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The Almighty Buck

Coca Cola Supply and Demand 254

December writes "Short article about Coca Cola testing vending machines that raise the price when temperatures rise. " I can see it now: at a hundred degrees it'll cost 2 bucks. And 105 it'll cost 20. At 110 it'll cost as much as a minivan and at 120 it'll cost ya your pension and 401k. It'll still be cheaper than the freakin' movie theater.
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Coca Cola Supply and Demand

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why those polar bears keep drinking Coca-Cola!

    They must get it free cuz of the temp sensor in their vending machine!!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Actually, here's the truth: Coke did some HUGE blind taste-testing with the new coke before release. It was well proven that the majority of people preferred the taste of New Coke over the Classic when they weren't told which was which. They did this because Pepsi was gaining market share, and taking away Coke market share, mainly due to the cheaper price of Pepsi at the time (What with Pepsi being known at one point as the "supermarket brand" coke), and the popular taste of Pepsi (Usually a dead-even heat of Classic Coke vs. Pepsi). So they unleashed the New Coke. Pepsi retaliated like a sore loser, with quick jabs and cheap shots, such as "*We* won't change Pepsi's great taste", and the semi-famous commercial where "farmer joe" suggests how unhappy he was with his changed Coke, " What did they do with it?". All this, and still Pepsi's other ad campagns trying to establish it as a competitor to Coke, not a substitue to it, were getting Coke antsy.

    It was more of a "Don't change it" effect than a "Tastes bad" effect. Problem is, most people immediately _thought_ it tasted bad because it was "New Coke", and because of the slick Pepsi campaign. Strange psychology, but true. If the New Coke had been re-packaged in the Classic style, and the ingredients lied, and there were no information leaks, most people would have told Coke they liked the formulation of coke, and would have told them to keep it the same way, "like it had always been", and never change it...

    Of course, if you still don't beleive me, then you need to check out a short CBC series, entitled "The Cola Wars", it'll explain all this, with awesome "oldies" commercials... :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This really sucks for me.
    I live in Huntington Beach, and coca-cola is the "Official" drink of huntington beach. What this means is ONLY coke products can be sold on City property, and yes, Coca-cola is giving the city a hugh chunk of cash for this. Last report where the money is suppose to go, got changed, but nobody seems to no where it's going now.... hmmm. I wish I was making this up.
    So now we know how Coke going to regain the money they gave my city. It is a beach city, and it does get hot.
    I like coke, it's magical properties have allowed me to code some pretty cool stuff, but jeez...
    OTOH.. they may start putting external links to these babies, maybe IR! and man I've been looking for an excuse to start hacking with IR MUahahaha
  • Coke recently signed an exclusive contract with my old high school (a 1500 total student, public school).

    Cost of exclusivity: $2,500,000.
  • If I understood this correctly, the vending machines would use some kind of thermometer to measure the temperature. In that case, all you have to do is find the thermometer and apply some ice or something. I wonder how low the price can get. . .
  • Something like this already exists:
    The price for Guinness in some pubs in Dublin increases over time. First (until 11 PM), it is 2.40 (Irish pounds), then (until 12) 2.65, after then 2.90, which is quite expensive. The prices vary a bit from place to place, and not all pubs have this scheme (thanks God).
    Of course this makes sense, because after a couple of pints you don't mind anymore paying a bit more, and you are not 100% sure anymore whether you remembered the price correctly :-)
  • Whatever extra money they make off this will be offset by increased vandalism costs. This will rate right up there with the Coke Classic fiasco.
  • good point. Then CO2 from a fire extinguisher. Or dry ice.

    I wish I had a nickel for every time someone said "Information wants to be free".
  • THIS is probably one of the most OBSCENE bizness stories I've EVER seen!
    OOH! You're DYING, you say? HERE, try my new superinnoculated antimicrobial NOSE SPRAY! As seen on TV! So what if you're right here in the ER w/your mind addled by fever. YOU NEED IT, RIGHT?
    And you get a 5$ dose of some cephalosporin for $1800. Measure by need? Tax the poor, cause they need more?
    Thank god I have reloading gear. Damn, we're gonna need it....
    I had more, but my gorge is all bouyant all of a sudden...
    Anyone remember a british film, Eat The Rich?
    They won't feed anyone, but they might make a damn satisfying snack.

    If Buffett goes for this shit (which I think should appall him), it's time to bring back the guillotine.
    And YES, I know what could come next...

  • This wouldn't matter on my college campus (University of Virginia) as most vending machines also take our charge accounts on our ID cards. That way, 63 cents could be taken off without need for pennies, and most students would just swipe their cards and get their coke anyway.
  • I don't think you can really call the New York Madonna Incident (NYMI) an "enforcement" by Christians. I would call it one of the few triumphs of good taste in the past decade.

    Until fairly recently, art was the creation of beauty, not social commentary except in a very few instances. In fact, it seems to me that art has become social commentary only since it has become government subsidized: possibly because few people are willing to pay for social commentary and literature generally does a better job of it.

