Bob Tullio’s Product Perspective: For those mysterious service calls, Innovolt offers an explanation and a solution

May 11, 2022
A closer look at products, equipment and services that will impact an operator’s business.

As an operator, even if you currently reside in the executive suite, chances are, you have been on more than one service call in your life. Having worked in just about every channel of the vending and amusement business, I went on many service calls during my 37-year career.

Out of order – but why?

What was the problem with the equipment most of the time? Why was there an out of order sign taped to the glass of that Asteroids (circa 1980) machine? Why was the micro market kiosk shut down (and every employee in the place was glaring at me)? Typically, there was nothing obvious. Sometimes, the screen was frozen in place.

How did I repair the equipment? By turning the power off and on.

Fixed – with low confidence

It took a one-hour drive in Los Angeles traffic and one hour back — to turn the equipment off and on. Sometimes, I checked the connections on the circuit board (just for show). The customer always looked skeptical, and I would leave the location with a low level of confidence about the repair. This was often confirmed a week or a month later, when the same service call came in again.

So, what causes this mystery problem that locks up video games, vending machines and now, painfully, shuts down micro markets?

An explanation

Andy Reese and his team at Innovolt have studied the origin of these mysterious equipment-related service calls for the past 25 years. In fact, the company has spent millions of dollars in research and development – with over 35 patents granted and pending for their products. Reese is director of business development at Innovolt, and his company has both an explanation and a solution for operators.

“Over 40% of the equipment-related service calls in convenience services, especially micro markets, are related to power anomalies,” said Reese. “I am talking about failures in the aging electrical grid or within the electrical infrastructure of a customer location. Either way – the micro market kiosk is frozen, the sales are shut down, there is mayhem among the customers, and for the operator, it is a costly emergency service call.”

Power anomalies?

Why are there so many electrical issues in the U.S.? A recent article in Popular Science Magazine cited studies that show our country has more electrical issues than any other developed nation.

As the article points out, “The oldest American power lines date back to the 1880s, and most of today’s grid was built in the 1950s and 1960s with a 50-year life expectancy. When these poles, wires, and transformers went up decades ago, the system was initially overbuilt, with growing demand anticipated, says Alexandra von Meier, an electrical engineer at the University of California, Berkeley.

What’s the impact on operators?

For operators, it means costly service calls, lost revenue and unhappy customers. The situation is particularly challenging if the problem occurs because of electrical surges or momentary drops in voltage that are occurring within a specific location. “Every operator has some locations that experience more of these mystery service calls than others,” said Reese. “Of course, no client wants to admit that they have a power problem in the building, but they will be quick to have you change out a vending machine or kiosk that is going down on a regular basis.”

The Innovolt solution

Innovolt offers operators a simple solution, a way to overcome the problems caused by electrical anomalies, for about the cost of a single service call. “Traditional surge suppressors do not protect your equipment from the vast majority of voltage events attacking your electronic assets,” Reese said. “Our products offer protection for power anomalies that are known to cause equipment errors, failures and downtime. It remediates the impact of all damaging power disturbances before vital equipment can be impacted.”

How does it work?

Simply plug your vending machine or kiosk into an Innovolt device. Then, connect Innovolt into the wall outlet. “Let the Innovolt technology protect your customers from lost sales and you from spending money sending techs on phantom service calls,” Reese said.

Critical value – especially today

Innovolt products provide more value than ever today, noted Reese, with operators facing labor shortages, increased labor expenses and skyrocketing gas prices. “Service calls are expensive, not to mention the loss of sales, the possible damage to equipment – which can happen – plus the customer relations nightmare that occurs when a micro market is shut down at lunch time,” he added.

Innovolt as a sales tool

Reese encourages operators to use Innovolt products as a sales tool, as a differentiator, especially when your customer is complaining about all the kiosk downtime they have been dealing with from an existing supplier.

Sleep better at night with Innovolt

“One operator who installed several Innovolt devices told me that it reminds him of having a water leak detection device on a coffee brewer. You don’t need one until there is an incident that could flood the office, but you are thankful that you have them,” said Reese. “Knowing that his micro markets will keep on running through electrical anomalies and that his service costs will be cut dramatically – all because of Innovolt – he says it helps him sleep better at night.”

Which Innovolt product is right for you? To learn more, contact [email protected].


Industry consultant and contributing editor Bob Tullio is a content specialist who advises operators in the convenience services industry on how to build a successful business from the ground up and advises suppliers on how to successfully connect with operators. Tullio’s YouTube channel, b2b Perspective, is designed to “elevate your business in two minutes.”

At the 2022 NAMA Show in Chicago, Tullio presented a pre-conference session entitled, “Selling Convenience Services: Strategies of Elite Performers.”

For more information on the services that Tullio offers to operators and suppliers, visit his new website at or contact him at [email protected].


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