The only thing better than getting a great deal one something is finding a loophole or trick to get an even better deal! Coupons, cross promotions, even a little white lie here or there can save tons of money! Of course, sometimes they go to far, but hey, if they aren't caught, no one if hurt, right? Check out these astounding stories of people that scammed, finagled and skirted the system to get some amazing benefits! All posts have been edited for clarity.
"Back in the day, I found a major flaw in the point-of-sale system at Blockbuster Video.
Their system would update overnight, but only certain parts, and these parts were on different days of the week. Their new item prices would update on Thursday, their used prices would update on Friday, BUT their trade-in values would update after closing on Sunday. This meant if a game dropped in MSRP, it's new version would first lower on Thursday morning ($49.99 to $19.99) and be cheaper than the used version. The next day, on Friday morning, it's used version would be lowered ($47.99 to $17.99). The trade-in value would still be the same - usually $30-$35 - even though you could pull the game off the rack, buy it for $20, then trade in back without leaving the line.
I did this a few times and felt bad, so I emailed corporate to let them know about the loophole. They told me they didn't take in information/suggestions from outside parties, essentially because they had that set up as part of their 'business strategy.'
I then proceeded to assist them in their endeavors by buying 25+ copies of Beowulf from Best Buy for $9.99 ($19.99-$10 coupon) and trading them in for $800 in store credit. Then I repurchased all 25 copies with the store credit for $500. Then I traded them in again. Then I bought them again.
I did this a few times over the weekend and ended up with $1200 in store credit from $250 cash.
Then I found a few games GameStop gave good money for and traded them in over there for store credit. I made some pre-orders and eventually canceled them and requested cash back for the deposit.
I eventually got a letter from Blockbuster banning me from trading, but it had the wrong date (post-dated for the next year) and I kept trading.
I don't feel bad about it."
"I am an Uber driver and last year, Uber cut their rates and it hurt really bad. What was once a decent job became one where I was making below minimum wage if I was lucky. I wanted revenge. So I used a little hack to collect money from them...
There was no way to request yourself as a driver (without getting caught), but it was easy to use another phone with another profile to request yourself. Since Uber had so many drivers and so few employees to monitor shenanigans, I figured I would fly under the radar. So I created a fake passenger account and would request myself to meet their hourly fare guarantees. Uber always runs these 'guarantees' after the price cuts to get drivers used to driving for less money. Since the app saw that I was logged in for the hours, I would get paid Uber's guarantees while I went out and did Lyft rides.
At the end of it, I ripped Uber off for about $6,000 and quit. I can tell people that Uber literally paid me to go drive for Lyft. It felt so good to get my revenge from a company that had done everything in its power to ruin the lives of its drivers. Every driver I knew was suffering after the cuts."
"The grocery store where I lived had a fuel card you could sign up for. If you bought certain items, you would get $0.01 or $0.02 off per gallon, sometimes more depending on the item or week.
One week, they ran a promotion that every one of their store generics would get $0.02 off per gallon, per item.
I walk by the powdered Kool-Aid packets and notice they sell a generic version of that, 10/$1. I do the math.
My vehicle has a 16.5-gallon tank. Gas costs $3.14 per gallon. Each packet of drink mix costs $0.10. Every packet of drink mix I buy will save me $0.33 at the pump. I will need 157 packets of drink mix to get free gas. This will save me $36.11.
I should do this.
So, I count out 157 little individual packets of drink mix, all kinds of flavors, and go to the checkout. I try to save the guy some time by telling him how many there are in each flavor, but the manager had walked by and stopped to see what was going on with the generic Kool-Aid. So, the poor guy has to scan every single one. The manager makes an awkward joke about the amount of drink mix I'm buying, but when I pull out my fuel card, my ploy becomes clear. The cashier reads off my new fuel discount and I'm on my way to the gas station, where I proudly fuel up my vehicle (I still had to pay $0.16, they wouldn't let you reduce the price all the way to zero).
Then, I took all the generic drink mix and donated it to the local food pantry, because I hate Kool-Aid."
"I used to travel for work. I lived in Greensboro, NC, and worked in Boston. I'd book the same flights every week. Out early Monday morning and back on the 5:30 PM flight on Friday. But the thing is, I knew ahead of time that my return flight would be overbooked. In fact, it was usually so overbooked that they needed as many as six or seven seats. And so they offered money/miles/flights as needed.
Every Friday, I'd wait for them to make the first announcement. Usually a voucher. Pfft. Then the second announcement, probably a slightly larger voucher. Double Pffft. But the third announcement, that's when they started offering the good stuff. I'd take that one, usually at least a round-trip anywhere in the continental US. Sometimes they offered a flight and a voucher, and once or twice they even offered a free trip anywhere in the world. Sweet!
Then they'd book me a guaranteed seat on the next flight, which was never overbooked anyway. The best part was that got on the same connecting flight as I would have if I had been on the 5:30 PM flight out of Boston. I didn't do it that way to scam them. It was the only connection available for either flight.
