Meal plan mishaps

Emma Robertson

Since the beginning of the school year, some students have been unknowingly using QCash to pay for their meals instead of using their meal plan.

Many students have reported unknowlingly using QCash instead of their meal plan when paying for food in the Cafe.
[/media-credit] Many students have reported unknowlingly using QCash instead of their meal plan when paying for food in the Cafe.

Most students who have encountered the problem have had issues with their tuition payments or account balances. The reasons vary. Some have experienced mix-ups with scholarships, others with loans and some students simply do not know why there was a problem.

But each problem yields one result: a financial hold on any account with an unpaid balance.

An account is put on hold a week after the due date of the bill, which in this case, would be July 7, according to Salvatore Rubano, the associate controller. Any student with a financial hold on their account cannot register after this time, make any changes to their schedules during the add/drop period or use their meal plan.

Sophomore Hannah Dunlevy was one of many upset students.  She spent over $70 in QCash and was not aware of it.

“I had to literally go online to check. I never got anything sent to me. And then I thought it was weird because I went on MyQ and I saw a notification that said I had an unpaid balance,” Dunlevy said. “But we were never notified by e-mail.”

Many students  who were affected by the issue unimpressed by the lack of communication.

The only way Quinnipiac notified students of their unpaid balances was through a notification on the homepage of MyQ.
When buying food in any of the dining halls without an activated meal plan, the amount due will be applied to any account with money on it. Therefore, students with QCash on their accounts were spending it, sometimes a lot of it, without knowing.

QCash is like a university debit card. Students and their parents have the option to load money onto their QCards via the QCash system online. This money can be spent in several ways and is most popularly used for laundry services, bookstore purchases and printing.

Of course, if a student were to run out of money on their QCash account, the cashier at the register would tell that student. But if someone were to have a large amount of money on their QCash account, they could potentially spend it until it’s gone.

Dunlevy was not the only frustrated student. Many students were upset because they could not get their money back. Some paid for their first week of meals with QCash, and then also had to pay for the full meal plan.

Emma Spagnuolo, a sophomore journalism major, only discovered the issue from a receipt at Au Bon Pain, which showed her purchase was made in QCash. When she checked online, she discovered she had also spent $70 of her own money. She went to the Bursar’s office in hopes of getting her money back and left even more upset than before when she learned that she would not be able to get refunded for the QCash she spent, nor would her meal plan be adjusted.

“I wouldn’t mind if they transferred my $70 then put it on my meal plan, like that’s completely fine, I understand,” Spagnuolo said. “But when my parents are paying for the meal plan, why am I also paying for my food in QCash?”

John Meriano, associate vice president for auxiliary services, said there are still ways for students to eat, even if they do not have access to their meal plan.

“Because there could be students that have issues, [Chartwells] should let them go through [the line] once or twice and then they’ll take down their name and student number,” Meriano said. “And maybe a friend will buy them food… I don’t know of anyone who went hungry because their accounts weren’t funded.”
   Overall, students agree that the university could have gone about the issue in better ways. They also agree that more communication is necessary.

“There’s better ways that they could handle situations like this,” Spagnuolo said when asked about the process of a financial hold. “It’s just really frustrating because it’s just more money that you’re wasting and they’re not going to refund it.”