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
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.