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Children go back to school with no books as Schoolbooks.ie delays continue

The company has insisted that its backlog has now been cleared but one parent is still waiting for an order he placed in July.

Image: tadekk via Flickr/Creative Commons

CHILDREN HAVE BEEN returning to school this week without books as the problems at Schoolbooks.ie continue to hamper the delivery of books that were ordered over a month ago.

Despite assurances from Schoolbooks.ie that its backlog would be cleared by last Friday, parents have been sending their children back to school this week without some of the school books that the need.

But the company insisted yesterday that its backlog, which emerged earlier this month, has been cleared and that it has taken steps to improve communication with customers. “All backlog orders have been dispatched,” the company said in response to questions.

The problem arose earlier this month when it emerged that the company had a backlog of some 5,000 orders that had to be processed, with the problem blamed on a “technical issue” at its warehouse.

The company’s managing director John Cunningham assured concerned parents that staff were working 24/7 to clear the backlog with an extra 30 people supplementing its 50-strong workforce.

Last Friday, in a statement he said: “This delay was caused by a technical issue at our warehouse, which resulted in a significant backlog of orders, which we will have cleared and despatched, as promised by tomorrow, Friday, 24th July (sic), ensuring that no child will be returning to school without their books.”

However, TheJournal.ie has learned that there continues to be issues for some parents. In one case, a father-of-three who ordered books costing a total of €205 in July is still waiting for his order to be processed.

Alan Dunne, a food producer in East Cork, received assurances he would get €205 worth of books that he had ordered on 25 July by 14 August in email correspondence seen by TheJournal.ie.

But he is still waiting for the order to be processed with the tracking tool on Schoolbooks.ie indicating that his order is “queued for picking” as of 21 August, seven days after he was told he would have the books.

This means his order has not even been processed yet despite him being billed for the amount.

In response to a questions about this particular case, Schoolbooks.ie said in a statement: “The backlog of 5,000 orders has been cleared and dispatched for delivery. In the event that customers have a query concerning their order our contact details are available on our website.”

‘Not worth the hassle’

Dunne told TheJournal.ie yesterday: “I’ve been buying the books off them for years but I don’t think I’ll ever buy them off them again, it’s not worth the hassle.

“My kids started back this morning in secondary school with no books. Nearly all our friends would have ordered through it, one girl says she got them.

“I’ve sent them an email and got no reply. I got an apology a few weeks ago and was told I would have the order by 14 August.”

The Fine Gael TD Mary Mitchell O’Connor, who first raised the issue, has expressed her frustration at the ongoing problems at Schoolbooks.ie and urged schools to be sensitive to pupils who may not have books as they start back.

“This is an extremely frustrating situation for parents, who have been forced to wait an unacceptable amount of time for the books they have ordered and paid for,” she said.

“With many children back to school today, I would ask teachers to be patient with pupils who don’t have all of their textbooks at this stage. Some students may feel nervous or embarrassed about not having all of their books, and it’s important for all school staff to be aware of this.

“The company has given a commitment that all orders are being delivered today and tomorrow; it’s essential that they live up to this promise.”
Schoolbooks.ie said that the “software issue which led to a technical issue and resulting backlog” was a “once off” with measures taken to ensure it does not happen again.

The company said: “In light of this issue we have also reviewed our customer communications systems and introducedprotocols that will ensure more effective and consistent communications with customers in the future.

“We are aware that our communication with customers has been far from satisfactory as our focus has been on clearing the backlog.

“In an effort to address concerns raised by parents we have extended our call centre opening hours while also communicating directly with affected parents via email and text message.”

Have you been affected by the problems at Schoolbooks.ie? Let us know in the comments below.

Last Thursday: Schoolbooks.ie says backlog WILL be cleared by tomorrow

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Hugh O'Connell

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