    I realize you could make a case for literature being art, but it seems to me that it is really in a different category from the visual, tactile, and performing arts. In fact, it still seems that visual and tactile arts rely far more on government subsidy (at the professional level) than the performing arts and literature, so I guess I'm not too far off base in drawing a line here.

    IANAAHP (I Am Not An Art History Professor), but that's the way it looks to me. Or, in the words of Robert Heinlein, "A government subsidized artist is an incompetent whore".

  • while I'm no fan of drinking coke (jolt's tastes nicer), I think this type of marketing would lead to vendor-hackering. I can imagine enterprising fools trying to find the location of the sensor and alter it's temp settings to drop the price :)
  • Are you guys this concerned over fifty cents? This is vending machine sodas anyway. Take a count at how often you go to the vending machine. Now, picture where the vending machine is located. Got it? It's INDOORS! Most of the time anyway. If things get bad, just head to the local 7-Eleven. They'll gouge you for worse there.

    Yeah. I can see Coca-cola stretching cables and sensors for live updates so they can get an extra fifty cents per can.

    Put things into perspectives.
  • Dude, it was because New Coke sucked. Did you ever drink any of that? Man, it was nasty.
  • Oh that's easy. The university I went to (Brandeis, in sunny Waltham, MA) made quite a bit off of bottled water. This was because the local water quality was really really awful. If you're afraid to drink it from the tap, bottled water (also probably from the tap) gets to be more appealing.
  • Yeah but $25 Canadian dollars won't buy you a Coke ;)
  • | they are going to provide "interactive
    | experiences" at the coke machine.

    How many people remember when Coke brought out the talking/singing Coke machine? I believe this was sometime in the early to mid eighties. Anyway, the machine would talk to you and sing the (annoying) "coke is it" theme at you while you tried to buy a drink from it. For this privilege, you paid an extra twenty cents (over the already inflated price).

    This first brush with an "interactive experience" at a Coke machine didn't last too terribly long.

    I don't know about the rest of you, but all I want from a coke machine is a can of soda.
  • McDonalds will be charging $2 for a hamburger at 5pm, and $.50 after 8pm.

    IIRC one of the fast food megacorps (I think it was actually McDonalds) tried differential pricing, where you could get a particular sandwich or combo meal for less after 5pm.. or was it before 5pm.. Anyway, it didn't work, or else we'd still be seeing it... And quite honestly, if Coke machines charge too much, I simply won't buy. I don't actually buy vending-machine soda now anyways: I drink flavored seltzer water. I let the quad venti cappucinos do the caffeination grunt work.. ;)

    Your Working Boy,
  • My university has succumbed to this. However, we've sort of gotten around it. A number of enterprising individuals have taken to purchsing chips, sodas and various other things at the local Costco, and selling them on campus for like 35 cents a can. Even before the temperature inflation hits, these are already half price.

    The best part is that they're still pulling a profit -- all while using the honor system (drop some change in the bottle if you grab a can). Gotta love it.
  • Jeeze. Just when you'd thought they'd found a way to squeeze every last nickel out of you, they come up with a new one!

    One of the reasons people use the machines is because the price of the soda is always the same! I don't want to run downstairs at work one night and find that the $0.65 I scrapped together to get me a Coke ain't gonna be enough because they didn't fill the machine and got greedy with the price of the last couple cans!

    If I run across one of these machines, I'd rather do without than buy from one. Or I'll just start buying the $0.58 2 liter bottles of the generic cola from WalMart and bringing that.

    I mean, I'm willing to pay a premium for convenience. But really! I draw the line at paying EVEN MORE of a premium because the temperature is over 80 degrees Farenheit that day!

    Chas - The one, the only.
    THANK GOD!!!

  • Does anybody remember in, I think, Steven Levy's Hackers where at Stanford, they used to have a double or nothing vending machine. Wouldn't that be awesome? Push a button before making your selection, and there's a 50/50 chance you'll get your quarter ($0.50?) back. That would be great. Nobody loses or gains any money in the long run, but at least it would add a bit of spice to your life. Actually, the vendor would make more money as compulsive gamblers would play every day, even if they didn't really like soda.
  • Coke has almost made a business out of screwing up their market presence. Just look at the "New Coke" fiasco of the 80's.
    When's the last time you saw plain-ol' "Coca Cola"? It's all labled "Coca Cola Classic" these days.
    That error resulted in wholesale defections of avid Coke drinkers to the Pepsi camp. They felt betrayed.
    It had little to do with the flavor of the soda, it had everything to do with the betrayal they felt.
    Pepsi was investigating the possibility of bottling "Original Coke" when Coca-Cola "reintroduced" Classic.
    Since that time Coke has lost market share to Pepsi. The only reason Coke holds the dominant position
    anymore is their deal with McDonalds. Everywhere else Pepsi walks all over them. Coke got into Burger King
    a few years ago because they went in on the cheap. Pepsi wasn't willing to loose money to keep the deal.