I took that route 45-50 weeks a year for two whole years. I lost count of of how many vouchers and free round trip tickets I accumulated. I even got calls from the frequent flier miles rep, telling me that I was 'abusing the system' and that if I persisted I would have my miles taken away. I figured, I earned maybe two free trips a year with miles. That was peanuts compared to what I got by simply taking advantage of their weekly kindness. They never did take away my miles. It all ended about a month before my Boston job was over. One Friday, the gate agent announced that anyone who wanted a free round trip ticket in return for them giving up their seat should see her at the podium and then she followed it up by looking at me and saying, 'but not you, Mr. Tillerman.'
The fact that I purchased the earlier flight knowing full well that it would be overbooked was seen as gaming the system. I was getting on the same hub-to-destination flight regardless of whether I departed Boston-Logan at 5:30 or 7:30. I was also told that my shenanigans caused extra work for nearly their entire staff, from dispatchers to gate agents to flight crews. True, someone else would have caused the same amount of grief, but it didn't seem fair to them that I should be able to deliberately do so AND get rewarded for it.
I worked in Boston as a consultant for a large financial firm. The systems I worked on were critical to the business, so they preferred that I be on-site when working. Not only that, I had to be within 15 minute travel time in case a system had a problem, so I had to stay at a downtown Boston hotel. Price wasn't an issue. I was staying in $400/night rooms at the Marriott Longwharf. I racked up something like 1.6 Million Marriott points, which I redeemed to pay for vacations in Hawaii (once) and London (three times). With airline miles, the Marriott points paid for hotel, flights, and auto rental (in Hawaii) for my wife & two boys. I worked it out once. Between vouchers and various points, I raked in over $100,000 in perks.
My employer paid for all of the Boston travel. But of course, the real cost wasn't monetary- I paid for all those perks and points with bedtime stories not read, first steps not seen, and nights not spent with my wife."
"There's these three Dunkin' Donuts in my area that let you buy 'Coffee Cards,' where you pay $200 for the card and can come through any part of the day, however much you want a day, and get any size coffee for a year.
Well, my mom bought one last year, and it had expired; she bought another one this year and it looks EXACTLY THE SAME as the old one. They took no effort into changing the card at all, so my mom gave me her old one, and I get free coffee whenever I want.
They're not scannable cards or gift cards. It's just a pink piece of paper in the shape of a card that has the Dunkin' Donuts label on it and the locations where it's valid and a managers signature. It does have the date it 'expires' on there, but they have never once checked my card, they only ask me to 'flash' it at them, so I guess the day they ask to inspect it the jig is up."
"I made a respectable income last year from a loophole in Amazon's payment system.
Somehow, I discovered that if you use a prepaid debit card with little or no money on it, they would still let the order go through, but then it would later make you revise the payment method. Since it would give you three to four days to change the payment (you could retry to charge the 'fake' card up to three times to add even more time), I would find items on crazy sales (like 50%+ off) and essentially lock in the price. Once the price went back to normal, I would list it for slightly below whatever the lowest price was, and hope that someone would buy it. Once someone would buy said product, I would change the payment method to my actual credit card and put in their shipping information.
This maybe took me two hours a day to find deals, keep track of 'inventory,' and 'ship' orders. My main sources for deals were camelcamelcamel, slickdeals, and Amazon daily deals. The beauty of this was that there was absolutely no risk. If an item didn't sell for a few days (or the price didn't go back up), Amazon would just eventually cancel my order. If it sold after Amazon canceled my order, I would just contact customer support to match the price. If a customer wanted to return, I would just tell Amazon the item was defective and give the customer my free return label. Heck, even for orders under $35, in which I would use a Prime account for free shipping, I would get a refund on my prorated prime account since it would get revoked in a few months since I was shipping to too many different addresses
Unfortunately, Amazon eventually caught on to me having too many canceled orders and banned my buying privileges. The loophole also doesn't work anymore, as Amazon will now just cancel orders that don't go through.
This lasted for about one year and I made about $40k doing this."
"I spent five years on a US Navy submarine. Every two years, we would do a six-month deployment called Westpac. On my second deployment, I got boondoggled with a few guys - the boat goes out for deployment without us, and we got sent to attend various training schools in Pearl Harbor for the first half of the deployment, then catch a flight to meet the boat. So we watched the boat steam off and caught a flight to Pearl Harbor.
We show up with our orders to check in, but there was some miscommunication, and it turned out office personnel messed up. We aren't enrolled in any of our classes. We don't have barracks or meal chits. Nothing at all. They had no idea we were coming. They give us something called a 'non-availability chit,' which allowed us to stay at any reasonably-priced hotel on the government's dime. So naturally, we found a palatial estate a block away from Waikiki. We show up for muster the next day and the PO more or less just told us 'Yeah, I don't want to see you guys again, ever.' We couldn't get a hold of our boat because it was underwater doing secret things. Once the yeomen got their stuff on straight, they realized that our return plane tickets were already paid for, so they just said fine, we'll do it live.
We were getting a per diem and having our housing covered by the navy, never had to muster for work, and never had to check in anywhere. On top of that, we were still collecting our normal pay and allowances, sea pay for three months. I grew a beard, took some stuff and felt completely out of this world as often as possible. I learned to scuba dive, surfed, fooled around with a bunch of international tourists, went on pub crawls every weekend, hiked, and lots of snorkeling. Woke up on the beach a few times with no recollection of how I got there. Best vacation ever. Thanks, Navy."
