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In our office, we currently have the option to pay into a subsidised Vending Machine, mainly intended to dispense snacks and drinks in a nearby public location. We would come to own a percentage of the machine's profits (to be starting to pay out after it has paid itself off minus initial investments) for as long as the machine stays in place and as long as we stay employed at the company (as we will be using the company's vending licence and existing location for the machine).

How long should one expect it to take for a machine like this to start running a profit? Assume a decent pedestrian throughput in the area, year-round. Supply would be paid out of the machine's income.

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    Wouldn't the number of days be the unit cost divided by the product of your percentage and the daily turnover? – user662852 Dec 19 '17 at 12:55
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    There are non-constant variables that must be known - specifically the operating cost of the machine, the profit margin of each item and the expected sales (in number) of each item per period. Unless you know all of those there's no way to calculate the break-even time. – D Stanley Dec 19 '17 at 14:56
  • @DStanley That is highly unfortunate =/ I was hoping it'd be a more reliable investment than that. – Weckar E. Dec 20 '17 at 11:15
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    @WeckarE. How could someone evaluate an investment without knowing how much it costs, or how much it returns? – Grade 'Eh' Bacon Dec 20 '17 at 13:22
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    Why did the scams tag get added to this one? Yes the answer mentions scams, but the question does not directly relate to them? – Weckar E. Dec 21 '17 at 12:56
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There are scams that involve vending machines. The company wanting to sell you a one or more machines will claim that you can make regular easy income. It all hinges on how much will sell at a given price. And is it worth the effort to make that money.

The company pitching this deal should have historic numbers. The question is do you trust them.

Here is a example from the Better Business Bureau Don't Get Short Changed: Be Aware of Vending Machine Scams

In tough economic times, consumers often look for ways to supplement their income. The Better Business Bureau warns consumers about help wanted ads that promise large profits for little effort serving automatic vending machines or display racks. This may sound like an easy way to make big bucks, but be cautious! Although some business opportunities that service vending machines or display racks are legitimate, many are not. David Polino, President of the Better Business Bureau warns, "Potential investors should get all the facts or they may end up being short changed."

...

The following are some common tactics fraudulent promoters might use:

  • Inflated profit projections, including elaborate charts that may have no basis in fact.
  • Locator services, in which the company claims to employ an expert locator to find prime locations for its machines. The service usually ends once any establishment willing to have a machine on its premises is found, regardless of how many potential customers that area attracts.
  • Training programs that are generally superficial or non-existent. And it should be noted that it is impossible to learn to be a successful vending operator in one or two weeks from an out-of-town salesperson.
  • "Good deals" on machines, which may turn out to be machines sold for two or three times their actual value. Potential investors should be wary of buying any machine that they cannot look at in person since catalog pictures and descriptions may not tell the whole story.
  • Repurchase plans, in which vending promoters offer to buy back inventory from the investor. Unfortunately, the promoter is usually long gone by the time an investor tries to exercise this option.
  • Guarantees offered by sales agents often are worthless because the agent cannot be located and the manufacturer will not honor them.
  • It seems unlikely that something through OP's employer is a scam, but, it's so unusual a situation for something like this to be run by an employer, so who really knows... – stannius Dec 21 '17 at 20:08

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