Coop Offers Textbook RebateBy Jackson Jung
To compensate student members of the Harvard Cooperative Society for last year's low annual rebate, the store is offering a 10 percent refund on textbooks purchased there from January through Feb. 17.
Coop members who present their textbook purchase receipts are eligible for a 10 percent refund on those purchases, as well as a coupon for 15 percent off other store items, according to Dan DeLellis, book director for the Coop. Refunds will be issued next week from Monday through Saturday.
DeLellis said the textbook rebate was implemented because the Coop's directors realized that the "regular rebate was not very good last year," and they wanted to "give a little back to the students."
The textbook rebate is an experimental program which may or may not be continued next semester.
Refund eats into rebate
As a cooperative, the Coop distributes its profits each year among members of the society. Last year the rebate amounted to 1.1 percent of purchases; five years ago, Coop members were entitled to 9.5 percent rebates.
According to Arvind Malhan '94, a student member of the Coop's board of directors, the funds for the textbook rebate are not coming from textbook sales, but rather sales in other departments of the stores. Therefore, the size of the regular annual rebate to all Coop members this year will be hurt by the textbook rebate.
Coop membership is available to Harvard and MIT affiliates, including students, alumni, faculty, and employees.
Refund to benefit students
Malhan said the new textbook rebate program is designed to benefit student members of the Coop.
"Response is very good from students [who know about the textbook rebate]. Everyone is kind of excited that they're going to get the 10 percent back," DeLellis said.
Few students aware of refund
Apparently, not many students are aware of the new refund. Many were surprised to hear of the Coop's offer, and commented that it should help offset the Coop's already high prices. Students also wondered why they had to make a return trip to receive their textbook refunds.
"It's inconvenient," said Andrew Chung G.
"I think they're figuring that some people won't go back," said Irene Chow G.
Malhan explained that the Coop could have discounted the textbooks at the time of purchase, but in that case the size of the discount would have been less than 10 percent. Not all students are expected to return for their textbook rebates, and the Coop wants to "concentrate [the benefits] on the people who actually go through the effort," he said.
DeLellis also admitted that the books are not discounted at the time of purchase so that the Coop can encourage its customers to return to the store, pick up their rebates, and perhaps spend the money in another Coop department.
Although students say they are often frustrated by the high cost of textbooks at the Coop, Malhan said the prices are set by wholesalers, and the Coop does not make any money from textbook sales.
He admitted that for other items, the Coop could not compete with some retailers, like specialty electronics and stationery stores, because it does not have the sales volume. Apparently, the Coop sells these items for the convenience of its customers.
Malhan eagerly stressed the Coop's commitment to customer satisfaction. He said the Coop is continuing to work with students to implement improvements, and expects the Coop to be more profitable this year than last.