Coop Rebate Falls to 7 Percent

Students who look forward to recouping the loads of cash they drop on textbooks at The Harvard Coop will receive ever-so-slightly smaller rebate checks this year.

The Coop announced last week that it will pay seven percent to customers who are also Coop members back—down from last year’s high of 7.3 percent—but that total rebate payments for the past year increased to more than $1 million.

According to Coop President Jeremiah P. Murphy ’73, Coop revenues for the year increased by over six percent and income before rebates and taxes increased by 20 percent.

“Our focus on the Coop’s core business resulted in strong revenue growth and a rebate that returns $1 million to our members,” he said.

The Coop pays out rebates to its more than 60,000 members—of whom approximately 18,000 are students from Harvard and MIT—every year. The average rebate this year is around $25, said Murphy.

But despite the payout, several students said that the rebate has little effect on where they buy books and does little for their wallets.

“It does little to mitigate the cost of ludicrously expensive books,” said A.J. Motgi ’10.

Ronan M. Devlin ’10 also said that the rebate has no impact on whether he shops at the Coop, citing its convenient location as the reason he frequents the bookstore.

In fact, Murphy said that it isn’t rare for students not to take advantage of the rebate.

“A lot of students don’t pick up their checks,” he said.

In addition, many students choose to donate their rebate to Harvard or MIT student groups instead of cashing their checks.

In previous years, students could also elect to donate their rebate to September 11 and Hurricane Katrina charities, which the COOP would then match. Last year, combined donations from students and the Coops totaled about $100,000, according to Murphy.

This year no such donation-matching program is planned.

“Thankfully, there hasn’t been a major catastrophe,” Murphy said, adding that the Coop will still make donations to student groups at Harvard and MIT. Groups that have received Coop donations include the Phillips Brooks House Association, the Hasty Pudding Theatricals and several of the Harvard a cappella groups.