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It's Official: No Coop Rebate for this Year

By Christopher L. Falling

9.5, 7.8, 7.0, 5.5, 1.1, 1.0, 0.0. This has been the trend for the Harvard Cooperative Society patronage rebate since the 1987-1988 fiscal year, not some abnormal countdown for a space shuttle, or the declining grades of an overworked student.

This is the first year that Coop has not given a rebate to members, said Jerry P. Murphy, president of the Coop.

"The lack of the annual rebate this year is due to the fact that the Coop lost money and that there was no money available for member rebates," Murphy said. "There was no decision not to offer a rebate this year. If there was money available for rebates, then we would have offered one to members."

Instead of offering a rebate on all general purchases this year, the Coop is offering a 10 percent rebate on textbooks purchased for the fall semester. Students can present their receipts to the Coop between Oct. 17-31 in order to receive this rebate which was not taken at the register.

The program is a repeat of a discount offered to students last spring, in order to compensate for last year's 1.0 percent rebate.

"Coop sales for the 1993-1994 operating year were stabilized following four successive years of declining sales. However, due to increased operating costs and one-time write-offs necessitated by prudent management, there would be no patronage rebate," said Senior Vice President William R. Dickson '56, who is chairman of the Coop.

Sales for the year totaled almost $54 million, a difference of less than $300,000 from last year. The Coop lost more than $190,000 this year, compared to a $94,000 profit last year.

"Management is attempting to limit these expenditures in the future by having the books balanced monthly instead of at the end of the fiscal year," Murphy said. "This is to prevent any more unexpected issues at the end of the year," he said.

The Coop is also analyzing different departments to determine their contributions to overhead as well as profit margin. Murphy said he expects the Coop's new computer system to help with record keeping and efficiency.

Murphy said, "The Coop is a true cooperative. Profit that is available for member rebate is returned to the members in proportion to their purchases with no taxes to the Coop."

"Ideally we would like to have Coop members shop here because the Coop is a place to get good quality for a decent price, not only because of a potential rebate. The rebate should be an added bonus," Murphy said.

General student opinion of the Coop is that it is poorly managed and overpriced. Many students said that they only shop at the Coop if they have to and often only buy textbooks there.

Oleg E. Drozhinin '97 said, "Most students buy four to five textbooks at $60 per book. With all the money that the Coop makes from that, a 1 percent rebate is miniscule. It takes poor management to have to resort to stopping the rebate."