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Let Us Make Shops Cater to Students
Kim Eun-ju  |  karen07000@hanyang.ac.kr
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[332호] 승인 2016.12.05  
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How much money do you spend at school a day? Most people think that oncampus stores provide products or food at affordable or cheap prices. However, most students have financial problems despite spending most of their time at school. This proves that the prices of goods sold by shops on the Hanyang University(HYU) campus are not affordable for students. Actually, all shops within the HYU campus are bound by contract to offer a 10% to 30% discount on all services and goods. However, it is unclear as to whether these contracts are being upheld. In fact, many students are not fully aware of the contents of the contract itself.

 

Differences Between Contract and Reality

There are many items that differ from the contract, specifically the discount rates. First, on-campus prices are not cheaper than prices of off-campus. We currently pay 5,400 won for the Shrimp Burger set and 6,100 won for the new Hash-Mozzarella Burger set at the ‘Lotteria’ located in Hanyang Plaza. We have found that the prices are the same online. The services of other oncampus stores do not differ from their offcampus counterparts either. The HYU Lotteria gives a 50% off coupon for the Mozzarella Burger, as do other franchises. Seven-Eleven sells almond Pepero crackers at 1,200 won; the same price as other Seven-Eleven convenience stores. The last example is the campus bookstore. Books that sell on campus are not cheaper than those of other bookstores and they never lower the price.

Second, prices even within the HYU campus differ depending on the stores’ location on campus. There are many CU convenience stores on campus, and they sell the same products at different prices. While Icis, a bottled water distributed by Lotte Chilsung, is sold for 800 won at Hanyang Plaza, the CU located in the Business Administration building sells the exact same product for 750 won. There is a 100 won price difference between the cup noodles(Jin Ramen) at convenience stores in the Business building and the New Materials Engineering building. The prices are 1000 won and 900 won, respectively.

 

Monitoring Systems: The General Students’ Association(GSA) & The Encouraging Learning and Welfare Organization

HYU has two established monitoring systems. One is the GSA and the other is the Encouraging Learning & Welfare Organization. They monitor the shops’ business performances and determine which companies may enter the campus by evaluating their business plans. Back in 2015, the GSA stated that they would monitor shops regularly.

The Encouraging Learning & Welfare Organization inspects business practices every vacation by checking the prices of all their goods. When they find problems such as the price discrepancy between different stores from the same franchise, they call the business managers together and negotiate lower prices to ensure consistency across all of the stores.

To provide students more convenient with facilities and benefits, the companies allowed on campus are selected carefully. Every five years or so, a conference is held where the GSA, the Encouraging Learning & Welfare Organization, and other experts appraise the business plans of eligible companies. During the evaluation process, they consider not only the prices but also the quality of service and the presentation of each company’s CEO. After this, they select a few companies and contracts are drawn up. After completing this process, a business eventually earns the right to operate.

 

The Reasons Of Abiding The Contract and Results

In the beginning, most shops abide by their contract. But as time goes by, many businesses find it difficult to do so. These days, most people pay with their credit cards instead of cash. This increases the tax burden on business managers. Rental fees have also gradually increased over time. At the same time, businesses endeavor to improve the quality of their services; if not, they will lose customers and ultimately run out of business. According to the terms of the agreement, contracts have to be resigned every five years. The final reason is that earnings always decrease during the vacation. In other words, there are three main reasons. Firstly, the tax burden problem caused by purchasing in cash, secondly, rising rental fee, and lastly, inadequate profits.

The Encouraging Learning & Welfare organization is aware of this situation. Thus, they advise stores to maintain a discount of at least 10% on their products. Sometimes, the organization overlooks the fact that stores fail to abide by their contract. In other words, stores don’t follow a policy that most products should be discounted fully. And the discount rate can be adjusted according to the business managers’ judgement, not by policy. Especially, convenience stores suffer discount problem because their store managers are changed according to head offices decision and in the process of transition, they forget transiting the price regulation. As a result, the price consistency is not abided. And it becomes difficult for students to buy products at affordable prices and they experience financial problems as a result.

 

The Core Problem & Solution To Protect The Benefits

The GSA is partially responsible for this situation. First, they did not fulfill their responsibility of communicating with students. As a result, many students are unaware of this problematic situation. Also, students do not make objections, but just complain. Student complaints tend to only surface at the beginning of the semester, because that is when they have to buy expensive books. Also, most students think that it would take long time and much effort to fix this situation and that someone else will address the problem someday.

 

Suggestions for the Systematical Problem

In conclusion, there are two systems that need to be maintained: one is the inspecting system and the other is the rental contract method. Inspections that occur every vacation and regular meetings where prices are negotiated and equalized ensure that businesses are aware of the terms of their contracts and are more likely to enforce the required policies. Rental contracts have a positive influence on the interior design and the service provided by shops.

However, the problem arises because rental fees are raised, the financial burden often falls on the students. According to the Encouraging Learning and Welfare Organization, prices are determined by bid and should subsequently be reasonable. Nevertheless, businesses are often unable to provide products at affordable rates. As a result, the University benefits financially from the burden borne by students.

In order to remedy this unfairness, the convenience of students should be the number one criteria when deciding which company would be selected. The Encouraging Learning & Welfare Organization openly shares related information such as rental fees and the situation analysis reports describing the inspections that are done every vacation. On the other hand, the GSA should establish a method for students to report price or service problems. It may be sufficient to create an SNS account and promote it. Then, the GSA will have less work to do and be able to more effectively get to the core of what students want.

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