New currency payment systems have more features to eliminate 'exact change only' situations. Some even recycle bills and allow multivending.
As currency handling technology evolves, vending operators are finding new tools to offer customers more convenient payment options. Operators are finding that giving consumers the ability to use whatever change they have on them ? be it all dimes or a $20 bill ? increases sales.
Technology is enhancing the versatility, reliability and durability of bill acceptors and changers. These benefits reduce consumer price resistance, and at the same time allow for a wider variety of price points in the machine. This is particularly important in machines that carry more product variety.
Dollar Coin Payout Expands
A recent Automatic Merchandiser online reader survey found that most bill acceptors accept denominations over one dollar and most pay out dollar coins as change. (See page 50.)
George Ferguson, owner of Chicago Midwest Vending Systems Inc., a 2.5-route operation in Chicago, said 5-dollar bill acceptance is a customer convenience that definitely helps sales. He said many consumers are not used to putting 5-dollar bills in vending machines, but they are more prone to do so in a newer machine.
Ferguson prefers the new 5-tube changers to the older 4-tubes since they have more capacity and allow for greater flexibility of change configuration. "Sometimes you need more of one kind (of coin) than you do of the other," he noted.
Fewer Bill Changers Needed
Like many operators, Ferguson has been able to remove a lot of his free-standing bill changers, thanks to the increased capacity of the new coin changers. "The (free-standing) changer isn't that necessary any more," he said.
Many operators also feel that higher bill denomination makes cash accounting easier. There are fewer bills to count and stack.
5-Dollar Bills Increase Bill Sorting
Five-dollar bill acceptance does create the need to sort 1s and 5s. But this can be easily overcome with a dual-pocket coin sorter.
While consumers have not gotten into the habit of carrying dollar coins in their pockets, many operators nonetheless find it worth their while to offer dollar coin payout to support higher denomination bill acceptance. This has created a need to continually replenish coin changers with dollar coins, but there is also a corresponding benefit. "The (total) coin we carry to the bank is significantly less than we used to," said Bob Yeomans, owner of Central Vending, Janesville, Wis.
Most operators interviewed said financial institutions are making dollar coins more available than they did when the new Sacagawea Golden Dollar was introduced.
Dollar Coin Payments Slowly Rise
Operators gave mixed reviews on how much the dollar coins are circulating back into the machines. But most agreed that consumers are spending them more than they initially did.
Stansfield Vending Inc. in LaCrosse, Wis. gets about 80 percent of its dollar coins back, noted Jim Wilson, vending manager. He thinks it helped that the company placed 1.5-inch square fluorescent orange signs on all of its machines advising the consumer that the machine takes dollar coins.
Noel Sims, service manager at JES Vending Inc. in St. Joseph, Mich., estimated he gets about half of his dollar coins back in the machines. He said it usually takes a few months when he introduces 5-dollar bill acceptance to a location to start seeing the dollar coins come back. He is using 5-tube changers to increase his dollar coin payout, and has recently begun using the Jofemar 5-tube changer.
Some operators still report having problems with lending institutions mixing the old Susan B. Anthony coins with the new Sacagawea coins. The problem with the Susan B's is they are often mistaken for quarters and they are not popular with consumers.