Staff at the UK’s biggest book chain say they are facing abuse from customers as popular titles are out of stock due to delivery delays.
Waterstones is facing shortages due to new warehouse technology and backlogs, which have caused delays of up to six weeks.
Workers have alleged shoppers have been “very aggressive” amidst the lack of stock and late deliveries.
“I had a customer throw a book at me,” one employee told The Bookseller. “We didn’t have any of the top titles in.”
Are you a Waterstones employee facing abuse from customers? If so email [email protected]
“We don’t know what to tell customers who come in looking for their order they’ve placed weeks ago, and are very aggressive, the senior member of staff continued. “The amount of abuse we are receiving is insane.”
The retailer implemented a new distribution system several weeks ago which they say caused backlogs and resulted in delays in stock of popular titles, such as Dragon Thief by David Owens and Harry Potter books by JK Rowling.
A spokesperson from the chain said: “Waterstones last month upgraded the system that manages stock distribution from our warehouse to Blue Yonder technology.
“This is now operational, with stock flowing to our bookshops and customers. Over the implementation period, however, a backlog of orders was created which we are now processing as quickly as we can.”
Several authors and publishers have since shared support for booksellers facing abuse from customers.
Joanne Harris, author of bestselling book Chocolat, tweeted: “Message to Waterstones staff today: We know the supply problem isn’t your fault. We love and appreciate you.”
And independent publisher Sandstone Press added: “Please be particularly nice to Waterstones booksellers at the moment – they’re working under stressful conditions and doing their best to get you your books.”
Kate Skipper, chief operating officer at Waterstones, said: “We have been in contact with customers whose orders have been delayed to apologise for the inconvenience as these delays are in no way reflective of our usual service.
“We are grateful for the professionalism and expertise of our booksellers.”