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MIT Coop To Accept TechCASH This Year

By Christine R. Fry

EDITOR IN CHIEF

The MIT Coop located in the Stratton Student Center began accepting the MIT Card for payment yesterday and the Kendall Square location will begin to accept the card today.

“We’re working on installation as we speak,” said Allan E. Powell, corporate general manager of The Coop, yesterday.

MIT and the Coop have been negotiating the terms of accepting TechCASH for the past year. “We wanted to take it in the beginning, but we couldn’t decide on the terms with MIT,” Powell said.

Miguel Suarez, general manager of the Kendall Square Coop, said that the internal decision to accept TechCASH was made last fall, but it was too late to work towards setting up the necessary system because the fall “rush” to buy textbooks was already over. John M. McDonald, assistant director of enterprise services, said that the final contract was signed by the Coop on July 2003.

Fee paid to MIT negotiated

One of the main issues under negotiation was the percent of each MIT Card sale that the Coop would pay to MIT. This fee goes toward the maintenance of the TechCASH network.

Neither Suarez nor Powell could comment on the exact percentage of sales to be paid to MIT.

“I don’t know exactly how much it is,” Suarez said.

McDonald also declined to comment on the precise percentage, but he did say that it was equal to or slightly more than the percentage of credit card sales paid to credit card companies.

He said one reason that the Coop was concerned about the percentage of sales paid to MIT was the low margin of sales on textbooks at the Kendall location. Textbooks have a low profit margin so the Coop was concerned that there would be little profit after a percentage of the textbook sale was paid to MIT.

“There was a concern about the type of sales at each store,” McDonald said. Because of this concern, the Stratton Student Center location will pay a different percentage of purchases made with the MIT Card than the Kendall location.

Despite the recent addition of the MIT Card as a form of payment, Suarez said that there will not be an increase in prices at the Coop.

Student convenience a factor

Last year, both Quantum bookstore and the MIT Press bookstore, both in Kendall Square, began accepting the MIT Card. Powell said that this was not the main motivation for the Coop to begin accepting the card, but that it did add some pressure. “We certainly weren’t happy with that,” he said.

“It was much easier for them because they only have one store,” Suarez said.

Powell and Suarez said that their main motivation for accepting the card was student convenience.

“We don’t do this for sales alone. We do it as a service,” Suarez said.

Melinda J. Cromie G agreed with their reasoning. She said that she is more likely to purchase books and other back-to-school items from the Coop if she can use the card. She pointed out that students would be more likely to use this option since parents can add money directly to the TechCASH account.

Another student disagreed: “If it’s cheaper elsewhere, I will buy the books there,” said Tushiyyah Lui ’07.