It's a bitch alright...

You. heinous. bitch.

With that brief statement, I officially declare war against the bookstore at the College of DuPage (COD) in Glen Ellyn, IL.

I am taking a class starting tomorrow at UCLA (the University Closest to the Lombard Area) for my job. It should be a fun class (CSS and advanced HTML) and I look forward to taking it.

Htmlxhtmlcarey However, being a day away (well, a few days away at the time this incident actually occurred), I figured it's probably a good time to buy my book. So I looked on eFollett.com (Cod State's online presence) and found that my book is Patrick Carey's New Perspectives on HTML and XHTML, Comprehensive. eFollett had it listed for $67.50 new and $51.00 used.

Being the bargain shopper I am, I immediately went to Amazon.com, among others, to comparison shop. I'm sorry, but textbooks are a ridiculous amount of money that I don't believe for one second they warrant. So, any deal I can find on textbooks, I intend to take. If it's a book for personal reading, yeah, I'll buy from an independent book seller if at all possible. But textbooks are just painful in their pricing scheme. And I use the word "scheme" intentionally.

This is where I ran into a problem. eFollett said that my class required the 4th edition. Amazon didn't have theirs labeled as a 4th edition. In fact, Amazon only had a single edition available and it wasn't exactly easy to determine what the edition number was (a problem I have constantly with Amazon and they really need to work on it).

So I called Fish U's bookstore directly and asked if they could provide me with the ISBN number. The guy who answered said that he is not allowed to give ISBNs out over the phone. I completely understand why and half expected him to say this. They don't do it because they want you to buy from them and don't want to facilitate your comparison shopping whatsoever. He said I would have to come into the store to check it out myself.

I asked if I could speak to a manager. He huffed and then got the Divine Miss A.

DMA: Can I help you?

me: Hi, how are you today? [the requisite butter up]

DMA: Fine.

me: DMA, I was wondering if you can help me out. I need a book for a class I'm taking in the fall. It's for my job and they are paying for it so they want to make sure that I am getting the best deal possible. They want to see a comparison of book prices from different stores before I can buy the book [blatant lie; but it served its purpose].

DMA: Well, we don't usually do that.

me: I completely understand, but I'm in a bind here. I plan to buy from you guys, but I need to justify it to the powers that be. Plus there's a discrepancy on the eFollett site. It says 4th edition and no other Web sites have a 4th edition available. I want to make sure I'm getting the right book.

DMA: What book is it?

me: Carey's New Perspectives on HTML/XHTML.

DMA: Hold on and I'll check.

So far, so good. She was pretty nice to me and I hope I was nice back. I even broke out the sugary sweet voice for her. C'mon! No one can resist Sugary Sweet Kapgar (tm) - I'm magically delicious.

Then DMA got back on the phone. This was when the beast reared its ugly head.

DMA: I need to get something straight with you... we are not supposed to do this.

me: I know and I under...

DMA: AND I EXPECT YOU TO BUY YOUR BOOK FROM US AND NOT SOME OTHER ONLINE STORE!

me: I realize that and I plan to but...

DMA: SO I'M MAKING THIS ONE-TIME EXCEPTION FOR YOU!

me: Thank you, I apprecia...

DMA: The number is 0-6-wu-nih

me: That was 0-6-1-9?

DMA: 2-6-7-4-7-x. I expect to see you HERE.

me: Uh, tha...

*click*

me: ...nk you.

Why, thank you for doing me this favor? I think?

My God. I realize that they don't want to lose business and that online e-tailers are probably taking a big chunk out of their earnings, but christamighty, do you need to be such a bitch to your customers? You could've said the same thing that the first guy did and I would've accepted it. I wasn't pushing the issue (well, other than by asking to speak to you, I suppose).

But to explode at me like that was completely uncalled for and thoroughly unprofessional. It was literally night and day when I was put on hold. Enzo Ferrari would be envious of how quick her zero-to-bitch time was.

For the record, I am buying it from COD. There is only about a six dollar difference from one bookstore to the next and having to deal with waiting for it to be shipped and risking it not arriving on time (which is pretty damn likely) makes the few dollars' savings not entirely great. You can't fault me for wanting to look, though, right?

