Textbooks rank third on industry complaint list



Students using online stores for their textbook needs may be more likely to complain about something in the process.

In a list compiled by the Better Business Bureau of Central and Eastern Kentucky, textbooks ranked third in a list of the top 10 most-complained about industries in 2009. This was the first year textbooks appeared on the list, falling between auto dealers at No. 2 and Internet services at No. 4.

The list was based upon the number of complaints received in the 64-county area this chapter of the BBB serves, which includes Fayette County. Heather Clary, communications director for the BBB, said one of the textbook stores responsible for a large number of complaints was eCampus.com.

eCampus representatives did not respond to phone calls by press time.

According to the BBB Web site, eCampus received 372 complaints over the past three years. While Clary said the store has a generally good record of resolving the complaint, that is not always the case.

The reason for the complaints ranged from difficulty reaching the company to difficulty receiving the promised amount when selling back textbooks.

Carol Behr, owner of Kennedy Bookstore, said it hurts all textbook stores when a few have practices that disappoint customers.

“It’s not acceptable at all,” Behr said. “Unfortunately it lumps all bookstores together.”

Kennedy has not received any complaints through the BBB over the past three years. Behr said local bookstores might have a lower complaint rate because they are focused on one certain area of students and can give extra attention to their campus demographic, as opposed to Internet-based book sellers who operate nationwide.

“90 percent of our effort is on the University of Kentucky; eCampus is trying to do that all over the country,” she said. “On the other hand, we all live and breathe UK. We have more of a relationship with the customer and we’re not just looking to make a nickel.”

Clary said just because a business has a large number of complaints does not always mean that business is troublesome. It might be because that business has more consumer activity.

“eCampus is up there because they have a high volume of business in (the Central Kentucky) area,” Clary said.

Because eCampus serves campuses other than UK, Behr said it is probably difficult for them to process complaints, where at a local store she can deal with a complaint immediately.

“We try very hard to have every price right for the class,” she said. “Sometimes we make mistakes but our policy is to fix it as soon as possible.”

Wildcat Textbooks is another Lexington textbook store that received no complaints through the BBB in the past three years. David Wade, manager for Wildcat Textbooks, said local stores may have better service records because they are in competition with each other to keep students happy.

“I think UK is unique because there are different stores to provide competition,” Wade said. “We try to work with people on returns. If somebody gets the wrong book, we try to work with them.”