The number one reason is their major legal issues, which you have already seen.
Getting a high-quality machine made in the U.S. is the most important factor in the success of a healthy vending business. Chinese-made vending machines have a very poor reputation. In fact, many US vending technicians will not even work on Chinese-made machines due to the low quality and inconsistency of machine parts. A needed part may work on some of the machines but not on others—even with the same model number. With Chinese machines, getting tech support from the factory involves a middle-of-the-night call due to the time difference and the language barriers can turn what should be a simple phone call into a frustrating experience. In the last several years there have been tremendous problems getting machines from China. Few people think the importing of machines from China is going to get better before it gets worse.
Our machine is made in Illinois. Vend Tech/N2G offers two machines. The UV machine they display on their web site is made in Iowa but the CP machine they mainly supply is made in China (it is shipped from a warehouse in TN but is not made there). Potential purchasers are not informed of the origin of the CP machine but the shipments from China can be found at:
Click on Shipments and you will see the regular shipments of machines from China.
N2G has a “substitution” clause in their contract that allows them to ship the machine from China if the U.S. machine is “not available.” If you are considering N2G, ask if they will remove this substitution clause so that you can be guaranteed to receive a machine from the U.S. The success of your business depends on it. A February 2023 Gallup Poll shows only 15% of Americans view China favorably. This is the lowest favorability rating in almost 50 years. We believe you should be able to choose to start your business with machines made in America—or at least be told you will be getting a machine made in China if that is the case.
There are three important federal regulations that vending machines must meet. Our machine meets all three. The N2G machine made in China does not meet any.
The most important is the reach requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act – can a person in a wheelchair reach every operable part of the vending machine? Meeting this requirement is not only the ethical thing to do but is the law. The fine for violating the ADA Rule is $50,000. So there was no doubt on this issue we asked the former president of the American Society of Forensic Engineers to determine if the N2G machine was ADA compliant. His report declaring it was not can be seen HERE
The second regulation covers the refrigerant used in the vending machine. In the materials N2G sends out they state clearly that their machines use R-134. This is the refrigerant almost all vending companies in the US used – until the law changed and that refrigerant was banned. You can see HERE that the R-134 class of refrigerants can no longer be used. Hefty fines can be assessed for placing a R-134a machine in any US location.
The third regulation is about energy conservation – does the machine meet the minimum standards set by the Department of Energy? You can see our machine, the HY2200 made by Seaga, on the certification database HERE. In fact of the 107 vending machine models ours is listed as the fourth most energy efficient machine made. This is due to our unique design. The N2G machine is not even on the chart as an approved machine. While it’s N2G and not the machine owner who will pay the fine for violating this regulation the question is whether N2G will be in a financial position to be pay a large fine for the thousands of non-certified machines they have sold.
Both our machine with a SmartMart side unit and the N2G machine hold 46 different products. No one nowadays sells the old outdated combo previously sold by N2G. A SmartMart or Wellness Center side unit can be added to our machine and still cost less than the N2G machine. But while our machine has a much higher maximum capacity than the N2G machine this is not the best way to compare machines. What they hold is more important than how much they hold. It is the capability and the flexibility of our machine that provides the greatest value. And it is important to realize that not every great location needs huge capacity.
Here are a few examples:
We designed our machine and our side units very purposefully. We are the only company in the industry to design machines. The standard machine sold by N2G is an oversized machine. It cannot fit through the doorway of many locations without removing the entire door assembly. This must be done by the machine owner as the delivery company will not do this. In the fine print of N2G’s Terms and Conditions (Section 9.1) it says the machine owner must “Re-Measure entry ways and all passageways from the entry to the final location to confirm that the machine(s) will fit.” If this over-sized machine was needed this would make sense but it is not.
Once location decision makers find out they can provide a healthy vending option for their employees and guests they are anxious to get their machine. We have seen over the years that they will wait about two weeks for a machine and then look for other options if they do not get one. We are contacted on a regular basis by locations asking if we can get a machine to them in a more timely manner. We love getting these calls because the answer is always YES!
