7-Eleven takes points again

Students can breathe a sigh of relief, as they can once again fill their mouths with Hot Pockets and Slurpees bought at the Mitchell Hall 7-Eleven with Colonial Cash.

The popular store stopped accepting Colonial Cash 10 days ago but started taking points again Friday night. The move followed discussions between officials from GW, 7-Eleven, Inc. and Blackboard, which operates the GWorld system.

“I am really happy because I love 7-Eleven and I go there all the time,” freshman Becky Small said. “I didn’t know what I was going to do for food this semester.”

On Jan. 16, a male 7-Eleven manager said the store halted Colonial Cash transactions because of costs associated with using the GWorld system. He said GW takes four times more from each sale than the most expensive credit card system, American Express.

But in an interview last week, an official from 7-Eleven, Inc., which oversees the corporation’s franchises, said it was an unaccounted loss of cash and a concern about employee theft, not exorbitant fees, that led the independently-owned Mitchell store to stop accepting the GWorld card.

7-Eleven officials separated themselves from the manager’s criticism of GW and added that the corporation is on good terms with the University.

“What the franchisee was quoted as saying does not represent the views of 7-Eleven, Inc.,” market manager Troy McWilliams said in a statement. The female manger at the Mitchell store on Friday would not identify herself and declined to comment.

The Colonial Cash system made it difficult for 7-Eleven to obtain accurate financial information because it could not tell whether an employee was ringing up a student’s card, McWilliams said. He expressed hope that new technology made available by Blackboard will reduce fears of theft and able better employee tracking.

Jim Hermens, senior vice president of global services at Blackboard, doubted that concerns about theft prompted the Mitchell 7-Eleven from suspending Colonial Cash transactions. Hermens said he was unaware of any employee theft cases involving GWorld or similar programs.

“I cannot imagine that (employee theft) is a legitimate concern,” Hermens said. “Our view is that employee theft is much more likely in cash transaction. Often universities implement a program like this to limit loss or theft because it eliminates cash transaction.”

The Mitchell 7-Eleven is likely taking points again because it is required to do so by the terms of a Colonial Cash contract it signed with the University. The store opened in August 2004.

“At the time 7-Eleven leased the Mitchell Hall space, they also signed a contract with the GWorld Card program stating that they agreed to accept the GWorld Card,” GWorld program manager Deborah Wright wrote in an e-mail.

GW, Blackboard, 7-Eleven and several area businesses all declined to specify the percentage GW and Blackboard take from each Colonial Cash sale. One manager at a business that accepts GWorld said he would not disclose the rate out of fear of “blackmail” and “blacklisting” from the University.

“The fees to participate in a program like this, I estimate, are going to be higher than a credit card,” Hermens, of Blackboard, said. “We wouldn’t discuss specific rates.”

As a result of a contract between 7-Eleven, Inc. and Blackboard, the Mitchell store now has a lower Colonial Cash transaction rate, Hermens said.

In previous articles, University officials said the rate charged to Colonial Cash partners depended on a store’s revenue. GW receives a 6.5 percent cut of each sale at Au Bon Pain in the 2000 Penn Mall, the shop’s manager, Ben Lipetz, said in October.

“GW is making a killing,” he said.

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