July 15, 2008

Well, *someone* must know

The soda machine in the SMC loading dock has been a bit of a bęte noire for me over the last few years, because once it has taken your money there is no way to get the money back, even if it is sold out of whatever you wanted—and there are no individual "sold out" lights. When I've complained about this broken behaviour, I've been told that it is unchangeable and that's just how the machine works. Stuff like that is ten times more infuriating for CS folks, who know perfectly well that it's just a matter of rewriting a program somewhere, but there's no getting through the bureaucracy.

At least, though, there was an out: if I remembered to do it, I could press the button before putting my money in, and it would flash the machine's single "sold out" light, and I'd know not to buy anything. This isn't enough to solve the problem (since you still have to remember to do it) but it's something. Unfortunately, even that is broken now; if you press the button of a sold-out item it'll just flash the price that the item would be if it had any.

Argh.

So I called the extension listed on a sheet taped to the machine—which connects to Facilities—for if you have any problems. As I've done before, to little effect (other than, at least, getting the machine restocked). This time, though, they said that vending isn't their thing—with a slight tone of "why would you be calling us?" So I'm not sure how long it hasn't been their thing, but the sign is certainly still up there (and it used to be their thing). They transferred me to Dining Services.

I explain that I'm just reporting a soda machine that's out of an item, and whoever's on the other end says, "Hm, I'll transfer you to Helmut, then." That's our Director of Dining Services. I know it can't be him personally overseeing campus vending, but fine. He picks up and I explain why I'm calling and ask if he's the person in charge of vending.

"No, not really, but I can pass it along."

Huh. Well, I give him the info about the machine, and then I ask who is in charge of vending. For future reference.

"I'm not really sure. Nobody seems to know who's in charge of that."

He's being pretty good-natured about it and sounds almost as exasperated as I feel about this, so I don't press the issue of the broken keep-your-dollar behaviour of the soda machine, but really? I'm totally baffled about this. Facilities says Dining Services is in charge of vending now, but Dining Services says they aren't and doesn't know who is. Despite, apparently, trying to find out. Someone must know! Knox isn't nearly big enough to have this level of bureaucratic disconnect.

"But you don't expect all television to be great do you? How would you choose what to watch, or get anything done? I submit that the mediocre taste of the American viewer is a good thing for you." --Aaron Hanford

Posted by blahedo at 3:45pm on 15 Jul 2008
Comments
Well, if you ever do find out in charge, you can ask them to talk to the distributor who provides the soda about getting a new machine. Usually the machines are free because they are a vehicle to sell the product. If you can get through to them that a new, reliable, machine will sell more product, they should just come and switch it out for free. At least, if they're worth their weight, anyway. Posted by Chelsea at 10:23pm on 15 Jul 2008
You should post this on the machine: http://www.comics.com/comics/franknernest/archive/franknernest-20080716.html Posted by lee at 6:35am on 16 Jul 2008
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