Sometimes the limiting atmosphere of the workplace can weigh down on a person. Having to follow certain guidelines and policies can result in frustrating inconvenience and debilitation of the human spirit. If only there was a way to work around these rules... Apparently, such cheats exist. The following stories come from employees who took advantage of loopholes they discovered at their jobs and shared the experience on Reddit. Content has been edited for clarity.
"A company I worked for that I will call 'Prestige Worldwide' would offer $800 in 'physical fitness' reimbursement.
Each year I would sign up for around $800 worth of yoga classes that could be refunded if cancelled by a certain date. I would then submit the receipts to Prestige Worldwide, receive $800, and then cancel the yoga classes and get my money back."
"When I started work at my new job, they e-mailed me a contract to sign. The employee would sign it and return it to your new boss, he would sign it, and then it got filed.
The contract was a PDF, but I converted it to Word so that I could modify one of the lines to 'at the termination of employment, the employee must return all company property and be handed a lemon meringue pie for each month of employment.' The new boss signed it without looking at it too closely and it has now been filed.
I have been working here for approximately 80 lemon meringue pies now, but it has been a while and I am starting to wonder if I really pulled it off or if I just thought about it without actually doing it. I can't ask to see my employment contract without arousing suspicion."
"Several years ago in a relatively large city, parking at my old work's lot was a little over $1,000 a year. However, night passes cost $40 for the year. A night pass would allow you to scan in or out after 4:30 pm and before 7 am. There were also visitor spots for which you would take a ticket at the gate on the way in and pay it on the way out.
For about a year, I took a visitor's ticket on my way in and scanned out with my night pass after 4:30 pm. Eventually, parking enforcement caught on. I imagine it was because many people were doing this and they were not making any money off of visitor parking despite the lot being full every day.
They ended up installing scanners that could differentiate from in and out. If you used your pass to scan out without having scanned in, your pass would get confiscated. It was good while it lasted though!"
"I was working maintenance at McDonald's when they had a Best Buy bucks promotion. Large sodas and large fries had scratch off pieces that were worth at least $1 at Best Buy. I would go through the trash daily, pulling out all the discarded scratch offs.
I got a free computer that year for Christmas. I also had the poor cashier at Best Buy in tears. She had to manually scan each scratch off and verify the dollar amount."
"I had an agreement with an employer for school reimbursement with additional pay. I had to agree to remain at the company until a certain date and they would pay for my schooling, plus additional pay for various things. If I left, I had to pay the money back.
I had already received about $20,000 in total when the parent company of my division changed after the agreement was signed. The parent company dissolved, two separate companies were created, and the divisions were reshuffled into either one based on their core business. When the time came for me to get the cash owed to me, the head of human relations refused to pay.
I went to him and asked why I wasn't getting the check we agreed to. He stated that the agreement was with the previous parent company and therefore was no longer valid. He had this smug look on his face, but then he noticed I had a big smile on my face. I could tell he couldn't figure out why. I asked him again if they were refusing to pay and he said yes.
I then stated that there was no longer anything binding me there. The contract stated that if I willfully left the company, I would have to repay the money. He agreed and asked what my point was. I then stated that if the parent company did change, then I did leave said company, but I did not willfully leave. Therefore, I did not owe any money if I left this company as it was not the company I signed the agreement with.
The expression on his face changed.
'If I, hypothetically, put my two weeks notice in now,' I continued, 'I would be able to leave without owing any money.'
It didn't take him long. He realized by stating that the agreement was no longer valid because the company changed that he gave me the information I needed to get out of the contract. He agreed to pay me the money. He was fired a few weeks later for various reasons. He was one of the worst HR directors I have ever seen."
"A few years ago, my company switched from a traditional insurance plan to a high-deductible HSA. You generally don't pay a premium for this type of account, unless you have a particularly terrible insurance, but it has a high deductible. Mine for a single person was $1,500 per year.
To compensate for this, my company put, I believe, $100 per month into the account. As an individual, I could also choose to put money in the account, pre-tax. I put a little bit in every month so that at any given time, the account had enough to cover the deductible and any copays. When you got this type of account, they would give you a debit card that functioned just like a regular debit card, except that it could only be used at merchants that were medical or pharmacy related.
Back in the day, weed dispensaries in California were able to take debit cards for a while. And, what do you know, most of them were classified as pharmacies, which means they took my HSA card. For a few years, my company was essentially buying me weed."
