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Movie Reviews



Borders Books and Music

Customer Service Dept.

Ann Arbor, Mich.


To Whom It May Concern:


Over the past few months, I have bought merchandise totaling over $90 at Borders Books and Music in Kensington, Maryland which proved upon inspection to be defective in some way. I have attempted to return the books and music in question to the store, on the terms of your posted return policy, to receive store credit so I might purchase less defective items. Unfortunately, your staff at that store has come somehow to the conclusion that I, not the merchandise, am the problem in these transactions, to the point where they mock me to my face and start laughing when I come into the store. I am writing this letter to (a) appeal to a higher authority so that I may receive adequate compensation for the defective merchandise and (b) alert you to the shatteringly rude behavior of your employees at your Kensington store, hopefully inflicting severe sanctions on their continued employment.

Brief descriptions of the products I attempted to return, their defects, and your employees' responses follow:

  • The Iliad, by Homer, trans. Fitzgerald: Since this book was encased in plastic in your store's display, no doubt to discourage damaging browsing, I bought this book solely on its sterling reputation. When I opened it up on arriving at home, I found that (a) the lines were unjustified and (b) they ended about an inch short of where the right margin would have been, extrapolating on the basis of the width of the left margin. This seemed to me to be a gross waste of paper, since the book is fairly lengthy and the use of this extra space would have meant a reduction in the number of pages necessary for the book by about a quarter. I thought that I should either receive a full refund or simply keep the book and receive a refund for a quarter of the purchase price. When I brought the book back to your Kensington location, though, they refused my refund, stating that I had nicked the book with my machete while I was opening the plastic ("gashed" was the word my cashier used, as one of the other cashiers snickered). Total cost with tax: $10.90.
  • Art of Fugue, by Bach, Evgeni Koroliov piano: I listened with much pleasure to this two-CD set until its end. The final fugue (placed on the discs before alternate two-piano versions of two fugues) builds up a nice head of steam over its six minutes, but then suddenly dies away inexplicably, with all of its voices trailing away and falling into silence randomly. I brought the CD set back to the store, where the classical music "expert" on duty stated that Bach had not had time to complete the last fugue before his death. I maintained that this is a defective product, since it says nothing about the last fugue's incompleteness on the CD box and one might reasonably suppose that Bach would have the good sense to complete a musical work before licensing it for recorded distribution 250 years after his death. The "expert" retorted that since I had opened the plastic wrapping and the CDs were not defective (as far as he cared), he could not give me a refund. The 45-minute interchange with the aforementioned "expert" concluded with his asking me if I wanted him to call Bach in heaven and see what he could do about it in a voice that I believe was supposed to suggest mental incapacity on my part. Total cost with tax: $40.94.
  • Catch-22, by Joseph Heller: I had heard that this novel dealt with the US government's struggle to interdict 100 Chinese-American spies, from a well-known literary authority (Jay Leno). I took the book home, accidentally spilling some iced half-caffeinated triple-mocha cinnalatte I had also bought at Borders onto it, and discovered when I arrived home that this novel, in an obvious production error, had somehow ended up with the wrong plot. I explained the situation to another one of your cashiers, who snickered and told me that I should buy another book ("The New American Treasury of Humor") instead of dealing with the situation at hand. Appeals to the manager were of no avail. Total cost with tax: $13.65.
  • Finnegan's Wake, by James Joyce: This book was obviously written by a drug-addled semiliterate and never edited, or so one might assume from the vast numbers of made-up words, misspellings, and other evidences of a product left casually unfinished. For a book that cost as much as this one does, this lack of production values of any kind is inexcusable. The fact that I had apparently gotten a little tomato sauce on it during one of my culinary excursions should not have been sufficient reason to deny me a refund. In fact, the employees again recommended another book to me instead of giving me a refund ("A Skeleton Key to 'Finnegan's Wake'"), which book is apparently an attempt to correct and/or explain all of the errors in the first book. This did not seem like a good use of my time. The fact that I had tried to assert my right to a refund earlier, too, should not have been sufficient reason for the employees to make what was apparently a continuing "joke" about calling James Joyce and asking him to edit his book. Total cost with tax: $18.85.
  • Hard Times, by Charles Dickens: Contrary to expectations derived from the title and name of the author, this book did not contain a single hardcore porn scene. While attempting to explain this return, security forcibly ejected me from the mall, saying that I was scaring children. Total cost with tax: $7.34.

My experience with Borders Books and Music, as you can see, has been fraught with economic loss and personal injustice. Despite assurances from your staff that they would "warn" their employees, I will have to take my business to the nearby Barnes and Noble if you do not take some corrective action.

Thank you for your time.



Andrew Lindemann Malone



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