Did Coca Cola really do this?

I was watching a show on the Food Network the other night, I think it was called The Secret Life of Vending Machines. At one point they mentioned that there was a Coca Cola vending machine that (I’m paraphrasing here) increased the price of the beverage based on the increasing temperature.

If that’s the case it seems really underhanded to me, but that’s not for this thread. This one is to try to find out if that actually happened.

Crap, I meant to put this in GQ. If that’s the right place for this, I’d really appreciate a Mod moving it for me.


I don’t know if they did or not, but it’s a great idea! The price goes up $.10 for every 10°.

They might have.

It’s certainly possible, even trivial, for them to do. Why wouldn’t they at least try it?

Now that the question has been answered:

I don’t see what’s wrong with it. Hell if you look at it the other way they are lowering the price when it gets cold. I don’t think you can pick an arbitrary “fair” price. Whatever the market will ba?? be??..tollerate seems about right. If the price is too high you can buy something else.

Well, the hotter it gets, the less likely I’m going to want a cola, and the more likely I’m going to want a water YMMV.

I just think that it’s underhanded to have a vending machine, where one may have purchased a product before, to have a different price. Of course restaurants and stores do this thing all the time, but people approach vending machines with exact change in hand. Usually exact change is almost required for a vending machine, changing the price based on temperature is just going to eliminate potential customers IMO.

That is not true. Not raising does not equal lowering. The price is going to have a “basement” price that they will not go under. If it starts to get hot enough for one to be concerned about, maybe they should just offer a Dasani.

AFAIC, it seems to be more along the lines of “your body is telling you it needs hydration, otherwise death could be a possibility eventually. Since we have you over a barrel, we can and will charge more for a beverage. Drink Coke!”

Ok, I’m not going to ignore my own rules, and will start a thread in another forum if necessary.

I don’t think it’s underhanded, as long as the current price is clearly posted on the machine. Of course I think the competetion would push it out of the market right quick when there’s another machine with a normal price 100ft away.

I heard about this at the time it was proposed, and I believe this is what killed it. Why be at a competitive disadvantage exactly when your sales would be at their highest? I suppose they could pull it off in a place where they were exclusive, like an amusement park, but why should the park owners take heat for Coke to make more money?

What if it had nothing to do with the price of coke? What if the reason the price went up was because it took more energy to keep the vending machine cool at excessively hot temperatures and the price went up based on that?

I doubt that there is an electric meter installed on the circuit. Since the machine is on a lease/contract at each location there isn’t going to be a varying utility bill. Where most machines are set up there isn’t any way to determine how much energy it uses on a particular day.

I seem to recall that Amazon ran some experiments with arbitrarily changing item prices, to investigate the supply and demand curves. Some people got the same items at up to 20% price difference, on a randomised basis. Amazon were roundly criticised, and refunded money.

Basically, we accept supply and demand in the long term, but typically reject short term fluctuations that increase profits based on a notion of fairness. If Coke reduced the cost as the heat went up (trading profit per unit for increased sales) we would not complain at all, even if they made a lot more money overall.


I agree that it is difficult to determine how much energy the machine uses each day, but it is obvious that the refrigeration does use more energy on a hot day than on a warm or cool day.

I have seen vending machines which electronically display the current temperature inside (usually 34 degrees F). If so, it is trivial for them to also have a thermometer for the outside temperature, and adjust prices accordingly.

Many people would not see it as lowering prices at certain times. They’d see it as raising prices the rest of the time. So it would have to be made clear that the reduced price was exactly that. And then be prepared for all the people asking (angrily) why the price can’t be that low all the time. After all, it was only 50 cents yesterday at noon. Why is it a dollar tonight at 9PM?

I think raising the price as it got hotter would get them in trouble in Wisconsin. You have to sell an item for the lowest price it is marked. You could have the government on them every time it went up while you were digging for change trying to purchase the pop. The retailer in a store can’t rip down a sign while you walk to the checkout and not sell it to you at the price it was marked, and I think it would hold true for the vending machine. You’d likely need a yearly certification of calibration, on the components the affect the price of the product.

Yes, but the “marked” price is probably shown on an LCD or some other electronic display, so you never pay anything BUT the marked price.

You missed the part where he said:

This sounds like a valid complaint to me. I wonder if it would be solved by a note that says something like:

In order to help pay for extra cooling in hot weather,
the drinks in this machine are priced according to the
current temperature, which is: ###


100+   175
90-99  150
80-89  125
to 79  100

With something like this, if the temperature is at 89 or 99, the customer has warning that it could go up any second.

It would seem a bit problematic depending on the placement of the vending machines (sun/shade), and other nearby machines, many times I see a coke machine next to a Pesis one, usually the exact same price for either, if the price varried I would think most would just go with the cheaper.

These don’t seem like anything that couldn’t be overcome however.

I think so too.

However, it isn’t beyond the wit of man to roll out machines which compete with each other on price. If there is a Pepsi machine close by a Coke machine the latter could be equipped with technology which detects the Pepsi price and lowers its own price accordingly. If the Pepsi machine has the same technology then you would have a localised Vending Machine Price War.