Monday, October 3, 2005

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Written by thecannon.ca

It’s a brand new school year and hospitality has worked all summer to come up with new appealing meal plan deals for both on campus and off campus students. Just beware, some of the new deals seem great, but they obviously have their disadvantages. Before revealing all the details (which are also on hospitality’s website but in less direct words), On-campus students should be warned about what they were forced to buy into. Use this information to understand your meal plan. You obviously can’t fight it, but hospitality is out to get your money and unless you do your own budgeting, you will get scammed.

Off campus students:

The off campus meal plan is now called the ULTRA food plan. We do not understand the purpose for changing the name, but I’m sure that it confused a lot of people. Apparently, some people even thought that it can be used at Ultra-Mart grocery store. Makes sense but unfortunately we cannot (just to clarify).

Hospitality has reduced the minimum deposit for off campus students. Well it’s great, now the minimum deposit for an off campus meal plan is only $120 now instead of the previous $475. However, hospitality will not allow any transfer of meal points or “food dollars” between students.

On campus students:

The first thing hospitality did to confuse the new incoming frosh students is break up their on campus plan into two plans: “basic plan” and “flex plan.” The basic plan is for on campus locations and the flex plan is for off campus locations and vending machines. The idea is for students to eat more on campus instead of off campus including ordering food in like pizzas and pitas.

Hospitality has also decided to give on campus students ALL of their food money for the year even though they are only paying for their meal plans by the semester. This just means that if a student overspends in the first semester, they will not really know that until they receive their student account statement at the end of the semester. So students need to realize that they have their meal points for the whole year and hence, have to budget themselves how much to spend daily or monthly. Not only are students going to be complaining about this, parents will be concerned mostly because first year students do not pay for their meal plan themselves. Parents paying for it will wonder why the numbers are different between what they pay and what their child receives. So if students over spend in the first semester, they will have to pay the price in the following semester. That way hospitality keeps quiet about it (or at least does not heavily publicize this) and they get more money.

The one thing that on campus students need to realize is that it is very, very easy to use meal points. It’s as simple as swiping your card without actually handing over cash. Hence, you do not feel like you are actually spending money especially if it was your parents who paid for it. Everything hospitality sells is overpriced from their $1 whole fruit to shampoo to cereal to a bowl of pasta. If you can go off campus to get personal items, do it. Do not spend your meal points on things except for food. Even if you can go off campus to buy fruit or a case of yogurt or boxes of cereal, you will save a lot of money. Sure you get the 20% discount on campus but after the hospitality markup, is it really a discount?

  • For a look at the meal-plan cost chart, click here.

The last thing that warrants comment is the way hospitality describes themselves:

“Hospitality Services is a self-supporting, break-even Department of the University of Guelph that manages numerous dining facilities and retail shops on campus.”

BREAK EVEN??? That is extremely suspect, given that their markups are so ridiculous. How do you simply break even when you are charging “poor” students a dollar for a single piece of fruit??? Sure there are people to pay and facilities to maintain, but it seems they are highly profitable and way past breaking even.

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  1. Posted by: cs on Oct 13, 2005 @ 2:09pm

    if they really are "breaking even", (which I doubt) then they have some truly inept management people.

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