It is nearly impossible to begin a quarter at Cal Poly without the inevitable and horrible trip to El Corral. From long lines to high prices; you are guaranteed a stressful shopping trip. However, even worse than the lines and prices is El Corral’s Buyback Program. At the close of last year I went to El Corral to sell some books back on behalf of a friend. This was a horrible mistake. Even with the passage of a relaxing summer I cannot look back on this day without wanting to kick something. El Corral wanted to give a measly $30 for a book my friend spent $150 on. A light bulb, one that had been dark for too long, went off.

“How much are you going to sell it back for?” I queried the fine looking gentleman behind the counter (You will see in a few moments just how fine he was).

“$110,” he replied.

I am sorry, I didn’t realize El Corral hired celebrities and models to take the book from me, repackage it and put it on the shelf. If the bookstore is making $80 to transport a book from counter to shelf then I pray they are hiring good looking, lanky guys like myself. They probably pay their employees $50 an hour and provide them with on-the-job massages. It must be like working for Google. I wonder if they provide lunch as well? Google does.

For the lengths at which El Corral goes to come off as a friendly, well to do organization trying to help students out, they certainly have an odd way of ripping their target customers off. I do not have an official line from El Corral explaining the reasoning behind this absurd markup. Cal Poly Corporation, the owners of El Corral, do many quirky things. Such as being called a corporation. When was the last time a corporation actually wanted to help its customers? For an institution designed to, according to their Web site, “assist (students) with the financial demands of gaining and education,” you would think two things. First, with their massive markup they could hire someone to edit their mission statement so it’s grammatically correct.

This is an institution of higher learning.

Secondly, and more importantly, you would hope they would provide their “services” at a reasonable price. Apparently not.

It is time we let the market forces dictate to El Corral that they should put up or shut up. I urge everyone reading this to use ASI’s online Classifieds. It is a great place to find and sell books at reasonable prices. I have saved many dollars by procuring books through this site than through El Corral. Think of what you could do with a few extra bucks in your wallet. You could buy me lunch. It’s a start.

David Hansen is an environmental horticultural sciences sophomore and guest contributor to the Mustang Daily.

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