INC NEWS - Merchants seek DukeCard review (today's Duke Chronicle)
bwatu at yahoo.com
Tue Jan 24 12:00:52 EST 2006
Merchants seek DukeCard review
Duke Chronicle, 24 January 2006 (by Gregory Beaton)
University officials are working on a plan to increase
DukeCard flexibility off campus, but the local group
that requested the review is upset with how long it is
Vice President for Campus Services Kemel Dawkins said
he is working with various administrators, including
officials from Dining Services and the DukeCard
Office, to respond to complaints made in October about
the limitations of the DukeCard and the Merchants on
Duke officials said they were working on remodeling
the DukeCard based on card programs at other schools,
such as the University of North Carolina at Chapel
"We are looking at options for providing additional
flexibility and additional opportunities for purchases
on and off campus," Dawkins said, noting that there
was no specific date set for a new plan's announcement
"We are looking at changes to the DukeCard as part of
that," he added.
John Schelp, president of the Old West Durham
Neighborhood Association, claimed that the University
said it would respond to his group's complaints about
the DukeCard within one month from the time he spoke
with Executive Vice President Tallman Trask. That
conversation occurred Oct. 18, Schelp said.
Initial complaints about the current DukeCard system
included students' inability to use food points or
FLEX money at off-campus vendors and the high startup
costs and commission rates Duke charges vendors for
the Merchants on Points program.
Startup costs range from $1,500 to $3,500, and the
commission Duke takes for delivery purchases can be up
to 18 percent.
"Its disappointing because [Trask] said he would get
back to us but never did," Schelp said. "It seems
strange because the initial response was encouraging.
It's almost been an act of disengagement."
Dawkins said Trask, after acknowledging the
complaints, asked him to review the DukeCard and a
possible expansion of its flexibility.
Dawkins said he was never given a specific timetable
for his report and he has not been in contact with
Duke officials are looking at other campus systems
including UNC after which to model potential
changes. The UNC OneCard allows students to make
purchases off campus by linking the card to a Wachovia
"Other institutions use cards in a variety of ways,"
Dawkins said. "We need to decide which would work best
Dawkins said he is looking at "a variety of things in
relation to those issues" of Merchants on Points and
general card flexibility, but he would not limit the
scope of his review to just the reduction of startup
costs and fees.
One reason administrators have cited in the past
regarding the difficulty in expanding the DukeCard
program is the University's tax-exempt status as a
When Duke students order food at Duke or through
Merchants on Points, they do not pay sales tax.
"If Duke is buying something as an institution it's
one thing, but individuals buying a pizza or something
is another," said Tom Campbell, co-owner of The
Regulator Bookshop on Ninth Street. "It should be
looked at in fairness to everyone else in this
community that pays sales tax."
While Dawkins works on Duke's plan, Schelp and the
community will continue to wait.
"It's very clear that they know the ball is in their
court and we're waiting for an answer," Schelp said.
"You expect when someone says they'll get back to you
that they will."
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