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A Book Of Lies

, | Right | January 29, 2019

(Some variation of this happens regularly, but this user really tried EVERYTHING.)

User: “Hi, I think there’s been some mistake. You sent me a bill for an overdue book, but I don’t have any books at home.”

Me: “I’m sorry to hear that. Let me just check your account.” *I pull up his account* “It says here you have several books at home, but only [Title] is overdue. Since it should have been returned two months ago and we sent you several reminders, we’ve sent you a bill for it.”

User: “Well, yeah, I have a few books at home, but not [Title]. I’ve never even heard of that book, and I certainly didn’t borrow it.”

Me: “Are you sure?”

User: “100%.”

Me: “Because it was borrowed using your library card—“

User: “Then someone must have stolen it.”

Me: “—and I see here you called twice to extend the loan as well.”

User: “Oh… Can I see a picture of the cover? Hmmm. Well, maybe I did borrow that one. But I know I returned it.”

Me: “Well, we have no record of it being returned, but let me check the shelf just to be sure.”

(I walk away and check the shelf. The book’s not there.)

Me: “No, sorry. Do you know when and where you returned it?”

User: “Weeks ago. I dropped it through the overnight slot.”

Me: “That’s strange; books in the overnight slot are always recorded as returned the next morning. Tell you what, I’ll keep an eye out for it in case something went wrong with the return, but if you could check once more at home? If the book is returned, obviously we’ll waive the bill.”

User: “Okay…”

(He walks off. Two minutes later, he comes back.)

User: “I just remembered, it wasn’t me who returned it, but my wife. So you must have returned it from her account.”

Me: “That shouldn’t matter. We don’t check ID when people return books, and anyway, didn’t you say she dropped it in the overnight slot? When we record a return, it’s always returned from the account that borrowed it.”

User: “But maybe you wrote in the wrong user name?”

Me: “We don’t write anything in manually when we return a book. We just scan the chip in the book.”

User: “Okay…”

(He walks off. Two minutes later, he comes back.)

User: “Oh, I just remembered. This book comes with a CD, and I’m sure that when you recorded the return, you forgot to write in that the CD was returned as well, so the system doesn’t show the book as returned. But we returned both.”

Me: “I’m sorry, but I don’t know how that would even happen. If that was what happened, the system would still show the book as returned.”

User: “But maybe you simply wrote in the wrong title?”

Me: “As I said, we don’t write anything when a book is returned. It’s all done with scanners.”

User: “Okay…”

(He walks off. Two minutes later, he comes back with a book.)

User: “Here, look, it was on the shelf the whole time.”

Me: “That’s strange, I couldn’t find it earlier.” *I check the barcode* “No, I’m afraid this isn’t the book you borrowed. This is a different copy of the same book.”

User: “But it’s the same book!”

Me: “No, it’s the same title, but a different book. We have several copies of the book, since it’s very popular. The one you borrowed is still unaccounted for.”

User: “Okay…”

(He walks off. Two minutes later, he comes back.)

User: “Look, I really don’t believe that you have more than one copy of this book, it’s not even very good. This is clearly the one I borrowed.”

Me: “We actually have four copies.” *I pull up the catalogue and turn the screen for him to see* “See? Two are checked out by other users, one is here, and one is checked out by you and two months overdue.”

User: “Who are the other users?”

Me: “I’m sorry, I really can’t tell you that. But like I said, I’ll check to see if I can find it here, and if you could check at home as well?”

User: “Okay…”

(He walked off. The next morning, the book was in the overnight slot.)

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