There may have been a few times you’ve visited a vending machine and noticed a bag of chips precariously dangling from its shelf. If you just shake the machine just a little bit (maybe a lot), you think, you may be able to nab a free item. But can you actually get free stuff from vending machines that easily?
Believe it or not, you have options when getting free stuff from vending machines. Here, I’ll talk about how you can nab free snacks and how you can “trick” the machine itself.
Look for Loose Items
This is a purely opportunistic approach. First, examine the machine itself. If any bags or bars are “hanging by a thread,” then try selecting that option. While this still requires you to put money in the machine, you could get a two-for-one type of deal. Depending on how loose the item is, you could even try buying an item directly above it.
When it falls, it could knock the item out of place and into the dispensing slot. Ideally, you could get two different snacks.
“Trick” the Machine and Get a Refund
You might think that this trick only exists in the cartoons, but think again. This requires a bit of pre-planning, yet, if successful, you could double your money in five minutes’ time. Here’s what you need to do:
- Take a dollar bill.
- Line the edge of the dollar with packing tape––enough to where you can get a good grip.
- Insert the dollar into the slot.
- Wait for the machine to register the amount.
- Pull on the edge of the packing tape and remove the dollar.
If successful, you can choose a snack free of charge. Alternatively, you could hit the “refund” button and get another dollar.
Hack the Machine
Every vending machine comes with a maintenance code. This allows the vendor to test the machine and see if it’s working. The maintenance code depends on what type of machine you’re using. You can usually look up the maintenance code online unless the vendor purposefully changed it.
Hacking Old Nesquik Machines
If you’re using a Nesquik machine, try pressing 432112311 and then holding down on the refund button. This will give you a refund, which you can use to get free stuff.
View Specific Information on Coca-Cola Machines
If you’re using a Coca-Cola machine, and it has a 4×4 keypad, enter 4321. This should bring up the debugging screen. If nothing happens, the code doesn’t work. If you get an ERROR message, you can use the 3 and 2 buttons to scroll up and down.
This won’t give you a free snack, but you could view sensitive information about the machine, like its overall sales and internal temperature.
Wrap Coins in Foil
Most vending machines don’t take pennies. This is because machines only give change in increments of five and for storage reasons, accepting pennies isn’t economical.
Now, most vending machines accept coins based on weight. Consider the following:
- A penny weighs 2.5 grams
- A dime weighs 2.268 grams
- A nickel weighs 5 grams
- A quarter weighs 5.67 grams
Now, unless you want to shave the penny to reduce its weight, you generally can’t trick a machine into thinking a penny is a dime. However, you can trick it into thinking that it’s a nickel or quarter. You can use tin foil, tape, or sticky-tac to increase the penny’s weight.
Remember: Vending machines don’t care about coins’ exterior. It is purely based on weight.
Prevent Drinks from Hitting the Dispense Tray’s Scale
If you’re trying to get free drinks from a newer vending machine, like the ones with the rising drawer and conveyer belt, you could try the following:
- Select your drink.
- Stick your hand above the scale in the dispensing tray.
- Grab the drink before it hits the bottom.
From here, you can try one of two things:
- Press the refund button.
- Enter another selection.
Remember: never put your own safety at risk. If you think that your hand might get stuck in the dispensing tray, don’t try this trick. It’s not worth having to call someone to pull you out.
Press the Button More Than Once
This tip might work if you’re faced with an older Pepsi or Coca-Cola machine––the ones that have the items’ pictures on the buttons. After inserting your money, try pressing a button at rapid-fire. This could overload the machine’s queue and give you two for the price of one.
Call the Vending Machine Company and Ask for a Refund
There could be a number you could call on the vending machine if the machine takes your money. There’s no way for the vendor to know that you didn’t actually put money in the machine, so they could give you a “refund.” Of course, this could involve days or even weeks of wait time, so you’d need to plan in advance.
Your safety and well-being are of the utmost importance when getting free stuff from a vending machine. However, if you’re not afraid of taking a few risks, these tips could be worth the payoff.