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HAHAHAHAHA!!!  What a great read!  That was put into perspective beautifully!  I think we all have the same types of characters at our different accounts.  I think you named them PERFECTLY!  In regards to The BUM:  we have had this character pop up at a few different accounts.  The easiest way we have dealt with him is to talk to a manager/big-wig and explain the situation.  We ask that if any one were to have an issue, to report it to the manager or secretary or whomever you've built a comfortable relationship with.  Then we explain to the BUM the next time that all refund requests must go to your BOSS.  Miraculously, they never seem to have a problem again.  Either they realize bugging their boss to get a free snack isn't worth getting in trouble for, OR they try it a couple times and then the BOSS calls them out.  Either way, problem solved.  Now this only works if you have a good relationship with the management.  We implement it often and takes care of the BUM 99% of the time! :) 

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Great post. I have a Health Nut, at an urgent care, always complaining that snacks are fattening, and she doesn't drink soda. I put in almonds and some Vegistix to appease her. Later found out she didn't even work there, she was the mobility driver waiting for a patient. Great post BTW.

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4 hours ago, CapitalCityVendingLLC said:

The biggest one we deal with is the "BUM".  We have a handful of government housing/controlled rent type places.  They are pretty good accounts and luckily have only been broken into once in roughly 10ish years.  (The one time wasn't a resident and he was caught on video).  99% of the time we end up giving the refund.  We figure the last thing we want is to not give them their .65 cents and then they shatter the glass when we leave.  If it's someone that we suspect/know is lying, we'll question them on how it happened and whatnot so "we can fix the problem".  Sometimes they say "my dollar got stuck/jammed" right when we get to the account.  We walk with them to the machine and show how nothing is stuck in the validator.  Or we pull a dollar out of our wallet and show them how it is working and if their dollar got stuck, our dollar couldn't have been accepted.  They still continue to lie and we end up giving them their dollar, all the while nicely explaining to them if it was truly jammed, it'd be stuck right here in the acceptor.  

Maybe 1-2 times a year we cut someone off.  If it's like the 5th time in a row they are clearly lying, or they say, "the machine took $5 from me" (when some of our machines won't even take over the highest priced item for a dollar), we give them their money and say "Guess what.  This is the last dollar you are getting in refunds from this machine.  No one else ever seems to have a problem with the machine and we never find anything wrong with the machine when you say it isn't working.  Use the machine if you want.  Don't if you don't.  But this is the last refund you are ever getting from us."  

We have done that a couple times, knowing that we may get a call about our machine being torn up, but it hasn't happened yet. (knock on wood)  We see the "BUM" here and there and they haven't asked for a refund after we cut them off.  

Long story short, we give out almost any refund, knowing that machines are man made and therefore aren't perfect.  We mostly give it to them and do it with a smile as we say "sorry about that".  Did the math one day and refunds for a year was less than .25% of total revenue.  I'll pay that all day to not have the "BUM" break my machines in half.  

The biggest gripe I have regarding refunds is when people say "I lost a dollar in the machine" followed by "I tried to purchase a bag of chips for 60 cents and it got stuck and didn't come out.  So... what happened to the 40 cents that you were supposed to receive?  Did you leave that in the machine?  People usually get all defensive and start babbling off excuses at that point.  But I fully agree with you.  I would rather give up a dollar and make them go away and "trust" that I will refund them in the event that they lose money so that they don't complain and they come back and keep buying.  I mean... if you've done vending long enough, you know that validators CAN take a bill without registering, you know that coin mechs can do the same whether there is a coin jam or not, and you know that products can get hung up.  Things happen so why make a big deal and potentially lose an account over a dollar?  I have seen larger companies add up all of the refunds and say "Omg, we are losing thousands each year from refunds, we need to start keeping track!."  Don't get me wrong, it's good to keep track, but I think it is financially a waste of time to track every refund down.  Rather, it's more valuable to find out WHY the refund was necessary.  If the machine works perfectly, then refunds are almost never necessary.

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AngryChris I have drop sensors on every single snack machine and I swear they only ever work for me. Every bum that wants money "well it didn't do that for me!" Horrible that people have to lie to scam $2 from the vending guy.

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I was going to title this thread:  CUSTOMERS SUCK! but too much negativity for hump day.

