Let me tell you a fun little story about me as a child. I thought I was so slick.
When I was about eight, I figured out how to cheat the vending machine in the school cafeteria.
If you're wondering whether this machine allowed you to get more than one of an item if you pulled your dollar bill out of the slot in time, then you'd be correct. I've never had a big sweet tooth, so I would sell Snickers bars and Doritos for off and profit, my original dollar still intact. I was a sneaky little devil. I was never really reprimanded for it, and the vending machine wasn't there forever, but I was indeed the king of the world for a time!
When Redditor SterlingBoardman asked the online community, "What loophole did you exploit for years before someone found out?" people shared their stories. Some of them are downright geniuses, and I have to tip my hat to them.
"I paid three hundred dollars a month..."
I paid three hundred dollars a month to park a really pimped out van in a heated garage in Boston. If you parked in front no one could see you. Found a spot near an electrical outlet and ran a line into the van. Paid for a $10 gym across the street that was open for 24 hours so I had all the hot showers I wanted. Served at a nearby restaurant so ate most of my meals for free. Watched tv on my laptop with the free WiFi from the coffee shop above me. Literally lived in downtown Boston for 310 dollars a month while I went to college.
"However, I found out..."
There is an app for a local burger chain where it allows you to "roll the dice" to get a code for a free double-patty burger upgrade. It was designed so you could only try it once per day and it even shows the date of the roll on the code so the cashier could verify it.
However, I found out that you can just change the date on your phone and try again immediately. If you got nothing, change it again and just keep going until you get the code.
Then, when you got the code, you change the date back to current date and the app updates the code so it looks like you rolled it today.
I got free burger upgrades for years until they finally got rid of the feature alltogether. I don't know if anyone ever figured out this exploit, they removed it for other reasons.
"My friend used to restock..."
My friend used to restock condom machines in pubs and collect the money from them. The machines would always break and get jammed all the time but because it was condoms no one would ever tell someone that the machine ate their money. He would just count how many condoms were gone and give that amount of money to the company and pocket the rest.
"When I was a kid..."
When I was a kid there was a pay phone down the street that if you put your quarter in and made a call but no one answered it would give you back two quarters. Went there all the time and called home when I knew no one was there to answer.
"I went to a sporting goods store..."
I went to a sporting goods store and they asked me for my phone number when I was paying. I was in a bad mood and didn't want to fight with the clerk so I told them our local area code + 555-1212 (which is the old number for directory assistance), clerk accepted it and I left. When I checked my receipt I had a huge number of loyalty points - because apparently a ton of other people did the same thing. I called the office the next day and switched the "account" to my new address. A half-dozen times over the next few years, I went and got free stuff with all the points that I kept racking up as one of their most loyal customers.
"The machine just confirmed the card number..."
Parking meters took credit cards. But they weren't actually connected to a live network at all times. The machine just confirmed the card number was valid and was not expired, then spit out a valid pass. So when my card number got stolen and replaced, I kept my old, cancelled card. Of course when the system tried to run the card later it would be declined. My car and I were long gone by then. Sadly they wised up and now it charges your card before giving you a pass.
"Every time I ordered..."
The McDonald's app used to have an entry in the order book for "garlic parmesan fries" that you only found through the search option. It cost $0.00. Every time I ordered it I got free regular fries.
Also you can set the drink option on happy meals to coffee, which is not really a loop hole but handy.
"Worked out how to get the jackpot..."
Worked out how to get the jackpot every time on a Connect 4 fruit machine in a pub I used to drink in.
It would cost about £5-£10 before you'd get into the bonus round, then when you did, you'd play a connect 4 game against the machine.
You place the first counter, and then after the machine places the next counter, you mirror the machines move. Every game ends in a draw, and you win the jackpot, which was £50.
The pub landlord removed the machine after around 3 months as it was regularly empty, basically paid for my drinking and more for 3 months!
One week the local Chick-fil-a put a coupon in a local coupon magazine flyer which was Buy 1, Get 1 Free, any item on the menu. Next to that coupon they had a 50% off any menu item. I carefully checked, and neither coupon mentioned "Cannot be combined with any other offer" anywhere on it. So I ran out to the local grocery store and grabbed a stack of these flyers. Sure enough the next week the offer was gone, but it was too late to stop me.
I spent almost 2 years as a grad student living almost exclusively off of 128-count nugget platters that I would get for 25% of the cost (1st half off, 2nd free). Place went under new management and they put up a sign saying they would no longer be accepting those coupons. Not entirely sure if that was due solely to me or if anyone else was pulling the same thing. I had about 20 coupon pairs left when they shut it down.
"Thanks to a charge card..."
Still ongoing. Thanks to a charge card I was granted top tier elite status with a hotel chain. I downgraded 6 years ago but the status remained. The hotel chain went through a merger but since I had retained the status for over ten years I was given lifetime top status in the new program that was created.
This is super weird and I haven't thought about it in years, but I suppose it was a loophole... Soda companies used to run giveaways where they would put a code under the cap and then you could enter the codes for points, and get free stuff once you had banked enough points. I was a stock boy at a local grocery store and we had to take care of the bottle return machines also.
Any loose caps (and nasty soda juices) would settle in the bottoms of the bags, so on slow nights we would cut the corner of the bags to drain, and collect any loose caps which I would then wash in the mop sink and take home to bank the codes. I ended up getting some sweet stuff like a few CDs, a zip-up sweatshirt, and even some decent noise-canceling headphones lol
"AA would pay you"
Back in 1999/2000 there was this web advertising company called AllAdvantage. You could install their ad banner on your computer and it would occupy like the bottom 15% of your screen and show you ads and AA would pay you for the time you were exposed to the ads.
Of course they had basic measures in place like stopping your accumulated time if your screensaver came on or your computer went to sleep.
But all it took was a simple program that would keep your mouse slowly moving while you're actually away IRL and the AA clock would keep on ticking.
Not sure if it keeping it running at all times I was away IRL ended up being cost-effective in regards to cost of electricity but I was a teenager living with my parents so I didn't care about that. I think I pulled maybe $500 or so before the company went under.
"No expiration date"
Local casino issued a $20 free play coupon in the newspaper with no expiration date. I talked to the newspaper delivery guy and asked him about that copy and he told me he's got 100's of them in the van as they were a few days old now. I got all of them, clipped out the coupons and proceeded to make $19.50 every day after work for around 500 or so days. Not quite years, but pretty damn close. The casino never printed a coupon without expiration/one per customer rules ever since.
It was a free play coupon so I guess you had to play at least one game. Hand in the coupon and get $20 credit on a slot machine. Spin the reels once then cash out the remaining $19.50 as your "winnings".
"Still not found out"
My old job i worked at a pretty large gym (gold level, like the 3rd highest level). Monthly fee was $79 for the gold membership but employees got a free diamond membership. Worked there for a year and a half before i quit, but my account was never deactivated. Been going there for a while completely free, still not found out. Diamond membership is like $200 a month