If you ever want to see a law librarian blow his or her top, then do to them what Thomson Reuters (West Pub and Warren, Gorham & Lamont (WG&L)) is doing right now. It seems that someone at TR Legal decided that it would be a great idea to start sending out new print publication titles (specifically the new “KeyRules” titles for the state court rules series.) For any law libraries that currently subscribe to the West’s State Court Rules series, you will be automatically sent the new volume of that series and it is up to you to either keep it and pay for it, or send it back (postage pre-paid by TR Legal).
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. Just do a quick Google search on “law-lib unsolicited West” and you’ll see complaints going back to 1995 (probably earlier) complaining about this very practice. In a letter attached to WG&L’s new title Transfer Pricing Strategies, 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. And, they make it sound like it is no big deal that they’ve burdened me (and hundreds of others) because we could just simply slap a return label and ship it back. Here’s a copy of the letter I got from WG&L telling me how lucky I am to get this unsolicited title.
I understand that print sales have fallen off a cliff over at TR Legal, but stunts like this will only serve to make customers angry. Hopefully, AALL’s CRIV (Committee on Relations with Information Vendors) is looking into the practice and asking TR Legal to stop it. I noticed that something like this has happened in the past where West claims that because they sent out an email alerting everyone that they were going to ship these, that makes it “okay” and not regarded as “unsolicited”. Even if that ‘technically’ make is okay, it still smells of trickery and desperation to me.
I talked with my West publication reps about this and they are taking care of it. So, I appreciate what Ann and Terri are doing to make this right. I also don’t personally blame either of them for this happening, but did ask that they pass the “chewing out” that I gave them up the ladder to those that made this stupid decision.