    Let Coke go through with this hairbrained idea, they haven't made a really grand mistake in over 10 years. :-)


    (who can attribute a lot of his good fortune directly to Pepsi. :-)

  • Actually, the water quality in waltham has improved. Its actually drinkable from the tap. It doesnt help that there are a lot of people at brandeis who would run screaming at the thought of drinking non-filtered, non-bottled water, but i had a friend who would take a few gallon jugs into the shower with him (in East, no less) and fill them directly from the showerhead. most people couldnt tell wheither it was bottled water or not.
  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 )
    Oh great. Now instead of pouring salt-water in the tops of those things to short them out and get free pop I'll have to pour liquid nitrogen in them....

  • Maybe there will be a line of oh, say, four machines, hooked together in some type of beowulf cluster. Your Coke comes out 4x as fast, in four canisters 1/4th the size of the original cans, which you have to go around to the different machines to collect.
  • Down with the man and his closed source vending machines! I hereby start the gVend project, which aims to be a fully Open Source replacement for Coca Cola vending machines. It will...

    Um, oh wait, never mind.
  • At one place in Perth, Big Macs are $1 after 5pm, quite a bit more expensive before then (I'd guess $3 or more). Don't know what effect this has on your theory. Unfortunately it still tastes just as bad, but for $1 I don't care.

    Like the $1 bottles of Schweppes Cola (normally $1.80 or more). Sometimes you just have to give up buying the better tasting product because the competition is priced so much better.


    (all prices in Aussie Dollars)
  • In case ya didn't know, the theater doesn't get any of the box office money. They make their dough off of the concessions.
  • One way to hack this system would be to bring a tank of compressed air. Aim the valve at the temperature sensor and give it a blast. Whoosh! Instant sub-freezing air. Watch the price drop from $1.00 to $0.50. Now buy your drink.

    Reminds me of when a close friend was living in a rent-controlled apartment in Washington DC -- with heat included.

    Their apartment was freezing cold. They could never get enough heat. The landlord said that the thermostat was correctly set to the minimum required temperature, and there was nothing he would do.

    Eventually, she wound up calling a city tenant-landlord bureau. After a few minutes of conversation, the person on the other end asked here this:

    "Look at the thermostat"

    "ok ..."

    "Is there a lightbulb near the thermostat?"

    "Yes. There's a light about a foot above it ... Ohhhhh ... that dirty little ...

    "Try unscrewing the bulb."

    For the rest of the winter, they simply hung bags of ice over the thermostat, and enjoyed the tropical climate.

    Hey ... ripoffs go both ways.

    - John
  • If you had cold water on a warm day, you wouldn't really need to buy an expensive coke, now would you? Jesus, people, think a bit..

    ... the sugar content of water isn't very high.

  • I look forward to making the machine think it's freezing outside, so I can get coke at cheap prices. all I need is a jet of expanding gas aimed towards the thermometer(s). Hairspray comes to mind.
  • Picture the following scenario:

    It's a hot day at the beach, 105 out, and I'm thirsty. Hmm, shall I buy a Coke for a buck fifty, or a Pepsi for a buck? Sure, I prefer Coke, but half again the price? I think I'll go for that Pepsi, I don't like Coke that much.

    I prefer Coke, but the main reason buy it over Pepsi is because otherwise they're the same. You get the same amount of liquid for the same amount of money. If I have to pay much more for one over the other, I have little reason to buy it.

  • ... to plop a soda machine down right next to the coke machine. That'll remove this completely asinine feature.
  • You fail to understand a key component of a capitalist society.

    The underdog will never adhere to something that will piss off the public.

    Unless of course you're the airline industry.
  • Free Coke in Canada!!!

    (This ain't no troll, I am Canadian!)

  • If the temperature of the Coke machine could be lowered to absolute zero, would the Coke be absolutely free?
  • Would anybody actually pay more than say, two bucks for a can of pop, no matter how hot it is outside? Geez. I doubt they would turn a profit if they went over a dollar.

    If I'm hot or tired, I crave water or fruit juice anyway. Not pop.

  • I understand the argument that this coke machine sensor can easily be defeated and that this is a dumb idea in general. I hate to tell you this, but it's already being done on a slower scale based on a number of factors, the main ones being inflation and people's willingness to pay. Before I moved out to Washington, the coke prices in Connecticut were like $0.75 per can. No big deal you say? This was in 1986. God only knows what they are now. Even now in Washington, a Coke and a smile is about $.50 (unless you're at a public event or a Ferry). The reason they could get away with this is on the East Coast is because that's what people would pay. Hacks aside, this concept will not work simply because people won't accept prices changing that fast. They prefer incremental price increases that keep pace with INFLATION, not the TEMPERATURE!!!!

