On a recent trip to Pittsburgh, I passed this cigarette vending machine when I went to the restroom at Finnegan’s Wake (one of my favorite Irish pubs in town). It took me by surprise because they’ve been illegal in New York City for almost 20 years. I remember playing with the knobs as a little girl, but can’t recall noticing one ever since. I’m not a smoker so possibly they’ve just escaped my attention altogether, but this one in particular caught my eye because of how it has been modified.
The cigarette machine itself only has a slot for coins, no room for dollars. In 1980 when this machine was probably manufactured, cigarettes cost a mere 63 cents per pack. Now they’re being sold for $6.75. In order to accommodate the rising costs, The Bill Collector has been attached to the side of the machine, allowing the customer to pay with dollar bills “for credits,” as the machine states. But interestingly it also says “No change returned,” which leads me to believe that you’ve gotta insert six one-dollar bills and then three quarters in order to make the purchase, or else insert seven dollar bills and be out a quarter.
Since I don’t smoke and didn’t want to waste the money, I didn’t give it a try to test my theory. But I did happen to find some detailed information on The Bill Collector patent filed by Revenco.
If someone out there has used one of these machines and has a different understanding of how it works, let us know in the comments!
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