posted on Dec. 15: A promise is a promise


A promise is a promise, Canadian author Robert Munsch once wrote.
And McMaster's bookstore, Titles, is striving to keep its promise to students.

The bookstore launched a program, called the “5 % Promise,” this fall in a bid to be competitive with the big box chains like Chapters and Indigo. The promise was that if the bookstore price on a textbook was not within five per cent of a Canadian retailer's verifiable Canadian price, it would be adjusted. The bookstore implemented a set of guidelines (available on request at the bookstore) so that the policy was fair.

In September, bookstore manager Bob Crawford and McMaster Students Union president Marc Marzotto discovered a glitch in the program.
“There were titles that had incorrect prices and were not matched up with the Chapters price,” said Crawford. Some titles were still priced too high despite the five per cent promise.

So Crawford and his staff launched a program to put almost $20,000 in overcharges back in students' pockets.

The bookstore took out large ads in the The Silhouette detailing the titles that were mispriced and an e-mail was sent to all faculty asking them to alert students.

So far the refund program has had limited success, with about $3,000 returned to book buyers.

In order to ensure the uncollected money benefits students, MSU president Marc Marzotto and Crawford agreed to use some of the funds to pay for the security guards hired to work during the all-night exam study sessions at Innis Library and Togo Salmon Hall. Plans are under way to hold student activities in the spring with money that remains uncollected by the spring.

Crawford would really like to see students return and claim their refunds, so the refund procedure will be in place through the academic year. Students only need to provide the book and a receipt to claim their money.

He doesn't anticipate a similar situation developing in second term.
“We will not make the same mistake again,” Crawford said, “as we're triple-checking all prices, and the MSU verifies the Chapters' price and we match the verified price.”