18 January 2012

Textbook Torture

This evening, I decided to be a good college student and do some homework. Once I found my textbook. After tearing my room apart, I found it, which was fantastic because this meant I wouldn't have to spend $100 on a new copy of a book I already owned. The book in question is for my Spanish class, which I am taking as an online course and am required to complete with at least a D in order to graduate college in May. (No pressure!) After a good ten minutes (and a bad even more minutes) of searching, I finally found the unbound textbook and stuck it into a bigger binder than the one it had been in. No, I did not destroy the textbook by ripping it free of the binding. This is the new trend - unbound textbooks are, apparently cheaper and can't be returned for any kind of refund once the semester is up. Yay for keeping books you'll never need again!

Anyway, I find the book and get online and go to the site where the class is and read up on all the information and am thrilled that I now don't have to spend $100 to purchase another copy of this textbook. I got my refund check earlier today (helped pay bills at home) so I'm not flat broke, but $100 is a lot of money for one textbook! Especially when it's a book for a class outside my major field of study and outside any field of interest. I'm taking the class because they're making me. So, I go online and I look at the information and I realize I need a book key. A book key is a 19 character one time use only code that registers your copy of your book with the site. It comes with the book when purchased new. I'm pretty sure I bought my book new...but I can't find the book key.

Resume the tearing apart of the room I'd almost had cleaned. I'm looking for a piece of paper covered in printed type with the code on it that I need to register my book online. Without the code, I can't do any of my work or even see the assignments. I check everywhere - all my bookshelves, under my bed, my trashcan, even my car - but, alas, it is nowhere to be found. This also means that the solid paper and ink book sitting on my desk is of no use to me. I check the site and there's a question there. "What if I bought my book used and don't have a book key?" I check the answer - and the link provided takes you right back to the spot where you can pay $100 for a digital copy of the book, required code automated so it will work with no trouble.

I start searching the internet, ranting about the situation, and the like. A friend heard about my problem (because I called to vent my frustrations) and found a place online that sells just the book key for $30. Oh, joy! A way to save money! I purchase the code and get the code and plunk it into the site where I still have not managed to begin my Spanish assignment and it's now been an hour...and the code gets denied. I try again. Denied. I type it manually. Denied. Denied, denied, denied.

Okay. Setback. Irritating setback. Maybe I can get my money back. Oh no, wait. Because the book codes are one use only, it's in the site's rules that no refunds are allowed on those products. Does this make sense? Yes. Am I happy about it? No.

After another block of searching/ranting/searching/exercising some of my vocabulary's more vulgar selections, I swallow my pride and feel my pocket-book tighten. I have to spend $100 to buy an e-book copy of a text I already own so that I can do the required work for the class so I can graduate after six long, exhausting years. I go to the site and type in my information. My card gets denied. Twice. Because it had been used too many consecutive times in one day (what with the bill paying and such) and the activity, understandably, would seem suspicious. You know, if thieves regularly went around paying bills registered to the same address as the card they stole.

Oh, did I mention that this Spanish class is having an online meeting tomorrow for anyone who might have questions about the content of the course? Yeah. I'm essentially meeting with my professor tomorrow, albeit over the internet, and I have not managed to do ANY of the required work and, in fact have no idea what kind of work is in there because I can't get a freaking book key! Tomorrow, after class, I'm going to, again, try to give this company my $100 to purchase an electronic copy of a book I already own so that I can cram in as much work for the class as physically possible from the time my classes end at 2 and the meeting starts at 7.

This is how colleges make their money. They team up with websites/organizations/textbook companies who have no simple solutions, only sticky fingers. I can't wait to get out of here! Give me my diploma! It's been six years!
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