Interesting stuff about the suppliers. The system is yours after it's installed? It's similar to things like paint displays in big box home improvement stores, they're all installed by the supplier, not the store.
I'm surprised you have a cider on tap, a lot of places don't do that unless they're the 40 things on tap kind of establishment. I'm a fan.
How do you clean lines that long? I've been told that lines can get funky if not tended to properly.
Don't drink the first few beers of the evening.
But this might help: http://www.inndoctor.co.uk/beer-line-cleaning/how-to-clean-beer-lines-instructions/
I've noticed an uptick recently in companies who are willing to let a customer walk rather than making any sort of a concession or accommodation. I can't tell whether this is because they're making these decisions based on a strict ROI evaluation, a (possibly true) belief that the vast majority of customers only bluff about walking away from a deal, or whether it's as simple as the person you're dealing with at that company has simply stopped giving a shit.
It's not so mysterious. People in Retention Departments have quotas and margins and limits on their generosity, just like salespeople. In a recession, they have less ability to offer freebies and credits. There is a restocking fee of 15%, and that is the margin they play with. (I have no idea what, if any, restocking jwz needed. Maybe instead of restocking they invited over the folk from Hubba Hubba Revue, put hoses on the Miller taps, and played 'beer capture the flag' or 'beer wrestling'.)
Regarding your specific explanations:
Strict ROI evaluations are done at the upper management / VP level, and would include few if any individual accounts. ROIs for individual accounts are someone thinking, "Do I want to deal with this?" and couldn't be called strict.
The person you're dealing with at that company never gave a shit; they just wanted to make their margin and get that quarter's bonus. The ROI for that person is "Will this account help me get my bonus / keep my job?" The answer could be no for as simple a reason as, "I sent this up the chain saying we needed to do this, but my supervisor (who has a quota 10-100x larger) didn't have enough points of margin of his own to approve it."
Back to the case in point:
7up/DBI was looking at jwz as an existing customer who wanted them to spend a lot of money--potentially having to re-do all his lines--for a simple increase in purchase. Not to minimize his business expansion, but revenue from increases in purchase go into a different cell in the Excel spreadsheet from the 'new customer' cell, and the cell for 'costs incurred for increases in business' is supposed to be zero. Sure, businesses expand and that's good, and someone needs a beatin' for letting a big account walk; but it's a recession and everyone's margins are tightening, and consumer-side business doesn't have as much ability to spend money to make money.
Coke/Matagreno had totally different incentives: jwz is a new customer, so there is (usually) more ability to offer incentives. Particularly for this product, new customers always have an up-front cost (so it's okay for that number in the spreadsheet to be big). So jwz's henchman called up Coke/Mantagrano and said, "Hey, do you want a really fucking big order? We have seven bars and with our construction schedule they're going to be live and running full blast the day you install them. As an added bonus"--and I'm sure there is an Excel cell for this--"you get to steal that business from 7up/DBI. Did I mention our credit is fantastic? Yeah, our credit is fantastic." Whoever answered the phone pissed himself with glee.
Yup, pretty much that.
I'm not an accountant, but it makes me think that the former distributors do not take into account income lost from prior events when they analyse their financial performance. If they did, losing an account would be just as significant as a negative as gaining it would be as a positive, and thus one distributor would fight just as hard to keep their current accounts as another one would to acquire new ones. This explanation seems to say that there really is no tracking or reckoning for losing the account, aside from the initial face palm, and so in effect after the news wears off, they are picking money off the table and tossing it in the trash, going forward into the indeterminate future, without realizing it.
Then again, maybe it's healthier both personally and professionally to move on after a screwup.