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by Bud Buck, 11/05/99

DC: A major soft drink company has started to test a vending machine that can automatically raise prices for its drinks in hot weather. This is the first in what experts say will be a growing trend among vending machine sales ... variable pricing. Bud Buck reports ...

(sfx: change going into machine)

Bud: On a sweltering fourth of July afternoon, Kate Furbish is hankering for a nice cool drink.

Kate: It must be really hot. Look at the pop. It's up to a buck seventy five!

Bud: Kate is not actually at the beach, she's in an elaborately controlled simulated vending area built inside a warehouse in suburban Des Moines. Furbish is a Vice President at Vend-O-Rama, a design company that is in the forefront of efforts to make new, "smart" vending machines.

Kate: We've pretty much got the temperature sensitive systems figured out. Now it's a matter of expanding the services.

Bud: One company frequently mentioned as a customer for the new machine is FizzPop, maker of Krakatoa Cola. Newton Kelvin is FizzPop's vice president for Product Pricing.

Newton: It only makes sense. In high heat and humidity, people want a cool drink. The hotter it gets, the more they want it, the more desperately they crave it, the more easily convinced they are that if they don't get something cool to drink soon, they will burn up into a tiny crisp dehydrated nothing and blow away. The product becomes their lifeline, their salvation. So ... it is fair that it should be more expensive.

Bud: What about during cold weather? Will the price go down?

Newton: Are you nuts?

Bud: But weather sensitive vending machines are only the beginning.
Technology makes it possible for them to track much more than the exterior temperature.

Kate: We're going for vertical integration with these babies. There's no reason why the pop machine can't fold into it's function everything that a public machine can do for you anywhere in the country. It can be an automatic teller machine. It can be a telephone. It can sell you tickets to the ball game, stamps, caps, trinkets ... one machine should do it all.

Bud: How would that work? A combination soda pop/cash machine?

Kate: We happen to have one here. Would you like to try it?
Just slide a bank card or credit card in the slot and enter your ID number.

Bud: Ok, then.

(sfx: beep beep beep)

Machine: Hello Mr. Buck.

Bud: It knows my name!

Kate: Yes, it has internet access to your bank records.

Bud: But ...

Kate: It HAS to, if you're going to use it as a cash machine.

Bud: Well, I'll make ka withdrawal, then.

(sfx: keypad beeping)

I'm going to take out ten dollars. One ... Zero.

Machine: Would you like to receive cash, or Krakatoa Cola?

Bud: I don't want ten dollars worth of cola!

Kate: We have a right to hope, don't we?

(sfx: beeping)

Bud: I want it in cash. One's, preferably.

Machine: You have $357.89 remaining in your account.

Bud: That much! Really!

Machine: Would you like to have that amount remain in your account, receive it in cash, use it to buy securities, or receive it in Krakatoa Cola?

Bud: Wait a minute ...

Kate: It's all in the name of service. Flexibility!

(sfx: beep beep)

Bud: I want to keep it in cash. AND get one can of pop.

Kate: Push this too.

Bud: There.

Machine: Mr. Buck. Our records show you have an outstanding credit card balance of $4,566.22.

Bud: Hey, that's none of your business!

Machine: At 21% interest, this is a significant drain on your disposable income. Would you like me to consolidate your outstanding debts into one easy-pay plan that will save you money?

Bud: What's this?

Kate: Vertical Integration. The bottling company owns all the financial service companies that handle your accounts. One stop shopping!

Bud: All I wanted was to take ten dollars out of my account. And get a drink. That's all.

(sfx: beep)

Machine: Mr. Buck ... given your outstanding debt, is this withdrawal wise?

(sfx: beep)

Bud: Oh, knock it off.

Machine: Pocket money tends to be spent foolishly.

Bud: This machine knows too much about me.

Kate: Tell it what you want! Be bold!

(sfx: beep beep beep)

Bud: I want my money and something to drink!

Machine: Mr. Buck, you're weight is 20% over standard norms for men your age and height. May I suggest DIET Krakatoa Cola?

Bud: WHAT?

Machine: Body fat ratio ... 32% .

Bud: Won't it ever just give me my money?

Kate: It's records show you have so many other pressing needs.

Machine: Your undergarments may be too tight. I can size you for new ones, if you wish.

Bud: Now my privacy has really been invaded.

Machine: Enter waist size now.

Bud: (angry at machine) Don't you already know? You know everything else!

Kate: It's just trying to help.

Bud: Crummy thing.

Kate: Don't kick it!

(sfx: punch/kick?)

Bud: Ungh!

Kate: It's programmed to defend itself. Sorry.

Bud: And so ... I have seen the vending machine of the future. It knows everything and it fights back. Will this be the REAL future, or just some imagined place that might yet be avoided? (pause) Time will Tell.
This is Bud Buck, reporting.

Machine: My self importance shield has been activated.

Bud: Oh, be quiet.

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