UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Getting Your Money’s Worth

Students are cramped for cash, so when vending machine prices rose at UMass Boston, so did tempers. Some students looking to grab a quick bite to eat or a fast drink between classes often turn to one of the 14 snack vending machines or one of the 42 drink vending machines at UMass Boston.

Some students down by the game room may have noticed one particular snack vending machine with candy priced at $1.25, while the machine right beside it was marked at $1 for the same things. The marking at $1.25 was not right, though.

“The machine was marked incorrectly,” Diane D’Arrigo, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Campus Services, said. “The correct price is $1.”

Regardless of the incorrect price, the cost of the items in the vending machines has gone up. Like everything else that costs money, plenty of factors play in when deciding just how much the food is going to cost.

“Price increases are a result of a variety of factors including gas, raw materials, fleet and personnel,” D’Arrigo said.

However, this is not a recurring thing: the snack vending machine prices increased for the first time since Sodexho took them over in 2003, and the beverage vending machines had their first increase since 2003.

The drink and snack vending machines on campus are under the control of Coca-Cola and Sodexho Campus Services respectively, and the two, along with UMass Boston Department of Campus Services, make decisions on locations and products.

Though convenience is a large factor in deciding to skip the trip to the Campus Center for Burger King, many looking to save a couple of dollars will take the cut in meal size to sustain themselves a little longer. Some may notice, though, that the price for a regular sized candy bar in the vending machines is a bit more than what the convenience store down the street offers.

“It is difficult to compare convenience store costs with those costs associated with vending machines on campus,” D’Arrigo said. “[There are many differences between the two, including] staffing structure and inventory levels; volume sold; foot traffic; different overhead structure; and contracted commission obligations.”

Though increases have been seen, like many other areas dealing with finances at UMass Boston, the prices are still not as high as other area colleges.

“Compared with other higher education institutions, vending prices are comparable and for many years were well below area prices,” D’Arrigo said. ” We remain competitive with area institutions.”

Part of the convenience is how frequently the machines are restocked. It is done based on usage; there are drivers on campus twice weekly assigned to restock both snack and beverage vending machines.

When it comes to the usage of machines at UMass Boston, Coca-Cola calculates sales volume based on average number of cases sold, and each beverage machine vends, on average, 20 beverages per day. Snack vending machines vend an average of 88 snacks per machine per day.

All of the money does not go back into the companies that run each machine; it does provide benefits to the student body. UMass Boston takes in 8 percent of all vending revenue, which goes back to a variety of programs and activities, including promotional giveaways for students, athletics, and recycling and sustainability efforts.

Coke Vending Machines Credit Cards = $6?The vast majority of UMass Boston’s Coca-Cola vending machines became credit and debit card accessible in September. It is not a patented capability for Coca-Cola, but it has proved useful to the throngs of students who carry very little cash but are dying for a Dasani between classes.

However, the machines had a pre-authorized amount of $6, meaning that when a card was swiped, $6 worth of transactions could be made in a row without swiping the card through the reader again. After about 48 hours, the bank would settle the transaction, and the correct amount of $1.35 would be charged to the bank account tied to the card.

There was a lot of confusion among students, so the company changed the pre-authorized amount to $1, but the capability to purchase $6 at once is still available.