  • Does ANYONE out there really think that there will not be a minimun set for the price of a can? Penny Cokes will never be had. The price will go from the $.75 that they are normally UP to $5 when it's sweltering. All the dry ice in the world is not going to make them lose one red cent on a discounted can.
  • Soda machines are mostly for people who are unwilling to travle to the store. Thats a wide range of people accually from the terminally lazy to the terminally overworked.
    As such even if a store is only accrost the street the person lacks ether the time or the willpower (some times both) to cross the street for a better price.
    However this isn't the same as Microsoft if it's unreasonable you just turn your nose up and walk away. At 75 degrees a 50 cent soda looks good at 120 a $2 soda looks good but as it gets colder 50 cents seems to be asking way to much.
    By adjusting the price the machine addapts to demand. There is an advantage here for caffine freak night owls like myself.
    Now I'm just waiting for those things to be connected to the Internet so I can monitor the price drop... Wooohoo soda at 5 cents... time to buy...
  • In spite of the intresting "nitro" comments it should only take an icecube to cool the sensor down if it's exposed.
    One would think it would not be burryed deep within the soda machine where it could cool the sensor down itself along with the sodas.

    However one of the news reports I heard on this suggests that this is all handled by remote controll and the machines are not indupendent.
    This could mean the soda machines get the tempiture for the area the same way I do.. over the Internet.
    I use wmWeather [] to get my local weather and it shouldn't be a big effort for a soda machine to do the same.

    Accually reading Cokacolas responce I wonder if this has anything to do with price. It's posable Coke is just extending the old coke finger into giving vending maching owners Internet controll.
    One of the things an owner COULD do is jack up the price when it gets hot but he can do that anyway just not by remote.

    However a hack for the remote controlled coke machine would be to break it's Internet connection late at night when it's cold.
    Or better yet.. just stock up late at night. There are enough night geeks that your local night geek can get the sodas for the day geeks.

    If the soda machine is at your office and has an internal sensor then just make shure it's inside where it's nice and cold.
  • My point is that I'm sure lots of people find this practice unfair... Which it isn't, if you believe in the value of a free market economy. That's all...
  • I don't know why this notion is so unappealing to some people (and I agree that it is, and that Coke will probably not get away with it here). I mean, this is what we Americans believe we stand for... Pure, unadulterated capitalism.

    Just goes to show you that what we call a free market economy is anything but.
  • Sure. The welfare system, graduated income tax, farm subsidies, defense contracts, import tariffs...

  • Check out the current "The K Chronicles" [] for something very similar - in return for subsidizing the birth of a child, 21th century companies get to brand and raise them the Coke/Pepsi way - addicts to a drink and its included drug.

  • If you don't have enough change, whip out your compressed air can and chill the sensor...
  • I think somebody at the CocaCola company has been listening to Jack Valenti.
    This Hollywood dumbass suggested changing the price of movies, depending on how much it costs to make the movie.

    Pure, unadulterated BullShit.

    It's called "Level Playing Field," something a lot of readers tend to forget.

    "Pure Capitalism" my ass.
    There's no such thing.

    Consumers have rights too, not just profit-making entities.


  • Right. Now I know a good use for liquid nitrogen. Free coke for all!

    One could just avoid machines with digital price displays. Good old sticker prices. You can rely on them not changing unexpectedly. Unless, of course, there's a hidden robotic arm inside the machine that pops out and switches the price stickers when nobody's looking....

  • The Caffine in that crap makes me gotta go potty more often than water. Potty time cuts down on code time. Not good. I can't think of the last time I saw an out-doors coke machine...a rest area on the interstate maybe. Heh.
  • That seems like quite a bit of money, lets do a quick breakdown. Mind you this is really rough and contains a bunch of assumptions. If you want to do better you are welcome to.

    2,500,000 / 1500 = $1666 dollars per student

    If this contract lasts 20 years, that figure becomes around 83 bucks per student per year.

    At 50-75 cents a can, its not unreasonable for them to recoup the cost over the life of the contract. Variable pricing schemes will only help this matter. That is a good measure less than one coke purchased per student per education day. The situation gets better for Coke as prices go up and student body size increases.

    The benefits dont stop there. Soft drinks have pretty good brand loyalty that develops early in life. If all that you can get at school is Coke, then there is a good chance that you will keep drinking Coke. Similarly, Gilette hands out free razors so that they can make money selling you the replacement blades. Companies are willing to take an initial loss if the continued relationship will bring them enough profit. If they manage to hook you on Coke products, they can look forward to a lifetime of sales.

    Another point for Coke is all of the free advertising they can display in the school. At the very least, they have the bright red vending machines sporting the Dynamic Ribbon Device TM. Chances are they will get a banner on the scoreboard, and other placement opportunities.

    Personally, I am against all forms of advertising in schools. If I ever hear the words: "This lecture was sponsored by Coca-Cola, please enjoy a nice cold Coke in your next class." my kids are out of that school. Screw Channel One.

    You might want to cook up a better analysis and ask the administration sold out so cheaply. Hey, arent elections for the school board coming up?

