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October 3, 2005

Dan Weighs in on Controversial Bookstore Policy

Daniel Riehs

      Each semester, as students rummage through the shelves of the bookstore looking for required course materials, certain memorable sights reappear. These include the long queues of buyers waiting to pay for their books, the prying eyes of security guards making sure that students do not pass though the entrance wearing backpacks, and of course, the piles of unattended school bags left in front of the store.

      While I have always understood the logic in not allowing students to wear backpacks in the bookstore, the store's insistence that the bags must be left unguarded outside the shop has always irritated me. Suffice it to say that if I were to make a list of good business practices, banning bags from a store while simultaneously not offering any kind of bag-checking service would be written pretty close to the bottom.

      It was with these thoughts in mind that I recently mustered the courage to march into the bookstore to lodge official complaint, reminding myself along the way that I did not wish to complain that the bookstore did not allow bags inside but only that they did not offer a secure checking service.

      In the absence of any official complaint counter, I walked up to the customer service desk and informed the clerk that I wished to complain about an aspect of the bookstore. She asked what I wished to complain about, and I told her, to which she responded that the bookstore was always willing to let customers check their bags behind the customer service desk.

      Of course, I hadn't expected it to be that easy. I was actually quite content with her answer—happy to know that the bookstore employees were at least aware of the problem and willing to check bags if asked.

      The current system is far from perfect, though. When someone enters the store wearing a backpack, they should be invited to stow it safely behind the counter, not ordered to leave it unprotected outside the store. But I think in this case an imperfect system is probably good enough. Most people probably would not even want to spend the time required to check a bag, but I feel better to know that the option exists.

      So as this semester really starts to pick up speed, I encourage everyone who has the time to leave their bag behind the customer service desk while shopping in the bookstore. With your bag tucked securely behind the desk, you can shop while enjoying a renewed faith in humanity—faith in the fact that when asked, the bookstore is capable of doing something that at least somewhat resembles a good business policy.

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