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.)

Step 1: 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).

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 !!!
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?
Cool! I'm gonna try this down in Reno! NOT! Neat trick though.
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.
very nice idea!! well im off to the pay fone to...erm make a call lol...
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?
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.
Does it work on change machines?
it probably does work on change machines. Hey im gonna go try that cool!
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:
really cool dood
Heh, very cool. Don't mind me, I have to run off to the arcade.
I second that
dude, ur crazy,bad, yet awsome!
cool but will it work in us machines?
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.
actualy canadian coins are magnetic, execept for the penny. we use a high steel content in our coins.
And Loonies?
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.
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 :)
aaaaaaaargh my school removed the vending machines the summer before i came :(
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...
this is cool thanks
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
way to much time on your hands but its cool and it works tried it at pizza hut and just git kicked out
Also, with your stiff tool, look under the arcade games. It's almost garunteed that there will be at least one quarter, a prize that someone dropped, a ring, or a roll of tickets. Just don't do it under the mooving csr/motorcycle ones. Oh, and he's right. before I read this instructable I always checked coin return slots on everything with coin return. It's amazing how many people forget there change!
when our coke machine would jam we would take fork handles and dislog a few quarters. the track for the coins to fall is a few feet long so you couldnt push all the coins down, but people would try and loose their quarters. another time one kid was trying to rock the snack machine back and forth and shattered the acrylic window. a little fat kid got in trouble for stealing a bag of chips.
Ahh...neats. Oh, by the way, Cheese9921, that cookbook teaches you how to make simply delectibal cookies
This when I pull the BFH (Big F*@king Hammer) out of my pocket, and open the machine. Actually I used to work in a lock shop and the OP is right there are many ways to get your money back.
There was a vending machine in a college once which took my money but the little spiral screw thing didn't move enough, so I grabbed the top of of and lent it forwards giving it a nice big shake, it worked. (Norwegian Krona work for British coins in some machines ;) )
or use the good old way : 1) smash the machine, 2) kick the machine. if nothing work, bring your ak47 and PWN the machine!
Some of the pay phone tricks from old sources are for gimmicks that worked 40 years ago, but not as likely to work today.
A lot of coins getting stuck suggests the coin acceptor is full of sticky gunk from lots of use. If you have any pull with the folks who service the vending machines, remind them that they can remove the acceptor and drop it in very hot water to clean it off. Wipe off any tiny metal flecks from the magnet and you're good to go.
really cool, I read something out of a certain cookbook ;-) that said if you cut the wire connecting a pay phone to the phone line you could cut some wires and short it out so it would put coins in a temporary drop box or something. Then you wait for some people to use it, redo the wiring and hit the coin return button you would get all the coins people put in. This is obliviously illegal and I was just wondering if it was true.
I saw that too, but I think nowadays there isn't enough payphone use to make it worth the trouble even if it does work.
yeah, also I think when a phone goes down the company notices, but I have found some pay phones
Good tips, I hate it when a machine eats my money.

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