Josh Akman: Stop enabling the bookstore

I hate everything about the GW Bookstore.

Dropping my bag in the cubby next to the sign absolving the GW Bookstore of all liability is annoying beyond measure. The return policies are terrible. If this unbelievably thin plastic covering should rip, I can’t return my book? Seriously?

And the employees actually seem mad at you when you ask them a question, as if it takes a lot of effort to give the standard bookstore line – “We don’t know. Check your e-mail.”

Walking into that place reminds me of going to the dentist, if my dentists were outrageously expensive and lacked all knowledge about my teeth. I dislike the bookstore, but most of all I’m disappointed that we haven’t done a darn thing to change it.

Clearly, I’m not the only unsatisfied customer. Everyone has their horror stories, whether it’s with the employees or with the prices. But students have the ability to change this.

There are other choices: Amazon, Ebay, half.com and plenty of other sites sell the same books for less, even after shipping. Yet, somehow, we always find ourselves migrating back to the bookstore. We pay ahead online, we surround the little window in the door of the back room and wait until they call out our number, while wrestling with the throng of equally frustrated customers.

Of course, you only get to be part of this wonderful tradition if the book you ordered is actually in stock. If it’s not, refer back to bookstore creed No. 1 – “We don’t know. Check your e-mail.”

The sad thing is I have no right to be mad at anyone but myself. Why should I expect a good experience when the store is not penalized in the least for providing a bad one? If they don’t get my book to me for two weeks, they still have the money I paid. Moreover, if they have no idea when they are getting it, I’ll still wait patiently until it comes.

Imagine this type of experience at a restaurant. Imagine ordering a meal and finding out later that the restaurant is completely out of what you ordered. Furthermore, they have no idea when they will have that meal, but they will be sure to tell you when they do. Obviously, that would be your last dinner at that restaurant.

For some reason, we fail to apply that same logic to the bookstore, especially with all of the other options at our disposal. Even worse, we still expect someone to hear our complaints. It is time we do something to change it. We must actively use Amazon, Ebay and the plethora of other sites that offer the same service for less money.

If we utilize other competitors, the bookstore will have no choice but to change their business practices to stay competitive. If we start shopping at stores with competent customer service, then the bookstore will have to improve its own customer service or else get left behind.

When the bookstore begins to lose sales to companies with legitimate return policies, it might actually amend its own ridiculous rules. By making the bookstore actually work for our business, we will be able to save money and aggravation. What is possibly taking us so long?

I kind of hope someone from the bookstore calls to ask me a question about this column. I’ll just tell them, “I have no idea, but you can check your e-mail.”

The writer is a junior majoring in criminal justice.

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