By Mohamed Omar
Ryerson banks some serious cash when you lose that piece of plastic you got in first year.
The OneCard – used for printing, building access and residence meal plans – is issued to first-year students at no charge. But to replace lost or damaged cards, students have to shell out $30.
And while that fee is supposed to scare students from losing their card, it’s made the school more than $140,000 in the last three years.
According to data supplied by Darcy Flynn, manager of the OneCard office, more than 1,477 replacement cards were issued at the $30 rate so far this year. In the 2010 11 fiscal year, 1,647 cards were replaced, while 1,632 were replaced in 2011-12. Flynn said the money collected is revenue to support business operations at the OneCard office, which has three full-time staff members and a manager.
“The fee includes the cost of the card and the staff resources in validating the credentials for the new card,” Flynn said in an email. “The replacement fee is the cost of running the business but also an incentive for individuals to protect their card.”
President Sheldon Levy said he doesn’t know how much replacing the cards actually costs – or if a replacement card warrants a $30 fee – and Flynn said providing those numbers would break a confidentiality agreement with the card supplier.
Supplying access cards for universities is a competitive industry, and Ryerson went through a tender process, or a call for bids, to find the best card supplier. The school has been in partnership with HID Global, a manufacturer of access and identification products, since 2005.
Card costs vary amongst different universities. The University of Toronto, whose cards are supplied by ITC Systems, replaces student cards for $12. York University charges $20.
“The only thing I’ve been told is that it’s at a price of $30 to be able to encourage students not to lose them, if I can put it that way,” Levy said. “I’m not saying anyone has told me that it costs $30 to replace them.”
The fee, which hasn’t been changed since 2003, accounts for printing a new card and photo, staff resources such as making sure the individual is still a student or a staff member at the university, and deactivating credentials on the old card. But, Flynn said it takes “about five to 10 minutes” to produce a OneCard.
No refunds are given for students who find their old card. Flynn said it would be unreasonable to do so since supplies and card stock are used in the process.
Sam Kopmar, a second-year law and business student, agrees.
“If you lose a card, you should pay a fee to replace it,” he said. “It’s not free.”