Impulse iPod

Are $300 MP3 players really impulse buy items? Macy's seems to think so.

Here’s the thing about vending machines, they tend to make you buy stuff that you don’t really want. I used to work in an office that had a vending machine full of chocolate and I constantly found myself running over there and piling coins into it, I didn’t really want the chocolate, but it was just there and easily accessible so I bought it. So a vending machine epitomises the impulse buy – you see those chocolate bars all lined up behind the glass and before you know it, you’re piling coins into its slot.

Now, by the above rationale, it would appear that the Apple iPod has now become an impulse buy, as has the Sony PSP. Yep, that’s right, you can now buy the most fashionable music players and handheld gaming consoles in a vending machine!

I spotted this, quite amazing sight while I was wandering around Macy’s in San Francisco. The machine has even been positioned right by the door so that it catches your attention just as you’re about to leave. You get the picture, you nip in for a pair of socks and just as you’re walking out the door you see the machine – the next thing you know, you’ve got a shiny new iPod in your pocket and a far smaller bank balance.

It would take a while for you to feed this machine enough coins to pay for a PSP, so Macy’s has made it easy for the impulse buyer – just swipe your credit card, hit the number on the keypad and wait for your new toy to be ejected. Of course, as anyone who has used vending machines will tell you, there’s all too many instances when that bar of chocolate gets stuck and no amount of banging, kicking or screaming at the machine will make it drop, forcing you to walk away empty handed. With that in mind, I’m not sure I’d take a chance on buying a $300 MP3 player from such a device.

However, even if I’d wanted to try the machine out, I didn’t get a chance. While I was taking these pictures a member of staff told me that only Macy’s employees were allowed to use cameras in the store, and asked me to leave! I guess I’ll shop at Saks next time.

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