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LaVerde’s May Accept MIT Card

Card Office Looking to Expand Vendors and Services to Students

By Christine R. Fry


Patrons of LaVerde’s Market may be able to use the MIT Card to make purchases by this summer.

The MIT Card Office is looking to expand usage of the card by increasing the number of vendors that will honor the card. “I’m hopeful that [LaVerde’s will] be signed up by summer,” said John M. McDonald, assistant director of enterprise services. McDonald is in charge of negotiations with LaVerde’s.

This summer, the card office will also implement an online account management system for the MIT Card, in addition to talking to other local establishments about allowing students to use the MIT card to pay for purchases. Such businesses might include Star Market, area restaurants, and food trucks. McDonald would also like to put more card readers on vending machines around campus.

“We’ll talk to anybody,” McDonald said.

MIT gets percentage of card sales

The main issue that was under negotiation between MIT and Frank LaVerde, owner of Laverde’s Market, involved “percentage points.” Any vendor that accepts the MIT card must pay a certain percentage of card sales to MIT. This money goes to help MIT maintain the card system.

McDonald said that LaVerde is reluctant to take the MIT card because he would lose that percentage of sales to MIT. He would not comment on the percentage of sales that LaVerde would have to give to MIT.

“We had to convince him that there’d be an increase in sales,” McDonald said.

Another issue was the effect of LaVerde’s accepting the card on MIT dining establishments in the Student Center.

“This is going to help LaVerde’s, but you don’t want to hurt MIT dining,” McDonald said.

Although McDonald was reluctant to guarantee that LaVerde’s will accept the card, Josiah D. Seale ’03, co-chair of the Undergraduate Association Committee on Student Life, was more confident.

“I got a personal assurance from [Director of Enterprise Services Steve D.] Immerman that LaVerde’s will be on the card,” Seale said.

Marc Semon, store manager at Laverde’s, said he was excited about the possibility of accepting the card.

“[We’re] dying to do it. We’ve been waiting 13 years,” Semon said.

He said that the store staff is asked several times each week if LaVerde’s accepts the card. He said that they “feel bad” every time they must tell someone that the card is not accepted.

Future of card not limited to food

Adding LaVerde’s to the MIT card is actually part of a larger campaign by the MIT Card Office to improve its campus image. McDonald says that there are three things that his office wants to accomplish.

The first goal is to implement online account management over the summer. That way students and parents can access their accounts over the Internet in order to check the current balance, see account activity, and even add money to the account.

“Mom and dad can add money by credit card,” McDonald said.

Once online account management is in place, McDonald said that negotiations with businesses off campus can begin.

In addition, MIT would like to expand the number of uses for the MIT card. Seale has been taking suggestions for businesses which students would like to accept the card. Suggestions that he has received so far include Rebecca’s Cafe, Au Bon Pain, Kebab and Curry, and Bertucci’s.

McDonald said that negotiations with businesses aren’t limited to food providers. He said that he would be willing to talk to places like the Virgin Megastore in Boston if there was sufficient student interest.

Current MIT card uses are limited

Currently there are very few places on campus to use the card. All of the MIT dining services accept the card. The 24-hour Coffeehouse on the third floor of the Student Center also accepts the card, and students can purchase pizza from Domino’s.

There are only two vending machines that have card readers: one in the Coffeehouse and the other in Building E19. Dorm laundry facilities also have card readers. Copies can be purchase with the card at both CopyTech locations.

The office’s last goal is to change its name.“We want to create an identity for ourselves,” McDonald said.

He says that the office wants the MIT community, especially students, to know that the MIT Card Office is not just for meal plan access. In order to do this, the office is starting a two week survey today to find a new name. The survey can be accessed at .

Suggestions for retailers that students would like to accept the MIT card can be e-mailed to .