College vending machines equipped with card payment option

Kelsey Avers

A new feature has been added to Coca-Cola vending machines throughout Saddleback College.

In October the soda machines were equipped with credit card capabilities, making it effortless for students to swipe a card and make a selection.

The Associated Student Government Food and Beverage committee met in September with members of the Coke vending company to discuss the upgrade.

Director of Student Development, Maria Besnard, said that ASG was very happy when receiving word of the machines.

“High school’s have [the machines] too,” Besnard said. “But we are one of the first community colleges with them.”

The committee meets with the vendors once a month to get updated on the machines and their current contract with Coke, which is effective until July 2009.

Coca-Cola Youth Market Manager Chris Gabel is Coke’s representative that meets with these groups.

“This program is new to our Orange County facility and we are focusing on the highest traffic and volume vending machines in mind,” Gabel said. “The college campus environment is an absolute match for our new program.”

Gabel also said that the credit card addition to buy drinks is simple, and no faulty reports have yet been received. Students and faculty can swipe their card, make a selection, and press the ‘complete’ button to finalize the transaction.

The machines’ ability to accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express will cover a majority of people on campus, and there are no additional fees. A history of service calls for vending machines are due to dollar and coins jams, but if one does occur, credit cards can still be used. Gabel said the new service will add an increased efficiency.

“The positives are endless,” Gabel said. “This program has been put into place in other areas across the country and there has only been positive feedback.”

Although the vendors and ASG are happy with the upgrade, some students feel that security measures should be taken into consideration when it comes to credit card use on such public machines.

“Without proper security measures, the entire idea is ludicrous,” said Farah Barghi, 20, film. “Criminals can easily steal credit card information with the right equipment. On such an open campus as Saddleback, you never know who has access to the machines.”

Coke’s first initiative to put in the “swipers” was college campuses. They have been placed at Orange Coast College as well, but Saddleback is the first site for the OC facility.

“There is an expense that [the Coke company] must endure and it must make good business to not only the end consumer, but also Coca Cola,” Gabel said. “The response I have gotten from questioning students while on campus has been very positive.”

As for the campus vending machines that supply snacks, the “swipers” are still under discussion between ASG and a separate vendor.

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