University charges vendors for mandatory GWorld upgrades

The new GWorld 2.0 card system will require all off-campus vendors to pay for upgraded card readers, the University confirmed this week, a move that GWorld vendors called a frustrating but an unavoidable necessity.

Ed Schonfeld, senior associate vice president for administration, said the new GWorld card reader systems are not compatible with the old ones, and vendors who do not wish to upgrade to the new card readers will no longer be able to accept GWorld as a method of payment. Schonfeld declined to comment on the cost of the new machines.

Schonfeld said that 94 off-campus locations have already made the switch to the new card readers, and more vendors will continue to switch to the new system over the coming weeks. The number of vendors leaving the program is not known because are some vendors are still in negotiations over the new Merchant Service Agreement.

With the switch, some vendors said they will not upgrade to the new card readers, effectively ending their GWorld contracts.

Esteem Cleaners, located at 2100 Pennsylvania Avenue, said they chose not to upgrade to a new card reader.

An employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity cited the cost of the new machine and the interest rate associated with accepting GWorld payments as decision making factors for the business. One GWorld vendor said the interest rate for GWorld profits is around 8 percent.

GWorld vendors are forced to give a cut of their GWorld profits to the University. The commission percentage for the vendors remained unchanged in the transition, Schonfeld said.

Vendors that have made the switch include 11 CVS locations, Bertucci’s, Crepeaway, Starbucks and Froggy Bottom Pub.

Crepeaway, located at 2001 L Street, transitioned to the new card reader in July. Saad Jallad, Crepeaway’s owner, said his business had no choice other than to switch over to the new system.

“We wanted to continue taking GWorld. We switched over to the new grid system as required,” Jallad said. “We didn’t really have a choice not to switch.”

Jallad said he does not know how much the new swipe machines cost, as the cost of the machine is taken directly out of his GWorld profits.

The new machines were installed at the vendor locations beginning July 1, and during the installation process, vendors were not able to accept GWorld for several days.

At Safeway – a frequent grocery shopping destination for students located at the Watergate complex – new card readers were installed last week.

The upgraded GWorld 2.0 system will feature several benefits for the vendors, according to a letter sent to vendors from Kenneth Pimental, managing director of the GWorld Card Program.

According to the letter, the system allows for daily settlement of funds via into the vendors’ bank accounts, as well as access to a website that shows complete transaction history in real-time. In the past, vendors complained that they did not receive payments from the old GWorld system quickly enough. In one instance last September, vendors did not receive payments from GWorld for more than one month due to a software error.

Students are also affected by the GWorld 2.0 transition and must switch over to the new cards. The University has not set a firm deadline for students to change their cards, but has strongly encouraged students to update their card as soon as possible through advertising campaigns and social media posts.

The new card features enhanced security measures such as a larger picture for easier identification, a hologram to make the card harder to duplicate, and an expiration date to help University officials determine whether cardholders are current GW community members. The new cards also clearly identify the holder as a student, faculty, or staff member.

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