Haven’t blogged in a while but I enjoyed writing about that black metal gig, and realised that I’m never so happy as when I’m sarcastically complaining about something – so I thought I’d take a moment and recognise the contribution to my life of a very special contraption.

20160317_182043At work we have what most people would describe as a vending machine.

I’m trying to work out whether it’s part of an experimental psychological study by the University of Bristol, or some sort of employee health & wellbeing programme by our company.

The key feature of a vending machine – indeed its very reason for being – is to accept money from the user and accordingly dispense the snacks selected.  This machine does neither of those things.

This sort of scene is not uncommon.

This sort of scene is not uncommon.

For starters, it doesn’t like 10p coins.  It completely rejects shiny 10p coins, and with some convincing you can get it to accept a knackered old one.  It seems like a minor quibble, but the machine more or less perpetually has the “Use Exact Amount” message showing.  Given the price range of most of the items is between 60p and 80p your options for both using exact change and not using 10p coins are somewhat spartan.

Not that the Use Exact Amount message is authoritative – in dire need of a sugar & caffiene hit and armed only with a £2 coin I managed to somehow get both a Coke and £1.40 in change out of it once.  Once.  I think I must’ve taken it by surprise.

Normally of course you get your coins back once you’ve reached the point of admitting that  there are no multiples of 20 that will make 70, and having spent time inside the refrigerated machine (because it’s important to have chilled crisps and museli bars) you’ll at least wind up with a small pocket full of COLD HARD CAAAAAAAASH…

More common though is the mechanised coin-eating cockup which results in this sort of thing:

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(where the screw has become wedged under the coke can, so it turns without dispensing and you’ve got to go and tell reception that your money’s been eaten) or this:

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(where the bag of crisps gets jammed above the dispense mechanism because it’s the wrong shape – despite being the best-selling crisp flavour in the damn machine – and you’ve got to go and tell reception that your money’s been eaten)

Total jamming isn’t the most common outcome though – it’s usually a case of “suspenseful hanging” as in the picture above.  The usual solution to this is to engage in enthusiastic rocking or shaking of the machine until it freed your quarry.  Too much of this started causing damage to the floor, so work had a piece of checkerplate fitted underneath the machine.

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It just seems like the wrong solution to the problem to me.  You know – instead of protecting the floor so it doesn’t get damaged by people rocking the machine, how about, oh, let’s say… GET A FUCKING MACHINE THAT WORKS PROPERLY AND DOESN’T HAVE TO BE ROCKED OR SHAKEN?!

The other outcome of the rocking sometimes is that “bonus items” drop out of the machine, so instead of the bag of crisps you wanted you wind up with a Galaxy bar and a Snickers.

I’m led to believe that I’m not the first person to complain about it, and indeed my attempt at direct contact with the person responsible was met with stony resilience.  Perhaps I should take a different tack and ask whether the company has applied for a gaming licence, given the variable payouts this machine gives.  Might prove a worthwhile gamble…

It can’t realistically be a health initiative now I think of it – even dissuading/depriving the staff of sugary/salty snacks is vastly outweighed by the increase in blood pressure that accompanies any interaction with this godforsaken thing.

Yeah, I got nothing else on this.  Cheers.

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