I’ve had the pleasure of deploying payment kiosks across the United States and a reoccurring issue I’ve encountered is dealing with “jammed up” bill and coin acceptors.
In my experience this occasionally happens to even the highest quality payment devices. In this article I’m going to detail the redundancy strategies we employ in our client’s payment kiosks to help maximize their ROI and minimize downtime.
Given enough time it’s inevitable that a customer will insert a coin with gum on it causing a jam or one of my favorites is when someone tries to insert 2 or 3 coins side by side.
I’ve seen the same thing with bills where a customer will stack the bills and try to feed in multiple bills at once. When I see this sort of misuse I’m thinking “haven’t you ever used a soda machine before?”
It’s impossible to know what’s going through their minds but for whatever reason they thought it was a good idea.
A simple and admittedly obvious work around we’ve incorporated into many of our client’s payment kiosks is to use dual bill acceptors when accepting cash.
This way if one jams it usually gives the client sufficient time to correct the issue without the payment kiosk becoming completely unusable. I know this solution seems obvious but I’ve rarely seen it put into practice.
The cost of an extra bill acceptor is often negligible when compared to the reoccurring cost of calling out a technician to clear a bill jam, especially afterhours. For our clients that deal with a lot of dirty bills the cost of the extra bill accepter is well worth the extra expense.
The same redundancy strategy can be used for the coin acceptors. Fortunately credit card readers aren’t plagued by the same sort of issues but depending on your user base it’s not always feasible to accept credit as the sole form of payment.
Another common issue we’ve encountered with our payment kiosks is for the thermal printer to get jammed. A nice redundancy strategy is to offer the customer the option to email a receipt.
Depending on your payment kiosk’s target market you may be able to eliminate the paper receipt entirely. This has been the strategy adopted by Redbox and it works great with their customer base.
Redundancy can also be employed in other areas like at the server level. Microsoft Azure has a great cloud platform that supports a ridiculous amount of redundancy both for your web server and database. I’m a huge fan or Windows Azure and we recommend it to all of our clients.
By planning for the common issues that plague payment kiosks you can help maximize your ROI and minimize downtime. When designing your redundancy plan I recommend strategies that maximize the likely hood that the kiosk will always be able to accept payments and minimize the likelihood of needing an emergency support call, especially after hours.