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Letter to the Editor: The curious case of Hancher, the cashless auditorium

Posted by Letters | Jan 17, 2017 | Community/News, Letters

I am writing for an explanation as to why the new Hancher Auditorium does not accept cash. Unfortunately, I no longer own a credit card, so the inconvenience of this situation practically ruined my enjoyment of the concerts I have attended there thus far. I went so far as to complain to the house manager, and feel this policy should be addressed and dealt with immediately. The theater is impressive and puts Iowa back on the map, culturally. Why should such foibles make us look ridiculous, and inconvenience our valued public for the sake of ???

Sincerely, Steven Vosatka

Little Village looked into the cashless system at Hancher (and on the University of Iowa campus in general). Here’s what we found out:

The new Hancher Auditorium is located at 141 East Park Rd. --photo by Zak Neumann

The new Hancher Auditorium is located at 141 East Park Rd. –photo by Zak Neumann


 
Rob Cline, director of marketing and communications for Hancher Auditorium, noted that while the Showcase gift shop, box office and coat check accept cash, the café, operated by University Catering, follows the catering service’s policy of only accepting credit and debit cards — neither cash nor American Express cards are accepted.

Hancher sends out emails after shows where people can comment on their experience. So far, with the first season of the new auditorium underway, Cline said most of the comments are about the new facility.

“People have lots of questions about a whole variety of things, but one is why is the café cashless,” he said. “Whenever you open a new facility you get, ‘Well, why are you doing it that way?’ and we do try to take those questions into consideration, but this is something that is specifically a UI catering policy.”

The policy was first implemented in the fall of 2015. Aaron Hill, the Hancher food service supervisor who works as part of University Catering, said the dining service was experiencing staffing challenges, making it difficult to comply with the university’s cash handling policies and leading to the change to cashless.

“Student employees did not have prior cash handling experience and some were struggling with the required training,” Hill said in an email. “Cash overages and shorts were significant and led to poor customer service as customers either over or under paid for their selections. To ensure the safest food, staff who handle cash should not handle food (cash is extremely bacteria laden). However, staff shortages often limited our ability to staff in this manner.”

Hill said that although there were a few complaints about the cashless system right after it was adopted, they haven’t had complaints for over a year.

“We would reconsider our decision if we received a lot of complaints about it,” he said. “Generally speaking it is very well received.”

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 213.

About The Author

Letters

Letters to the editor(s) are always welcome; we reserve the right to fact check and edit for length and clarity. Please send letters, comments or corrections to editor@littlevillagemag.com.

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