Hunger strikes during a midnight study session, and there are no snacks in your room.
The vending machine glares at you from across the room, beckoning for you to come buy a treat. However, you remember you have no cash because you’re a broke college student.
Never fear, you remember that your bear card is here!
You go to the vending machine to purchase your honey bun or trail mix and try to use your bear card.
It doesn’t work.
Ken Boyer, the associate vice president of Auxiliary Services, said this is because even though bear cards allow students to purchase snacks, the new technology, released July 15 of this year, hasn’t been added to all machines yet.
Machines from the Coca-Cola Company are already running and Aux Services hopes to have the snack machines up soon as well, Boyer said.
He explained that the technology was released to Canteen Corporation and Coca Cola through Blackboard and USA Technologies. It works by sending cell signals to transmit the data that allows the machine to take credit and bear cards.
“Before wireless we used to literally have a wire to each individual machine,” Boyer said.
Bear card usage before wireless depended on the construction of the building and sometimes was not practical because of the expense of getting it there.
Boyer explained that the cost of the new technology has come down so much that the plan is to roll it out to all of the machines.
“If you didn’t have the wire, it couldn’t talk back to the campus server,” he said. “But this technology will allow us to do a lot more.”
There is no fee to use the bear card on compatible machines. Credit cards have a ten cent surcharge, but it’s not billed to the customer.
“Instead of raising the price of the product in the machine, Five Star Canteen Franchise has the surcharge,” Boyer said. “It charges them 3.8% for every credit card transaction.”
The bear card currently only works for the machines if bear bucks are loaded on the card. This can become a problem for students like pre-med track student Maddie Jean Armona.
“It isn’t convenient unless you’ve put money on your bear card. If I had money on my card then I would use it,” she said. “I just never think to add money to my card.”
However, frequent soda buyer, Eryn Lee, said she thinks it’s really smart to use the bear card.
“It’s just more convenient since there are machines everywhere,” Lee said. “You don’t have to go run and get a dollar.”
This type of bear card usage for vending machines is only available for the Macon campus.
“If it works well then we will deploy it to other Mercer campuses around the state,” Boyer said.