The libraries ‘round these parts used to give out free ear plugs. If you’ve ever been in DC, you know exactly why they did such a thing… (it’s more “World of Warcraft Stadium” than library…)
Then they put a ton of money into DP’s renovations, and removed the “Free ear plug” service. As an alternative, they made the ear plugs available through a vending machine.
I don’t so much mind all that… what I do mind is the 50% increase in price over what they paid for ‘em.
Me, as a normal human being, can walk into a safety supply store and buy a box of 200 baggies of ear plugs (nice, 3M ear plugs, not even these strange off-brand ear plugs) for 30 cents per unit. Now, you do get TWO pairs of ear plugs from the vending machine, but probably the University is buying them in such volume that the price is even lower than what I would pay at the store. Additionally, there are probably costs involved in stapling the ear plugs to the cards and sticking them in the vending machine.
But, the fact remains, they’re retailing ear plugs at about twice the price of what you can get ‘em by the box, and they used to be free to students.
Offering a penalty cost so I value an item is one thing (and could be accomplished for 10 cents to a quarter per pair); turning it into a revenue generator is another thing entirely.