"My former workplace would tell us every Monday that we had to work overtime Saturday, then often cancel overtime at the last minute. That way, they didn't have to give us the minimum 24 hours notice of mandatory overtime and they could take as long as they wanted to decide if they needed us. They also got to play it off as if they were doing us a favor by giving us our weekend back.
It was a buster move, but it was certainly effective."
"A very old place of work of mine decided to have a Christmas party and provide everyone with a few vouchers each for free drinks. They had arranged with the venue that employees would hand over one tag for a drink of any size and would settle up the total bill in the days after the event.
The problem was that these vouchers were simply tags that you would put into a filing cabinet sleeve and write on with a colored sticky dot on them. They distributed the tickets half an hour before we closed for the party. Guess what was stocked in the stationery cabinet? Filing tags and sticky dots.
They had no idea how the bar bill was nearly £10,000."
"I used to work on the checkout lane. At one point, the store management started to care about scan speeds. The top three people to scan the most items per minute got 'star points' which could be exchanged for several things, including a gift card to spend on the store. One star point counted as £1.
I figured out pretty early that it was measured by the time that passed between each item scanned. It was not timed in a continuous fashion or between a transaction. If you pressed the total button, it stopped the timer.
Most employees' method was to start scanning and press total at the end. In between that time, the timer was running. Any little breaks one would take to make small talk and such would lower the items per minute. By pressing 'Total' intermittently when you're not doing anything, you could stop the timer and keep it at a higher count.
I abused it hard.
There was a target of 18 items per minute. The first month, I had 40 items a minute. Second place was 28. Obviously, I won the points that month, but it looked suspicious. I pulled it back a little and kept it around a low 30 to make it believable.
I paid for my shopping for about six months using that trick, but it was actively discouraged when they found out people did it."
"I was laid off from a job and my not-so-smart manager gave me my separation agreement with one additional pay check. He told me to take my time to sign it, show it to my lawyer, etc.
I went home and reviewed my actual contact. My manager had copied and pasted my contract from a vice president of sales contract, which stated that I was owed six months full salary, benefits, and any commissions derived from sales that I generated.
I went in the next day with a smug look on my face and asked the CEO, 'Have you read this?'
'No,' said the CEO, before proceeding to read it. 'Wow. Looks like we owe you six months salary and benefits. Oh, and commissions on your opportunities.'
They actually ended up conning me out of my equity, which I tried to fight them on, but they just wore me down until I gave up. I was not even mad. To be clear, I loved the company. The CEO was a genius. I think I learned more from working there than any other company I've been with."
"When I was still in college, I used to work as a rep for a big telecommunications company. The store was in a somewhat wealthy neighborhood. People would come in to trade in their phones pretty often.
Of course, TelCom companies give people an awful price for their phone when they traded them in. I always offered the client the possibility to buy it myself with cash, for an amount that was in between the one being offered by our company and the one I knew I could sell if for on Craigslist.
I would buy around 5 to 10 phones per week and resell them for a profit. It was a win-win situation for everyone involved, except the company. Forget them anyway. They overcharged their clients."
"I used to work at Shoprite when I was 17 in a little town in northern New Jersey. They had two machines on the wall to punch in or out. There was one in front of the store and one in the back storeroom by the dairy department, which is where I worked.
We were only allowed 15 and 30-minute breaks, depending on how long the shift was. You had to punch out for these, of course. What the other teenage hoodlums and I would do was just walk out the front door for our break without punching out and take as long of a break as we wanted, usually 45 minutes to an hour. When we came back, we would use the dairy department machine to 'punch out,' go back to work, and use the same machine to punch back in 15 minutes later.
It worked for about three months before they caught on. I was politely asked to take an indefinite break."
"There used to be an old-school vending machine in our break room at work. It was that kind in which you placed the coins in the slots and turned the handle and the snack fell out. Every snack was 50 cents. You needed two quarters.
I figured I could manipulate a paper clip into a little 'U' shape. I would then place the ends in the slots, turn the handle, then pull the clip out, and Abbra Cadabra - free snacks. I got away with it forever.
I did it every once in a while because I'm not greedy. I showed a coworker how to do it and that idiot did it every day, sometimes twice a day. They pulled out the machine about a month after I showed him because he was greedy.
The moral of the story is to not teach people your diabolical plans for slowly taking over the world."
