Bulk candy vending operators are often as outspoken in their beliefs about certain types of vending machines as sports fans are about their favorite hockey or football teams. One bulk candy vending machine manufacturer that seems to garner unusually passionate commentary is U-Turn (http://www.uturnvending.com/home). If you are not yet a member of http://vendiscuss.net/, I recommend that you visit their bulk candy vending thread. I once read a post from a Vendiscuss member who stated that the only good use for a U-Turn machine is target practice.
Any bulk candy vending machine that fits your budget, doesn’t break down often, and makes you money consistently is a good machine. Having said that, I will add that U-Turn machines do exhibit some design features that many operators dislike. Since my experience is with the U-Turn 4 Head, I will restrict my comments to that particular model.
The Good Points
• Used machines and parts are readily available. U-Turns are sold frequently on eBay and Craigslist. Likewise the parts. You should be able to purchase descent looking, fully operational, used U-Turn 4 Head machines for around $100.
• Removable canisters. U-Turn machines feature detachable plastic canisters that are easy to clean and easy to swap in and out on location.
• Multiple products offered. This can be a blessing or a curse, depending on the location. More on this below.
The Bad Points
• Not suitable for many locations. To justify maintaining four different product types, you need a location that provides a fairly high level of patronage in relation to your machine. Even if, for example, three of the products move briskly, but one does not, you will still end up tossing candy every three months or so. This practice will cause you to lose money. Most bulk candy vending locations simply do not provide the machine usage level needed to justify a 4 canister machine.
• Difficult to collect the coins. In “older” U-Turn 4 Head machines (which are the ones most commonly available on the used market), there are plastic trays inside the machine that are supposed to catch the coins. In fact, many of the coins miss the trays and you end up fishing around the bottom of the machine to pick up quarters one at a time from a flat surface. Not fun.
• Plastic coin mechanisms. Plastic coin mechanisms are much less durable than metal coin mechanisms. You can readily buy spare U-Turn coin mechanisms. I had only one U-Turn coin mechanism failure in about 16 months of operation, but why risk the loss of revenue and business owner ill-will that stems from a machine malfunction when you can avoid the problem altogether by buying a machine that features a metal coin mechanism?
J. Scott Jackson