2011-01-20 / Local & State

Paper: Pa. Wine Kiosks Failed Hundreds Of Times

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – The wine vending machines placed in Pennsylvania grocery stores shut down or failed to dispense bottles hundreds of times before they were taken out of service last month, a paper reported.

More than 700 kiosk problems were reported to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board between June 24 and Dec. 20, The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News reported Saturday, citing a review of the agency’s call center log obtained through a Right to Know request.

The kiosks, located in 29 supermarkets across the commonwealth, are aimed at making purchasing wine more convenient for consumers, who otherwise would have to go to a state liquor store. Customers have to pass a blood- alcohol breath test to use them.

All of the kiosks were shut down Dec. 21 after bottles failed to dispense in one out of every 150 to 175 transactions.

The paper says more than 150 calls reported that kiosk screens froze, were lagging or did not show any words. More than 100 other reports said the kiosk shut down, showed error messages or the screen went black.

About 130 reports dealt with customers’ ID cards not scanning, getting stuck in the machine or prompting an ID hardware error message, according to the paper’s analysis.

Other problems included kiosk doors not unlocking, plastic shields not rotating to dispense the bottle or staying open after a transaction, Breathalyzer pads requiring multiple attempts and receipts not printing.

Jim Lesser, CEO of Simple Brands, the developer of the Pronto wine kiosks, said many of the reported problems stemmed from faulty resistors and problems with circuit boards. He said the company replaced circuit boards and tens of thousands of resistors, realigned receipt printers and installed faster processors to speed transactions.

Five or six kiosks are to be reopened Tuesday on a trial basis for a week, and the rest will be put back into service if there are no more problems, Lesser said.

“This is a first-generation machine,’’ he said. “I certainly didn’t anticipate having as many glitches as we had ... (but) these types of things are pretty standard.’’

Return to top