When you think of vending machines, it's likely to conjure up an image of an old soda machine sitting in some dark corner that's only good for stealing your money. It's a shame, too. There are some high quality vending machines out there now, equipped with the latest tech to pique the interest of Elon Musk. Okay, perhaps not. But they've come a very long way. Still, like any industry there are a regular flow of complaints about vending machine services.
As a vending management company--a service the manages the vending needs of companies nationwide--we spend a lot of time talking with people about, well, vending services. The good, the bad, and the down right ugly.
Before diving into what the complaints are, we've broken them up into two main categories:
1. Planning and service: includes problems with communication, managing expectations, and meeting deadlines or requirements.
2. Equipment and technical: anything that has to do with the vending machines themselves.
We've sifted through a year's worth of our own data and found that most issues are with the vending equipment itself:
Why do vending companies provide bad service?
First of all, nobody sets out to provide subpar service. We work with 1,500+ vending operators from coast to coast, and they're all great vending companies. Of course, issues arise from time to time, but it's never intentional.
Aside from a simple miscommunication every so often, here are some reasons why poor service might occur:
Managing hundreds of vending machines is no small operation. Most vending companies use sophisticated software to help manage routes, inventory, and delivery services. When something goes awry, it's not so easy for an operator to switch gears and handle a request right away as it will impact several--perhaps dozens of--other accounts. If your vending service provider is inexperienced at managing logistics, it will absolutely result in inconsistent service.
3. Technical Problems
As noted above, the category with the most complaints is with the mechanical aspects of the equipment. That's because vending machines are fickle. Even brand new equipment can have issues sometimes. While the company itself might be well-managed with a very helpful and professional team, some equipment just doesn't work as it should. Since vending machines are expensive and some accounts don't generate enough revenue, operators often need to try everything they can to fix the machine before trying to replace it.
3. Not a Full-Time Job
Some vending companies serve as passive income for the owner. It's simply a side gig that earns them some extra cash. And that's great. Most times it works out for both operator and the customer, as vending machines often don't need that much attention. However, if an issue arises and the operator is unable to attend to it quickly, bigger problems can emerge. This is typically a concern for larger accounts that require more frequent service.
What Should Customers Do?
It's important to keep in mind that when you're choosing a vending company to work with, you're choosing a relationship-based approach where both parties need to have a mutual understanding of each others' goals and expectations. It's not a project with a set beginning and end date. Vending services are account-based and require ongoing management. Thus, a firm relationship needs to be established.
We've written before about how to choose a vending machine company that best suits your business needs. To sum it up, here are five questions to ask:
1. How long have they been in business?
2. How many accounts do they service?
3. What flavors and brands do they offer?
4. Do they use the latest technology to manage logistics?
5. Are they properly insured?
In short, carefully vet companies before making any final decisions.
The 10 Most Common Complaints About Vending Companies
Planning and Service Complaints
1. Slow to respond
2. Misled about capabilities
5. Rude employees
6. Machines are always empty
7. Commissions aren't paid on-time
Equipment and Technical Complaints
8. Old/Unattractive Vending Machines
9. Machine takes money without vending product
10. Machine doesn't take money at all