So, how can we deliver machines so quickly and N2G takes such a long time? This is another example of where following the law makes good business sense. The laws in many states (including California, Florida and Texas) require that vending companies set a delivery date in the contract and ship all of the machines by that delivery date. We not only follow that law in the states required but we do so in every state. This means all of your machines are in your local area ready for quick delivery to a location.
N2G does not ship machines to your local area. They ship machines one at a time as locations are found. They often take 30-60 days to deliver a machine by which time a location has found another machine. This is one of the causes of their very large backlog of locations and machines.
By the way, the requirement to ship machines to the local area is a consumer protection action by the states. If anything were to ever happen to the vending company you would at least still have all of your machines. Many people do not feel comfortable making a large investment and many months later having no machines in their possession. This is also why N2G forces each buyer to sign a substitution clause (Terms and Conditions Section 3B) – that they can ship a different machine than the buyer purchased if they do not have the right machine in stock at the time it is needed. This could put a buyer in the position of having several different models of machines meaning they must learn the ins and outs of each different machine.
There are three major differences between our relocation guarantee and the one offered by N2G:
In 2022, only 3% of locations we found needed to be relaced under our more generous relocation guarantee process.
It’s your machine and we believe your machine should promote you and your company. We don’t put our name on your machine. N2G puts their name on the front and both sides of each of their machines. If someone sees a machine and is interested in one for their location, they contact the company whose name is on the machine. That will be you if it is our machine; it will be N2G directly if it is their machine.
Most of our business owners grow their business by getting location referrals from their machines. People seeing your machine can scan a QR code on the machine, go to a referral page on your website and request a conversation with you about getting a machine in their facility. If a hospital administrator, while working out in a gym location, sees your machine there, can easily contact you via the QR code. Your gym location could effortlessly turn into getting another great location like a hospital.
Our eManage program allows timely assessment of sales inventory, pricing strategies, product acquisition and inventory and other useful business functions. This allows owners to truly optimize their investment as well as their time. We connect our business owners directly with United Natural Foods which has a large library of healthy product offerings – including products sold in Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Natural Grocers, Sprouts, and other health-food outlets. This gives owners the variety they need as they try different brands and flavors and work to make sure each machine is filled with what customers there will buy the most of. Our competitors point their operators to Costco and Sam’s Club and they are forced to sell whatever those stores happen to be carrying with no opportunity to optimize.
SmartWarePro360 is our second proprietary software program. It facilitates additional vends by offering discounted vends for specific hours, offering free vends to create a buzz and creating combo deals of drinks and snacks or even a full meal with a discount when purchasing an entrée, drink and snack combination.
All aspects of the program we’ve developed around heathy-focused vending since 2007 all point to greater business success for our operators.
We are the only company to offer optional side units. SmartMarts allow you to sell not just drinks and snacks but entire meals. You can offer non-refrigerated soups, rice dishes, noodles dishes and more. In hotels you can sell all of the things people forget when they travel, sell school supplies in schools etc. In many cities, non-food items cannot be sold in the same compartment as food so N2G cannot offer these options. If you choose to get the Wellness Center you are selling over-the-counter medications that keep employees in the office when they are not feeling well. Employers love these side units and in large locations you can even add both a SmartMart and a Wellness Center. These add-ons are often purchased later, once the particular needs of a location are determined. They offer an additional and lucrative revenue stream.
Some people like the idea of selling fresh food in their locations – things like salads, sandwiches and yogurt. Our FreshMart side unit allows you to sell a full selection of these products. But because of the short shelf life of perishable food (2-4 days) you will go from visiting your machines once/week to three times/week. If you are going to go that often you want to make it worth your while and sell a wide selection of these products. N2G suggests you sell a couple of fresh products in their machine but you can’t offer enough to make it worth the extra trips to your machines.
Investments listed in the table are for 10 machines with the full program for each company. Our investment is substantially less than N2G. Are the reasons to pay more for N2G, or to get less equipment for the same money paid, compelling enough to say the value is worth the cost difference? Most people have not felt the N2G program had advantages that justified a higher cost per machine. This is especially true on reorders where N2G machines cost $3000-$4,000 per machine more than our machine.
Note: We are happy to provide a detailed, head-to-head comparison with any other healthy vending company you are considering.