  • Feh. Coke is a useful carrier of caffeine. When I want something to cool me down, I go for plain water or Gatorade. As long as water and Gatorade companies don't follow suit, I'm fine! ;)
  • ...I want the damned things to take my 5$ bills. I dream about them accepting 10$ bills. I dare not dream about them taking the 20$ bill, like the one and only strip of green paper that resided in my wallet today when I went looking for something to drink at work... *mutter*

    Oh, and it has to give back the right change, too. ;}

    If they sing, dance, give me the weather (hey, stupid, I can look outside the bloody window if I want to see the weather report ;), give me a stock quote, or give me anything other than change for something more than a 1$ bill, I'll hate them.

    ...I'm going back to kick the soda machine here a few more times.
  • I work for a college that is "owned" by the other evil empire, Pepsi. Thanks to a donated electronic message board (I refer to it as the "Big Ugly Sign").

    Now just because they have all the vending rights does not mean one can't buy a Coke. You just have to know where to look.

    One weekend I installed a refrigerator in my office and now keep it well stocked with whatever is in demand. I even beat Pepsi's price :-)

    "The last thing I want to do is deal with a bunch of people who want something."
  • How could you do this to me? What about all of those long nights that I have spent coding forgetting about friends and family, but never you dear coke. Has my devotion to your sweet taste been nothing to you? Say it ain't so. My life and my work depend on you and I have paid more than my share of the coke payroll. Damn you bastards!
  • If this was actually implemented by Coke, would each machine be programmed depending on the location of where the machine would be? I think it would *suck* to be at one of these machines in the Mojave desert, where in the summertime it's a brisk 120+ most days and cools down to a modest 75 at night.

    Also, how will the machine know if it's inside or outside? I'd rather walk to a machine that's inside at that point, as it would naturally be cheaper if it can't tell how hot it is outside...
  • Well the simpliest way to avoid hacks like this is have the internal system keep track of temperature deltas and if the delta is too large then they can take actions like shutting the machine down, sounding and alarm, etc...
  • Most likely cheaper ingredients. Then there's the cost of advertising. Coke and Pepsi spend big bucks to all of the grocery stores so that the store will put Coke/Pepsi higher up on the shelf, or at the ends of the aisles (that is premium grocery real-estate). Most stores don't put the shitty cola in the coolers, either, Coke and Pepsi pay for that.
  • then you can find the sensor and apply something nice and icy cold.

  • This is especially poignant because it costs approximately fucking NOTHING to manufacture soda. Putting it in cans is more expensive than making it. Like popsicles, you get, like, 6 billion percent profit.

    You can break even on the movie soda prices is you make yourself a fake student ID for the admission discount. Instead of $1,000.50 to get in it'll be $5. Fake student ID's are easier to make than fake driver's licenses... and who is going to suspect that you made a fake ID to make yourself a few years YOUNGER?! Pick some random obscure out-of-state private school with a student population of about 700 and your golden. Who cares what the real ID actually looks like. Just laminate the fucker and now your tickets are $5. Hurray!!!
    --------------------------------------- -------------------
  • I know about Coke and Surge, but Barq's is actually put out by, "Barq's Inc." I just a had a can for lunch (hehe ok I didn't eat the can know what I mean : )

  • by miyax ( 32757 )
    We've got a Coke bottle machine @ school, and not only is it cheaper to go across the street and buy a bottle of the same soda, but the machine doesn't take dollars. It's got a dollar slot, but it just refuses to take them.
    Besides, I prefer Pepsi. It doesn't make me as hyper and doesn't have that annoying extra taste thing that Coke has. If I need energy, three glasses of Coke, a Barq's root beer, or a few sips of Surge do the trick : )
    Long live Pepsi! I hope Coke suffers from this, and Pepsi and Barq's and even Snapple come out ahead. Coke's not selling well in the U.S. anyway.

  • You'd be better off throwing your liquid nitrogen on the plexiglass of a regular candy machine. Screen shatters = free candy. Or you could just rob the next person in line. Or you could just work for a living and spend your money on things other than carbonated caffeinated sugar water.
  • As you'll see here [] or somewhere else. It's too bad coke's own page is so braindead (although not half as braindead as the page for barq's.
  • Barqs, Surge, and Coke are all put out by the same company.
  • you people are forgetting that they're not going to put these machines beside a pepsi machine

    These machines are going to be very strategically placed.

    Think of this... the campus here has a population of 45,000 (students, professors, staff)
    Coke bought the rights to the campus for the next.. oh I dunno 20 years or something.. which means.. NO WHERE on the whole huge campus can pepsi be sold

    They have done this in many places... and what a brilliant idea from a profit perspective (from a consumer prospective it sucks) but just remember.. they know what they're doing.. they're not gonna stick these things beside Pepsi machines... competition isnt a factor
  • So now we can look forward to ignoring Coke machine alarms in addition to car alarms?