"My friend worked for American Eagle one summer. Their promotion at the time was 'Free movie ticket for trying on a pair of jeans.' TRY ON a pair of jeans for a free movie ticket.
After a week, her manager had enough of the riff-raff just trying on jeans for movie tickets and gave my friend a stack of the remaining tickets. There were probably 50 or so. We watched about 20 movies that summer for free. It was one of the best summers ever."
"I have never personally done this, but I did figure this out pretty quickly after working at Tim Hortons for four years.
The way that you word things when buying stuff can save you a small bit of money. For instance, a bottle of water is $2, but if you ask for a cup of water, it's free.
There is also a big one that can save someone a lot of money over the course of a long period of time if you drink tea daily. A tea, depending on the size, ranges from $1.50-$2.20. But, if you ask for a cup of hot water and a tea bag on the side it is $0.25. If you drink tea daily, you can knock off a couple hundred bucks a year by doing this."
"I used to be a professional traveler for work. When I was on site in a city, I would get paid a per diem for meals based on the location (some locations were as much as $75 per day. Some were as cheap as $25).
The thing about this per diem value was that I received the money regardless of whether I spent it or not. Being a young and recently poor man, I would arrive on Monday, order two pizzas from Dominos for around $12 and just graze off of that for my five days in that city. On occasion, my clients would take me out for dinner or lunch, which would just make saving the per diem that much easier.
I ended up making a small fortune in just per diem money as a result of just eating my favorite food."
"I'm not sure if they do this anymore but, many years ago, while I was an employee at HomeGoods, the store had this promotion in which employees could get these scratch-off cards that reduced the cost of an item by $1, $5, or $20 each time they found a price sticker on the floor. Each card had three scratch-off areas. The catch was that you could only scratch off one.
However, if you used a lamp, you could see the value of each scratch-off area, meaning that you could very easily rack up a $20 gift card for every sticker you found on the floor. The idea was that if employees collected these fallen stickers, regular, nefarious shoppers could not stick them on something of far greater value and check out at that price.
There were no rules on how many an employee could have or combine. Most folks who worked at the store were middle-aged women who really couldn't give a darn and most of the stuff HomeGoods sold was garbage.
But then there was me, a starving, broke college kid who got paid horribly. But I also worked in the back room unloading trucks and also was occasionally tasked with stocking shelves. In short, I was the only person who seemed to care about this promotion and my bosses, who wanted to show their higher-ups that they were putting the corporate programs into effect, were happy to oblige each sticker I presented with a scratch-off ticket of my own.
HomeGoods, while normally a purveyor of fine garbage, occasionally had very nice, very-high end housewares on the cheap, comparatively. These items, like cookware, linens, comforters, etc. are usually much more expensive than the rest of the store's stock. They also take a while to sell. For me, the guy who unloaded the trucks, this meant that when I saw something absurdly nice, I could put it very high up into a loading bay and just let it sit for a while because the senior citizens I worked with would never go up to get it.
At the end of a four-month summer, I had amassed about $1,100 in these little gift cards. With them I bought a full set of AllClad copper core cookware, a Queen-sized down comforter with a duvet cover and sheets, pillows, nice flatware, plates and glasses, and a dozen useful kitchen tools. To this day, ten years later, I still have all the AllClad, which alone retails for $800, and some of the kitchen tools. All of it for free."
"I used to work at a CVS. We had a promotion for a type of $2 shampoo. When you bought it, you would get $2 in 'extra bucks.' Basically, the shampoo was a wash, but I think we had a whole lot of it and needed to get rid of it. It wasn't anything too special anyway.
I watched in horror from the photo area as two strange women, who appeared to be gypsies or some equivalent to that, stocked an entire shopping cart with every bottle of shampoo we had. They, then, demanded the shampoo be rung-up in individual transactions so that each bottle they bought earned them the $2 to pay for the next bottle. It was mayhem. They must have bought 50 bottles of shampoo for nothing, save for the $2 initial investment and having walked away with $2 in 'extra bucks.'
My local managers learned their lesson for sure."
"I used to work at a call center which used a dialing program. I figured out that if you hit a series of functions on the dialer in the correct order, it would freeze up the program and you had to restart your computer. It amounted to about half an hour worth of free time.
The only problem was that I told a few people who then told a few people. It got worse and worse until they fixed that specific problem on the program in an update."