Students complain about longer wait times, errors with new kiosk ordering system at on-campus dining locations


Romita Das | Senior Staff Photographer

Students use a kiosk in the William Pitt Union.

By Madilyn Cianci, Staff Writer

Thousands of orders come through the new kiosks Pitt put at dining spots across campus. However, not all orders have gone smoothly.

Rachael Hass, a sophomore communication sciences and disorders major, said when she ordered a bowl through the kiosks at Pom & Honey in the Cathedral Cafe with spinach, falafel, pickled onions and dressing, she only got two of the four toppings because of limited supply. 

“They wrote on the box that they were out, but you can’t go back and ask ‘Oh, can I have this,” she said. 

At Pitt’s dining locations, excluding The Eatery and The Perch, there’s a new kiosk ordering system. which Pitt plans to expand further in the future. People can’t order at the register any longer, but they can use a mobile ordering app, Transact Mobile, along with the kiosks. At the five dining spots in the William Pitt Union alone, there’s about 3,000 kiosk orders a day, according to an unnamed spokesperson from Pitt Dining Services. 

Pitt declined to give the name of the employee speaking on behalf of the University, and said responses were a “team effort” by the Dining Services staff. 

“Our intent was to reduce congestion and long lines at the food court locations,” the spokesperson said. “Schenley Cafe feeds thousands of students per day, so kiosk and mobile ordering have greatly improved the workflow for our staff, allowing them to complete more orders faster than ever.”

Some students aren’t convinced the system is as efficient as Pitt claims. Sophie Beasley, a sophomore communication sciences and disorders major, said the new ordering system is “always wrong” and people can take any order from the online ordering shelf if they want to. 

“I almost have to leave my food before I go to class, because if it says it’s a 10-15 minute wait then I’m like, okay, I could fit this in before class, but then it ends up being 30 minutes waiting,” Beasley said. 

In addition to complaints about long wait times, Beasley, a vegetarian, said when she ordered a veggie patty from True Burger using the kiosks, she received a beef patty instead. Since she had to throw away the food, she missed out on her only meal swap for the day.

While Beasley said she’s a vegetarian by choice, she’s concerned for students with food allergies like Celiac disease.  

“If you mix anything with gluten that can be dangerous,” Beasley said. “You can control that if you’re in person because you’re watching someone do it.”

Bianca Ragusa, a sophomore communication sciences and disorders major, said she will never use the mobile ordering systems after a horrible experience with the Einstein Bros. Bagels Posvar location. When asked which dining location gives her the most difficulty with online kiosks, she said Einstein’s in Posvar is “the worst.”

“I went there once, and never again,” Ragusa said. 

Hass also said she had negative experiences at Einstein’s due to kiosk and mobile ordering. She has noticed a decrease in the quality of her food depending on the time the order is placed. According to her, the earlier she goes, the better — but this conflicts with her schedule. The worst time, she added, is 10 a.m. to noon.

“If you go at like 9 to 9:15 [a.m.] then the order is normally ready within five minutes and it’s fine,” Hass said. “But when you order at a really busy time of day, it’s an hour.”

Hass added that in-person ordering last year was much more “efficient” and “there was never an issue with wait time.” 

According to Hass, because kiosks and mobile ordering are either placed on a shelf or called out by name, people are more prone to take an item that’s not theirs. Hass said she advises users to check and make sure your student ID is on the ticket, or your Pitt email, when mobile ordering.  

“I went to Einstein’s and I went up to the guy and told him I had an order that was ready 15 minutes ago, is it here?” Hass said. “He said ‘I know we processed it, but I think someone might have taken it because it’s not here.’” 

Hass also said the wait times on the app are unreliable. 

“Today I ordered crEATe for lunch and it was a 45 minute wait, so I did it early and, like, 10 minutes later, I got a notification saying it was ready,” Hass said. “So it was just sitting there.” 

When asked about technical difficulties, the Pitt Dining Services spokesperson said their goal is to address those difficulties before an issue negatively impacts the user experience.

We have a dedicated quality assurance team who proactively monitors our app and kiosks, then addresses any issues they uncover,” Pitt Dining Services said. “Students should see an on-site manager if they need help placing their orders.”