Friday, January 22, 2010

The Long Boring Saga of the Textbooks

Seriously, no false advertising in that title.

First, poll about the naming of rooms over to the right. Vote, blah, blah, blah.

So I'm in this graduate program, and part of the deal was they send the books automatically and you just get billed for the books and the shipping and it's part of your bill for the semester. Operative word in that sentence being "was".

I checked on the site (not the class site, but the school site) earlier this month to see when my next class started. It listed the 20th, so I didn't really stop by there to check in until then. (I did stop by one day, saw some things had been put on the site, but the dates clicked with my interpretation of the 20th being the start date, so I didn't do much more than think, "Okay, we'll be ready to go on the 20th, then.)

Apparently there were messages sent and posted about what books we'd need (and the instructor seems to think (a) I should have been on before classes started to read this information, (b) I should not take into consideration they have never successfully changed my address in their system and be patient as I wait for things to be forwarded, and (c) should have either erased from my memory or pay no attention to the memory of the first class last semester, where the book showed up about a day or so before the first assignment was due), but nowhere on the site does it say, "Oh, and change in policy: we're not sending you these books unless you call and request them."

So I go to the site on the 20th, read more information about the books, and think, "Hmm... I need these in time to post something by next Wednesday... perhaps I need to check on why I don't have these books."

I start by messaging everyone else in the class to ask if anyone else has received their books. I get nothing back all evening, and decide if I don't hear back from anyone by end-of-school the next day, I'll call the university.

I did hear back, but it was someone saying, "Let me know what you find out."

I call the university, and get transferred to the tech department because I mentioned the phrase "online program". I call back and explain I need someone who is actually in charge of the online graduate studies...

This person confirms (as has been confirmed so many times before) my address has been entered correctly into... "i-something", which I guess is the system they use for changing addresses, which is in no way connected to the system they use when printing up labels. When I ask about the books, she transfers me over to the head of the online graduate program, who informs me they decided to stop sending the books because so many people complained about the shipping costs and how they could find them cheaper elsewhere. No mention was made about what I, the guy between that December paycheck that came 10 days early and the January paycheck that was still 8 days away, could do to buy these 150 dollars' worth of books. Just a sheepish, "Sorry," and that's that.

So I call the bookstore, hoping they can just send me the books and bill me as usual.

"No-can-do," says the guy on the phone. First, I have to call the business office and get some voucher or waiver or something, which means the earliest I can get the books is after the first due date.

"If you want to order them with a credit card, I can have them there by Monday," he explains. Well, if I had a credit card hanging out doing nothing, I'd be more than happy to do that. I didn't budget for this--or, more correctly, I'd budgeted for this to be part of this semester's bill.

So I could go to the credit union and take money out of savings, put it in the bank, and once that money shows up, I could order it that way--but again, after the first assignment's deadline.

I let the guy know I'm not upset with him (as he was apologizing profusely), and hang up.

Off I go into the wild blue yonder of Good news! I find the books for about $30 less than what it would have cost me. I figure I'll just put them in my cart and buy them when I have the money in my bank account, opting to pay more for the super-fast delivery.

When I'm ready to pay, they mention I could save a chunk by ordering with an credit card, should I decide to apply for one.

I don't need--nor do I want--another credit card.

However, I could have the books by Monday, giving me plenty of time to have my assignment completed by Wednesday.

Parade, streamers, etc.: Mark's getting the books. Books ordered and on the way, all is well!

I get home tonight, and I have e-mail from the university informing me of a new policy. They will no longer be shipping the books automatically, but if I'd like to call the book store, they would be happy to ship them to me and bill me as usual.



How much should I charge to go down there to organize their... stuff? I mean, really? I can't organize my life to save it, but I know I could go down there and get address changes recognized and make gigantic logical leaps like, "It might be helpful if we informed students of important policy changes before three days into the semester."

Whatever. I have my books on the way for a lower cost that I would have had otherwise. However, I'm not sure I'm happy about how I ended up having to go about it. Again, whatever. The important part is I have books coming and nobody had to lose an arm for it to happen. Not losing an arm is important, I think.

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