Don’s Vending Blog

Another one bites the Dust!


Well I bit the bullet and upped the price of my canned beverages a few weeks ago and as usual I got a call asking me to remove my vendor because “we need the space”.  I called back and offered an alternative suggestion instead of removing the equipment.  I have found a spot out back of the building, out of site, out of mind and still accessible to staff and clients.  Was I surprised at the answer, no not really because I was told “No, we really do not want the machine at all!”  Well as I alluded to in an earlier blog post, I believe in communicating to my clients in an honest open dialog.  So why didn’t they just tell me that they were unhappy with the fact that I raised the price by .25 cents.  Its not much is it?  After ten years I thought that I need to raise the price because I was breaking even again, well that was about five years ago for canned beverages.  But being the type of businessman I am I thought I can handle it for a while longer.  I had the same situation happen to me a few years back.  An owner of another dealership was absolutely livid with me when I walked into service the equipment.  He was so mad at me that he was red in the face while pointing at my machine!  He said quite loudly, “Who is going to pay $1.50 for a chocolate bar!!!”  I calmly looking him square in the face and said to him If your supplier ups the price of all your vehicles by 2 or 3 hundred dollars are you going to suck it up or are you going to pass it on to your customers.  His attitude did an about face, literally he did about face and walked away and I kept him as a customer, even to this day.  As a business owner I understand that the price of things go up, its business!  When the price of gas goes up it just doesn’t affect me once its many many many times!  The farmer who grows the potatoes, the chip company that buys the potatoes, the shipping company who delivers the product all add the cost of the price of gas to their costs.  So by the time it gets to me I have to add yet another cost of the fuel that I have to pay for my products and services.  The list is endless but I have found that about every 5 years I need to increase my prices by .25 cents just to make it to the next 5 years!  So if you think I have gotten my math all mixed up feel free to let me know.  And if you have any comments about anything with regard to vending, don’t hesitate to send me a message! And…. now you know why chocolate bars are expensive!

I guess I am a Thief!

I was working away diligently when I received a call from a “customer’ an unsatisfied customer at that.  Apparently she purchased a beverage from one of my machines and it did not give her back her 50 cents in change.  I apologized and told her to contact a staff member there and they would refund her.  She then took it further to tell me that it was a rip off and before I could say anything more she hung up.  Over the years I have had various people upset for loosing a quarter!  Some times such as with this woman it was the end of the world as they thought that I was ripping them off!  The term rip off means to deliberately steal from someone. Fortunately that is not the case in this situation as I take great pride in ensuring that every thing in my machines are priced accordingly.  But I do have to say that it is not always the case, I have and even my drivers have been in a bit of hurry and put an item into a row or column that is priced correctly but we have put the wrong item in.  The only time we get to know about it is when someone either brings it to our attention or we notice it on our next run.  We are not purposely doing this to rip people off, its an honest mistake and I have refunded people who have contacted me.  I have built this business with Honest, Integrity and it has served me well!  I will continue to provide the best service that I can and even though I have driven way out of my way to take care of a problem or a complaint.  I would like to think that my customers will be happy even if they have an issue because of the great service we provide them.

Many people do not realize that it can be costly for a small company to be expected to run to your aid if your bag of chips got stuck in a machine.  I can understand the frustration but its not the end of the world and we will refund your loss.  In many of the locations we have, we have set up a float for those times that people loose their money.  For the most part people are honest.  In some cases not so, when you return week after week knowing that person “A” has lost their toonie.  It adds up if you have this happening at several locations per week per year!!

A week or so ago I had another run in with an upset customer over a bag of chips getting stuck.  I opened the door and went to hand him the bag.  He told me he did not want the bag but his money back.  I explained that it is company policy to return the item lost and not the money.  And before you know it he blew up in a rage, yelled a few expletives to me and stormed out.  He got his refund shortly there after,  he did not wait for me to explain that if  any customer continues to insist on it I would return the money.  I do not want an upset customer.  Most people will accept the lost item and be happy but some do not and they are rare and when this happens I tend to bend the policy and make them happy.  Win win!  Any how a few days later I get a call from the same location telling me that the machine was taking the money and not giving the product.  So I dispatch my driver off of his route to take care of it as I was unable to.  When he got there he sent me a picture of the reason,  the item below was shoved far into the coin slot so no one could see.  This trip cost my company over $150 and lost revenue from the several days of sales.  Just because an irate customer decided he would get back at me for not handing over $1.50 so now you know why chocolate bars are so expensive from a vending machine!





