Local businesses shying away from steep JumboCash transaction fees
Published: Friday, October 5, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 5, 2012 02:10
On and off of the Tufts campus, a student ID is multipurpose; one tap gets you into your dorm, one scan gets you into Spring Fling and one swipe gets you a sandwich at Tasty Gourmet. The use of a student ID at a local business, though, comes with a heavy fee.
“New businesses who join the program are assessed eight percent of each transaction, plus a fifteen cents per transaction fee,” Director of Dining and Business Services Patti Klos said.
Klos, who oversees dining on all three campuses as well as the JumboCash Office, added that JumboCash has grown out of Dining Services over the past 25 years, but that the program cannot be fully supported by Dining Services’ budget.
“The JumboCash fees are charged by our program to the vendor as a way to offset the cost of the program,” Klos said. “JumboCash is not another credit card, it is the campus debit card, a way to conduct business around campus with the convenience of paying with your campus ID.”
Despite its convenience for Tufts students, some local businesses have opted not to accept JumboCash.
“First of all, our business is great [without it], and then the second main reason is the percentage that would be taken away from our business
... [it] is a little bit too high,” David Qyrasi, partner and general manager of Helen’s Roast Beef & Pizzeria, said.
Qyrasi also emphasized that although JumboCash is useful for students on campus, the program provides Helen’s with no foreseeable benefit.
“For the students, it’s great, they can use it anywhere they want around on campus or outside the campus, but for us it’s a little different,” he said. “I don’t think we lose any business because we don’t accept JumboCash. If one person likes the food that we have here, they’ll come no matter what.”
However, for other business establishments, passing up the chance to serve Tufts students reliant on JumboCash is not an option in the current economy. Ralph Martin, owner and operator of Tasty Gourmet, said that JumboCash is a prime opportunity to expand his business.
“The demand was from the students to begin with, so [JumboCash] called me and we accepted it shortly after, probably two years ago,” he said. “When the recession came about, there was no reason not to take it — you can’t lose any sales.”
Martin estimated that accepting JumboCash brings in an average of $3,000 to $4,000 a month.
“[That is] simply because the store is well known, [the] students love the food and we love the students,” he said.
Martin recognizes the limitations, though, that arise from Tufts’ fees.
“It’s not our best choice for a card [because] regular cards are three percent,” he said. “It doesn’t help the cash flow, because you’re laying out the money ... the expenses are there, and they take their time paying, plus grab the high percentage.”
Students have played a key role in convincing 25 off-campus locations to accept JumboCash, according to Klos.
“The ability to use JumboCash with off-campus [businesses] is a direct response to students’ requests,” she said. “Since its inception 15 years ago, students have encouraged off-campus merchants to participate in the program to make it easier for them to make purchases at these businesses. Of course, participation is entirely voluntary, so it ultimately is up to the business to join.”
Many Tufts students are unaware, however, of the fees facing off-campus businesses that accept JumboCash.
“I knew there was a number, but I didn’t know how much it was,” senior Moe Barry said. “Eight percent seems awfully high. It makes sense for why a lot of off-campus restaurants haven’t gone onto it.”
Barry, who uses JumboCash off campus two to three times per week, said that he uses it out of convenience.
“It’s just easier,” Barry said. “If you’re coming back from the gym and all you have is your ID, it’s easier. Plus when it’s micro-transactions, it just sucks to constantly use your credit card, and I know most people at Tufts don’t [carry] cash.”