The Chronicle’s View: Prepare for more bookstore fees

If preposterous prices for textbooks, electronics and other merchandise weren’t enough, now there’s another reason for struggling college students to look past the University Bookstore when preparing for school or purchasing various goods.

Unfortunately for the bookstore-a member of the National Association of College Stores (NACS)-a looming increase in credit card interchange fees is not under its control.

The Federal Reserve has imposed fee hikes from the top down, on to the NACS and, in turn, on to the U Bookstore.

Credit card companies require interchange fees from stores that allow customers to pay by credit. Some stores make enough revenue to pay these fees themselves, without passing the extra cost down to the consumer. Other stores need to pass the fee onto customers who use credit cards.

U Bookstore representatives have spoken out against the raise, saying they don’t support charging students more money.

However, little has been said to the NACS on behalf of the students most affected by the raise. The only effort being made to support student consumers is to make the bookstore debit card-friendly, thereby offering students a payment method with lower fees, which-in addition to cash and checks-will provide students with one method to beat the lofty credit interchange fees.

In this case, it’s not only U students or the U Bookstore falling victim to extra fees. This time everyone is a victim of the necessary evil imposed from bureaucracies above.

The majority of students pay for their purchases at the bookstore by credit card, meaning the Federal Reserve, NACS and the U Bookstore will deal a blow to most U students’ pocketbooks, which are already thinned by tuition and fee hikes.

Unfortunately for the bookstore, students have a way out.

It doesn’t take years of college courses with pricey textbooks for U students to learn they have alternative companies such as Beat the Bookstore and Internet sellers through which they can purchase new or used books and various other products at discounted prices. Those companies will reap the benefits of the recent credit card interchange fee hikes.

Competition has become stiff for the University Bookstore, especially in the past year with the opening of an alternative shop just across the street from campus. An ultimate increase in prices, no matter who is to blame, will certainly harm the bookstore’s business along with its reputation in the eyes of struggling college students.

In the face of increased competition, the bookstore was able to do well for itself, thanks to a stellar year from the U’s football team and a subsequent dramatic hike in sales of Ute merchandise.

If the bookstore really feels for U students, it should continue being a team player and support its consumers by kicking back some of its surprisingly high revenue from last year and appease its bureaucratic superiors on its own.

Otherwise, U students should be warned of the fee hikes and consider paying with cash or check to bypass the additional fees that came into play on April 1.