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Fight the bookstore!

By Keith Johnson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 9, 1999
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To the editor,

It's difficult to follow such a well-written column as Brad Senning's indictment of the ASUA bookstore and its arrogant, price-gouging management which has enacted an unreasonable and unconscionable policy of issuing refunds only in store credit beyond a certain date.

His piece not only skewered those who richly deserve it, but it offered a substantial set of alternatives for students who are fed up with the sick joke being played on them by our own university bookstore.

Still, there are a few stones still unturned among the grievances aired so far.

The reason any company allows itself to behave as ASUA Bookstore is behaving now is that it knows it can get away with it. As long as UA students accept our status as a "captive market," the bookstore will continue to screw us at every turn. As long as the clowns in charge understand that we live in strict obedience of a mantra of "death before perceived inconvenience," they will continue to see profit as their birthright and make certain that competition is not even part of the equation by forcing their own version of company scrip on us, in the grimly effective tradition of mining companies earlier this century.

Talk about a sense of entitlement!!! Unfortunately, companies know - we don't have to pay $3 for a box of Dots at the movies, but for some reason, we do it...

Today as I tried to return a book for a class I dropped, I was greeted with the explanation that was somehow responsible for the new policy. The clerk didn't explain very well how this was so, so I could only surmise that Mr. Senning's report that people are buying books only to find them at far cheaper prices elsewhere is accurate.

This simple side effect of competition does not give ASUA Bookstore any right whatsoever to put into place such a grotesquely unthinkable policy as the one now in effect. The very fact that such an idea could even be entertained in the first place is incontrovertible evidence of the cynicism and condescension with which the UA student is viewed by bookstore management.

Lest anyone get the silly idea that privatization of ASUA Bookstore is the answer, it's not far from it. Barnes & Noble would love to get its cloven hooves on another university bookstore, where it needn't worry itself with matters like competitive practices or even selling textbooks at the same price as general books (A certain linguistics book selling for

$76 downstairs in textbooks sells upstairs in general books for $70!)

No - it's not a matter of who runs the store, it's a matter of what WE are willing to accept from a store that's supposedly in place to SERVE us.

So, kids - take Bradford Senning's advice and buy off-campus or on-line until ASUA Bookstore wakes up and sees a savvy student body that knows when it's being rolled and knows how to do something about it and save a lot of money at the same time. Not everything in the world needs to be run at Microsoft-scale profits - some services are even run at a loss (some city bus lines, for example) because it's an essential service to the community that needs it. Meanwhile, DEMAND your proper refund!

Keith Johnson
Graduate Student
Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in Second Language Acquisition & Teaching