Fed-Up Teacher Reveals the Infuriating Reason School Yearbooks Cost So Much

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No parent expects their child’s public school to provide yearbooks to every student for free. But these hard-bound books’ costs rival those of pricey college textbooks with much more valuable information than the homecoming king’s favorite quote. Jostens, the company thousands of schools across the country hire to handle yearbook and class ring production, billed at least one high school for a hefty sum on top of the per-book fee. Technology teacher and yearbook adviser Jeromie Whalen, of Northampton, MA, found this fishy, so he looked into it and detailed his experience on Reddit.

Jostens was already charging Jeromie’s school $55 per yearbook when they sent him a bill for an additional $5,000 with little explanation. He pressed for an itemized invoice and after some balking, the company finally obliged. There was a $1,500 fee for advertising posters that the school never requested; Jeromie says the school could’ve made them themselves for about $50.

Jostens also charged the school $100 per yearbook for the first 50 yearbooks, even though they were sold to students for less than that, which wasn’t mentioned in their contract. Plus, the company sent (and billed them for) 55 yearbooks they didn’t order. It wasn’t a mistake; it’s a company practice, supposedly for kids who forgot to order yearbooks in advance but decide they want to buy them. According to Jeromie, though, Jostens hopes schools don’t notice and don’t return the extra yearbooks for a refund.

They are supposed to be cutting a check to us now for around $6,000. Now think about how many schools use Jostens and how many schools they potentially did that to. That’s a class action lawsuit in the millions of dollars right there … They have basically robbed all of our students for years, and it happens all the time because advisors come and go and rarely have time like I did to catch them and call them on their bullshit.

While Jostens waived $5,000 in fees after Jeromie asked, they charged the school an additional $1,600 in taxes that, Jeromie says, weren’t theirs to collect. Jostens said they needed a tax-exempt form to forgive those, a form they already had. Jeromie then learned that Jostens charged the school those taxes for the past four years.

“They are supposed to be cutting a check to us now for around $6,000. Now think about how many schools use Jostens and how many schools they potentially did that to. That’s a class action lawsuit in the millions of dollars right there … They have basically robbed all of our students for years, and it happens all the time because advisors come and go and rarely have time like I did to catch them and call them on their bullshit,” Jeromie said in his impassioned post.

Jeromie switched vendors, and the new company charges less per yearbook. Jeromie’s school is passing the savings onto the kids (or really, the parents).

People have shared the Reddit story on Jostens’ Facebook page asking for comment, but so far, the company hasn’t responded. A Reddit admin removed Jeromie’s post because it included a referral code with the new yearbook vendor that would benefit Jeromie if other high schools used it.

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