How to get your money back from a broken vending machine purchase on campus

We went through the process for you, and it’s actually really easy


Illustration by Ivan Benavides

Reimy Benitez, Asst Copy Desk Chief

Vending machines are convenient, but their snacks often cost more than the advertised dollar for a pack of Sun Chips. These costs come from the spike in blood pressure associated with watching the archaic machine you just fed your money to get stuck, leaving your coveted snack in limbo.

According to the office of Business Relations, there are 42 snack machines that vend chips and candy on the Boca Raton campus. All of these are run by Gilly Vending — a vending company based in Miami. There are also seven ice cream machines run by Ice Cream Service, inc., and Coca-Cola and microwaveable food vending machines — the amount of which Business Relations was unsure of.

The University Press ran a short Facebook poll to see just how many people have had their money stolen by any of these machines without a snack. Out of the 37 people polled, 30 have had their money taken by a Florida Atlantic University vending machine. That’s 81 percent of people who have lost their money.

With so many people having their money taken, the UP expected a lot of refunds to be given out. But after asking around, we couldn’t find a single person who even tried to get their money back.

Some thought the process would take too long. Others, like psychology major Jordaine Blake, didn’t even know it was possible. “I didn’t know you could get your money back until someone told me recently,” she said. Blake has lost money various times to the vending machines on the second floor of the Student Union.

Vending machine coupon. Courtesy of FAU.
Vending machine coupon. Courtesy of FAU.

So the UP decided to see what the refund process with the on-campus vending machines is actually like. To our surprise we didn’t have to call the company. We didn’t even have to send emails.

All it took was going to the Owl Card Center in the first floor of the Student Union and letting a staff member know that we had lost $1.25 in the vending machine upstairs. They immediately gave us these odd looking paper bills (pictured).

These bills can only be used one at a time, and have no cash value, but with them you can get that snack you wanted without having to hit the machine multiple times or attempting to tip the machine over.

The entire process took no more than three minutes. It’s safe to say that most people don’t get a refund not because they don’t want their money back, but because they either don’t know how, or think it’ll take too long.

If you find yourself losing money to a vending machine off of campus, however, the process is a little different.

Gilly Vending, has a refund section on their website. To fill this out you’re going to need the machine number — usually found on the side of the machine on a white sticker — as well as inputting personal information such as your address for delivery of compensation. The process can take several days, and might actually be more of a hassle than it’s worth.

But as long as you’re on campus, if one of those pesky vending machines takes your money, remember that a refund is never more than a few minutes away.