My approach (good or bad) to servicing the vending machines when I am on the route is to try and attain invisibility - time my arrivals to low ebb in the breakroom, casual attire in muted colors - no banging the totes or slamming the machines - smile and hand out famous amous cookies when forced to interact but minimize the chit chat - works for me, the accounts are used to my presence, ignore it and carry on with their business.  Makes it easy to just observe, be a fly on the wall so to speak.

Been at it for a few years now, have gotten to where I categorize customers into general stereotypes:

1. The BUM - you know this guy, he's going to collect from you every time you show up - usually shouting across the room:  "Hey, your machine ripped me off for $2" - the bigger the audience, the bigger the show. 

I have an account bum at a big fab shop with 200+ employees - have a big 5 wide snack in there with Ivend every thing working perfectly but the bum puts on a show every time I get there looking for his "refund" - can never tell me which item he got "screwed" on - just a general "your machine sucks and is always ripping people off" - he's the only one that has ever claimed a mis-vend at that account since the machine was installed, and he claims it every single time he sees me.

2. The INSPECTOR - watch your stales, or this guy is going to do it for you.

Had one account that every once in a while I'd walk in and there would be a handwritten "out of order" sign on the machine with notes saying "food is rotten" - or sticky notes stuck on the glass over selections that would say "rotten food" or "food poisoning danger".  Used to really piss me off, didn't have any pastries or anything like that in the machine, freaking Lays short shelf life would mean occasionally a bag of cheetos would go a day or two over date, but I always pull stales at every account, every time so the inspector really had to work at it.  Finally stopped getting the notes and found out from some of the guys that worked there that the guy was a former employee that never bought anything from the machines, but would spend his break time drinking free coffee reading the dates through the glass on the machines - soon as he would spot one even one day out, slap the "rotten food" notes on the glass.

3. The HELPER - never pay for a business consultant, every single one of your accounts has one on staff.

I always act the employee - never imply or admit to the staff at my accounts that I own the business, just stocking machines and answering to the man like everyone else. 

Not at first, at first I would tell people I owned the machines and all that got me was a lot of "help" - lectures on what needed to be stocked in the machines:  get rid of the Diet Pepsi in the stacker that sells a case a week and replace with Diet Dr. Pepper because that is what the helper wants even though she only drinks a couple cans each month.  Or the helper that wants to manage the delivery cycle - why don't you come right before lunch twice a week? - for an account that barely cracks $100/mo.  Or - you should change our your entire inventory once a month to increase variety because we never get pork rinds or milk duds.

Nope, I am just a guy shlepping snacks and pop but will sure pass your great suggestions along to upper management.

4. The SNOWFLAKE - gotta love millennials  

They don't buy much and if they do it's gotta be cashless 'cause the snowflakes don't carry cash - they are sarcastically amused by the whole idea of vending and ask annoying questions about whether people really still by things out of these machines.....

Damn kids need to get off my lawn.

5. The FAKE HEALTH NUT - they make a bunch of noise about wanting healthy options but secretly keep feeding an M&M addiction.

I got accosted at one account by a big gal - not obese, built like a linebacker over 6' tall - clearly the alpha female of the office - she backed me up against the machine and went on a diatribe about how the stuff in the machines was terrible and enabled people to continue to make poor decisions, didn't want to hear about 60/40 split wanted nothing but sugar/salt/fat/gluten free options in every selection.  I deferred to my non-existent superiors and told her I'd pass her concerns along. 

Later that day, I had to return to replace a burnt out light - came around the corner and saw that same big gal at the machine - I stepped back where I could see her without being noticed - watched her buy a twin pack of Hostess Cupcakes, march down the hall and go into the womens restroom - suspect she was in the stall hoarking down those cupcakes like nobodies business - so much for healthy options.

If I wasn't married, I'd be extremely attracted to her - she scares the crap out of me.

Anyway - just curious if everyone on here kind of deals with the same sort of people or if it is just me.




I like your post. I replaced an honor box. And the manager starts crying Around about how everything in the box was unhealthy. (But reached for and bought the greasiest chips in the box!) the ninja approach is the best way to service any machine. Like you labeled each one so correctly. We all have the bum in our customer crowd. Even when it comes to vendstars! Anyways, spot on with your labeling!!!

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