One Belmont student was charged $875, another $738 and a third $427.
All for books they didn’t need and told Belmont they didn’t want.
They are just three of approximately 600 students charged Tuesday for books they opted out of in the inaugural year of Belmont’s new Bruin Books system, “offering convenient, on time and free delivery for all the books and course materials for your Fall 2017 classes,” according to an email from the Office of Communications in April, when Belmont began promoting the system.
“MBS Direct, the vendor that oversees Bruin Books, experienced an error in their system that caused books to be ordered and fees charged to approximately 600 students who had opted out of the system,” Office of Communications Director Greg Pillon wrote in a statement to the Vision. “The vendor has sent e-mails to all affected students informing them that they are cancelling the orders and refunding the charges. The Belmont Store, Student Financial Services and Belmont Central are aware and are also responding to student concerns and questions.”
“All impacted students should see refunds to their accounts later today or tomorrow. Belmont is working with the vendor to assure this will not happen in the future.”
Some students received an email from Bruin Books informing them of a “possible error order placed on your behalf today.”
Other students simply got a bill.
“Today I received an email from Bruin Books confirming my order of all my books for my courses for the total of $875.50 and that it was in the process of being shipped,” said sophomore Mia Delamar. “Despite me opting out in mid-July when the opt-out option was available, I was still charged.”
Ella Cox, a senior, was charged $600.
“I am incredibly financially independent from my parents, and I don’t have additional funds to buy brand new books all the time,” said Cox, who said she was frustrated by the bill she received.
Belmont no longer sells books through its bookstore, and instead funnels all student textbook orders through the online service Bruin Books. This is the first semester of the program, which has received mixed reviews.
Many students, frustrated with Bruin Books’ prices, opted out over the summer in order to save more money.
Gwendolynn Defouw opted out because she felt the books were too expensive and she could get them cheaper elsewhere.
“I don’t enjoy how it’s all or nothing because already there are books that I’m glad I didn’t buy, because my classes haven’t used them,” said Defouw.
Belmont students said they felt they were left without information, as Belmont has not issued an official public statement, and the Bruin Books phone number was overwhelmed with calls.
“I was on hold for almost 20 minutes and when someone finally answered, he basically treated it like I should have known it was a clerical error when they hadn’t sent out any information about what had happened,” said junior Lily Gailmard.
“Then when I told him there was a charge on my account for the books, he said ‘no there’s not,’ even though I was looking at my account where I can see a $400 charge,” she said.
“I haven’t heard anything from them or Belmont about the whole situation.”
Delamar said she thinks it was easier to be able to buy the books in a physical store, rather than ordering them from an online third party. She understands why Belmont tried to use Bruin Books to make the book-buying process easier, but she said it hasn’t worked.
“It only hurt us in the long run,” Delamar said. “Hopefully Belmont will change the book system to the way it was or find a way to make Bruin Books better.”
This article written by Bronte Lebo with contributing reporting from Vision staff.