Hawk Dollar Issue Rectified

Photo by Laura Luenga
Photo by Laura Luengas

The Campus Auxiliary Services (CAS) has recently had to deal with problems with the Hawk Dollar System after students were unable to use the payment method properly at select stores in the town.

According to Steven Deutsch, the executive director of CAS, the problems initially arose after the Hawk Dollar processing service was outsourced to Blackboard, the same company that provides State University of New York at New Paltz’s online educational tool. Instead of contracting directly with CAS to sign up and get the terminals that process hawk dollars like credit cards, merchants were required to do it with BB1, a division of Blackboard.

“We went to this conversion at the beginning of the summer,” Deutsch said. “For students, it should have been invisible because you put hawk dollars on your card the same way CAS processes it. But the problems became visible when the students came back and started to use their hawk dollars and they weren’t working.”

The main problem, Deutsch said, was that although all of the vendors were able to switch to the new company and fill out the appropriate paperwork, many neglected to do so. After the conversion was made, CAS went from having about 30 vendors on the Hawk Dollar system to 17.

“The merchants didn’t realize that this change was happening and didn’t react to it in a speedy fashion,” Deutsch said.

Denise Angelucci, a third-year early childhood education major who works at LaBella Pizza Bistro on Main Street said that the Hawk dollar system in the restaurant was not working in the beginning of the school year. However, after LaBella was made aware of the company change, the problem was fixed.

“They didn’t have the new system up and running in time for the new semester,” said Angelucci. “It started working again about a week or two into school.”

BB1 also experienced technical problems with the system, causing Hawk Dollars to not ring through properly at the point of purchase. According to Deutsch, the various software systems required to function with each other for the Hawk Dollar processing “were not speaking,” which resulted in students not being able to make payment.

Ashley Altman, a third-year organizational communication major, experienced an issue with her Hawk Dollars when she tried to make a purchase at both ShopRite and LaBella in the beginning of the school year.

Altman said the Hawk Dollar system at ShopRite is still not working properly, causing her to fall behind on her food shopping.

“I was pissed at first, since school had already started and [my Hawk Dollars] weren’t working yet,” Altman said. “My parents give me a certain amount of Hawk Dollars each week that I am supposed to use to buy groceries and I have not been able to do so yet.”

According to Deutsch, all of the processing system communication problems have now been rectified and BB1 is actively soliciting merchants to better prepare them for the switch and to put them on the Hawk Dollar program.

Deutsch said any problems that occurred with the system only occurred because of a company changeover, and students shouldn’t worry.

“The company changed some of the technology because they were processing it instead of us processing it,” Deutsch said. “We’re hoping to get a lot more [shops] on the program, and I think all of the technological glitches are all squared away.”