Uncommon goes cashless

AlexandraSchmeling_Uncommon-6
Photo by Alexandra Schmeling.

When Howie Xu ’17 handed over a quarter to pay for the small difference between his meal-swipe and the cost of his snack at Uncommon, he was told he would need to use a credit card to pay for the change instead.

This fall, Yale Dining has stopped accepting cash payment in Uncommon, one of its retail locations on campus. Though students can still use meal swipes or non-cash payment toward purchasing items in this location, any amount exceeding $8 must be covered by credit or debit. Yale Dining representatives declined to comment on whether retail locations that still accept cash — including Durfee’s and Thain Family Cafe — will follow suit.

“Cash accounted for only 3 [percent] of our sales — your generation rarely uses cash,” Director of Residential Dining Cathy Van Dyke said in an email. “But [cash] requires additional administrative procedures for auditing purposes that simply aren’t worth the extra time that they require.”

The policy change has already been a nuisance, according to many students. Of nine students interviewed, five said they opposed the policy.

Matthew Segal ’16 said he walked out of Uncommon empty-handed since his card was not working.

“It is definitely a change from last year,” he said. “I would have a snack right now if I were able to pay cash.”

Anne Gonzalez ’16 said she found it frustrating when she had to use her credit card for an amount as small as 25 cents. She said she would much prefer to just hand over the change directly.

Still, three students interviewed said they have not been affected by the change, and one student supported the change because it has helped curb her spending habits.

“I personally like that I cannot spend cash there,” Harper Loonsk ’18 said. “I will be spending less money since I usually just spend a meal swipe and that’s it.”

Yale Dining declined to comment on why Uncommon was chosen for the new policy and whether the change will be expanded.

A Yale Dining worker, who spoke under the condition of anonymity due to contractual obligations, said she does not understand the motivation for Uncommon going cashless. She noted that other retail operations, including Durfee’s, continue to accept all forms of payment.

“A lot of people have wanted to use cash and it’s hard breaking the news to them,” she said.

Yale dining halls implemented credit card swipe technology in 2013.

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