Refunds available for vending malfunctions

Anna Anderson

On the afternoon of Feb. 22, 2011, James Gary wanted a snack. To satisfy his need for crunchy, salty sustenance, the associate professor of computer science visited the vending machine in College High Hall.

As he put his first quarter in the slot of the machine, he heard it clang noisily into place. Yet, the machine wasn’t recognizing the coin. Gary said he tried to retrieve his quarter to start again, without any luck.

After printing out a refund form, part of the procedure listed on the WKU Vending Services website, and attempting to take it to the nearest refund site, Gary reached a dead end.

Since then, Gary said he hasn’t bought anything from a vending machine at WKU.

“I know it’s not much money,” he said. “But it’s a principles thing.”

Marshall Gray, the director of postal, printing and vending services at WKU, said ensuring every refund can get complicated when there are so many machines on campus.

“It’s not a perfect world,” Gray said. “And mistakes do happen.”

To retrieve refunds in case of a machine malfunction in an academic building on campus, Gray said students, staff and visitors can visit four locations.

The four places listed on the WKU Vending page are interspersed throughout campus, yet the data on the site is out of date.

For example, the dean’s office listed in Thompson Complex is now located in College High. The post office, housed in the Downing University Center until earlier this semester, is now housed in the Garrett Conference Center.

Despite the change in locations, all four places still process vending machine refunds.

Pat Reynolds, an office associate with the Ogden College Dean’s Office, said she frequently processes refund requests.

She keeps copies of the requests forms on hand and is able to dispense change from WKU Vending on site for refunds.

When people come into the office asking for refunds, Reynolds said she has them write down all the information about the machine and the incident they can.

Although the form requests the vending machine number, Reynolds said she will still give out refunds if the number isn’t known.

“The machine numbers are hard to find,” she said, especially when the Coca-Cola machines arrived on campus.

The other three locations also keep change and printed forms on site in hopes to make refunds easier. For machine malfunctions in residence halls, Gray said the process takes longer.

Students in residence halls fill out a form too, but they give it to the person at the front desk. Gray said the form is filed until the machine is serviced. The person refilling the machine dispenses change, and residence hall employees give it back to the students.

Gray said every machine on campus is serviced about once a week.

“We’ve never had a system set up where someone couldn’t get their refund,” he said.

Gary said he understands mistakes happen, and he would be willing to give the WKU vending machines another chance if he sees that the refund system works. In the meantime, he has made other arrangements for getting his drinks and snacks.

“I’ve been spending more time at the water fountain,” he said. “Which is probably healthier.”