A few weeks ago, I ran into the Boxer Bistro between class and work, needing a quick meal since I hadn’t set enough time aside to pack one at home. I chose a pre-made salad that clearly stated that it was $4.79. When I went to checkout, however, it was rung up as $4.99. I politely indicated to the cashier that the price was $4.79 but was told that she “couldn’t get that close” due to the price not being programmed into the system at that time.
I must preface the rest of this piece with the fact that I do not in any way hold the cashier responsible for the incident. I do, however, blame Aramark and the Bistro for how they conduct business. Students are consistently overcharged for items sold in the Bistro. This overcharging occurs not only in cases like I just described but also in the everyday prices placed on the items sold. They are the monopoly on campus and use this fact to mistreat students because they can.
When I contacted management, they told me that the incident had been the result of a “wrong button” being pressed. However, that isn’t what the cashier told me at the time.
Many would think that being overcharged 20 cents does not warrant an opinion piece, but to me, it is indicative of the problems that surround our food services. I no longer live on campus, and while I certainly miss the camaraderie that comes along with living in the residence halls, I certainly do not miss being forced to purchase a meal plan and being forced to use that meal plan on foods that are overpriced.
Take the Bistro, for example. Students use the Bistro for everything from detergent to a quick snack. It sounds great in theory, until you look at the price. Then, in situations like mine, the cashier does not tell you your total on the majority of transactions. I was only able to point out the price discrepancy because I was watching the monitor. You hand your card over; they swipe; you leave.
As young college students learning to manage their own money, using a meal plan is a great way to start budgeting. However, with the outrageous prices and the lack of attention given to the transactions, students are suffering. It seems highly unfair that students are forced into having a meal plan, then forced to pay for overpriced food and treated with such disregard.