Coke prices bubbling up at U of A

By Jon Dunbar

Students and administration at the University of Alberta were surprised earlier this week to see the prices rise on campus Coke machines.

Prices for 500mL bottles inflated from $1.50 to $1.75 in vending machines in the Van Vliet Center.

"We were contacted by the university to see if we were prepared to agree with this; we said no," said Greg Harlow, Vice-president Operations and Finance at the Students’ Union. "Obviously, somebody crossed the line somewhere."

The Coke deal voted in by referendum two years ago stipulates that only a limited number of people may read it, including SU General Manager Bill Smith and the SU VP Operations and Finance.

According to Harlow, under the terms of the deal between Coca-Cola, the university and the Students’ Union, in order to increase soft drink prices before three years have passed all three parties must be in agreement.

"For fairly obvious reasons, this party ain’t agreeing," said Harlow.

The three-year agreement with Coca-Cola is dated to expire at the end of this academic school year, at which point the company will legally be able to raise prices.

"I guess things will be back on the table at that point," said Harlow. "We certainly haven’t had any other problems with the deal."

"The increase in revenue to the university is not really worth the increase in price that the students would have to pay," said Harlow. "I suspect students would be PO’d if I raised the prices. Those are the political realities."

Earlier this year, Coca-Cola received heavy criticism after considering installing heat sensors in their vending machines. The sensors would have measured environmental temperature and varied the price according to perceived demand.

The Office of the university VP Finance & Administration was unavailable for comment regarding the price increase.

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