Express yourself: Student swipe woes

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February 16, 2012

11:16 PM

No one forces businesses to accept Express as payment. In choosing to do so, however, they agree to offer a service to students, and some businesses appear to be failing to uphold their part of the agreement.

Using Express around town is a hit-or-miss experience. More than once, I have been rejected at Aromas due to the system being down. In the case of occasional, temporary technical issues, I side with the businesses. The Express system is fickle, and even places that normally accept it like Wawa and Bloom have both had glitches with my card once or twice in the past.

Where I take issue, however, is with the businesses that advertise Express services and yet do not properly train their staff on how to use the system. At the Williamsburg Applebee’s, I have twice had my waiter leave to ask the manager if they accept Express, even though their business is clearly listed on the Express webpage. Twice is enough for me not to make a repeat visit.

If that wasn’t off-putting enough, I had the exact same issue at the Sadler Center cafeteria. Issues with understanding how to use a student credit system at promised locations off-campus is one thing, but having these same issues at a College-run cafeteria is another entirely. If you have agreed to offer a service, students should be able to do so without difficulty. It seems that both on and off campus, people are not being properly trained how to accept Express. All it takes in order to do so is pressing a couple of extra buttons.

The worst offender is Chipotle. Newly arrived in August, a friend of mine tried to pay for her dinner with Express only to be told Chipotle didn’t currently accept it. I had to pick up her tab that day. Although I have tried several other times over the last six months, their system has never been functional, yet they are still listed on the Express page. Chipotle’s abuse of the system is nothing more than a bait and switch; Chipotle promises a service that they do not, in fact, provide. It is reprehensible false advertising on their part. If Chipotle wishes to no longer offer Express, then it is their duty to customers to take the initiative to remove themselves from the Express locations list.

Not all businesses struggle with the system; places like Wawa, Subway and Retro’s show it can be used with ease. For the most part, I don’t have difficulty using Express at the locations listed on the College’s website.

It is totally understandable for a business to choose not to accept Express. Many locations near campus choose not to do so for one reason or another, whether because it is costly to set up and maintain or because the system runs quite slowly over a phone line and eats up customer processing time. While a beefier, more stable system would be ideal, it’s realistically not a priority for the College when the system is used regularly by only a small percentage of students. The only businesses that “owe” students the ability to use Express are those within Tribe Square. Those restaurants are not yet listed but claim that they will be soon.

I will continue to patronize of businesses that offer Express, as well as locations where I have to use other forms of payment.  Honest businesses build customer loyalty. Those that continue to misinform College students should reconsider their business practices if they want repeat customers.

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Elliott Hay
  • Elliott Hay

Associate Opinions Editor Elliott Hay '14 is a theater major from Fredricksburg, Va.

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