PRICE GOUGING or GOOD BUSINESS?

Lloyd Jansen: Kinks Fan (JANSEL02@STOCKTON.LIB.CA.US)
Wed, 3 Apr 1996 17:07:52 -0800 (PST)

Hello again everyone! I just had an interesting phone conversation with
a small video company that I would like to share with you. Our library
selected a video from this company and our order clerk called them to
place the order. I should preface by saying that we only buy videos
for patrons to check out and, with a few exceptions for J programming
videos, never need to purchase public performance rights. The information
we had for the title listed the price at $35 for the home video version
and $80 for public performance rights. The company representative told
our order clerk that our library would have to pay the higher price since
we are an "institution." The order clerk put the person on hold and came
to me (I am the chair of our video committee) since this was an unusual
case and she wanted to know if we should go ahead and pay the extra amount.
I wanted to hear for myself what the vendor was saying, so I took the
call and asked the representative to please explain their policy. I was
told that their company routinely charges libraries the public performance
price since many people would be borrowing the video from us rather than
buying the video from them. I replied that public performance rights
implied that the library would be using the video in a setting where an
audience of at least several people would be viewing the video at the same
time. Since we only intended to check the video out to individual patrons
who would then use the video at home it would be unfair for us to pay the
higher price. The company feels that if a series of individuals check
the video out then you reach a sort of cumulative public performance.
The representative also told me that they had never heard this complaint
from other libraries and seemed to think that it was unreasonable of us
to argue the point. The conversation ended with the company not bending
on their price and us not buying the video. Has anyone else dealt with
this kind of pricing issue? I reviewed Randy Pitman's "The Outer Limits
of Video Pricing" article from the 5/15/95 Library Journal, but did not
see this specific issue mentioned. Can this rightly be considered
library price gouging, or do you think the company was fairly protecting
their own interests? As far as I know we have never encountered this
situation before and we deal with a wide variety of vendors. I would
be glad to hear any comments from the group. Thanks!
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Lloyd Jansen
Cataloging Librarian "...My girlfriend packed her bags
Stockton-San Joaquin County and moved out to another town/She
(California) Public Library couldn't stand the boredom when
(209) 937-8670 the video broke down"--R.D. Davies
jansel02@stockton.lib.ca.us