Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly
Thursday, December 07, 2006
I'm still shaking my head over an incident I went through on Tuesday evening. I received an email from a company called 'Publishing House' that was updating alumni records for my graduate school in advance of printing a new alumni directory. There was a 1-800 number to call and review my records, but no website was listed. I typed the name of the company into Google, found the corporate website, and was able to verify that they were legit and all, but their was no "update your school record" link to be found.

I logged onto the alumni website instead, and sure enough, all my information was current. I had made sure I updated all my contact information in as many places as I could think of when I switched jobs last year. The alumni database is pretty comprehensive. You can search for alumni by location, date of graduation, etc. Very easy to navigate, and it's free as long as you're a member of the alumni association.

For reasons I still regret, I called the 800 number anyway and asked if I they used the alumni database for their information. "No m'am, we're just the Publishing House. We have our own database". Oh. OK.

"Well then, can I just log on to your website and update my information? What's the URL?"

"URL M'am?"

"Yeah - the web address. I couldn't find it on your web page"

"ummmm - I don't know m'am. We don't do the updating on line. Would you like to update it over the phone?"

Not really, but I realized trying to get this kid to understand what I was trying to do was useless and just wanted to shorten the misery, so I said "Sure - let's go". The kid on the phone was an idiot. He read every line in his script like gospel and I kept looking in vain for the fast forward button to no avail. Of course, all of their information was outdated, and contained none of the updated info I had entered into the database over a year ago. (The only thing that hadn't changed was my personal email address, or they wouldn't have been able to contact me in the first place.)

Painfully - we updated it. And then the sales pitch started.... "Reserve your copy of the Alumni Yearbook now! For $100, you can keep in touch with fellow alums and network!".

"Ummmm - excuse me?" I interrupted him. "Why would I want to spend $100 at Xmas time for a dead tree version of what's available to me for free on the alumni web site?" (I should have said URL just to confuse him).

Silence, then a truly resigned "I don't know M'am."

"You know, unless 'Publishing House' decides to put this on line, or the university decides to start charging a separate fee to access to their database, you guys are pretty irrelevant. And if alumni aren't willing to pay a nominal alumni association fee, why on earth would they want to pay $100 for a book that's out of date the day it's printed? Have a nice evening."

I'm actually starting to question the value of my graduate degree if one of the better business schools in the country thinks their own graduates are dumb enough to fall for this.
posted by Broadsheet @ 4:06 PM  
1 Editorial Opinions:
  • At December 08, 2006, Blogger Summer said…

    I've never understood these companies either. I get phone calls from them about high school and college... the high school one isn't online, but I don't particularly care about it. Like you said, the university directory IS online, free, and current! I'm really hoping these companies are wiped off the face of the earth soon.

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