From receiving free gas to heat up their house during winter for FREE, to receiving a free sandwich and a check for signing up for a credit car, people share their best 'I beat the system' stories.
[Source can be found at the end of the article]
The stolen booster and some cash
“I flew with my two kids and so checked a booster car (a $30 value) seat for the 7-year-old. The airline lost the booster car seat. The airline gave me a loaner booster to use in the meantime, but they never found our original booster. So, per the airlines policy, because the airline completely lost a piece of luggage, they will pay me $1500. It took a little work, including filing a police report, but four months later I got a check for $1500 for our lost booster.
I still have the loaner booster.”
Get along better as neighbors
“Shortly after my divorce and a stint as Weekend Dad, I started getting my kids several days a week. So I took my ex-wife to court to try to reduce my child support payments, after she flat-out refused to agree to a lower amount.
Even though I was legally in a position to do so, my ex fought back hard because she had grown accustomed to getting $1000 in free fun money every month.
It took 8 court appearances (the ex went out of her way to drag it out as much as she could) but the judge eventually got fed up with how unreasonable she was being and instead of reducing my payments he gave me shared custody and cancelled all of my child support payments.
And then my ex and her husband lost their house because they were so deep in debt from lawyer bills.
An interesting post-script to this story is that I didn’t want my kids to have a crappy home at their mom’s, so I helped my ex find a townhouse rental she could afford. Flash forward 2 years and she’s my neighbour and we get along better than we did when we were married.”
Non-refundable blow dryer
“I pull this trick out when return policies fail me. It all started with a hair dryer I purchased that promptly fizzled and died right out of the box upon first use. The receipt was lost in the garbage, so I tried returning it the next day. They wouldn’t give me store credit, not even an exchange for a functioning hair dryer after I showed them the one I bought was completely dead. So, fuming, I went to the aisle and grabbed another hair dryer of the exact same type. Waited two days and went back in with the receipt from my second purchase and the dead hair dryer. They refunded me in full and the second hair dryer lasted me for at least ten years.”
No college diploma necessary
“I dropped out of college, however I had a summer job at a Fortune 500 company. I managed to convince them to hire me full-time because I was getting paid 1/3 what college grads were getting to do the same job. After they hired me I spent every performance review asking for wage parity with my peers and after a few years managed to get it. Eventually I left that company, got a job at Microsoft based on my prior experience, and now make over $150k a year. All without a college diploma.”
Quick road to state university
“My high school had a program with the local community college that let you take a normal high school class, then pay $15 to take a final exam from the community college, and you’d get college credit for the class. I took a few of these classes in my sophomore year and had signed up for more in my junior year. In order to get the credits and a transcript from the college they had to give you a student ID. I at some point figured out that I could use this ID to sign up for online classes directly through the college and bypass the high school.
During my junior year of high school I only cared about the classes giving me college credit and spent my other class time doing work for the online courses. By the end of the year I’d failed most of my high school classes, but had finished my freshman year of college.
I then applied to my state university as a transfer student and got accepted because transfer students don’t have to provide high school transcripts or even SAT scores. I never graduated from high school and never went for a single day of my senior year.”
Lucky day to graduate
“In college I was supposed to take two lab science classes. At my school, lab science classes were notoriously difficult and didn’t have anything to do with my field of study. I ended up finding two online science classes from the University of Nebraska that happened to coincide with an internship I had in Omaha. I got it approved through my advisor and the classes were a breeze. They were the most entry level classes on geography and climate.
Fast forward to graduation. I found out that my lab science classes are supposed to be hands on. My advisor assumed that since I was interning in Omaha that the classes were in person. I was two months from graduation when we figured this out so they just accepted the credits. I got lucky that day and learned some rad stuff about geography and landforms.”
Just following the law
“Here in Maine, we have this weird law called the Maine Implied Warranty Law. It basically says that if something breaks within the expected lifespan the retailer has to replace it. It’s a rarely used consumer protection law. Earlier this year my phone stopped connecting to networks. I go to the fruit themed phone manufacturer store and they say it’s a carrier issue. I visit the carrier and they say it’s a hardware issue. I revisit the phone manufacturer and mention that it could be an issue with the SIM card tray, which these models were known for. They take the phone out back and open it up and confirm that the SIM card wasn’t making contact. They came back and told me that and said, ‘Unfortunately your phone is no longer covered by FruitCare so your options are leave or buy a new phone at full price.’ I paused and said, ‘Have you ever heard of the Maine Implied Warranty Law?’ Without skipping a beat he said, ‘Let me go chat with a manager,’ and walks away. I watched him have a 5 second chat with another guy. He then came back and said, ‘Let me go grab you a new phone from the back.’ New phone. $0.”
