I am really sorry to hear about such poor working conditions. The people who work at the B&N store in Farmington CT are fantastic. I asked about books to read to my 8 year old grandson (he is now in our care once or twice a week and--heartbreakingly--has never been read to before) and I had two people taking me all over the children's section offering suggestions and honing it down as I discussed his needs and interests. Just this Wednesday, we went in for my huysband's birthday. He aked for the new Nathaniel Philbrick book, and the person knew what it was and where it was. She took us right over and, as you said, put the book in John's hand. When my Nook HD+ was overheating, I was given a brand new one on the spot & they spent the time to set it up for me. Yes, sometimes I have to wait for someone to be available, but so what? I pick up a book or magazine to look at while I'm waiting. My husband & I really love that place and appreciate the people who work there.
Bookseller folks, I know what you mean. Zero seems to have changed since I finally got out in mid-2009. If anything, it sounds like it's going further downhill.
And, easily 99.9999999% of these problems are at the manager level and above to effect.
Sure, I've worked with or experienced some lousy booksellers. But most everyone I've ever met/worked with who came in through those doors hired as a bookseller wanted to do a good job. Was excited about working in a book store. Wanted to help customers.
But the system just seems to inspire burn-out, apathy, and mediocrity. Many fight those demons and sstill give great service. (Barring a few bad days.) Others, I totally understand how you get that way and that the experience has beat you down.
I wish I had some advice for you. I finally got a job writing, making enough money that I don't even have to work part-time at my local B&N anymore. But that's not really a solution for you or the company.
Stick in there, I guess. Speak up, politely and professionally. There are many people with deaf ears in the company, but I've worked with some good managers and DMs who truly do have open door policies. At least they did. Who knows if they've stuck in there.
TO B&N powers-that-be (if this wafts through the ether to you): wise up and start listening to booksellers. One of your most valuable assets, selling points, and unique value propositions for consumers is the strengths and talents of your front line staff. Invest in them. Payroll. Training. Benefits. And the right tools & time to do an excellent job. They have the ear of the customer on a daily, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute basis. You probably won't believe it, but the decline in sales can be just as strongly correlated to a decrease in HR investment than any fluctuations in the economy or marketplace. Your next $100 million dollar idea is out there germinating in that bookseller-customer relationship and you are woefully ignoring it.
It seems to me that the posters in this thread are describing a phenomenon that is NOT unique to Barnes & Noble. The process of transferring our nation's wealth to the top 1% of society (including grossly overcompensated corporate managers) is squeezing the dedication and loyalty out of lower-level employees everywhere. It is happening all across America, and in industries other than Retail. The loss of benefits described by flyingtoastr is not new. I first experienced it in 1996 as an IT Director at an automotive aftermarket manufacturing company, then again in 1999 as an IT Director at an aerospace manufacturing company. Until the American people get fed up with this sorry state of affairs and make fundamental changes to our political systems, don't expect things to get better.
Or a massive crash happens and things get reset.
I don't think people will wake up. They are too happy with the opiates of sports and TV and celebrity culture and such.
I'm sorry to hear the reports of poor management in your stores. Unfortunately, that problem isn't constrained to B&N or bookstores but runs through corporations, unions and government offices as well. Apathy and laziness are just as rife among the workers as management too -- when I worked fast food (min wage), I'd have estimated at least 1/3 of the workers weren't even worth minimum wage.
Fortunately, the conditions you describe also aren't universal through bookstores or even B&N. The Nook guy at my store got promoted to manager, his assistant Nook expert continues to do a good job and they hired another gal who was energetic, helpful and just a wonderful ray of sunshine. Of course, there are other booksellers on the floor although staffing does seem down a tad.
I don't know how they've done with the Mother's Day Nook promotion but they seemed to have a flood of people when I stopped in on Monday to pick up my HD+.