Businesses spend hundreds on new GWorld machines

Some on-campus GWorld partners are complaining about the new GWorld machines they bought, arguing that the University makes it costly for commercial business to offer the Colonial Cash service to students.

Blackboard, the educational technology company that runs the Colonial Cash service, forced all of the merchants accepting the card to switch to a new type of GWorld reader this school year.

“It wasn’t reasonable, it’s expensive as hell,” a Pita Pit manager requesting anonymity said. “It was about $1,000 (for the new machines).”

University officials would not say how much the new machines cost and added that GW does not receive compensation from the purchase.

Verifone manufactures the new card processing machines, which can be found online for $340. Workers at Gallery Caf? in Ivory Tower said the store was forced to buy two new machines totaling $700.

“The old machines weren’t like credit card swipe. You couldn’t go back and check on previous transactions, you couldn’t go back and fix mistakes, it only had limited functions,” Pita Pit employee Marshall Nyman said.

The Verifone machines have the added capability of daily reconciliation, which allows merchants to be paid daily through electronic means every 24 hours as opposed to receiving weekly checks with the old machines. The new machines also allow refunds to be given at the vendor’s location as opposed to going through the GWorld office.

“(The new machine) is better because we can get revenue every day, but it’s much slower,” said Sunny Kim, manger of Ivory Tower’s Gallery Caf?. Vendors said the new terminals take about two seconds longer to process transactions than the old machines.

The Gallery Caf? in the basement of Ivory Tower has about 1,000 customers per day, 80 percent of whom use GWorld, Kim said.

“It makes lines a little longer,” he said.

Vendors can either rent or buy the new machines from Blackboard. All GWorld partners, except Aramark and the GW Bookstore are required to switch, Nancy Haaga, director of Institution and Auxiliary Services, wrote in an e-mail. Dunkin’ Donuts is the only partner that has not yet made the switch.

“In the fall of 2004, the University entered into an agreement with Blackboard to outsource processing of Colonial Cash payments to partners under a program called BbOne,” Haaga said. GW owns about 2 percent of Blackboard. The new readers are part of the new BbOne program.

Haaga added, “Over the past several years the volume of GWorld Colonial Cash transactions reached a level and dollar amount that could no longer be adequately supported by the GWorld Program Office.”

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