Do you know anyone who has ever purchased a high-priced ticket-item from any of the vending machines at Dallas Fort-Worth (DFW) international airport?
If your answer was “no”, you do now.
This is a little story of how I got sunk at DFW.
Location: Terminal A, DFW.
Date: Wednesday, May 5, 2010.
State: … holy crap, what’s that charge on my bank statement …. oh … that …
According to the DFW airport website, there are Best Buy vending machines in all five terminals, and the vending machines are provided to satisfy your tempta … er … rather, to fulfill the convenience of your traveling requirements …
As the layover was 5 hours to the overnight flight to Santiago, Chile, I was going to head out to the Apple Store at nearby Southlake Town Square, only a 20-minute taxi ride from DFW. I was all primed and ready, except I lamed out and didn’t feel like forking over the cash for a taxi.
Instead, I exercised what passed for procrastination by taking the Skylink train over to Terminal A, grabbing a bite to eat, and getting a shower in the AAdmirals Lounge. After checking e-mail over a cup of coffee, I left the Lounge to make my way to one of the Skylink stations to return to Terminal D, where naturally, I passed by one of the diabolical vending machines.
This is where I surrendered, and somewhat meekly at that.
You know how this works, right?
You see the vending machine. You walk on up and press your nose against the clear plastic window, mere inches between you and the product. Careful you don’t leave too deep the nose- or finger-prints …
Normally, you’d walk away, feeling a little self-conscious about who in their right mind would buy an iPod, noise-reducing headphones, or a Canon point-and-shoot camera from a vending machine in an airport.
But wait! You’re thinking about how simple it would be, if only you would just whip out the debit- or credit-card, and within seconds, you would have your prize in your grubby little paws.
You know you want to … don’t you …
At the vending machine, there’s a touch-screen to see what is available. Prices for Apple products are the same as those found at the the company website or in a brick-and-mortar Apple store. Oh and look, your selection comes with a short description, illustrated in loving detail why your selection would be a useful and powerful tool in your technological arsenal.
I looked into the bottom of the vending machine; it was all cold hard metal, painted in dark soulless gray. It didn’t look very encouraging for the safety of the brand new product, if the vending machine simply pushed the product out and down, with a tumble too horrifyingly quick, complete with a resounding crack at the bottom. Hell, it’s bad enough when a real chocolate bar falls from the top of the machine to the bottom …
But alas, the customer need not be fearful. After your choice of bank-card is swiped and the transaction is duly approved, a robot arm sweeps up and out of its hidden parking slot, reaches for and holds onto your purchase, and gently places the product in the retrieval tray at the bottom of the machine.
In less than one minute, you have in one hand a brand new “chocolate bar”, and in the other hand, a printed record of your folly … er .. transaction. It is dangerously easy, as that extraordinary “chocolate bar” is about two hundred times more expensive than your average candy-bar.
You could think that it might not really be about the product. It might in fact be about the process, which by this point a small crowd had gathered behind me to witness my use of the vending machine, all of them no doubt silently asking themselves : who in their right mind would buy anything from one of these vending machines?
Postscript: Friday, June 11.
As I’m on my way out to Frankfurt, I’m finishing and submitting this blog entry, once again from DFW. Why? Because I went over to check the vending-machines again today …
There are no iPads. Yet.
Appearing initially on Posterous on 11 June 2010, this post has moved and now appears on Fotoeins Fotopress (fotoeins.com).