Vending machines causing headaches throughout University

Kevin Palmer, sophomore engineering major, said that he has had issues with vending machines this semester to the point that he has walked away without anything.(Andres Bedoya/ FIUSM)

Natasha Roque/ Contributing Writer

Numerous complaints have been filed from students to FIU’s Business Services recently regarding several issues and instances of malfunction in regards to vending machines on both the Modesto Maidique and Biscayne Bay campuses.

“The vending machines are completely unreliable,” said Sergio Rubio, sophomore advertising major. “Sometimes the vending machine simply doesn’t dispense what I’m trying to buy, but also in the past when I’ve swiped my credit card I have later found incorrect charges from the machines when reviewing my bank statements.”

FIU currently houses a wide host of vending machines throughout MMC, BBC and the Engineering Campus. These machines are located throughout all campus recreational facilities, student housing areas, academic and administrative buildings.

“Periodically, customers have issues with the vending machines failing to vend products.  Most complaints stem from connectivity issues with the credit card readers, which connect via cellular networks,” said Jeff Krablin, assistant vice president of FIU Business Services.

While most machines operate on cash basis, several of the machines also accept credit cards. According to Krablin, Business Services is actively working with its business partners to install new readers on vending machines that will take the FIU One Card as well.

The University obtains certain income from its in-house vending machines, known as “concession funds.”

Concession funds offer financial support to on-campus programs and facilities set forth by the Board of Trustees and Board of Governors. According to the official University policy, this includes academic programs, Student Life programs, and faculty, staff, fellows, students, and support activities pertaining to the university and several of its organizations.

However, reports of frequent issues with the vending machines pose a serious deterrent for the continuation of this scholarly advancement.

“Until the problems are somehow fixed, I will be staying away from the vending machines and buying my food somewhere else,” said Yohn Diaz, sophomore biology major. “I have had way too many problems with the machines in the past, and having to go out of my way to get a refund every time is a real hassle. I would rather buy my food elsewhere and save myself the time, money, and frustration.”

Those in need of a refund after enduring a vending machine transaction malfunction can visit one of the several refund bank locations on both campuses. MMC houses its refund banks at Parking Garage 1 100, University Park Towers (housing), and the Office of Business Services at Duplicating Center 115. At BBC, refund banks are located at Wolfe University Center 143, Bay Vista Residence Hall (housing), and the Kovens Conference Center front desk. FIU’s Engineering Campus keeps its one refund bank at Engineering Center 2425.

“Business Services is continuously working to improve the quality of service to the community,” said Krablin. “To improve the connectivity of the credit card readers, we are working with our business partners to upgrade the software and hardware to better capture the already limited cell reception across campus.”