Wednesday, February 23, 2005
The Tuesday Twat(s)No. 6. Vending Machine Manufacturers
"Please insert exact change only"
Flashed the little green LED display.
I stared morosely at the rows of nutritionally vacuous, yet oh so tempting crisps and chocolate bars. Then at the £2 coin in my hand.
How could it have run out of change already? It was only filled 2 hours before.
Well I suppose its obvious really - its an easy way of making more money. Instead of charging 50 pence for a packet of McCoy's crisps and risk customers saying "How fucking much?" and going somewhere else. Instead, charge 45 pence and don't give change. Thus customers tut at the expense (after all 45p is still very expensive) - but still buy the crisps. Crucially, when they only have a 50 pence piece they'll grumble - but figure "its only 5 pence" and push it in the slot.
But it gets worse. Not only do they not give you change - they don't let it carry over into the next sale. So lets do the maths. Sanescientist wants a packet of crisps (45p) and a chocolate bar (another extortionate 45p). Its 4am - nowhere else is open. SaneScientist's wallet has four 20 pence pieces, two ten pences an old bus ticket and a USB memory key. Sadly, there are no 5 pence pieces either in my wallet or in my sock.
How an honest person would design the machine:
Its out of change (genuinely - everyone has paid with pound coins and the float has emptied).
Sanescientist puts two 20s and a 10 in (50p) and asks for crisps.
The crisps drop, crushed and split the metre or so from their shelf. The display reads "Amount entered 5p". Sanescientist has a choice he can either think of his waistline and walkaway now, leaving the 5 pence to put a smile on a colleague's face in the morning - or he can put another two 20s in and get his choccie bar.
He thinks "Fuckit - the next person might be SWMNBN - I'm not giving her 5p" so opts for the chocolate bar.
Total cost 90 pence.
How major vending machine manufacturers design their machines:
Set the display default to "Exact change only please" and don't, under any circumstances, give change. Ever.
Sanescientist places two 20s and a 10 in the slot. His mangled crisps emerge from the other end of the machine. The machine displays "Next customer. Exact change only please".
Sanescientist needs his chocolate fix, so against his better judgement he stuffs his remaining two 20s and 10 into the slot. Chocolate bar is unceremoniously dumped in the tray, display reads "Next customer. Exact change only please".
Total cost £1
11% additional profit - none of it earned honestly.
Of course this sort of thing has been going on for years. How often has the machine "Swallowed" your money? And why, if the machine has run out of a certain item, will it still take your money if you accidently enter the wrong code?
Recently, they've gone one better.
It used to be that the machine in our canteen would swallow money on a regular basis. Fair dos. I would speak to the pleasant woman on the till, who would note my name down (and I wear an ID badge - I can't lie!) and give me the money out of the till. When the technician arrived to fill it, she would tell him how much she reckoned we were owed - he would check the money in the machine against the inventory and pay up.
A year or so ago, we could no longer have money out of the till since it affected the canteen's cashing up. Fair enough. So she would make a note of your name, show it to the technician and then next time you came in to the canteen reimburse you.
Now, the affected customer has to write to the manufacturer of the vending machine, who will post a cheque to the customer, to reimburse the cost. Who in their right mind has time to write a letter to recieve a cheque for 5 pence?
How much extra profit do vending machine manufacturers make from this? Are they cynical enough to actually include it when estimating their profits over the next quarter?
So, this week I am temporarily renaming the post "The Tuesday Thieving bastards".
Labels: The Tuesday Twat(s)
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