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Disconnected Registers Finally Post Old Charges

By Lauren E. LeBon


Cash registers disconnected from the MIT Card Office resulted in delayed TechCASH charges last month, as the Office finally posted saved transactions as old as September 2002 to student accounts.

A cash register in Walker Memorial and two in the Lobdell Food Court had accumulated the charges -- dating from September and October 2002 respectively -- but because the registers were disconnected from the office, the transactions were not applied until Jan. 7, 8, and 27, said John M. McDonald, the assistant director of enterprise services.

Normally, MIT’s cash registers report transactions to the Card Office through a telephone line. But when the phone line is not connected, transactions are stored in the cash register.

Newer vendors inexperienced

Vendors were expected to report when their cash registers went offline, but “the new vendors weren’t experienced with the equipment, so they weren’t aware of this,” McDonald said.

McDonald added that there will be educational sessions held for vendors so that they will be able to recognize when cash registers are offline. This information will now be reported to the Card Office daily.

“I can’t say they’ll perform any better,” McDonald said, emphasizing that any system is prone to human error. “We’re sorry that it happened. It’s up to us to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

The Card Office has posted an explanation of the card problems on its Web site, at < mitcard/techcash.html>.

Several students said they were suspicious after significant charges appeared on their accounts when they were sleeping or not using dining facilities, on the three days in January.

Alicia Y. Zhou ’06 received an e-mail about the confusing charges and checked her online account balance.

“I noticed that about 50 dollars had disappeared on my account and it clicked,” Zhou said.