Vending vent

The vending area in my office building contains a snack vending machine with the screw-type dispensers, and a soda machine with eight lines. I typically walk down there around lunch time to get a drink, and sometimes I’ll get a snack.

My first choice for a drink is Coca-Cola. There are two lines of Coke (no jokes, please) in that machine, and about half the time I go to select a Coke, there isn’t any. There’s always a Coke Zero, though, and most times there’s a Dr. Pepper. I suspect the other drinks (Orange soda, Diet Dr. Pepper, and some others) are available, too.

The snack machine suffers a similar fate. Snickers bars go quick, as do the M&M’s and a few other things. I commonly see that snack machine with six or more empty lines, and the remaining selections are far down on my list of desirable snacks.

As far as I can tell, they refill these machines every two weeks. The Coca-Cola runs out in a week or less. Same with the Snickers and other popular snacks. Whoever’s operating these vending machines is losing a whole lot of potential sales. It is not true that people will select something else if their first choice is unavailable. When I want a Snicker’s bar, for example, I probably won’t settle for something else. I’ll just put my dollar back in my pocket and walk away. Cheese and peanut butter crackers are not a substitute when you’re craving a Snickers.

My dad and uncle owned a vending company back in the early ’80s. I worked there briefly between the time I left school and when I got my first programming job. They would get upset about one empty line on a vending machine. I can’t imagine what they would have done if they found one of their machines out of the most popular products for an extended period.