A free sandwich and a check
“When I was in college, a bank had a table sitting outside a Jimmy Johns that offered a free sandwich if you signed up for a credit card. I wanted a sandwich so I signed up for a card, figuring I just wouldn’t use the card and get me a free sandwich.
The card got shipped to my parent’s house, and my mom told me I had gotten a credit card. I told her the story and she said I needed to call and get it cancelled if I didn’t want it. I’m really lazy, though, so I just didn’t.
My mom would remind me every month or so that I still have this credit card, and keep getting statements, which all say $0 balance. Then she called one month and told me that she looked at my statement and saw a balance of -$20. Since I hadn’t used the card she said I really needed to call and get it figured out and cancelled before it started costing me money.
I called up the CC company, and asked them what was up with my statement. They said that since I had been a good customer (no outstanding balance) they gave me a $20 credit. I told the lady that i wanted to cancel. When she asked why, I told her that I only signed up for a free sandwich, and that I had already eaten the sandwich, and no longer needed the card.
She said that wasn’t a problem, closed my account and sent me a check for $20.
That’s how I got a free sandwich AND $20 by signing up for a credit card.”
Heating up the house for cheap!
“When my wife and I bought our first house, we got settled in and setup the utilities (gas and electric) with the same company, Enmax. I setup direct billing so it pulled from my bank account every month. I never really paid much attention to the bills, I saw it being pulled from my account every month.
Fast forward about a year of living there and I got discussing utility costs with a co-worker. Mine were less than half of what his were, so I did some digging into my bill. All it showed – and had been billing for – was electricity. I call the company and they tell me that I originally had gas and electric setup, but a couple days after setup someone called and cancelled the gas. I contact the actual distributor of the gas and ask them about it and explain that I haven’t paid for gas for over a year. They give me the name of the company that is supposedly selling me my gas, and it is not a company that I have ever had anything to do with.
I call this third party and give them my site ID and the guy tells me they do sell gas to my property. I ask him whose name is on the account and who is paying for it. He says there is no name on the account and no one has paid for it in over a year. I asked why it was never shut off after so many months of non-payment – at least that would have let me know there was an issue, he said it must have slipped through the cracks. He told me I would have to pay up my account (over a years worth of gas – I live in Canada, so that’s a lot of heating in the winter), then I could cancel my account with them. He wouldn’t give me an amount over the phone, but said he would send out a bill. A couple days later a bill shows up for $17.36. I promptly paid it, cancelled my account and switched back over to Enmax.”
Getting the best of both worlds using dual citizenship
“My sister was an English teacher in Taiwan for about a year. She holds dual citizenship (Taiwan and USA), so she used that to her advantage. Foreign teachers in Taiwan get a higher salary than local teachers (for some reason), so she used her USA citizenship to apply for the job at the English school. However, non-citizens also pay higher taxes than citizens. So when she did her taxes, she used her Taiwanese citizenship. In the eyes of the school, she was a foreigner, so she got higher pay. In the eyes of the government, she was a citizen, so she paid the same amount of taxes citizens do, which is lower than what non-citizens have to pay. So she got the best of both worlds by using her dual citizenship to exploit a loophole.
Needless to say, she pissed off some of her foreigner and local co-workers, since they were jealous.”
Free books forever!
“I’m an avid reader and I got a Kindle Paperwhite for my birthday a few months back. I realized that you can rent ebooks from your local library, and if you download them to your computer rather than having Amazon send it to your Kindle via WiFi you can keep your books on your computer forever… As long as you keep your WiFi off on your device there’s no way for it to sync with Amazon and remove the returned book. This gives me the chance to have every book I want to read (minus new books that come out that have 30+ people on the wait list) for free on my device.”
Saving thousands in rent money
“I lived in an apartment between 2004 and 2009. This was during the boom in oil prices and I live in an oil-rich province in Canada. People from all over the world were flooding in to find work. Vacancy rates in my city plummeted to less than one percent. Rents were going up all the time and my building was no exception. I think that by law tenants must be given 90 days notice before rent can be raised. And every 90 days like clockwork, I got a notice in my mailbox telling me of an upcoming increase. When I moved in, my rent was $720 a month. By the time I moved out, five years later, it was up to $1700. But some time in between moving in and moving out, I got tired of it and I stopped paying the higher amount. I just kept handing in cheques for the same amount. I kept it up for three or four years and never heard a thing from anyone, saving myself thousands.”
A three night hotel stay for a low price!
“This actually just happened to me this week. I booked a hotel room for 3 nights on hotels.com and clicked on the option ‘pay at the hotel.’ I got to the hotel and needed to change my reservation to account for another person that I wasn’t expecting. When I went to the desk to change it, they said I had already paid on the website, so I just needed to pay the extra charge for having an extra bed in the room, around $20. I ended up having a 3-night stay in a hotel for just over $20.”
