Vending machine operators in India are learning about the downside of the coin-op business the hard way. A programme to promote safe sex by offering condoms through vending machines is being threatened by vandalism and theft.
The programme, which was funded by India’s National AIDS Control Organisation, installed some 70 venders earlier this year. Of those, approximately 30 machines have been stolen, and numerous purchases at the remaining machines have been made with counterfeit coins.
Local press reports have expressed shock and dismay at the situation, noting that the venders were installed in high-traffic locations like book markets, railway stations and public restrooms in hospitals and health clinics — all seemingly safe.
The machines cost $50 apiece and vend a three-condom pack for about $1. No doubt Western operators, who have had their share of thefts and vandalism, can sympathise.