, who I contacted a few days ago, had the courtesy to reply.

NeverSeconds, the story of Martha Payne and her food blog NeverSeconds, as told by Martha and her father David Payne, is currently selling 300 copies a day, published last week, is already on its second print run.

Every copy of NeverSeconds which is sold provides 25 school dinners for children in Malawi through a donation to Mary’s Meals.

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