Bookstore needs more than hired help

Mark LaVoie

This year I’ve had a couple of diatribes about customer service and the people within the service industry. Both times I looked at it from the standpoint of the customer being pleasant to aide the business. However, this time through I’m flipping the roles.

?On December 5th, I went into the Washburn Bookstore and attempted to sell back a textbook, but was rebuffed. I was about to walk away, useless textbook under my arm when I saw a book I needed for a class lying on a cart. I had been in the bookstore a few weeks earlier and they didn’t have the book in stock.

?I was elated. Earlier in the day I had found the book at a bookstore, but now I wouldn’t have to buy it new. I asked to buy the book. Jaime, my erstwhile classmate, and current bookstore employee hemmed a little and went to ask if that would be “okay.” He returned and informed me that I couldn’t buy the book, but could give no good explanation as to why.

?He did point out a woman entering the bookstore who would be able to help me out. I presented her with my case: I was a student, the semester wasn’t over and the book was required reading. Could I buy the book?

?”No,” she said, “The point of book buyback is so we can get books.”

?Well, no crap. Thank God I had Queen Obvious to explain the details of book buyback days to me or I might still be in the bookstore drooling and defecating myself while trying to wrap my mind around the intricacies of buying and selling. And beside that, I was just going to sell the book back to them in two days anyway! They were going to get to give it to me twice, and instead they didn’t even get a kiss.

?After a few more unsuccessful stabs at getting the novel into my hands I left the bookstore, frustrated and upset. I couldn’t understand how a student bookstore wouldn’t sell me a required text that they didn’t carry. What principle of business states that to be a successful company you should refuse the money of your patrons?

?The only reason that this article isn’t more critical of the bookstore and their policies is that a part-time worker at the bookstore called me to say I could sell back an old text I had. When she called, my whole experience was laid out for her and she let me know that Queen Obvious was actually an agent for a wholesaler of books and technically that wholesaler owned the books, and not her or the bookstore. That made a lot more sense to me than what I had heard previously.

?The policy is understandable now, but the situation should have been handled better. The bookstore can thank their part-time bookstore help for taking care of what seems to be a full-time problem.