New Q-card tap system prone to malfunctions

Staci Canny

A significant number of students have been coming to the Q-card office because of malfunctions with Blackboard’s Sony FelicCa card system, according to Campus Card Administrator Colleen Stewart.

While there is no specific number as to how many cards have had malfunctions since they were first issued in the fall of 2011, it is higher than the industry standard failure rate, Stewart said.

“We are actively working with Blackboard and Sony to resolve the issue,” Stewart said. “We do have a few working theories at this point, but haven’t narrowed it down to a single cause.”

One of these theories has been to test the actual material used to make the card. By working with the Q-card vendor, the university has been conducting research using a variety of cards made by different manufacturers, Stewart said.

Junior Erin Sweeney said that she started having issues with her Q-card two weeks ago.

“My swipe still worked in the café and on certain residence halls, but my tap was completely broken,” Sweeney said.

Stewart said these Q-cards, which have an embedded chip inside, might be more sensitive to bite marks, heat and flexing, in comparison to the previous magnetic strip cards. However, the Q-card office is not surprised to see students having card issues.

“The magnetic stripe did also have failures as well,” Stewart said. “In fact, because the card is actually swipe and comes in contact with the reader, the wear and tear was greater.”

While there is no fee for students whose card has failed to work, if the damage is intentional, a replacement fee of $30 is charged, Stewart said.

Sophomore Emily Hauser said that she has also experienced problems with her card more recently.

“It stopped working completely sporadically, and that was the second time it had happened to me in a month,” Hauser said.

The Q-card office provides a list of guidelines for proper care of these sensitive cards. It is advisable to store the cards inside a protective case, including a cell phone case, or a cardholder. A soft cloth and water will safely clean the card.

The cards should not be stored with metal, such as next to a metal phone, or exposed to extreme heat. They should not be bent, twisted or be stored unprotected in a pocket or backpack.