Bookstore loopholes may threaten textbook returns and resales

By Quip Johnson

Ocean Campus bookstore policies contain potential loopholes which may result in additional fees or refused refunds for purchased and rented textbooks. This poses a particular danger for non-native English speakers, who might be less likely to speak out against such an issue.

ESL Instructor Robert Griffiths shared via email an encounter between his wife–a City College student–and the Ocean Campus bookstore.

For a total of over $189, she purchased three textbooks for the Spring 2017 semester and rented a fourth.

At the end of the term, Griffiths said his wife attempted to resell a textbook which she had purchased brand-new for $40.65, yet the campus bookstore only repaid her $1. When she attempted to return the rental, the bookstore employee found writing in the back of the book, made in pen.

According to Griffiths, the employee claimed workbooks with more than five pages of ink writing cannot be returned as per bookstore policy, so they refused to accept any of the books and charged Griffiths’ wife an additional $16.38 and tax to purchase the marked-up rental.

However, Griffiths said his wife was not the one to make the pen marks, nor had she even seen them, since she had dropped the corresponding class four weeks into the semester. He also said none of the books in question were workbooks to begin with.

Griffiths contacted the bookstore’s Course Materials Manager Rose Twyman, who he said was “fairly communicative and willing to listen to and speak with [him].” She explained the policies regarding resale and returns and followed up with the bookstore employee who had helped Griffiths’ wife.

Bookstore Manager Robert Gibson later clarified “there is no bookstore policy that restricts the use of pens” as long as the books are “returned in complete and salable condition.” He also said there is no rule or recommendation to inspect books for markings prior to purchase or rental.

Griffiths’ main concern is non-native English speaking students who “might not feel confident enough in their English to challenge the bookstore on this type of incident.” He is worried this issue may have affected students before, and he hopes students are not being unfairly charged for their rented and purchased textbooks.

While the bookstore is not currently aware of any similar instances, if you believe you have experienced this issue, please contact a bookstore manager as soon as possible.

Robert Griffiths could not be reached for further comment.

Illustration by Serena Mercado.
Illustration by Serena Mercado.
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