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The Statesman

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The Statesman

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    Faulty Student ID ‘Smart Chip’ Leads to $27,000 Loss

    In its year end audit, the faculty student association noticed that the Coca-Cola Company overcharged them $27,000.’ The cause of the discrepancy was either a technical problem or students misusing their college ID cards to get free bottles of Coca-Cola.

    Last year, the FSA got new student ID cards that had a chip in them.’ With that chip, students could go to cash-to-chip machines located throughout campus.’ They could swipe the card and put cash into the cash-to-chip machine together, and the chip would register the student as having that money in their account.’ The students could swipe that card in machines to pay for items across campus, and the money would be deducted from their accounts.

    The chip could be used for the resident apartment facilities, the photocopier machines at Cardozo Computing Center, the O’Neil Computing Center and the Melville Library.’ The chip could also be used to pay library fines, to use the printers at the Health Science Center Library and to make purchases at the Seawolves MarketPlace.

    The chip was also used to buy bottles of Coca-Cola at Coke machines located throughout the college.’ On June 30, the Coca-Cola Company sent the FSA an invoice stating that they had to pay $27,000 more than the association collected from students.’

    “When we looked at the bill from Coca-Cola, it was too high,” said Kevin Kelly, executive director of the FSA.’ “There was a deficit.’ It didn’t match the money students gave us for their accounts.”

    The problem was a defect in the chip, according to Kelly.’ “We suspected students were taking advantage of that defect,” he said.

    “When they swiped the card really fast, Coca-Cola billed us for soda that wasn’t bought.’ Also, on an account, there were several indications of students buying sodas, but on our invoice, they were only billed for one.’ So we had to pay the difference.’ There are video machines at some of the soda machines, and when we saw a student rapidly swiping his card, we suspected that’s what happened.”

    Angela Agnello, director of marketing and communications at FSA said there was evidence that students were misusing the defect in the chip to get free sodas from the machine without it registering on their accounts.’ She also stated that records from Coca-Cola confirmed this.

    Students can no longer use their ID cards to get Coca-Cola, and the FSA paid the Coca-Cola Company the extra money they requested, according to Kelly.’ “We got rid of the chip, and the faculty’ association made a claim with Coca-Cola to try to recover that’ money,” he said.’ “The problem only occurred for a year when we got the card with the chip.”

    On Aug. 14, a report about the situation was filed with the university police, but Joseph Verfenstein, deputy chief of the university police in charge of investigations, said he doesn’t believe it’s a criminal case.’ “We’re not looking for a particular person,” he said.’

    “I think it’s a technical problem with the card rather than someone bilking us out of all that money.’ That’s a lot of money to steal.”

    Currently, vandalism and stealing from soda machines is handled through the campus judicial process, and the person or persons responsible pay the damages, according to Dawn Villacci, customer advocate on campus.

    Gary Mis, director of judicial affairs on campus, said a remedy for this situation might be having the students responsible pay the money lost or getting the money from the company responsible for the chip defect.

    The FSA administers different services on campus, including the bookstores, dining services, the Seawolves MarketPlace and vending services.

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