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Re: Comments on Journal Subscription Agents Lesley Tweddle (13 Apr 2004 08:45 UTC)

Re: Comments on Journal Subscription Agents Lesley Tweddle 13 Apr 2004 08:45 UTC

Hallo Greg,

During my time here, we've worked with five major agents, all well-known
names.  I hope agents are reading this posting.  The QUALITY OF THE
CONTACT PERSON IS ALL-IMPORTANT, assuming the agent is reputable and not
about to go bust.  Each agent we've worked with has been outstanding,
good, or awful depending on the quality of the contact person, so I
don't think the agent's name matters as much as all that (solvency
aside, of course).  You can get what you think is a good agent, and then
the contact person changes, and it all goes downhill.

BTW: if you have an automated system and are not a very big library,
then with reasonable planning, changing agents isn't the end of the
world.  During my time we've changed our principal agent three times.
So if you aren't happy, you aren't stuck for ever.

Agents try to save on salaries, but if your contact person can't follow
through on an inquiry or doesn't have the authority to solve problems or
offer in-depth assistance, you're in trouble.   So ask about the command
structure in the organisation, and get the names and titles of people at
various levels of the hierarchy whom you can approach for in-depth
advice or assistance when the regular contact person isn't enough.

Billing operations are in a different universe from supply operations,
and agents don't seem to think customers need to know about the billing
side, so get a good contact there.  Ask for a very clear, detailed
description of the billing procedure.  We had an agent who sent us a
renewal invoice based on estimates which proved to be hugely wide of the
mark, so that right at the end of the fiscal year we got a $10,000
credit that had to be spent in more haste than is comfortable.  Not only
that, but because they had in effect re-priced every single title, we
had to go back into all of our records making credits for each one.
This makes a big difference to your workload.

How much hands-on help are they ready to give if you have an automated
system that is supposed to allow electronic claiming or electronic
invoicing?  In my experience, you *will* need help with these!  Are they
willing to visit?

Will they supply invoices in Excel format as well as on paper, if this
helps to simplify any of your procedures?

Will they give you an alert when a title is going to increase by more
than a certain percent?

Good luck,

Lesley Tweddle
ltweddle@aucegypt.edu, tel. 797-6912

Head, Serials Department,
American University in Cairo - Libraries & Learning Technologies.
POSTAL ADDRESS:
American University in Cairo, Library - Serials, 11 Youssef el-Guindy
Street, Bab el-Louk, Cairo 11511, Egypt.
FAX 792-3824.  International dialling code from USA 011-202; from UK
002-02