Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bought and Sold

Background:  I'm being paid for attending this workshop and the "pay" included lunch each day, the idea being that we'd all hang out and talk about the workshop stuff.  That's pretty much happened.

I was disappointed to learn today that the workshop head has given a book publisher (the one publishing the book we'll be required to use) the opportunity to talk to us over lunch that the publisher will provide.

This will save the workshop funders the cost of lunch for X number of people.  (I'm assuming that neither the workshop head nor anyone else is receiving money directly for providing the lunch opportunity.)

For the cost of that lunch (bought through the campus suppliers by the workshop funders), the time of all the learners in the workshop has been given to the publisher.

The publisher is taking on the cost of providing lunch (I'm assuming not from the campus suppliers, but who knows), and will have access to us to try to sell us stuff.

So basically, my time has been sold.  And I suspect it's been sold pretty darned cheaply.

I suspect that I will take my own lunch and eat elsewhere.  That may piss off the workshop head, but that's life.

I objected to the arrangement when I found out about it, as this is a particularly vile publisher, and was brushed off.  Not only was I brushed off, I was sort of mocked by one of the organizing folks because this is a common practice and how dare I question it.

I'm going to ask tomorrow how much the campus suppliers charge for lunch per person, because then I'll know how much the workshop leaders think my time is worth.  Any guesses?

Am I crazy for objecting?  I mean, this is a particularly vile publisher, no, not that one, but the other vile publisher.  And I know that there's been tons of research on the free pen stuff for medical folks which demonstrated that medical folks changed their prescribing behaviors when they got free pens (or whatever) from pharmaceutical companies.  I'm pretty sure no business is spending money on advertising type stuffs if they aren't thinking it will be worth it in terms of increased sales.

And finally, isn't it a bit amusing that a workshop on rhetoric that uses marketing terms is arranged by people who are seemingly unaware of how marketing works?


  1. I am dying to know which publisher is so vile--one in r/c?
    You should be able to eat by yourself if you want to. Also, if the organizer did that, I'd be tempted to say something along the lines of "that'll be enough out of you, missy" and hit her with an umbrella. Or just not go back. Or complain to the higher ups, which is what I would most likely do.

  2. On the other hand, I have a bad attitude about being condescended to by teaching workshop leaders, which in my experience has been most of them, so that reaction may be over the edge.

  3. I'd complain to higher-ups, not that that would do any good, but actually I wouldn't be there in the first place, because workshops now fall into the category of "I don't get paid enough to put up with this." And yes, I know they're supposed to be useful, helpful, career-enhancing, all that, not to mention that if I did a teaching workshop it would get me an extra point or so on the annual review . . . but I think I have an even worse attitude than Undine.

  4. For a workshop for 22 people that we're scheduling right now, a catered lunch from a restaurant will be about $450. If we were required to use campus catering (we're not, for this particular venue), it would be notably higher -- perhaps double that.

  5. Blech. I think I would go eat somewhere else, too.

  6. A good part of my job is organizing workshops like the one you're at, so I"m always intrigued by the participant view of things. I don't know that I think it's common practice for publishers to pay for lunch for such workshops, although when I was comp director at my previous school we did once have a workshop where the publishers paid for our textbook author to come in and do a workshop. That was great: we had a smart workshop by a smart person and it supported good use of the textbook we'd already chosen (back in the day when the publishing company was much smaller and less evil). I've been to plenty of conferences where publishers pay for the cost of receptions, or wifi; I've had Bedford supply free books for workshops (and in return supplied contact info for the book recipients so the reps could follow up individually, which didn't seem like too much of a bad thing).

  7. Before I got to the paragraph where you said it, I was thinking "this sounds like big pharma." Well, except for a nurse I know who is often wined and dined by big pharma is, well, wined and dined, not presented with a tray of sandwiches.

    I think it's a good idea for someone to opt out, just to make the point that it isn't a foregone conclusion that this is just fine.

  8. I just quietly had lunch that I brought from home in the dept lunchroom (ie, in another place, not being obnoxious). I'd spoken my piece the day before, so I didn't say anything more. The head folks seemed fine with it. A couple other folks opted to have lunch elsewhere, too.