He wanted to know why I bought my periodicals through journal subscription agent Sweds. Well, surprisingly, the answer was not that Dutch people are nice (even though that is true), the real reason is that it circumvents the necessity of getting each publisher onto the company approved supplier list. This involves emailing a complex form to the supplier, getting them to complete it with details of their bank account, VAT number, their secret pin code and sundry other details, printing it out on company headed paper, scanning the printed document into a specified format and emailing it back to me. Then would then have to fill in another form explaining why I can't use an existing supplier (the true reason in most cases being that the existing supplier is only too well aware that I can't go anywhere else so his service standards fall accordingly). So that is why I need a journal agent.
I explain for the n-th time that working with all the publishers takes forever considering the finance bureaucracy. The finance manager then says: "but we don't want to pay the service fee for work we could do easily ourselves". I say: "You want me to spend a day a week working through *your* insance procedures?" And the conversation basically went downhill from that moment on.
We then started on the endless debate: "why do you need Springer as well as Elsevier?". >sigh<
In the end I had to give the finance manager something to work on, an area where he has the illusion he can save money, but I am sure he will fail. So I told him that he should call Elsevier on our behalf and negotiate with them to reduce the price for their journals. I can already imagine that conversation: "Well, Mr. Elsevier, I expect at least at 23% discount on the price of the "Journal of applied engineering" or we will switch to subscribing to the "Nigerian journal of engineering"!
(Thanks to Chris Torero for original story)
And don't forget: the new collection of obnoxious librarian stories is out in print and e-book:
Are you being served and other recipes for disaster - US edition ($15)
Are you being served and other recipes for disaster - rest of the world edition ($15, 12 Euro, 9.97 GBP)
Are you being served and other recipes for disaster -e-book ($3.14, 2.50 Euro, 2.08 GBP)