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NightOwl Service Awaits Approval For TechCASH

By Valery K. Brobbey

Approval of local delivery company NightOwl’s application to become a vendor that accepts TechCASH is being delayed by an MIT policy that requires all TechCASH vendors to have a $10 million insurance policy. The application was originally submitted on July 5. Felix Bendersky, co-founder of NightOwl, originally said that he expected NightOwl to be a TechCASH vendor by September for the start of the new academic year.

If NightOwl becomes a TechCASH vendor, MIT students will be able to pay for NightOwl’s services using their TechCASH account. NightOwl already subscribes to the card program at Northeastern University and Berklee School of Music in Boston.

John M. McDonald, associate director of enterprise services, said that the insurance policy would cover damages to MIT property and personal injury that might occur as a result of NightOwl’s operation on campus.

The insurance policy is necessary, McDonald said, because if MIT enters into a legal agreement with NightOwl, it implicitly takes on some responsilibity for the company’s activities on campus. Such an agreement, he said, is “drafted by the MIT legal office.” At the moment, MIT students can still order from NightOwl and pay with cash.

McDonald explained that the technology needed for NightOwl to operate on campus is already in place. The only limiting factor in this deal is the legal part.

According to Bendersky, NightOwl is not going to abandon its application to be a TechCASH vendor, saying that they still plan to “push it.” “We want to do this for the students and the school,” Bendersky said.

McDonald said that the approval of NightOwl’s TechCASH application would involve discussions with MIT Dining. NightOwl’s hours of operations as a TechCash vendor will most likely be restricted to hours after MIT dining halls are closed, preventing the operation of the halls from being jeopardized.

Richard D. Berlin III, director of campus dining, said that he was not familiar with NightOwl’s application to be a TechCASH vendor but assured that each vendor seeking to be part of the TechCASH program is given thorough consideration. He said that the benefits that each vendor brings is looked at from a business perspective, avoiding situations that would be “detrimental to the success and viability of existing vendors” on campus.

NightOwl buys food from various restaurants on behalf of its customers and delivers it at a $2 charge for students and a $3 charge for other customers. NightOwl also delivers items from any store in the Boston area. However, NightOwl does not deliver alcoholic beverage to college students, Bendersky said.

NightOwl’s online ordering page is still under construction, but NightOwl currently accepts orders by phone and through instant messaging. Bendersky said that he and his friends conceived the idea for NightOwl in January 2005.