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Re: Comments on Journal Subscription Agents Rollo Turner 13 Apr 2004 15:22 UTC

The business of choosing an agent is always difficult and I quite agree
about the quality of the contact person or people. Most agents fully
understand this and try very hard to attract the right calibre of staff to
provide quality service. For a more detailed discussion of the Criteria for
Selecting a Subscription Agent see the following

One point I would like to stress over and over again is that true quality of
service is never cheap in any walk of life. The bid process does sometimes
tend to emphasise price at the expense of quality so beware of selecting the
least expensive bid but ensure that the agent you select is able to give you
the quality of service you require even if this means paying a little more,
the results are likely to be worth it.

Rollo Turner
Secretary General
Association of Subscription Agents and Intermediaries
10 Lime Avenue
High Wycombe
Bucks HP11 1DP
Tel +(0)1494 534778

---- Original Message -----
From: "Lesley Tweddle" <ltweddle@AUCEGYPT.EDU>
Sent: Tuesday, April 13, 2004 9:45 AM
Subject: Re: [SERIALST] Comments on Journal Subscription Agents

> 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
>, tel. 797-6912
> Head, Serials Department,
> American University in Cairo - Libraries & Learning Technologies.
> 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