POD prices: Just how much are you spending?
It’s one in the morning, a hoard of freshman stumble out of their dorm, eyes bleary. Their Leiberman’s sweatpants drag across the Harrington Turf, little black turds jumping unwilling into their socks, souvenirs from the trip.
The Harrington Provisions On Demand (POD) is a godsend for thousands of students all across campus, all semester long. The East Campus folks flock to the Harrington location, while those hidden past the North Campus bridge traipse their way to the one squirreled away in Pencader. Wherever students are on campus, trips to the POD are a staple in the life of university students.
But just how much are those late night journeys costing?
The POD carries everything a college student could want: ramen, Gatorade, scores of candy and granola bars, condoms, shampoo and jugs of milk.
It’s a pseudo-grocery store, a mini mini-mart. It’s many students’ choice when out of cash but overflowing with points and their convenient solution when in need of a late-night snack. However, The Review’s recent price analysis comparing the POD’s prices with those from the Walgreens on Main Street showed a stark difference in cost.
In a price comparison of thirteen items sold at both Walgreens and the POD, prices at the POD were, on average, 37% higher than the prices at Walgreens.
The highest price difference came from Reese’s Puffs cereal, which costs $5.69 at the POD and $2.99 at the Walgreens. This results in a $2.70 price difference, or, a 90.3% price increase. The lowest price difference came from the four ounce Pepto-Bismol container, which was 20 cents more than the Walgreens price, putting it at a 4.2% price increase.
During The Review’s price comparison between the POD and Walgreens, it was clear that the majority of the items from the POD could be bought at a cheaper price from Walgreens. This was particularly true with hygiene products including toothpaste, pads, tampons and shampoo
“Our direct-to-store delivery products, such as bottled beverages, chips, candy, sandwiches, etc. are competitive with the products sold in convenience stores off campus,” Stefanie Gilreath stated in an email. “We are not competitive with Wal-Mart, Kroger or the larger stores that have their own distribution locations and can buy in large quantities for volume discounts.”
Gilreath is a senior marketing and communications manager for Aramark, the company that operates the POD. She sent the previous statement without accepting The Review’s request for an in-person interview.
Shannon Burke, a freshman studying education and human development, said that she finds the POD to be overly expensive and that she specifically avoids buying toiletries from there.
“I think some of the [POD items are] pretty expensive,” Burke said, “like, really expensive, especially toiletries and stuff. I don’t get the shampoo or anything here because it’s so expensive.”
The most marked example of a price increase in toiletry items is the 70% price increase for a bottle of Colgate Max Fresh toothpaste as compared with the Walgreens price.
Despite price differences, students continue to go to the POD. Burke stated that she was there almost every day, in large part due to the convenience of it being located near her residence hall.
Freshman Rebbeca Yarnall said that both convenience and the availability of points are a big factor in choosing the POD over other stores.
“I think it’s probably cheaper to go to Walgreens, but … it’s convenient to go to the POD,” Yarnall said. “And since I have the points and I have so many of them it just kind of makes sense to come [to the POD].”
Points are a mandatory aspect of most on-campus meal plans, though students can choose to have a meal plan ranging from 150 to 500 points. All purchases made with points give you an automatic 10% discount.
Even without points, Yarnall believes that students near the POD would likely still frequent it more often than other stores, purely for the convenience.
Whether stopping in for a week-long grocery haul or picking up a few miscellaneous items, a trip to the POD seems to cost more than Walgreens.