    How about putting cold spray vending machines next to the new Coke machines?
  • Just drink Pepsi, it's better anyway.
  • okay... the we just hack the temperature controls with some compressed air and get a coke for $.11
  • I know what the "interactive experience" will be: AOL access!
  • Why this is difficult (unless they do not deserve any engineering grade):
    -There are several means to establish temperature measurements (power usage of fridge, temp. sensor(+low-pass filter), halfway-temperature measurement [in the middle of the insulation], any of the above in multiple form, etc .....
    -There are several means to detect hacks (sudden temp drops, below average temp (-5oC in June), etc...)

    have phun
  • Why can't these bozos 'get it'?

    Wouldn't it be better to use technology to let the machine tell the supplier when the machine is getting low on product so they know to come and fill it?

    If they did this, they wouldn't need to adjust the price for the weather.

    What a dumb idea....
  • Hey guys. I figured this article would show up here today.. I happen to work for the company that is developing these new vending machines. I can't really say much about the technology (NDA), but the machines are in fact NOT designed to raise prices when the temperature rises. I don't know how/why that got out into the press, but it really was blown out of proportion..

    - Sean
  • > My point is that I'm sure lots of people find this practice unfair. Which it isn't, if you believe in the value of a free market economy. That's all...

    Yeah, but we're all threatening to not buy coke, not force gov't intervention.
  • ...that 25-cent soda still tastes like arse to me.

    I'll pay the extra cash for Pepsi which doesn't much taste like arse.

    - A.P.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • ...tend to taste like piss mixed with battery acid, in my experience. Not that I've ever tasted piss or battery acid, but I imagine that's pretty much how they'd taste.

    - A.P.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • Canned air is, like, $5 a bottle, at best. Holding it upside-down and spraying the "liquid air" uses a lot more of it than holding it in the intended, upright position. So you'll maybe get 10 sodas out of it before your can runs out of air. Simple arithmetic shows that you've saved exactly $0.00.

    - A.P.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • Actually, this does sound a lot like Microsoft's plan to charge per use for their office software, etc. Fortunately, however, we don't have to go out and invent a revolutionary new paradigm in software development to defeat this one.

    Just carry a water bottle.


  • If this ever happened (which I seriously doubt it would) you could just carry a small can of spray coolant with you. A 10 second squirt on the sensor and bingo! 10c coke :)
  • Also like microsoft:

    Don't drink soda of any kind (other than soda water) for 6 months, then try it again. I did that and realised that once my tastebuds had grown back that it was actually pretty vile.

    While I realise that in general, Coke is a want rather than a need, It is illegal in many places to hike up the price for a needed product or service based on the level of need (such as construction and materials after a disaster).

    While it is not as bad as that, it is ethically headed in the same direction.

  • Okay, this is a really, really stupid idea.

    If the machine has it's own temperature sensor, what's to stop someone from putting the machine in the shade, or blowing cold air (or liquid nitrogen) on the sensor.

    On the other hand, if the machine is internet connected, and goes to a weather database to download what is supposed to be temperature information. . .

    But in some areas, temperature varies by location, like in LA, you can drive 10 minutes and reach a higher elevation, or go behind some hills, and you're 10 degrees cooler.

    Next thing you know, McDonalds will be charging $2 for a hamburger at 5pm, and $.50 after 8pm. Gee, this isn't any different from the electric company charging more for electricity just because it's Winter, or phone companies charging less for off-peak hours. Or Airlines charging more for, well, what appears to me to be collusion.

    I wish I had a nickel for every time someone said "Information wants to be free".
  • That is the real question. At what point can we make money off of it? -5 -10?

    Grant Chair, Linux Int.

  • I don't think you can really call the New York Madonna Incident (NYMI) an "enforcement" by Christians. I would call it one of the few triumphs of good taste in the past decade.

    I didn't say it was wrong. I said it was enforcement. There's a difference.

    Until fairly recently, art was the creation of beauty, not social commentary except in a very few instances.

    I'm no expert of art, but Picasso's Guernica isn't all that recent, and neither are the centuries of political cartoons that have littered newspapers for as long as we can remember.

    I don't think the caricature was invented in the 20th century.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research

  • You'd think a company like Coke, which has to be in touch with consumer desires, could do better than that.

    We are exploring innovative technology and communication systems that can actually improve
    product availability, promotional activity, and even offer consumers an interactive experience
    when they purchase a soft drink from a vending machine.

    Now, nothing there says that this would not involve price changes. After all, "improv[ing] product availability" could be accomplished by raising the prices in times of hot weather.

    My guess is that they did decide to do this, but are backing off because they now understand the firestorm of protest it would inspire.


  • Good grief... Flash forward to two years from now. You walk up to a condom vending machine. It uses an infrared sensor to, ahem, measure the blood flow in your lower extremeties (more blood, more heat given off), then charges you ten bucks for a pack of trojans...

    Folks, I don't think we want to head in this direction (pun not intended).

  • How peculiar! That's precisely how Pepsi and Coke tend to taste to me!

