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Coke Studies Vending Technology

October 28, 1999

ATLANTA (AP) _ The Coca-Cola Co. is studying wireless technology that could allow bottlers to raise or lower soda prices by remote control at certain times _ say, during hot weather.

Lower prices during periods of slower sales would presumably bring in more business _ unless the higher prices at other times enraged customers. But a spokesman for the world’s biggest soft drink maker said the company has no immediate plans to put such a machine into the marketplace.

``The issue of the pricing is something we don’t see happening anytime soon, if ever,″ spokesman Rob Baskin said today. ``You could probably make a vending machine that could fly, too, but I don’t think we would do that.″

The New York Times reported today that the company is testing a machine that can automatically raise prices for its drinks during hot weather. It also quoted chairman and chief executive M. Douglas Ivester’s comments on the subject earlier this month to a Brazilian newsmagazine, Veja.

The desire for a cold drink increases during the summer heat, Ivester said, so ``it is fair that it should be more expensive. The machine will simply make this process automatic.″

Baskin said Coke’s research and development department is evaluating several technologies for new machines to allow the company to remotely collect data such as how full the machines are and how often they are visited.

Coke is one of several beverage makers interested in such data because the information could increase the machines’ productivity, said Ron Sewell, president of Automated Network Solutions, a Roswell, Ga., company assisting Coke with the tests.

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