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Abandoned machines - Advice to clients

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In many instances, I have taken over accounts where vending machines have been previously abandoned. Even though I place my own machines, the owners have the unfortunate responsibility of storing the abandoned machines in their back room, taking up valuable floor real estate.


My clients look to me as a professional vendor to provide them an answer on how to rid themselves of the machines.


I work in TN and have contacted numerous government entities. TN abandonment laws only apply to automobiles and monetary items.


As their new provider, I would like to be able to provide some advice on how to rid themselves of the machines.


Anyone else run into this situation?

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The location is ultimately responsible for the machine and for properly notifying the owner that it needs to be removed.  If the location sends a letter to the owner (certified and return receipt requested) giving a 14 to 30 day notice telling the owner they will dispose of the machine, they then can do with the machine what they want.  A lot of locations don't have an address for the owner and only a phone number and phone numbers rarely return an address in a Google search now.  So again, they need to leave messages, if the voicemail works, and give the same notice that way.  If they document the phone calls they should be in the clear by waiting to do anything with the machine until after their notice period has expired. 


At the end of the notice period they can let you take the machine or they can sell it, etc.  If you take the machine then get a bill of sale, because even if they give you the machine you need proof of where and how you got it.  That way the location is still on the hook if the machine ends up being reported stolen. 


In reality, this happens a lot when vendors get burned out or find out they make no money after spending too much to buy machines.  Often they have tried to sell them with no luck and just give up and walk away, but you don't know if the operator became ill or possible died so the proper notice must be given.  I have also seen bottler equipment abandoned by vendors.  You should take it upon yourself to notify a bottler if you find one of their assets abandoned.

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When dealing with abandoned equipment you potentially are getting out onto the thin ice. Honestly because of the cost of equipment most folks will pick it up or sell it "as is where is" but it does happen from time to time. I've had to deal with it only 5-6times in almost 20 years of this. Laws vary from state to state but a friendly attorney gave me this advice.


Tell the business to post a ad 2X in the legal notices section of the paper about the abandoned equipment and name the individual and/or business 30 days apart giving them notice to remove the equipment or it will be treated as abandoned equipment and disposed of.


Once the time limit has expired place a ad for sale of equipment and sell it.


Keep all records of the transaction for at least 5 years and be prepared to give the proceeds of the sale to the original owner if he ever shows up.


Personally I have declined on the opportunity to buy these machines but I have helped the location deal with the issue.

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