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The Blue & Gray Press | May 21, 2019

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Vending machine raffle is misleading

Vending machine raffle is misleading


Staff Writer

Students, faculty and guests alike have at one point or another used one of the many vending machines on campus. The 40 drink machines found on campus all bear a sign with the message “Buy a bottle from this machine and you could win up to $100 in EagleOne Dollars.”

“I think it’s cool, if I’m going to win my money back, by like four times what I paid for the drink, then great,” said sophomore English and creative writing major Bryce Anderson, who has never won.

At first glance the raffle seems like a great idea, since the most expensive drinks the vending machines offers are $3- if you win the raffle, that’s a $97 profit. On top of that, it’s more like real money, unlike Flex Dollars which can only be spent at certain food vendors on campus. 

The vending machines placed around campus are part of a contract between the University and Pepsi-Cola that began in 2012. Barbara Quann of the EagleOne Card Center explained the details of the contract. “Pepsi assumes the cost of installing, maintaining and stocking the beverage vending machines,” she said. When it comes to profits, Pepsi pays a commission, or a percentage of the profits, to the University, which varies based on product type. According to Quann, the idea was both UMW’s and Pepsi’s.

“Pepsi and UMW jointly initiated the promotional give away,” she said.

Meaghan McIntyre, a junior and English and communication and digital studies double major, is one of the few students who won the raffle. McIntyre won her prize from the coffee vending machine found on the basement floor of the Hurley Convergence Center. Although McIntyre supports the raffle, her experience can still be drawn upon to show the flaws in the raffle system.

“Ironically enough, the only reason I won was because I accidentally hit the wrong button when I was selecting my drink and ended up getting a different flavor coffee than I normally do,” said McIntyre. “I took the drink, with the sticker still on it, to the EagleOne office in Lee. The people in the office had me fill out a form while they took my EagleOne card and the can, and put the money on my account.”

If you win a bottle with a sticker on it, it will have information on it informing you of how to redeem your prize and how much the prize is worth. In this situation, McIntyre won $50, half of what the poster promised. 

“There are 48 stickers placed on bottles this semester, eight of which were $100, 20 were $50, and 20 were $25,” said Quann. 

Statistically, this means you only have a 16 percent chance of your special bottle having the amount advertised on the posters, and that’s not taking into account the bottles without stickers on them, making your chances of winning the coveted $100 even slimmer. The poster disguises the amounts you can actually win by sneaking in an “up to” in its message. 

Also while you are winning “real money,” which is provided by Pepsi and not the University, the money you win is limited to EagleOne which means if you are a guest on campus or senior who is about to graduate, the prize is worthless. Additionally, where EagleOne can be spent is somewhat limited. 

“The money has gone to laundry, as well as to drinks and snacks from the vending machines,” said McIntyre.

Because EagleOne can only be spent at the UMW bookstore, food vendors, laundry and vending machines, there is a very high chance the money a winner spends will go right back into Pepsi’s pockets.

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