And while I’m complaining about lousy customer service, let me tell you about my experience at UBC Library today. I had to drop off some overdue library books and pay the related overdue fines. Apparently some of my library books were due at the beginning of the month but I somehow didn’t get the email notice reminding me they were due. Instead, I got the second reminder notice yesterday saying “hey, this is your second reminder and also you owe us a crapload of money!”  Crap.  So while I was Vancouver for my Saturday seawall walk with Jen, I dropped by the Hamber library branch, located at Women’s & Children’s Hospital. I drop off the books and say I’d like to pay my fine. As it turns out, they don’t take credit or debit cards, or even cheques – cash only. But they only have student assistants working on the weekend and student assistants aren’t allowed to sign receipts. “Usually what I do is just put the money aside and the librarian can do it on Monday,” said the girl behind the counter.  So I’m supposed to hand over a bunch of cash, but I can’t get a receipt to prove I gave it to them. Um, yeah right. Now, I’m not saying that I think the student is going to steal my cash, but the thought of handing over unmarked bills that will just be put in an unsecured drawer until Monday – no way. So I ask if I can pay my fee online and she says “Oh yeah, you can just log into the Student Services Centre and go to the Financial Section.”  Then she looks down at my Faculty card that I’d given her to look up my account. Turns out students can pay their library fines online but faculty members, at least as far as I can tell, cannot. “Can you come during the day when the librarian is here?” asks the girl behind the counter.  “No,” I say, “I work out in Surrey.”  “Well,” she tells me, “Can you get out to UBC Campus during the week?” Not sure how that’s supposed to be helpful, since UBC campus is *farther* away from Surrey that Women’s & Children’s is.  So, basically, I want to pay my overdue fines1 but they won’t take my money. Awesome. I’m going to try calling them on Monday to see if they can charge my credit card to pay for it, because I hate owing money for things. Wish me luck!

  1. well, I mean, I don’t really *want* to, but I’m trying to since I owe it to them []

Comments |6|

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  • I hate it when companies act like it’s such an imposition to take my money. If you don’t want to take it, why don’t you just give me your products/services for free?? AT&T did this to me recently – I needed to pay my phone bill, but only had cash on me. Thought that wouldn’t be a problem, until they told me they charged a $5 fee to take cash! Seriously? I understand a surcharge on credit cards, because the companies actually pay a 2-3% fee for every transaction, but what exactly do they have to lose with cash? Argh!

    Anyway, sorry to hear about your brush with incompetence!


  • That’s weird that you can’t pay online given that you were a student… I can still log into the student centre to order transcripts. Maybe your library account is not linked up to that “identity” anymore. *sigh* Oh UBC and its inconsistent services for people depending on their multiple statuses–I often ran into trouble because I was both staff and student.

    You can pay at UBC when you go to teach, right? I assume some of the library branches are open late enough to be useful.

    It is stupid that you can’t pay online–I assume they can probably do it over the phone.


  • @Courtney – A fee to accept CASH? Now I’ve heard everything!

    @Kalev – Yeah, my library account is associated with the faculty member identity, not my student one, because I’m not currently a student, so I’m not allowed to take library books out as a student, but I am as a faculty member. But apparently it is impossible for them to conceive that someone who went to their school might ever teach there, because they can’t link my student and faculty accounts for things like library services. Even though I was a sessional faculty member for several years *while* I was a student. Arghh!

    I’m not teaching at UBC this term, so I’m not out there. And I’m certainly not making a 1.5 hr round trip, plus paying for parking, so that I can give them money! Plus I’d probably get there and find out they only have students working at night and students aren’t allowed to sign receipts anyway. WTF?


  • from

    Payment of fines and charges

    In person: Koerner, Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, Education, Robson Square, Okanagan and all Life Sciences Libraries (Visa, MasterCard, cheque or cash)

    By mail to:

    UBC Library – Fines Dept,
    1958 Main Mall,
    Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z2

    (Visa, MasterCard or cheque)

    By telephone:

    604.822.5532, Monday-Friday,
    10am – 4pm

    (Visa or MasterCard)

    Not sure why you couldn’t pay by credit card at Hamber–I assume that’s one of the Life Sciences branches? Maybe the student was retarded? Or maybe something stupid like only the non-student staff know how to work the credit card terminal? But they should have taken credit cards and cheques… I think when you phone tomorrow, you should ask what the heck was up with that.


  • Thanks for looking that up for me, Kalev! You rock.

    The Hamber branch didn’t have a credit card terminal, but I can’t see why they wouldn’t take a cheque. I mean, presumably they deposit the cash they take, so why couldn’t they deposit a cheque? I shall ask when I call!


  • You’re welcome… you can just call me Wikipedia Kalev (which is slightly more modern than Encyclopedia Brown).

    I look forward to hearing the end of this saga. Truly, a saga for the ages, even.


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Category: rants