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Business: Vending Machine: Stuck
Vending Machine Gag Reflex   (+9)  [vote for, against]
Sense then spit jammed coins back at the customer.

Let me relate a common and much loathed experience: on the way home the other day a damn snack vending machine ate my dollar! Resisting the urge to kick it (it was bolted to the ground and mostly surrounded by a sturdy cage,) I decided to investigate.

The coin was stuck just beyond the slot. Probably on a series of coins backed up to the place where coins are sorted, or on another coin which had become jammed and on an angle.

Why not build a snack machine where the pipe which money travels down to be sorted is lined with sensors. If it senses a block or jam the pipe is momentarily widened (using springs and magnets), and a spring or burst of air pushes the coins back up and out of the machine. This reaction could be accompanied with a humourous burping noise. If the block persists, the slot closes so no more money can be taken, and using mobile phone technology, a technician is called to investigate.
-- sdm, Aug 19 2001

I think you looking at situation closer to choking than vomiting but it's a fun idea. I hope your idea does not choke on a croissant.
-- Aristotle, Aug 19 2001

Although it makes for a nice image, you don't really need sensors - as long as it's not the reservoir that's ejected, all you need is a push button to be pressed by the user. (Similar to the one that's I'm used to being there, only so that it actually works.)

In a recent trial (ahem), insertion of any size dollar bill consistently caused a defective caltrain train ticket vending machine to (1) swallow the money; (2) reboot and forget about it, blue screen and all. I was baffled that someone would actually deploy a user interface that fails in _this_ direction, rather than storing the bill in "escrow" until after the transaction is completed, and giving it back if something fails.
-- jutta, Aug 19 2001

Use nickels, lots and lots of nickels for that slot machine effect. Purchase as many sodas as called for until coin hopper overfills and empties contents through change dispenser.
-- thumbwax, Aug 19 2001

Does that really work, thumbwax?
-- AfroAssault, Aug 23 2001

(chuckles) Why, yes it does. When I lived in D.C., there was a Coke vending machine behind a Ferrari Dealership nearby. I'd go gawk at the older cars for a spell, put nickels into Coke Machine, get Cokes. One night, I made my rounds and the thing just hit the jackpot. Now if they didn't keep the In Tray separate from the Out Tray in Vegas...
-- thumbwax, Aug 23 2001

I like this idea, but what we really need, in case the gag reflex isn't sufficient, is a vending machine that you could perform the Heimlich manoeuver on.
-- -alx, Aug 23 2001

Anthropomorphising vending machines is a nice idea ([alx] - you could have a "Heimlich manoeuver" button next to the coin slot) but is dangerous if you start thinking about (having put money in the machine's 'mouth') where your chocolate bar or bottle of lemonade is going to come out...
-- hippo, Aug 24 2001

//I was baffled that someone would actually deploy a user interface that fails in _this_ direction, rather than storing the bill in "escrow" until after the transaction is completed, and giving it back if something fails.//

It's obviously a pernicious conspiracy between all the non-consumer parties involved - designers, distributors and what-not - in order to rip us off for our measly pennies.
-- Guy Fox, Aug 24 2001

I've worked out that our vending machines at work rip each memeber of staff off by £1 per week. So the vending machines make £400+ extra per week.

This is almost certainly by design, as some of the causes of it are so obvious even a mcdonalds employee could have spotted them.

Supprised there arn't any proper laws governing vending machines, but apparently there arn't.
-- CasaLoco, Aug 24 2001

Aren't these things usually well bolted-down?

[CasaLoco], perhaps further parallels with slot machines can be drawn?
-- jabbers, Aug 24 2001

Woah... [jutta] don't dis the Caltrain! I used to take that to school and to work. The vending machines are a great improvement over digging through your pocket for coins and handing things back and forth between the second and first level. Plus, just buy a monthly pass or a 10-rides ;) -- why bother to buy the tickets?

Of course, nothing beats the game that you play when you forget your monthly pass and you dodge around the train hoping the ticketer doesn't notice you.

Of course, yes, the Caltrain ticket machine interface sucks. A lot. Like why would you put zone SF at the end of the list instead of before zone 1, where it logically goes (geographically).
-- wan-fu, Aug 26 2002

random, halfbakery