Candy machine that takes only plastic may be a snack too far

The Leckey File

Your Money

September 05, 2004

I recently stayed in a downtown Denver hotel in which the vending machine in the hallway outside my room refused silver or paper money.

It only accepted plastic. Signs were clear about this. There weren't slots to attempt to stuff in real money, in case you were trying to pull a fast one.

Well, I was hungry late one evening and have always been one for progress.

The first time I swiped my credit card, I received authorization and a receipt, but the snack selected didn't drop. A candy bar bill revolving on anyone's credit card is bad enough, but an electronic charge for a candy bar never received goes against the Bill of Rights.

That snack I longed for continued to mock me from behind the glass, so I initiated another transaction. Authorization went through again, and the candy bar (unfortunately, not the two candy bars I was owed) did drop. I devoured it before returning to my room because I had earned it.

So, I wondered, what if you don't have a credit or debit card? What if you only had cash? Would you hang around like a teenager trying to buy alcohol or cigarettes until somebody with a card came by and was willing to make a purchase for you?

What if you were refused authorization? Having shaky credit is one thing, but credit so bad that a candy bar purchase is refused might send anyone into therapy.

But I had overlooked the positive: a handy candy-bar receipt for your expense report. At last, no more accusations of inflating out-of-town snack expenses.

- Andrew Leckey, Tribune Media Services

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