    I'm a big Dr. Pepper & Mt. Dew person...but the funny thing is, I drank Wal-Mart's store brand Mt. Dew-alike, Green Lightning aka Mountain Lightning, for quite some time, and the only real difference I could tell was that the Wal-Mart store brand didn't have those ultra-wide mouth-holes that the Mt. Dew cans instituted a while back. And they were cheaper, too.

    It's funny...people like to claim they aren't affected by advertising, that it's more annoying than effective...but the thing is, it is effective--a lot more than people realize, if only subliminally. Let's play a little word-association game. If I say "overnight package delivery," what is the first name that pops into your mind? Or, alternately, if I said, "When it absolutely positively has to get there overnight"? I would bet real money it's Federal Express [] in both cases.

    And that's the really insidious thing about advertising. Like Pavlov's dog by the dinner bell, we're conditioned by constant, repetitive bombardment of commercials. While those commercials may not prompt you, upon watching them, to go out and ship a package or buy a soft drink or rent a car or fly an airline somewhere...the folks paying for them know that sooner or later, you're going to want to do one or all of those things...and that if they can lodge their products firmly enough in your subconscious mind that they're the first thing you think of when the time comes...guess what, that ad just paid off. And the fact that companies continue to pay for advertising and product placement is proof that the system is working.

    And, ironically enough, the consumers themselves subsidize their own indoctrination by paying premium brand prices for brand-name products, prices that include money to cover overhead--including costs of advertising--instead of buying the cheaper, and often equivalent, generic substitutes. Think about that the next time you plunk down fifty or seventy-five cents to "obey your thirst."
  • Oddly enough, on my campus, the Coke machine prices are the one vending machine price that hasn't changed. (Well, the cup-drop machines went up, but the canned dispensers are still at fifty cents per 12oz aluminum can--which is cheaper than I've seen it just about anywhere else, including some parts of town.

    Even so, buying it by the 12 & 24 pack is >=50%cheaper, especially at the K-Mart where I get a 10% discount already. A classmate and I have worked a deal where we split the cost of a case, and I'll keep them in my fridge and bring them to class with me every day.

    What I find interesting is how the article notes that this could lead to vending machine price wars, wherein they try to undercut the competition by selling cheaper. Given that for a lot of people, colas are highly substitutable anyway...this could be interesting.
  • Probably just those stupid CGI polar bears. :) Or maybe a sound booth like at the record store, only you can hear your favourite coke jingle while watching play a version of Quake featuring the CGI polar bears as target practice. Now that would be cool! Of course they'd have to run Linux...

    Now if only I had a Beowulf cluster of coke machines...

    (Sorry had to be said :)
  • Fortunately, I think that any corporation as large as Coca-Cola (and with the kind of competition they have) realizes that this would be nothing less than corporate suicide.

    It would encourage the damage and vandalization of their vending machines, and it would encourage their competitors to advertise, "We don't raise our prices like the Other Guy does when it gets warm outside."

    Oh well, I liked Pepsi's products better anyway. *grin* (Mountain Dew!)
  • ... pour cold water on the machine until the
    price goes back down.

    I wonder if we could drag the machine outside on a winter day and get the coke for free?

  • Actually, the 'New Coke' was a success in that it lead to a strong support for the 'classic coke.' People heard there was a new coke and instead that they wanted the old coke.

    The probably didn't intend for things to happen that way, but that's life.

  • I wonder of Coca-cola's rebuttal is truly because of erroneous news reports or if it's corporate backpedaling.

    With a bit of marketing savvy, they could have spun this to make it sound like the machines are lowering the price when the temperature goes down. Then I'll bet the tone of discussion here would have been quite different. There's already well-known model for changing drink prices over time to match demand. It's called happy hour, and because it's advertised like a discount (instead of "during Happy Hour, we don't gouge you quite as bad as we normally do") nobody complains.

  • I personally welcome the idea of temperature sensitive Coke machines. I'll wait till the dead of night, carry a 3 gallon (~12 L) jug full of ice and a shopping cart with me to the machine. Then I'll dump the ice all over the machine, empty all the Coke into the cart for $0.01 a can, and disappear into the night. I hope nobody reading this is a cop or an engineer from Coke; I guess I really should stop scheming out loud.
  • Yes. Your post should have been moderated up as "informative".

    But... interactive experiences? That's a tad weird.

    I could see, say, a coin-op low-capacity jukebox embedded in one, or perhaps a touch-screen-based feedback/survey system, but either are still a tad strange in my book.

  • Check the rebuttal (cited in post 21 [] in this discussion).

