Low-Hanging Entrepreneurial Fruit

I pay thousands each semester to go back to school (ugh!) but I would likely pay hundreds more to not have to deal with the University of Arizona’s registrar office anymore. The consistency of the dour service (I’m clearly always bothering them by coming to them regarding THEIR JOB) and the inexplicably arcane system leave me thinking there is a lucrative service opportunity for an enterprising young person.

An example of my most recent exchange with registrar staff:

Her: “You have to fill this form out again and have the professor re-sign because to switch discussion groups you have to switch lectures”

Me: “But there’s only one lecture.”

Her: “No, my system says there are two.”

Me: “Ma’am that may be, but there is literally only one lecture.”

(This ACTUALLY went back and forth a couple times before I got the following response)

Her: “No, you see there is lecture zero-zero-one-blahblahblah… and you need to move into zero-zero-TWO-blahblahblah… if you want that discussion section.”

Me: “Are you SURE that isn’t the same Monday-Wednesday lecture with Professor Muckety-Muck?”

Her: (After looking at her screen for a moment) “Well, even if that’s true you still have to redo the form.”

Me: “So even though Prof. Muckety-Muck already signed off on the discussion section change and even though it’s the same lecture within space-time… though not in your computer… I have to have the entire form re-done”

(She leaves to discuss with a supervisor… Several minutes pass…)

Her: “Okay, my supervisor has agreed to make a ONE-TIME exception and allow you to AMEND the form vs doing a new one. You need to add two more lines where you drop your current lecture and add the correct one.”

Me: “Even though I’m not trying to drop the lecture, because it’s the same lecture?”

Her: “It’s a different lecture.”

Me: “Okay, well, to make sure I don’t make another *mistake* like this… Because, I wouldn’t want to waste anyone’s time… Can you show me the system numbers of the classes I should be adding/dropping?”

Her: “No the student has to fill out the form.”

Me: “You’re looking at them on the screen right?”

(No answer)

Me: “I’ll write them down, can you just make sure I get the right ones?”

(Again no answer, not joking…)

Me: “Alright, can you turn your screen and help me get it filled out?”

Her: “No, I can’t show you my screen and we can’t help with the forms. The information you need is at yadda-yadda-dot-com.”

(I think I said some sort of thank you as I turned and left, but to be honest I can’t be sure)

If you are a young business person and are now salivating at the chance to serve a new clientele who desperately need your competent and pleasant attention, one quick note of caution.  While I would love to say this is a clear opening for a rival firm, unfortunately I think the persistency of the registrar as a service institution strongly implies the existence of some sort of regulations/rules excluding superior competitors. I refuse to believe the registrar, in its current form, is justified by Coasian firm efficiencies, thus arbitrary barrier-to-entry seems the only reasonable explanation I can think of for it’s continued monopoly existence.

So there may be money to be made here but likely it will take someone who can deftly and successfully navigate a regulatory maze and bureaucratic gauntlet… If you succeed let me know. Happy to be your first client!

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