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Waterstones Online Gift Card And Internet Hell - Why Do Waterstone's When You Have Amazon?

Updated on December 4, 2012

Waterstones online website and Waterstone's gift card - what is wrong with them?  Well, frankly, lots!  So, why give Waterstones online gift card and their website the thumb's down? Well, not only is this the gift card from hell, but their Internet website is user unfriendly.  Following my recent Internet experience and, considering the rules that surround Waterstones gift cards, I ask the question 'Why do Waterstone's when you have Amazon?'

As you can probably tell, I am not enthralled by Waterstones, but then again I like bargain shopping.  This is not what you get from Waterstones.  From my Waterstone's experience, I can newly proclaim that I am a spoiled Amazon customer.  

This article focuses upon Online shopping with Waterstones, Amazon and their famous gift cards.

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'Waterstones - Feel Every Word' Quote

Competitive Markets - Why Do Waterstone's When You Can

'Annoying'... 'Irritating'... 'Inconveniencing'. These are all the words that I would describe Waterstones as a whole.

Aimed at the higher end of the book market, Waterstones seem to have set up strategies especially to drive customers away from purchasing from them. I, myself, will avoid this company like the plague in the future. Why? Not only are they expensive in this highly competitive market, but they offer a lack of choice and a gift card from hell!

If you are thinking about purchasing a gift card from Waterstone's, I strongly suggest you AVOID. You will shortly learn why, but trust me when I tell you, you are much better off buying gift vouchers from Amazon - the number one online store! They are competitive, offer great choice and are quick to deliver. Why do Waterstones, when you can ' and you're done!'

Bargain Shopping At Amazon

Waterstones - An Alternative To Amazon?

Both my son's received generous Waterstone's gift cards recently from their Uncle. £50 is a lot of money in these hard times and they were thrilled to have been thought of. Although not avid book reader's - they love their teenager music and gaming - a gift card that can be renewed online is convenient. This is especially the case if, like us, you live in a rural location far from the diverse shopping choices offered in many Towns and Cities.

We often purchase from Amazon. They offer convenience and value for money which you often find have been listed as the cheapest products at most price comparison sites, so we were delighted to try Waterstone's as an Amazon alternative.

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Waterstone's - Expensive and Inconvenient

What a disappointment! They are expensive and full of inconveniences such as:

  • Searching on the Waterstone's online site is awkward - not all the products show up.
  • Waterstone's gift card has to be used within two years or you lose your credit.
  • You can not use Waterstone's gift vouchers online, making this a restrictive alternative (don't get confused with the gift card and gift vouchers). Gift vouchers can only be used in stores.
  • Waterstone's have a lack of choice. They are a books only online company, despite integration with HMV (big sellers of gaming, music and home entertainment).
  • You are only allowed to use the gift card with Waterstone's and can not use the card against HMV products.
  • When you use Waterstone's gift card online, the website can be tricky. It seems to be designed to trick the user into using their credit card, rather than the gift card. The capsule for entering your gift card details, for example, is hidden behind a tab within the capsule. Before you know it, you have by-passed the correct page and your credit card has been charged. You then have to cancel your order quickly, before they dispatch.
  • The help phone line is open during week days only and are closed even when Waterstone's shops are open. They charge a local rate number, put you through 'options', then cut you off asking you to ring during the week days between 9 am and 6pm.
  • You can not use multiple gift cards for one transaction.
  • The online shopping basket contents is deleted after a few hours. If you want to browse and come back the next day, your products are gone!
  • You can't send multiple items to multiple delivery addresses. I had to complete the process a number of times by individually placing into the online shopping basket and sending them one item at a time.
  • They do have a Frequently Asked Questions section in the form of an Online Assistant (no longer available as of the 6/12/2011). The answers can add further confusion. For example:

'You asked: You haven't deducted my gift card

Our answer:
To use your giftcard online: at the checkout, enter the gift card number and the security code in the 'Payment method - Gift card' section and hit 'Update'.'

See the online activity diagram to see the realities of this.

For Bargain Shopping Buy Amazon Gift Cards

For bargain shopping, convenience and ease of use, I really give Waterstone's online store a real thumbs down. The gift card is restrictive and the online website is not user friendly. This is a shame. Waterstone's gift card could have such potential, especially if used in conjunction with HMV! It might even have half a sniff at rivalling Amazon's, somewhat superior, methods of online shopping - or maybe not! Amazon's product choice, websites and gift cards are far ahead of anything else on the Internet, so why buy Waterstones gift cards to use online, when you have Amazon? One thing is for sure, we have one £50 Waterstone's gift card left. We will be selling that on Ebay for £40 and, despite the loss in ebay charges and the reduction for cash, we will still make a saving when we purchase from the balance on Amazon!!!

