Instructables

Get Money from Jammed Vending Machines, Pay Phones, etc.

I lost a coin in a jammed pay phone: I got my money back, plus over $5 more.
I routinely get my money back, and other coins as well. You might be able to do the same thing. (Note: I used to fix this stuff for a living, so I learned how they work.)
 
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Step 1: How they work

Picture of How they work
Coin-operated devices have a mechanical contraption that lets good coins drop through them. They stop and return bent or foreign coins and other objects. But sometimes, they just jam. There are two tricks you can use to get your money, and sometimes lots more money, out of them when they jam.

Step 2: Push the Coin Return knob -- HARD and FAST!

Flick the coin return knob hard, fast, and over and over. There's a magnet inside that grabs Canadian coins and slugs. A wiper tries to wipe the coin off of the magnet, but it rarely gets all the way to the far edge of the magnet, so a little bit of the coin holds on. When you release the coin return, the coin just slides back on to the magnet, and you're right back where you started.

Instead, flick the return knob hard and fast, over and over as fast as you can, and try to fling the coin beyond the edge of the magnet. The coin will drop in to the coin return like it's supposed to do. Repeat as needed. If that doesn't work . . .

Step 3: You'll need a tool

In my case, a popsicle stick was perfect.

You need something to force all the coins further through the coin acceptor mechanism. Consider anything stiff enough to take some abuse, but not much thicker than a quarter. (Actually, whenever I want to find something that no one will miss, I tend to go through the trash. That way, no one will complain that you broke their favorite such-and-such when you bend it into a knot.)

Stiff wire, folded cardboard, plastic tableware -- look around.

Push your tool into the coin entry. If it's jammed right to the top with coins (like mine was) you'll push the whole stack and force some out of the other end.

Hit the coin return as described above.

Repeat as needed.

I got over $5 in change out of the pay phone, and, when I was done, used some of the money to make a call.

Step 4: If that doesn't work . . .

Anybody who owns a vending machine, video game, pay phone, or anything else that accepts coins only makes money if people keep buying from them. They want you to come back.

Therefore, if all else fails, look around for a refund source. If you tell the owner, they'll likely return your lost money. If you have vending machines at work, there's probably a process for refunding lost money. The guy who fills the machine knows how much stuff he put in there, and how much money he took out. If there's too much money, he knows someone was cheated (and may start banging on his expensive equipment if he doesn't resolve it).

IMPORTANT ! ! !
There are (probably true) urban legends about people who try to get product out of those 'twist a big silver wire screw and deliver one item' vending machines by tipping the whole machine forward so everything falls out. Those same stories tell of people who DIE when they get crushed under the thing. Just don't do it. If you think they're not heavy, just try to move it 1 inch where it stands. Not a chance.

However, if you do crush your hand or something, you might be able to collect workmen's comp if you're at work. (Ha ha, just kidding.) Don't do it. There are a few things in life worth risking your hand over; three free bags of chips is not on the list.

Step 5: Free video games!

People often lose money in coin-operated devices, get it back, but don't know it.

Check each coin return box as you walk by them and sooner or later, you'll find coins someone has unknowningly left behind. They may be bent, foreign, or just fine. Video games are best, since players often don't know how many coins they need to get a game started, then get distracted playing the game.

Don't forget to try these coin return tricks on machines marked 'Out of Order' as they may be turned off because somebody lost their money in them!

This is my first instructable. I hope you enjoy your free money . . .