"I had to use MyMathLab for a math class where homework was worth 20 percent of the final grade. It also cost $200. I decided to not buy it and just take the 20-percent hit since it was my last year anyway and I didn't care about my GPA at that point anyway.
I got to about a week before the final and had not been doing great, and I did need to actually pass this class. So I wasn't sure if I was going to do well on the final. So I decided to buy MyMathLab. Still $200 though, but they had a thing where you could get it for three weeks free while waiting for your money to come in. I did that option.
I powered through 16 weeks of homework assignments in five days got about 80 percent finished and took the final. Got my grade back the next day for the final but not the class, and did really well. I figured if the homework grade goes through I'd get a B, if not, then I'd get a D and it wouldn't count for credit, and I'd have to retake the class the next semester.
The three weeks passed and I still hadn't gotten my grade back, but I ended up getting a B+ in the class anyways without having to pay a cent for MyMathLab."
"In the 80's Chuck E. Cheese's didn't shred the tickets you get out of their games and use to buy toys.
My friends and I were biking one day behind a strip mall practicing our wheelies and jumps. We saw a worker throwing a garbage bag of tickets into the dumpster behind Chuck E. Cheese. We grabbed it and then started circling back about once a week. Garbage bags and garbage bags just full of tickets. We were doing so well, one of my friends parents got in on it. She would take the mini van behind there and have her kids load up. And this is why tickets are now shredded.
I think I still have a huge stockpile of frisbees and stuffed animals in my parent's attic somewhere."
"This is fairly minor, but several years ago, 7-Eleven ran a promotion where all of the Big Gulp cups had a sticker on them that had some kind of prize on them. The sticker had those little, wavy blue and red lines that you had to look at through 3D glasses to read, so, in theory, you had no idea what you had won until the clerk looked at it at checkout.
Most of the prizes were awful - stuff like 25 cents off of a sketchy hot dog. But, one of the prizes was a free Big Gulp, so if you got that one, your Big Gulp was free. I memorized the pattern of blue and red lines, fished through the cups until I got the right one and got free soda pop for about two months until the promotion ended.
Excuse me while I go check my insulin..."
"A number of years ago, Discover would run some extra high cash-back promotions at certain retailers. One of them was Barnes & Noble, and they'd go as high as 10% cash back. At the same time, Discover would allow you to buy gift cards at a discount using your cash back balance, and they sold B&N gift cards at 10% off.
The loophole was that Discover would credit you cutback on a purchase if you had your Discover card as your primary payment instrument on your B&N account, even if you didn't actually use it to make the purchase. Starting with cutback I had already earned from other purchases, I bought gift cards, went to B&N online, bought Nook ebooks^1 with the gift cards, and got cutback as if I had used my credit card.
Every month for a couple of years, Barnes & Noble and Discover were basically paying me to buy ebooks.
They stopped those promotions, so now I just use my cutback to buy stuff at Amazon."
"So I wanted to get cheap coffee filters online as I knew I was going to need them for the foreseeable future and wanted to get the best possible price. So I found a site that had them at half the price what I was paying at the store ($1.95 for 100 filters; usually $3.99 at the store) and put them in my cart. When I went to check out it asked me if I wanted to set up an automatic delivery to have them shipped every two weeks, and they would reduce the price. I said sure why not, after all, they were the cheapest I had found and by getting them every week that would mean I didn't have to keep ordering them.
So it brought the price down by like to $1 for 100 filters. I was thrilled. Then it asked me if I wanted to join the Coffee Savers Program for more discounts! I said sure! So after joining the saver's program, it brought the price down to $0.00. I was stunned. I still had to add my credit card but I was never charged. So for two years, I got 100 filters delivered to my door for free. One day though I got a notice that said they were going out of business and my free filters would end. I was sad. But the stockpile I amassed lasted me about two years, and in the past two weeks, I had to buy new filters.
Life will never be the same."
"Back in the day of flip phones (can't do this anymore). I had a Razr which I loved and learned that if I dipped the screen in water and the put it in the freezer (freezing the water) the screen would stop working, but everything else continued to work fine. The sticker behind the battery was never touched and didn't change color.
I would do this whenever my phone got scratched and then call up saying my screen stopped working. I would send it and they sent me a new one for free. Did it about five times.
I discovered this because I left it out in the snow by accident once. It was awesome."
"There was an app called Viggle that you can earn gift cards for watching TV and answering questions. I started using it very early when there were still some bugs that I exploited. At my height, I had 10 accounts running at once & made about $250/day (just from four to five hours in the evenings). All told, I made about $20,000 from that app.
The best was the questions, but they eventually ran out and you needed to wait 1-2 hours until you could answer then again. Well, if you logged out & logged back in, you could answer them again immediately.
Also, the app listened to the audio and detected what show you were watching. C-Span, the tennis channel, and HLM would often have 10-12 hour shows. Check in once, and you're good all day.
I miss Viggle. They eventually banned me."