How To Get Free Stuff From The Vending Machine (Legally, Too!)

Years ago, I worked in a call center.  There were rows and rows of workers answering calls.

I got to be work friends with a few people, and one of them impressed me with a method where he was able to get ‘free’ stuff from the vending machine for over a week.  And it didn’t involve scamming anybody in the process!

The idea was simple: He basically went up and down rows (a couple at a time so as not to draw suspicion) and asked ‘Hey can I borrow a quarter?’

After spreading out his visits over the period of a couple of days, he’d collected over six dollars in change!  For the rest of the week, if he wanted a snack or something to drink from the machine, he would tap into his ‘fund’.

Obviously, this was not something he could repeat on a regular basis, because people will tire quickly of giving someone a quarter over and over.

But, his ingenuity impressed me, because he realized that a quarter, to most people, is no big deal.  We’ve probably all borrowed some change or had someone borrow change, and 99 times out of 100, it gets forgotten about and not re-paid, which is fine for everybody involved.  If you start borrowing a dollar or more, that’s when repayment is expected.

He was able to take the fact that a quarter was no big deal, multiply that on a grander scale, and end up with a few bucks in his pocket.


I’ve lost touch with him since, but this memory always sticks out as one that brought a smile to my face.

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Was Derek Jeter’s Superfan #3,000 A Hero Or A Goat?

Recently, Derk Jeter hit his 3,000th hit in the major leagues, an accomplishment only seen by a couple dozen players in the history of the game.  I’m not a Yankees fan, but I applauded the accomplishment, as it is such a rarity that it shows the skill, determination, and many years of getting there which goes into the feat.

When a big accomplishment happens like a players 3,000th hit, the actual baseball that it takes place with is instantly a cherished piece of memorabilia.  If Jeter had hit his ball in play, a player would have fielded it and he would have gotten the ball back right then and there.

But Jeter made things interesting by making his 3,000th hit a home run.  As it happened, a lucky fan got to catch the ball.

That lucky fan, as you probably know, gave the ball back.  Instantly, people wondered if this guy had lost his mind.  Estimates showed that the ball could have fetched at least $250,000.  Turns out that the guy has student loan debt of over $100,000.  Meaning he could have used the money.

As it was, what did he get?  Well so far, nothing for the ball…and a $14,000 tax bill.  Huh?  The Yankees were so pleased with his being a good sport that they gave him premier seats for the rest of the year including playoffs.  Even though they’re ‘free’, the Yankees still have to report the value of what they gave him to the IRS, so he’ll be on the hook for income taxes.

Anybody still think giving the ball back was a good idea?

What would you have done?

In my case, I would have given the ball back to Jeter…at a price.  He makes a lot of money.  He actually got a contract over the past off-season that was way overvalued, where pretty much everybody agrees that he’s getting paid for what he used to do, not for what he does today (his skills are in obvious decline).  Jeter could have afforded to pay the guy at least the amount necessary to get out of debt, pay the tax bill on that, and maybe have a bit leftover to buy next years season tickets, and it would have been chicken scratch to him.

Personally, I think that Jeter should cut him a check anyways.

Before you call me greedy, consider this: The guy caught the ball at Yankee Stadium, home of the most expensive…anything…in major leagues.  The most expensive tickets.  The most expensive food.  The most expensive souvenirs.  They charge that because they can.  So if he were to, in turn, charge them because he could, how is there anything wrong with that?

Before you point out that he was just in the right place at the right time and made a lucky catch, I say, so what?  Luck befalls people every day that allows them to get some money in their pocket.  Winning the lottery.  Lucky.  Pulling the handle and having the slot machine give you a bunch of money.  Lucky.  Catching Derk Jeter’s 3,000th ball.  Lucky.

I applaud the guy as a baseball purist who wanted to make sure that the ball didn’t end up on eBay or something similar.  But, in my opinion, he blew it by not getting something back for it.

What do you think?  Would you have handed the ball back without wanting something in return or would you have gone for the jugular (just like the Yankees do with their ‘stadium experience’)?

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Was This Fraud Or Plain Bad Cash Management? Does It Matter?

Many news outlets reported a Pennsylvania couple that is now in jail because they spent a $175,000 bank error. Essentially the bank credited them $177,250 for a $1,772.50 error. By the time the bank traced the missing money to the couple, the money was in the process of being spent, and the couple was arrested.
Their answer to the charge: They didn’t realize it was an error. According to the wife, her husband often deposited large checks due to his profession (roofer) and so they thought it was normal.
I have a hard time believing that you wouldn’t notice this as maybe a little unusual. After all, I doubt that the husband was putting a new roof on the Taj Mahal, in which case maybe the amount would be justified.
Still, it got me to thinking. What if they REALLY didn’t know it was an error?
Could you imagine how bad your cash flow management would have to be to not realize that you had $175,000 more than you were supposed to have. The thought alone makes me shudder!
Think about that. You would have absolutely no idea how much money you had at any given time. I can’t even imagine that.
After all, my personal story to this regard comes about four years ago. I was let go from a job, but the imagine my surprise when the company kept direct depositing paychecks into my account! I noticed it within hours of the deposit. I contacted them and let them know the error. They actually kept making deposits for three pay periods. I was never tempted to spend it and I let them know every time that I was still collecting paychecks even though I wasn’t working there.
Finally, they came and asked me to send them the money. I actually used the fact that I had notified them promtply and repeatedly to negotiate an agreement where I got to keep a portion of the money for my ‘troubles’.
Still, the point is that I couldn’t possibly imagine being taken by surprise by this situation, let alone one that resulted in an ‘extra’ $175,000 appearing in my account.

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