P.S. My next one will be KILLER !!!
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KnexFreek4 years ago
 COOOL
docpepper336 years ago
okay. soo... is this right? you stick the popsicle stick in first. then you repeatedly press the coin return button? and the coins should fall out?
Wiggler6 years ago
Cool! I'm gonna try this down in Reno! NOT! Neat trick though.
insomnaic!6 years ago
wait so are you saying that if hitting the return button doesnt work i should shove a coin in real fast??? someone help this is interesting.
andy606 years ago
very nice idea!! well im off to the pay fone to...erm make a call lol...
souylsin6 years ago
can you show us how those machines where you put the coin in the top and turn it and bubble gum comes out etc.. work?
CAbeachguy7 years ago
When I was a punk teen, I used to take a wad of toilet tissue and jam it up under the little swinging hinged door in pay phones. People would use the phones, and if they were to get a refund the change would be released by the return mechanism, but never actually drop all the way down into the change receptacle at the bottom. Then once a week or so, I'd take a few match heads and pt them in the change bin, light them up and it would create a mini fire that would burn out the tissue; the change would fall down onto the burning tissue, put out the fire, and I'd scoop out my change. This would probably work for vending machines as well....I also used to put a quarter into newspaper machines, then take out every paper and sell them on the subway ride into school to the commuters. Hey, it got me lunch every day......
I did the same thing, but id take a small piece of wire and just dig the paper out. Match idea is cool though.
i did this and it works but duck tape is better.
blingity7 years ago
Does it work on change machines?
it probably does work on change machines. Hey im gonna go try that cool!
Neo17 years ago
thanks
w00t! Now I can get revenge on that stupid machine at school. I swear, the school purposely decides not to fix the vending machines to steal our money little by little. D:
Mfmalive7 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
If you keep posting irrelevant videos in your comments, you will be banned. Please keep your comments appropriate.
Shoebob7 years ago
really cool dood
StiltGuyJoe7 years ago
Heh, very cool. Don't mind me, I have to run off to the arcade.
I second that
(removed by author or community request)
Is this spam? I think it might well be.
captankool7 years ago
dude, ur crazy,bad, yet awsome!
qwerty902107 years ago
cool but will it work in us machines?
LasVegas7 years ago
Canadian coins are not magnetic. They have a different weight than the equivalent US coin (except nickles). This is why Canadian coins are normally rejected by coin refusers in the USA and visa-versa.
zeb68 LasVegas7 years ago
actualy canadian coins are magnetic, execept for the penny. we use a high steel content in our coins.
SerialATA zeb687 years ago
And Loonies?
zeb68 SerialATA7 years ago
yup the loonie is magnetic and so are the newer pennies.
i have a quarter with a hole in it (at the top) could i attach a string to it and put it in... take it out then ask for my refund? Can i do something with this holy quarter?
I doubt it. The coin travels a convoluted path, so you'd just break something.
roosta7 years ago
ive got a pen knife with a selection of 1.5 inch long tools on it. would these be long enough??
sry double post
This is fricken awesome! Nice job! :-)
This is fricken awesome! I tried this at an arcade that used tokens and i got about 11!
I like this :)
chemy9997 years ago
aaaaaaaargh my school removed the vending machines the summer before i came :(
odecom57 years ago
hehe very cool instructable. I used to do this myself. There was a payphone in front of my school that always always always jammed up, but people continued to try to use it. One day this happened to me, and so in an act of desperation (i really wanted my quarter) I stuck the ear part of my glasses frames in the coin slot and quarters started pouring out. got about 5 bucks worth that was jammed up in there. every month or so after that, i kept giong back and kept getting several dollars at a time worth of quarters. it was awesome.
i did that with a bent paperclip... into a hook... at a roller rink i was at... i got at least 7-8 from each machine... there were 5... i sold the tokens for 2 for a quarter... and then those got jamed.... and then i pulled them out again and sold them again.... good times...
andrew1017 years ago
this is cool thanks
cgosh (author) 7 years ago
Canadian quarters, dimes and nickels (still) stick to a magnet like glue. I just tried it. If you were in Canada, they would have a different way to single out slugs and US quarters, eh? Coin-op machine owners don't dink around adjusting coin mech's unless somebody's been putting slugs in a particular slot. They're just set up pretty loose right out of the box to take in money. Electronic (read, 'expensive') coin mech's are rare, used when getting slugs but the operator doesn't know how to adjust the simple mech's (it is a time-consuming pain). The electronic ones don't grab CDN coins or slugs, so they don't jam; they just drop 'em in the return box, since they're not electronically recognized as US quarters.
i don't use pay phones, i have a cell phone thats very functional, but free money always works for me.
To quote "There's a magnet inside that grabs Canadian coins and slugs." If you're in canada, how can you do this? TGT
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