April 19, 2010
Let's Hope West Is Only Attempting to Play Its Old Trick of Sending Unsolicited Copies of the New KeyRules Series on Law Librarians
Last time I received a requested pricing list for print continuations from West for my little county law library, I spotted two new titles in a series named "KeyRules," both without prices listed. Something free from West? Was I suspicious? You bet. I didn't subscribe to them. I was also too busy canceling other West continuations to look into the matter at the time. Greg Lambert explains that any law library which currently subscribes to West's State Court Rules series will be receiving this companion KeyRules series . "Keep it and pay for it or send it back (postage pre-paid by TR Legal)." So that's how the KeyRules series magically popped up in my active print continuation list from West weeks ago.
I don't know if Greg has received his KeyRules titles but he certainly has received his unsolicited copy of WG&L's new "Transfer Pricing Strategies" deskbook. About the accompanying cover letter, "TR Legal makes it sound like they are doing me a favor by sending this $135.00 book (plus shipping and handling) to me without my being asked." Greg adds in Thomson Reuters (West Pub.) Pulls Out Old Tricks - Unsolicited Shipments:
This is an old trick of hoping that law librarians are either too busy to notice that they've just received unsolicited material, or that they simply give in and decide that it is too much of a hassle to open up all the boxes, reattach the return labels and have the items shipped back to West.
Unsolicited new titles from legal publishers is of course an unacceptable business practice unless the title is being provided as a free review copy with absolutely no strings attached. Law librarians waste time and effort to catch these "uninvited guests" to our print collection budgets. See, for example this March 2010 LLB post, How to Cancel the Unsolicited Copies of Federal Civil Procedure Before Trial, National Edition From West. Apparently TR Legal has no qualms about wasting our time. Perhaps law librarians should just treat them as review copies but we all know how TR Legal likes to apply payments received to any old outstanding invoiced titles, not to just the titles the buyer stipulates as being paid for.
Is this old trick on the rise in the Shed West era? Apparently a simple invitation by way of publication announcement isn't generating enough sales. What gets me in this instance is the potential scope of unsolicited KeyRules titles being sent out by West. West's State Court Rules series is one of the most widely accepted standing orders outside of law libraries. So is West sending KeyRules titles to courts, prosecutors, municipal law departments, small firms, solo practitioners, etc., many of whom may have no controls in place to evict this uninvited guest, too? Even if some do have controls in place, these folks, like law librarians, are going to waste valuable time to sort out the matter. Many may not think about this turning into a long-term commitment. Many may try to cancel the title later and deal with the consequences of the cancellation not being executed because of some unintentional error on their or West's part. Just how many do you think will not stop everything they are doing to return the unsolicited KeyRules titles? My hunch is TR Legal has done the math on shipping unsolicited titles with strings attached.
If West is sending out KeyRules to all recipients of West's State Court Rules standing orders, this is probably one of the largest unsolicited shipments in recent memory. I don't know if this is the case but I imagine I may find out if/when I start getting phone calls from our county agencies (and courts, too). If they do receive these unsolicited new titles and I don't get calls, we won't be paying for them because, by state law, new purchases must be reviewed by a county board by a specific request before acquiring a new title. Our county agencies (and courts) might eventually get around to shipping them back, if the free shipping labels can be found, but if they don't, good luck trying to collect payment that violates Ohio state law.
In other words, solicitor beware. Feel free to send us free review copies with information on how to order next year's edition if you want to kill some trees but it takes something more than merely not shipping unsolicited titles back to actively consent to enter into a new standing order or subscription. I would rather be receiving empty shipping boxes from West than this. Hopefully, this "old trick" is only being played on law libraries but I have my doubts. You? [JH]
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Posted by: jovelyn | Oct 19, 2011 10:18:24 PM
Next time they do this, I am going to send them a bill for the staff time it took to undo their error in sending me things I did not order.
Posted by: vicki | Apr 21, 2010 4:44:04 AM
West does this on lots of titles. The local reps hate this practice as well because it by-passes them and they get no sales commission on anyone who keeps the new titles. The February 2010 issue of Spectrum CRIV Sheet had two articles about Negative Option Plans. http://www.aallnet.org/products/pub_sp1002/pub_sp1002_CRIV.pdf
Posted by: Jennifer Frazier | Apr 20, 2010 8:04:43 AM
That's appalling, glad you caught it in time. Who really checks their post that closely in the middle of a busy day? Dreadful behaviour.
Posted by: Employment Lawyers | Apr 19, 2010 7:57:18 AM
The KeyRules volumes have been coming in since late December. There was a discussion on some email list or another about them in January, and many decided to return them and ask their West reps to stop sending them. Our West rep complied, but we still got the subsequent "Look what we're offering you now!..." announcements from West.
Posted by: Jacob | Apr 19, 2010 5:50:43 AM