© This work is covered under Creative Commons License

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    • VendettaVixen profile image

      VendettaVixen 6 years ago from Ireland

      Oh jeez, I'm sorry to hear that, Shazwellyn. Most other bookstores would still accept your vouchers if you explained your situation to them. Waterstones really need to start thinking about their customers, rather than themselves.

      I hope you and your boys don't run into any more trouble like this. I expect you'll all be sticking with Amazon now. Wise choice, I say.

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain

      Vendetta vixen - thank you for your comment. No, my sons have just lost their money and the family that bought the gift vouchers have wasted £100 for nothing. The only people to gain was Waterstones :(

    • VendettaVixen profile image

      VendettaVixen 6 years ago from Ireland

      I have to say that I've never had a problem with Waterstones before, but then again, I only ever buy books directly from their store, rather than their website.

      I did just check out the site though, and it seems pretty awful.

      Hope you and your sons got this sorted out a long time ago.

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 6 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Thanks for the warning. I too, live in a rural area and have learned to do a lot of internet shopping. I will definitely avoid Waterstones.


    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain

      With love, I hope Waterstones become better and learn their mistakes. It would be wonderful to have a British company that is a successful company on the internet. Thank you Camlo :)

    • camlo profile image

      Camlo De Ville 6 years ago from Cologne, Germany

      I used to shop at Waterstone's in the eighties - I think they were new back then, and they did have a great reputation. Had I realised they are now online, I might well have placed an order, but not now. Having read this, I'll stick to Amazon, with whom I've always been extremely satisfied.

      Thank you for the great advice, Shazwellyn!

      All the best, Camlo

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain

      amybradley - looks like, by the news reports, that the HMV group (which Waterstones are part of) are in real financial trouble... is it any wonder????

    • amybradley77 profile image

      amybradley77 6 years ago

      Voted up, and useful. Thanks for sharing this I don't think I will ever be using waterstones, since like you said I do have amazon after all. How silly is this, right!! A.B.

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain

      CMHypno - I know exactly what you mean! I buy most things from Amazon - I like the Internet safety for credit card payments, they are efficient, the items are always as described and the site is easy to move around. The best thing of all, Amazon always seems to be the cheapest! Sure, you might be able to save a few pennies from another website, but you just don't get the service or speed. I would rather save myself some time, effort and money and buy from a safe source - Amazon has it all and Waterstone's have very little.

      Thanks for stepping by!

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain

      Wow miss_jkim - I will check these out! Hope they trade in English gift cards - that would be soooo cool!

      Very valuable suggestion - much appreciated!

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain

      UW - Waterstones are a British based company who target the middle and upper classes - hence the price and arrogance that they seem to manifest by the way the do business!

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain

      danieliuhasz - Amazon are at the top of the game. They far surpass any other website for choice and price. They are quick to deliver too and they don't quibble if you have a complaint!

      Thank you for your comment :)

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 6 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      Trouble with Waterstones is that I think that they only want to sell expensive books to posh people - a great way to go bust in this economic climate. I would always use Amazon when ordering online, and have never had a problem with them. I get all my mp3 downloads from Amazon and buy so many books!

    • miss_jkim profile image

      miss_jkim 6 years ago


      Good info, thanks for sharing. There are websites that you can sell and / or trade in you gift cards for ones that you want and can use. You can even purchase gift cards at a discount. is one and is another.

    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 6 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      I've never heard of them and that is a good thing. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • danieliuhasz profile image

      danieliuhasz 6 years ago from Romania

      Yes, Amazon in really a good resource for shopping and making gifts. Even if I like to make a more personal gift than a Gift Card, I consider shopping from Amazon as a great way to save some money or get more for the same price.

      Thanks for such an informative hub:)

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain

      Mentalist - You can understand why they are losing out on profits - bet they will go bankrupt soon. They have no idea on giving the customer a good deal!

      Amazon will always win through with the flexibility and customer focus!!

      Thanks MA for your comment.

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 6 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      Thanks for the warning,very useful,shazwellyn.;)