Campus vending machines a gamble

Jenna Magrum inserts cash into a vending machine in the C Building. Magrum said she has issues with the C Building vending machines as well as the vending machine in the Z Building.

Thirsty after class and want to purchase a drink or snack? You may have to go off campus for that.

Students experience problems when purchasing food and drink items from vending machines on campus, including machines not accepting credit cards or cash, dispensing damaged items or sometimes not dispensing anything at all.

There are 22 vending machines on MCCC’s campus, including the coffee-making machine as well as the supplies vending machine in L Building.

A common problem students said is the machines reject credit cards or cash when they try to purchase an item.

Elliot Hurley, a student, said their credit card has been rejected from multiple vending machines on campus.

“I’ve had instances in almost all the vending machines where I’ll use my card, and it will just say it’s ‘processing’ for five minutes, so I’ll have to cancel it. Then I’ll try again, and it will do the same thing,” Hurley said.

Jenna Magrum said she has had the most problems with machines in the C Building.

“I sit there for five minutes as it reads my card, takes my money, and then half of the time it declines my card,” Magrum said. “It’s just frustrating.”

Student Emily Wagner said she has also had issues with the vending machines in the C Building.

A few weeks ago, Wagner said she tried to buy a bottle of water from a machine in the C Building.

The machine accepted her money but did not dispense her purchase.

“It stole my money, and I tried twice. It was so frustrating. I don’t feel like there’s frequent enough maintenance on (the machines) to be effective,” Wagner said.

Hannah Preston said she had a similar experience with a machine in C Building while trying to purchase a LIFEWTR.

“I used my card and it acted like it was going to vend my water, but then it got stuck,” Preston said. “Then I tried (purchasing) it again, and it got stuck again.”

Preston’s experience with the machine caused her to lose $4.

Professor Mark Bergmooser said he has also encountered problems with the drink machines in C Building.

In the past, he said the machines rejected his quarters when trying to purchase a drink.

Although the machines in the C Building seem to malfunction the most, students have experienced problems with machines in other buildings on campus.

Student Michaela Wallace used a machine in the A Building to purchase a drink.

After she chose her beverage, the machine vended an incorrect item.

“I pressed the button for a Mountain Dew and it gave me a Pepsi,” Wallace said.

She also said to steer clear of the machines in the L Building.

“The ones here (in L) most of the time just don’t work,” Wallace said.

Hurley has had their card rejected by a vending machine in the La-Z-Boy Center.

“I stood there for five minutes as it was processing (my card),” Hurley said.

Magrum has also had issues with the Z Building machines. Magrum said she used a machine to purchase a pop, and the item came out damaged.

“My pop came out and it was flat, half-full and sticky,” Magrum said.

Magrum said she went to A Building to get a refund for the damaged item, but faced issues.

“They almost weren’t going to let me get it refunded because they were like, ‘It looks like you just drank it,’” Magrum said.

Wagner has also experienced issues with getting a refund after a machine did not vend an item.

Wagner said staff sometimes does not believe students who ask for a refund.

“I feel like if an older teacher or staff here said, ‘Hey, I need a refund,’ they would give it to them,” Wagner said. “But I feel like we (students) have less of a chance to get a refund. It shows this whole system of distrust that’s fairly frustrating.”

Kelly Heinzerling, director of purchasing and auxiliary services, said to get a refund, students can visit the cashier’s window in the A Building.

After receiving a complaint at the cashier’s window, Heinzerling speaks with students directly and gives them a refund. She then notifies the company who owns the malfunctioning machine.

Heinzerling said she receives complaints from students roughly every two weeks.

Heinzerling said the snack machines are owned by Continental.

Matt Guardado, a worker from Pepsi, said the drink machines are stocked and maintained by Pepsi Co.

Wagner said maintenance should be done more often on the machines to ensure they operate properly.

“We shouldn’t have to compare getting food from a vending machine to playing a claw machine, where there’s a 1 percent chance you’ll get it,” Wagner said.

Wallace agrees the machines should be better maintained.

“Just make sure they work,” Wallace said. “That’s really what I want.”

For many students, vending machines are the only option for food on campus after the cafeteria closes.

When vending machines malfunction, students must leave campus to buy food or simply go without.

Hurley spends a lot of time on campus and often uses the vending machines to purchase food in between classes.

When the machines don’t work, Hurley said there are no other options available.

“I just don’t eat,” Hurley said.

Wallace said if the vending machines don’t work, she sometimes leaves campus for food, but usually doesn’t eat at all.

“Sometimes I don’t get my money back. So I’m broke and thirsty,” Wallace said.