Monday, April 09, 2007

The Continuous Value Line Headache

This has gone on for years. Our Value Line subscriptions, which are supposed to arrive on Fridays, come on Saturday and then Monday, and then Tuesday, and maybe later. I always call and complain and claim issues that have not arrived. Value Line sends copies, and we eventually have duplicate issues.

After each complaint, Value Line sends us a form to track our issue arrival dates. I fill it out and send it back to them. For a few weeks the issues arrive nearly on time and then they slide back into very late arrivals.

I once threaten to cancel the subscription, which was not really serious because we have so many people who read it. The issues came on time for nearly three months.

I have been told that for another $100 plus we can get the subscription sent first class and have it arrive on time every week. We already pay $795 for the survey. Every other periodical we purchase comes on time. We should not have to pay extra to get what should be standard service.

One service person suggested we refer to the online service that we get with our subscription. I think that is good advice, but I have not been able to sell the idea to the folks who come to the desk and ask for the binder. Many of them are computer shy. Hard to believe, but it is true.

Recently, the issues have been very late most of the time, and use of the service has fallen by about 50 percent (not scientifically proven, just observed). Throughout the winter issues were almost always nearly a week late. (I again filled out a survey.) Some of the users have become quite negative about the service, saying that they doubt it will survive in today's information world.

Today, I placed another claim. The agent told me that the issues are not officially late until the Tuesday after Friday.

I decided to look at the online service again to see how easy it would be to just print it out. To my surprise, for it is Monday, the current issue is next Friday's issue. Online the information is there four days before the issue date! I am not sure yet whether this is always the case.

The lateness of the print copies now looks really, really bad. How can it take nine or ten days to get the information to us by mail? (Value Line agents always infer the problem is with the postal service, but I counter that the postal service delivers our other publication on time.)

I have an idea. By printing from the online version an issue of Value Line on Monday before the Friday issue date, we could suddenly go from being far behind to being far ahead. I think our library users would like that.

Unfortunately, printing is another headache. The "Summary and Index" section and "Selection and Opinion" section can be printed quickly as they are each multi-page documents. The reports on the companies are another matter, as there are individual one-page documents for each company. There is no overall document for the Reports section. I would have to have a staff member sit at the computer and open 140 plus PDF documents and print them separately.

We are tired of being passive victims of Value Line (lack of) service.

I am going to make a notebook with the easily printed pages and include a list of the companies in the current issue. With it will be a note that we can get these reports online. Maybe someone will take us up on the offer.

I also intend to make a "Want Value Line early?" sign to put on the shelf where the binder resides.

I am going to draw up instructions for the staff so they can find the online service. Value Line does not make it easy to find the issues of the survey on their website.

I will report later if this makes a difference.

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