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DLSU admin delivers prompt action regarding vending machine insect

On the evening of January 26, a complaint regarding vending machines on campus was raised by a student through a Facebook post, which quickly gained traction online among members of the Lasallian community. The vending machine in question was said to have dispensed a drink that contained a cockroach inside.

“I felt something in the [iced Milo],” the post read. “I thought it was plastic or something like that. As I pulled it out of my mouth, ipis pala siya.” The Facebook post has been shared nearly a thousand times as of press time, with other students taking to the comments section to state similar complaints on the topic. Majority of the comments made on the post expressed shock and disgust among members of the community, while others recalled instances when the machines dispensed just water instead of the drinks they ordered or dispensed the drinks but failed to provide the cups. Still others expressed their dismay over machines that accepted their payment but did not dispense the products they ordered.

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While most students simply decided to let the matter pass, some had attempted to raise their complaints to the managers of the vending machines. Louise* shares that after getting only water instead of the iced coffee she ordered, she wanted to look for someone around to help. “I decided to just call the hotline on the machine. I tried calling the telephone number first,” she recalls, “but since no one was answering, I tried the cellphone number that was available too. But no one replied to me.”

The day after the Facebook post went viral, on January 27, the vending machines dispensing hot and cold beverages on campus were placed on preventive maintenance and wrapped in cling film while the matter was brought up to both Nestle Philippines, which supplies the drinks, and Philippine Vending Corporation, which provides the vending machines on campus. Both companies conducted investigations on the matter.

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In a meeting held among executives from Philippine Vending Corporation, Nestle Philippines, Campus Services, and the aggrieved party last January 29, the results of the investigation and initiatives to address the issue were discussed.

Nestle Philippines Consumer Care Executive Ralph Benitez sincerely apologized to the student who wrote the Facebook post on behalf of Nestle Philippines for her experience with their product and the vending machines. “We appreciate our consumers for telling us their experience with our product, regardless [if these are] positive or negative.”

Herwin See, chief executive officer of Philippine Vending Corporation, discussed the findings of their investigation on the machine in question. “I feel terrible that it happened and in a way, disappointed also,” he shares. “We couldn’t find anything inside the machine per se… We’ve seen the potential where the cockroach could have crawled into the cup bin.” He explains that if the cockroach had been inside the machine’s mixers and other moving parts, the insect would not have been found whole inside the student’s cup.

“The [vending] machines are cleaned every day. [From the results of] our test, [the insect] came from the external environment,” reasons Patrick Pesengco, chairman of Philippine Vending Corporation. He stated that the insect possibly came from trash bins near the vending machine or from the ceiling, and could not have possibly come from the machine itself. Two personnel from Philippine Vending Corporation are assigned on campus during school hours to aid with operations and address any issues that may arise.

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Karen Hebron, Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Services, summarized the initiatives to be undertaken by the companies concerned and DLSU itself to prevent similar instances from occurring again and to make sure that members of the Lasallian community will have an efficient avenue to relay their complaints about the machines.

Solutions proposed by Philippine Vending Corporation, according to See, includes moving trash bins farther from the machines, keeping nearby areas lighted, and covering the machine ventilation slits at the top of the machines and other points of entry with screens so as to avoid the entrance of pests into the machine. Philippine Vending Corporation’s hotlines, posted on the machines themselves, will also be made more visible. The company is also looking into adding other contact information, such as on Viber and WhatsApp.

Benitez also explains that executives from both Philippine Vending Corporation and Nestle Philippines meet regularly to make sure that standards are being upheld. Nestle Philippines Channel Group Head Sunny Yu reiterated this fact, saying that more than just providing products for the vending machines, the company ensures that the whole system is kept in check.

In-campus personnel will also be trained to empower them to help students who have trouble with vending machines, according to Hebron. Janitors, security guards, and other University staff will be oriented with frequently asked questions in order to be of help to students having problems with the machines in order to augment the efforts of the two Philippine Vending Corporation personnel stationed in campus.

“We have the best interest, really, to make sure that this event should not happen,” says Pesengco. “Unfortunately, it did. So first of all, we have to make sure to prevent [it happening again]. We have to assure you that we are here.”

Students who experience difficulty with the vending machines are urged to contact the hotlines specified on the vending machines. Hebron recommends sending an e-mail to [email protected] for any questions or concerns.

* The student requested to remain anonymous.

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By Marinel Mamac

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