Expensive Snacks

I dont know how many times I have heard this!  “You must be rolling in the dough, because of the prices of the products in your machines”.  I shared with you on my last few blogs back that there is a thing called overhead.  Which increases my expenses, to where you have to mortgage your home to buy a bar and a bag of chips from a vending machine.  A few weeks back one of my delivery vans engines blew!  It cost me over $700 to find out that it was blown, towing to the garage, just under $200.  Then another $250 to tow it to another garage to be repaired.  Promised it would be repaired for about $9000.00  by the end of the week, to which I said go ahead.   A week later and no engine!  Then I realized that I was throwing good money after bad and called my mechanic and put the brakes on it.  I decided to bite the bullet and buy a newer van with some warranty left and sell the old one for parts.  I asked my mechanic if he wanted to buy it hoping he would say yes and give me a few thousand.  He offered me $1000.00 which barely covered the cost of his deconstruction of my van.  Since I purchased this van for mere $600 to help me conserve my costs two years ago.  It has grown to close to $16000.00 in repairs so far.  With the engine it would have ended up costing me a further $10,000.00!! Totalling close to $30k!!  So you have to stop somewhere.  I am going to have it towed away so that I can part it out.  At least I will get something for it!  Its practically new everything except an engine of course.  Some would say you should have fixed it and some said use it as a boat anchor!!  So now you know why my chocolate bars are so expensive!

More Interesting Ideas

So here we have someone stuffing things where they don’t belong!  As well as more coins that are bent or have goo on them!  One has a hole drilled through it so you can attach a line.  Which will allow you to drop you coin in and then remove it and drop it in over and over so that you can buy free stuff!  Sorry that does not work any longer, as soon as the coin is past the sensor you wont get it back!  That’s how it ended up in the cash box.




In order to develop a great relationship with anyone it starts with communicating with each other.  In business its the same, especially with your customers, suppliers, employers and employees.  It also has a lot with being Honest.  That is how I have built my business for the last 16 years and it has served me well.  I have over the years built up a trust with my customers but as I have learned you just cant please everyone.  Most people want to avoid any type of confrontation with their service providers and instead will use these statements “We need the space”, “We are going in a different direction” or “We are renovating!”  I have heard this on several occasions over the years and each time I knew it was not the case.  It pains me when I hear this from my customers because they end up loosing in the end.  Sometimes because of the lack of communication they lose an opportunity to provide their own customers or staff the services they require.

As a vending service it is extremely difficult for me to be able to provide the best service I can if I don’t know that there is a problem in the first place.  Usually we can determine what the issue is as soon as we open the vendors door.  Many vending companies have the capitol to be able to afford expensive telemetry gear for each of their machines. Unfortunately my company has, used older equipment and I have to rely upon either my route driver finding the problem while he is servicing the equipment or a note left by a customer on my vendors.  (I love sticky notes!)  I have from the beginning, left a “wish list” on the vendor so my customers can let my route person know that there is an issue.  This simple thing has made many of my customers happy, because they know that its going to be rectified.  Even in this day and age of “sure vend” systems things will still get stuck or malfunction.  On each of my machines I have placed my business information on who to contact if there is an issue.

Once contacted, the vending company should be there within a day.  But I have had a few instances over the years where in a perfect storm of activity it could take up to two and maybe three days, which is normal.  But if it takes more than that then I would reconsider the company that is providing you the service.  If you have to call more than twice in one week to remind your vending company that there is an issue then you may need to reconsider. Even if they do not return your calls, its not a good sign.  But I must add that before you go through the pain of changing your service provider, give them a chance and call them or better yet ask them to pop by for a face to face.  IF you have given them chance after chance after chance then reconsider. If you are having weekly issues with the vending services then you will need to think it over.  I will more than likely be adding more on the topic of what makes a vendor tick but that will be for later.  If you are not happy let them know!!  And on the other sided if you are happy let them know!!  Its awesome when you do!

I had a new customer at a sawmill and I was there a month or so after purchasing this location.  In the process of stocking the machine I was approached by a big burly fellow who did not look very happy.  I thought oh oh someones not happy and I am about to get it with both barrels.  The guy walked right up to me and in a gruff voice demanded “is this your machine”  I replied yes and to my surprise he said “Keep up the good work” and walked away!  Wow I was almost speechless.  I had been preparing myself for a confrontation and poof it was gone in an instance!  It made my day!

As a customer you deserve great service!  My company’s motto is Honesty, Integrity, Service and Service!  Its how I have been able to stay alive in today’s market.  As one customer once told me “your machines may be old but the service is great!”