Blog: Punishment Doesn’t Fit The Crime

Featured yesterday in the VendingMarketWatch Daily Update was an article regarding a vending company in Illinois that is currently being sued for having cockroaches in a coffee vending machine. Hometown Suburban Vending in Oak Lawn, Ill. is facing three separate cases each seeking $50,000 in damages.

Now, I don’t condone allowing cockroaches in vending machines, and I am in no way saying that the vending company has no fault in the incident, but $150,000 in total damages seems awfully harsh for the crime committed. Vending machines aren’t air-tight contraptions that are impenetrable by bugs. If cockroaches exist in an area, they are likely to migrate to places that are warm, and have a food source. A vending machine that dispenses coffee has both of those attributes.

Furthermore, shouldn’t the university be, at least, partially at fault here? Odds are the cockroaches weren’t in the machine when it was installed, which suggests that they were present within the cafeteria and gravitated toward the coffee machine. I believe it is the university’s responsibility, as much as the vending operator, to ensure that the environment in which people eat is clean and safe. If there were roaches in the machine, that means there were roaches elsewhere.

This seems like a greedy attempt for people to cash in on an incident that is, at the most, a disturbance. None of the reports say that any of the victims, and I use that term loosely, were struck ill after consuming the coffee. It’s a gross scenario, that probably ruined someone’s day, but to insist on such astronomical sums of compensation is excessive. There are no reported medical bills, and each of them will presumably survive this incident with nothing more than a story to tell. Isn’t the bad press that will inevitably surround this story enough of a punishment? There’s no use kicking a man while he’s down.

The moral of this story really is to be diligent in the cleanliness and upkeep of your machines. Most operators do ensure a clean and safe environment for their customers, and they take pride in their work. But that won’t stop people from trying to take advantage of you, and the consequences of accidents like this can be steep; steep to the tune of $150,000.

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