Restaurants often have coupons, reward points, contests and other policies in place to drive up sales and customer satisfaction. Most of the time, these initiatives yield positive results for both the restaurant and the customer, yet there is always the occasional deviant out there that finds a way to game the system. Some of the time it's a harmless way to score a little extra bonus, other times, it can cost the restaurant a lot.
We scoured Reddit to find just these incidents, showcasing the innocent, the clever, and the downright shameful ways people exploited a loophole at a restaurant. Content has been edited for clarity.
Playing The System Has Lasting Consequences
He didn’t pay for any pizza for what seemed like a year, but ordered at least three times a week and always tipped the delivery driver.
Eventually, he felt bad and told them there was a problem with their loyalty system. They told him he could order one last time. When they delivered it, the guy told him that this pizza was on the house, but he could never order from them again. The address was blacklisted.
A few years later, my friend had long moved out, but our group of friends stayed in the house. Somebody decided they wanted late night pizza and they called that same pizza place. Everything was fine until they gave the delivery address. The clerk told them they could not deliver there. The address was in their system and there was no amount of explaining that was going to change their mind. Still blacklisted.”
They Broke A Grocery Store’s Policy In Half
“It was 1999 in suburban Utah. We were partying… well, like it was 1999. Weekends were constant backyard barbecues between a couple of my best friends who had adjoining backyards. Over time, the invite list kept growing. As we were between high school and starting college, we were all broke. We began by covering most of the food and people would bring their own drinks, chips, or whatever. But, with the growing list of guests, we started to get a little short on covering the hosting costs.
Until one late Thursday night as we were heading to the local Albertson’s to see if we could find some meat and other things on sale in preparation for the next Friday night. We were digging through the butcher section and we found a few things on sale. We headed up to check out around midnight. The attendant was scanning our items and, as he grabbed one of the packages of meat, he stopped.
‘Oh, this is expired,’ he said. ‘I’ll get you a new one and not charge you for it.’
We questioned him and he explained that they had a ‘freshness guarantee.’ Anything expired would be replaced with a new item for free. We told him that it was no big deal to replace it since it was just expired by a day, but we still got a free pack of steaks. We were stoked.
The next night at the barbecue, we discussed the luck we had at the store the previous night.
‘I’ve been thinking about this all day,’ one of our friends said. ‘They’ve got to have a bunch of expired stuff on those shelves. If we find it, won’t it all be free?’
We all thought about it and agreed that he might have had a good idea there.
The next Thursday night, we showed up at the grocery store at 11:30 p.m. and started the hunt. Not only were we grabbing anything we could find that was expired, but anything that was going to expire that day… after midnight. We grabbed dozens of packages of meat, salads, day-old bread, random expensive cheeses, absolutely anything we could find. It was around 1 a.m. when we rolled up to the check out with four shopping carts full of food.
The lone checker sighed at having this much work and began to scan. As it beeped on our first item, my buddy who hatched the plan spoke up.
‘Oh, that’s expired so it should be free,’ he said. The checker gave him a look, checked the expiration date, gave a whatever shrug, and discounted the item for free. He moved onto the next one and as soon as it beeped, my buddy said, ‘That’s free too.’
The kid looked up and with a completely straight face, my friend said, ‘It’s all free.’
The look on his face was pure panic as he grabbed the phone and called the night manager to the front over the intercom. A guy in his mid-40s showed up, already looking bothered that he got called out from the nap in his office to deal with something. The checker told him that we were claiming everything in the carts was expired and should be free. The manager started grabbing things out of the first cart and checked the expiration dates. His face was getting redder and redder with each item. Honestly, at that point, I was feeling just a little twinge of guilt.
‘This is total abuse of the system!’ he yelled at us.
I was ready to call it quits, but our ringleader replied, ‘It’s your policy.’
The manager stared at him for a minute and then lost the standoff. He started angrily scanning each item, pounding on the keyboard to discount the prices to free, and just tossing the food down the belt for the poor checker to bag. I was super uncomfortable, but my friend who hatched the plan is a soulless ginger.
‘Can you please handle our food more carefully?’ the soulless ginger asked the manager. ‘It’s for a party.’
From the look on the manager’s face, I thought the guy was going to jump the counter. It took quite a while to ring up four carts worth of stuff. The total ended up being over $400 of free food. I was dying, but my buddy was loving every minute of it, even directing the kid bagging to put some items in plastic vs. paper, what should go on top because it was fragile, etc. The manager yanked the receipt off the register, threw it at my friend, and storms off back to the office. We packed up and headed out.
We threw a bomb barbecue the next night and had enough meat to freeze and use the next weekend. We decided to give it a week to cool off. Two weeks later, we headed back on a Thursday night. By that time, Albertson’s quality control group had been on it though. We found maybe a handful of items that were expired. Not easily deterred, my friend suggested that we head to the next suburb over.
Fifteen minutes later, we were back to filling up shopping carts full of loot again. The same scenario played out, but this manager had more of a ‘not my problem’ attitude and just sent us on our way.
Weekend Number 3 rolled around and we went to Albertson’s to scope things out. As we started browsing another friend asked, ‘Hey, where are all the ‘Freshness Guarantee’ signs?’
We did not see any, so our ringleader headed to the front and asked the checker. It was gone. Our plan lasted less than a month. We had stockpiled enough food to last two months and threw some great parties. I cannot say for certain that we single-handedly broke their policy, but we like to think so.”
Funny How A Manager’s Idea To Save Money Can Backfire So Gloriously
“I used to work at a restaurant and the manager decided food costs were too high due to people snacking and stealing food. He attempted to remedy this by giving out meal vouchers if you worked a full shift.
I started to buy up vouchers that others were not using for 25% of the value. Then, I would resell the vouchers to short shift people for 50% of value. Then I started trading meals, bought with my vouchers, to the pizza place across the street that my friend worked at. I would sell the pizza for $1 a slice to everyone. I started to make about $20-30 extra per shift.
Then, the manager found out and ended it all. This only lasted a few weeks. It was also a great example of how I ruined something for everyone else.”
She Had ALL The Rewards Points
“I had one of those club cards at a salad franchise. You accumulate points with each purchase and then you can spend points to buy food items.
I was at the cash register one day and they told me I had enough points to get a free salad. It did not seem quite right, but OK. A week later I went in again and they told me I have enough points for a free salad.
Wow. I’ll take it, but hmmmm.
I checked on their website. I had an unreasonable amount of points. Every time I spent points, my total would not go down, so there was some kind of weird glitch with my card. I ate salad every day for a couple of weeks. Then, one day, the card just didn’t work anymore. It was a good run while it lasted.”
He Liked His Contest Tapped, Not Spun
“Taco Bell used to have this coin drop game in which you would drop a quarter into a transparent box, spin the box around, and the quarter would fall down ‘stairs’ and if you could make it to the last stair you would win a free burrito. The spinning caused centripetal force, which would eventually pull the quarter to the edge of the fourth stair by the time you got there, causing it to fall over the edge.
However, if instead of spinning, you could manipulate the coin another way that would get the coin to the last stair every single time.”