Students at Orange Coast College have been encountering vending machine problems like broken credit card scanners, their cash being swallowed, mechanisms jamming and operator errors.
The struggle to feed oneself is integral to the college experience. For many students at Orange Coast College, food and beverages purchased at the vending machines provide a vital portion of their sustenance while on campus and problems with the machines has made this more difficult.
“I’ve had problems where I go to pay, it accepts the payment but then when I go to pick something, it doesn’t register that that’s what I picked and so it won’t do anything for a while,” Emma Berry-Riley a 20-year-old data sciences major.
Berry-Riley has also experienced being unable to use the machines due to the power flickering on and off.
According to Anis Wakim, the instructional food service operations manager for OCC, sunlight fading the LED screens is another common problem.
“This semester they did not check the LED, which, as you can tell, it’s really hard to tell what the product is. So, they’re going to replace those LEDs,” Wakim said.
Wakim guessed that the damaged screens will be replaced in a week or two.
Another change coming will be the process of numbering every vending machine on campus.
“When numbering the machines, it’s easier for us to know what machine exactly,” Wakim said. If they say machine number 13, then I can call and say, ‘Number 13 is not taking credit cards or it’s not giving change.’”
Pepsico is the company that supplies and maintains the beverage machines which comprise two-thirds of the total machines on campus. Janet Haderer, an education key account manager for Pepsico, believes that numbering machines can act as a solution.
“Putting numbers on the machines will definitely help the situation. If there is a problem, they can talk to Anis [Wakim] and we have a refund bank set up to refund the money,” Haderer said.
Wakim also believed that numbering the machines will cut back on fraud by providing an additional level of accountability.
“We have a girl who used to come in and say, ‘Oh I lost five dollars on the machine.’ So, we gave her the five dollars. Two days later she came, the same girl, ‘Oh I lost five dollars on the machine,’ same machine. So, we gave her five dollars again,” Wakim said.
According to Wakim, they have a process of writing down the names of those who report losses and make requests.
Once the machines are all numbered within a week or two, Wakim said that they will be able to better rectify legitimate complaints and identify false ones.
In the meantime, Haderer advised students to be patient with the machines and to make sure that the follow all steps thoroughly.
“The students just need to be aware of when they’re swiping their card, they can’t just tap on the button. But rather push the button so that everything registers,” Haderer said.
Wakim stressed that there are options for students when they have problems with the vending machines. Each machine has a 1-800 number to connect students directly with the vendor to report a problem or request a refill.
“First of all, the number then if they cannot wait to get the money, come to us [at Starbucks] and we’ll refund them,” Wakim said.