HARNETT COUNTY, N.C. — Ads for vending machine-type businesses are all over the Internet. Some ads make it sound easy to make a lot of money by just sitting back and collecting all the profits.
That is what a Harnett County college student thought. When it did not work that way, he called Five on Your Side's Monica Laliberte.
Justin Smith invested $1,800 in 12 candy machines.
"You go to a location once a month, take quarters out, put a couple pounds of candy in and leave," Smith said.
Instead of collecting quarters, the machines are collecting dust in his living room.
It took months to place just two of the machines. In March, Smith paid Washington-based Advanced Vending Locating $600 to place the rest. A representative gave him 10 locations, but when he went to install the machines, Smith said, "I'm getting madder and madder and madder."
Business after business said they did not agree to anything. Smith called Advanced Vending's corporate office and his local contact, Larry Rosenbalm. Smith says Rosenbalm only had excuses.
"He had minor surgery. He had relatives die. He's in Michigan. You name it, and in a two-day period he gave me about six different excuses," Smith said.
So Smith called Five On Your Side.
"It makes me physically ill to think I've got over $2,000 tied up in gumball machines that I put a quarter in every other day to get a gumball out of in my living room," Smith said.
Five On Your Side found others have issues with Advanced Vending. Several people wrote the Rip-Off Report claiming they felt they were duped. One even mentioned Rosenbalm specifically.
Five On Your Side called Rosenbalm. He claims a man he hired "messed up the job." He promised to place the machines and within two weeks he found spots for six.
Smith says over the last three weeks he has collected about $30. He has a long way to go to break even on his $2,400 investment.
Rosenbalm's cell phone has since been disconnected. Also, Advanced Vending never returned Five On Your Side's phone calls.
Five On Your Side warns that while some vending opportunities are legitimate, many are nothing but schemes.