Free rides for four years
“I worked at a kiosk in Downtown Disney for about a year. Which if you don’t know what Downtown Disney is it’s like an outdoor mall near the parks. Anyway, I wasn’t technically a Disney employee, but I still got a Disney ID that I could use to get into the parks for free. Eventually I quit because it was terrible. My employers were supposed to take my ID and file with Disney that I no longer worked there. If they had done either then this wouldn’t have happened but being terrible business owners they were, they of course didn’t. Imagine my surprise when it still worked after I quit. For four years I was able to get into the parks for free any day of the year with no blackouts. Eventually they updated the ID’s and my free ride was over.”
An annoying inconvenience
“I was applying for dual citizenship and thus need all my ancestors vital records, birth, marriage and death. That came out to 18, from like 7 states. I printed all the applications, mailed them out, and they started rolling in. I was down to 1 missing. I looked at Georgia’s site and it showed 6-8 weeks. Really? It had been 4 weeks before, so I called to see if possibly they were ahead of schedule or not. Before anyone answered, I got the message to please stay on the line and to then do a survey after my call. Someone answered. She said it would be 6-8 weeks. I said I know that’s average, but I was curious if maybe you were ahead of schedule. She started asking about my name and such, and then she said, ‘We didn’t get it until 2 weeks ago, so 4-6 more weeks.’ Oh, so now it also takes them 2 weeks to check their mail? I thanked her and hung up.
Now I wasn’t happy, so I wanted to do the survey. 4 seconds later I heard a ‘BYE!’ again, followed by the sound of the phone being sat down. Then I started hearing 2 co-workers talk for a solid 2-3 minutes. She wasn’t going to hang up, thus preventing me from doing the survey. Now I’m fuming. I’m speaking with the office of vital records, a state-run agency.
I hit up Google, found the governor’s page, and sure enough there’s a “contact me” box. I nicely informed him that his office is horribly slow compared to multiple other states, and the story about the refusing to hang up. That email was sent at like 2 am. At 9 am I got an email from his office saying it’s been transferred to Dr. John Smith’s office, head of something. At 2 pm I got a call from his office. A staff member confirmed my name, which record I requested, what proof I submitted to prove I have legal access to it (it was my dad’s birth certificate, so I sent a copy of my driver’s license and my birth certificate.) She said, ‘Perfect, I’ll have that mailed out today, I’m sorry for the inconvenience and delay.'”
When college education is way overpriced
“When I was a 5th-year-senior in college, I was looking at the requirements for earning my Chemistry BS, and saw it was going to take me another year to complete my degree (I had a bit of depression in college and had to retake a few classes). But then I decided to look at requirements for a Chemistry BA… Lo and behold, I had fulfilled all the requirements, except for presenting my senior project. This was at the beginning of the fall semester, while we were still able to withdraw from university.
So I switched my major from the BS to a BA and withdrew from the university. I had the financial aid department send back all my student loans for that year, and still had an excess in my account (for which they cut me a check). However, the communication between the financial aid office and student development wasn’t very good… So student development didn’t know I wasn’t a student. I was able to live on campus in the senior dorms for free, they didn’t cancel my meal plan, and I was able to do all the things students could do. I just worked and played intramural sports for the rest of the year.
At the end of the year, I presented my senior project, graduated, and had saved enough money to buy a car (I didn’t have one at the beginning of the year). It was a small amount of vindication for my otherwise overpriced college education.”
This bank’s clerical error
“I closed out a bank account with a paltry $30 in it. They gave me my $30 and wished me a good afternoon. Mind you, I was poor as dirt, and this $30 in a forgotten savings account from years ago was going to buy me groceries for the week.
I get a letter a day or two later saying that I owed a monthly account fee of eight bucks that wasn’t processed yet, so I owed the bank eight of those $30 (all of which I’d already spent.) They were threatening to report it if I didn’t pay.
I went down to the branch and told the teller (different teller than the one who gave me my $30) that I didn’t feel responsible for paying for their error, especially since it wasn’t like they tacked an extra ‘0’ onto my balance by mistake or something. She said I had to speak to the branch manager.
I talk to this slick boss-man type guy who gets off on money and authority. I maintained eye contact and assertive posture and said, ‘I don’t feel that I’m responsible for paying for your mistake, and I have a clean conscience because you’ve been charging me account fees for several years now for money that I never touched until now. I feel that I’ve given you enough money and that $8 is not going to hurt anybody but a spreadsheet.’
He back-pedalled and said, ‘Well, let me run this up the ladder and see if I can get someone to take care of this for you. I’ll give you a call with my boss’s decision tomorrow.’ I gave him a firm handshake and left. I received a call from the same guy the next day. ‘It’s all taken care of and your account is closed now. Thanks and have a nice day.'”