    If they did actually do it, 'tho, and I were an evil lunatic working for Pepsi, I'd consider installing heat lamps. ;-)
  • Now, sure, at first this seems like a darned clever application of modern technology and capitalism. But it's actually a horrible mistake. To wit:
    -Most car companies make you haggle to get your new automobile. People hate this; while there's a few who like to make deals, most people feel like they're getting ripped off. Saturn comes along and starts their big "no pressure, no haggle" thing. Consumers love it, Saturn gets market share and repeat buyers, other car companies have to think about changing their pricing structure.
    -Airlines sell just about every seat in the plane for a different price. Everybody's sure that they're paying too much, and the entire internet travel industry springs up -- people are willing to spend hours on-line to find a cheaper fare, just because they think the airline pricing structures are out to get them.
    Seems to me that, if you buy from a temperature-sensitive Coke machine, you'll always remember that 15-cent soda you got on January 3rd, and evey other can you buy it'll seem like Coke is ripping you off.
    So people will try to save money, go to another machine (maybe one in an air-conditioned building) with a cheaper price. Or they'll just buy Pepsi, which has a price they can count on all the time. If they'll buy from Saturn or Priceline to save money, they'll sure do it for a soda they buy every single day.
  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Thursday October 28, 1999 @03:54PM (#1579644)
    Interactive experience... probably defined as rocking the machine violently in 100 degree heat while the machine says "please deposit correct change".....

  • by snack ( 71224 ) on Thursday October 28, 1999 @04:56PM (#1579645) Journal
    "Before we can serve you with the nice cold (32 Degrees) Coke that you have already spent $5 for, we would like for you to take a 50 question survey" (Touch interface has 2 buttons "OK" and "Cancel" (Cancel is greyed out).
  • by Pyr ( 18277 ) on Thursday October 28, 1999 @02:39PM (#1579646) Homepage
    In most areas, raising the price by too much when it's hotter wouldn't work. Why? Because all someone would have to do would be walk a couple more feet and find another vending machine that doesn't do that. (I prefer those $.25 sodas they sell outside of grocery stores)

    Unfortunatley, one large market where Coke has the monopoly is high schools and colleges. All they have to do is donate a scoreboard for the women's softball team and poof, they're the only ones selling soda on campus. When this happens, they can do whatever the hell they want to.. they COULD raise it to $20 even on cold days and since most students don't have that much time to run off of campus between classes (if they even can in the case of high schools) they either fork over the cash or suffer with the metallic tasting drinking fountain water.
  • by Effugas ( 2378 ) on Thursday October 28, 1999 @03:34PM (#1579647) Homepage
    People: This is gonna be a weird one. Yes, I could spout endlessly about the ridiculousness of real-time price gouging. But complaining about what is the obvious part--reverse engineering the why is where things get interesting.

    Welcome to the new misshapen love child of greed and interactivity.

    Coca Cola deigns itself an entertainment provider--this is cool and all, but I get the off feeling that they want to turn their coke machines into something you need to spend an extra thirty seconds standing in front of, doing something, anything as long as they get to inject their brand into progressively higher levels of conscious thought and thus more lasting mindshare.

    There are strategists right now drooling over the possibilities of giving a dime off a coke in return for knowing who the Coca Cola BlowJob Woman Of The Month is, or whatever else somebody pays Coca Cola to inject into the national consciousness.

    Advertising is starting to get very strange--its hardcore but the very successful funding of television combined with the progessively more desperate advances of Internet properties losing the patience of their Venture Capitalist Sugar Daddies is starting to put their whim at even more of a spotlight in American culture.

    There are more than a small amount of irony in the fact that where religion wanes, a new breed of idolatry takes even greater relevance.

    As I see it, American culture has created the all too peculiar Caged Idol, whose likeness, usage, and applications are tightly controlled under penalty of legal harassment. [] One truly has to stand back and appreciate the openness of religion--anyone is free to paint Jesus, or, with no small amount of irony, sculpt a likeness of Mao. Religion is no stranger to enforcement against those who would criticize(witness the furor over the recent New York art exhibit), but in general, religions that allow any imagery is pretty free regarding who may create it.

    Entire swaths of society have abandoned religion, but they're no strangers to idols. As one of my friends observed, "Most people at this school find someone interesting if they have a new Abercrombie shirt on."

    In a culture where idols are trotted out for selling everything from identities to shoes(or do I repeat myself?), the usage of variable pricing schemes is but a sign of a new level of integration between divergent aspects of American Culture: Idol Worship meets The Almighty Sale.

    Temperature sensors are but a ruse--the real concept that Coca Cola wants to play with is the idea that the price of a Coke can change. For simplicity, they'll start out by giving you ten cents off if you slide your card--the knowledge that it was *you* who bought that coke is worth more than a dime. As time goes on, they'll unveil their hyperactive dispensers with LCD touch screen quizzes--remember the national consciousness injections? Those who are "in with Coke" get cheaper product. Those who don't pay more money, which is enough of a pain to force them to answer correctly.

    Will this work? Possibly. Will it be degrading beyond all compare? Very possibly.


    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research

  • by Meeko ( 8176 ) on Thursday October 28, 1999 @02:42PM (#1579648)
    ...right here:

    http://www.thecoca- []

    Of note is the comment that they are going to provide "interactive experiences" at the coke machine. Any comments ??

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