Oh, I would also like to say that I worked in a bookstore before. Actually, it was COD's bookstore back in the mid-90s during a couple semester breaks from college. And we were more than willing to give out book information over the phone then to people who were clearly asking for it to compare prices at other bricks-and-mortar bookstores. And COD was even willing to cheat a bit by sending me out to scope out competing bookstores and their prices. These facts make their hardline on this issue that much more hypocritical.

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Comments

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Alissa

I feel your pain! Try having Art History as your major, those books are even MORE expensive than most text books. It really is ridiculous.

I tried to take a French class last fall, bought the text book etc... but then dropped because I wasn't nearly prepared. I'm hoping they're using the same textbook this fall because I don't think I can stomach spending another $100 on French.

BA

Personally, my favorite example of how you get bent over and take it up the tailpipe on textbooks is when you go to "sell them back" at the end of the semester. That used book that they are selling for $54 instead of $75 was one they bought for about 10% of the price.

"Yeah, we'll give you $6 for it."

And that's the few occassions where they would actually buy it.

What a joke. No wonder I still have most of my textbooks and almost all of my casebooks.

Karl

The textbook racket is nearly as profane as the pharmaceutical racket or funeral racket. You should write Amazon and tell them your story. Then maybe they'd be sure to include edition information on their descriptions. Nothing sparks change like the promise of the almighty dollar.

kilax

Yeah, what a b*tch. I loathe buying books. This semester, I don't even know if I need any. I didn't check because I can't afford them. It is all a big scam to rip off students.

Nicole

There is zero excuse for being bitchy to customers. Period. If she had been sugary sweet to you over the phone, don't you think you would have been happier about buying the book there? Oh well, textbooks ARE ridiculously priced. Of course when I was in college, I just charged the books to my account. I don't think I had any concept of where that money came from. Then I grew up.

Tracy Lynn

Having just helped my brother get his books, I can say with all honesty that texetbook pricing is a total scam. Unbelievable what they charge, and all because they know you HAVE to buy. Bastards.
That said, the way to get and retain customers is not just to offer the lowest prices; good service, if the prices aren't too different, can make the difference. You might want to tell her that.

Anomie-Atlanta

The landfills are filled with obsolete textbooks...

snackiepoo

Ok blog reading is too eerie today...first Dave and his tummy problems and now you and your store clerk problems; I feel like I am looking into a mirror, uh...sort of ;)

Kevin

Alissa, I've seen some of those artbooks. They're ridiculous.

BA, believe me, I know. They make a boatload on that stuff. That's their moneytree.

Karl, that's a good idea. Maybe I will do that.

Kilax, you should see if any of the books you need are available in the library. I did that throughout grad school and, since I was a grad student, I could check them out for a whole semester as opposed to just a month like other students. We got more than half of Katie's books for her final year through the library.

Nicole, I absolutely agree with you. You catch more flies with honey or however that old maxim goes.

Tracy Lynn, that's why I am willing to pay full price or more at independent bookstores for novels and other non-textbook books. They tend to get to know you and treat you as more than a customer. Sadly, few exist anymore.

Anomie-Atlanta, sadly, you are so right.

Snackiepoo, yeah, I'm a bit behind on my blog reading today. I've hit none of them yet. Better get cracking.

sandra

Do you need me to fly out there and kick some ass?

(also, it may be bizarre but I was always obsessed with buying brand-new textbooks)

SJ

Thank God my college wasn't like that! Because their warehouse area is so cramped, they don't carry many used textbooks. So they actually REFER you to an off-campus used-textbooks store. But when it comes time to buy them back, neither store will give you much.

Dagny

In college I worked in accounts payable at the university bookstore for a year. Nothing more depressing than to have to process an invoice for a book you just bought and seeing what the markup is. *sigh*

Kevin

Sandra, please do. In a feisty mood, eh? Actually, when I was in my undergrad, I was obsessed with new books, too. But I had scholarships and jobs that wound up paying for my tuition and room and board, so I could afford to pay for the books. Now that I'm in the "real world" and have bills and the like, I cut whatever corners I can.

SJ, that's a first. Referring away business and not carrying used books? Strange little store.

Dagny, oh ugh. I'd drive myself nuts doing that.

Tim

This is a mystery text. It is available at a hefty $$$ price at my college bookstore but NOWHERE to be found on the web.

and of course, not listed on the ISBN site. Maybe the 4th edition really doesn't exist, except I have a hole in my wallet so something happened...

kapgar

Even after all this time, it still cannot be found with proper citation on the Web?? Sheesh. That's just ridiculous.

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