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Volume 68, Issue 143, Wednesday, May 28, 2003 


Rage against the vending machines

Mary Agoh
Guest Columnist

With its high prices, the University Bookstore could have been cited for theft. This semester, vending machines are the thieves at UH. The vending machines sell products to the customer, collect the cash and dispense the item. But sometimes they just collect the cash.

These machines are acting as warehouses, salesmen and banks. Students, we have a bank account in the Ezekiel Cullen Building Cashieris Office because of the number of losses accumulated through the months. How many students actually know where to inquire about loss of money because of vending machines?

Most of the time, these machines are not delivering a service. But once theyire out of change, the selection gets stuck and a fellow student loses some money.

The first commercial coin-operated vending machines were introduced in England. In the early 1880s, they only dispensed postcards. In 1888, the Thomas Adams Gum Company introduced the first vending machine to the United States. Who would have thought it would also introduce the idea of paying for services not rendered?

Problems occur when the customer becomes frustrated by not receiving the product. And what does one do to get a refund? Who wants to walk over to E. Cullen in the heat, cold or rain to fill out a refund form? There should be some sort of alternative to this growing problem around campus. There should be some way to alleviate the chaos, complexity and conflict dysfunctional vending machines pose to the student body.

In time, a new design may help relieve this rage against the vending machines. Until then, they should be stocked and in good working order for potential customers. Furthermore, it would be nice to have a change machine around for students on campus when everything is closed. Like many departments, those in the Social Work Building depend on these machines for refueling.

As far as who to contact when vending machines act up, I spoke with Director of Auxiliary Services Ann Lamar who said she would consider my suggestion of placing a magnetic card on the machines with contact information. Lamar added that the most a person can receive in refunds is $5, regardless of how much he or she has lost through the semester.

So stop being a victim to the machines and go get your refund.

Agoh, a graduate student in social work, can be reached via


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