Loopholes can be great, particularly if you’re the one taking advantage of them. What’s even better is when the loopholes are pointed out to you!
Recently, I visited a local Starbucks in order to catch up on some things. There are random times when it’s just easier to get work done in that type of environment, without the distractions of home. This was one of those times, and I was looking to have something to drink while staying there for a few hours working. As I shared in a story about a previous effort to do this, you do get what you pay for, so I made sure to go to a place that I knew would be conducive to getting things done. Thankfully, no freaky customers at this place, versus that other place:)
This probably won’t surprise anyone who regularly reads Squirrelers, but I was looking for something that was:
- Reasonably healthy
So, I surveyed the choices and decided on hot, herbal tea as my selection. In my renewed enthusiasm for making healthy choices, I decided against anything loaded with extra calories, or even super high in caffeine. With respect to the former – as a sidebar – it’s astounding how fattening some of those drinks can be, compared to what many people might think! So tea it was for me, healthy and cheap.
As I was ordering, the lady behind the counter asked me which size I wanted: Tall (small), Grande (medium), or Venti (large). I recall that Tall was $1.95 and Venti was $2.45, and don’t remember the price of Grande. Anyway, I thought “what the heck” and ordered a Venti. Thus, I spent $2.45 for the tea.
As they were preparing the tea, I chatted a bit with the lady behind the counter, and asked if I later I could get a refill of hot water. My idea was that I could get as much out of that bag as possible, of course! She said yes, that wouldn’t be a problem it get more water later. Cool! Extra glasses of tea for no additional cost, I like that!
Then she voluntarily told me about how there are customers that come in and try to game the system in other ways. What she shared is that there are some people who take advantage of the following loophole:
- Order a Tall (small) tea, and pay $1.95 – instead of the $2.45 I paid for the Venti (large).
- Ask for the Tall sized tea to be served in a Venti cup – which meant it was maybe 2/3 or thereabouts full.
- Immediately as for extra hot water
- Walk away with a large drink for the price of a small, saving $0.50!
Now, I recall hearing about other tricks people try when it comes to getting extra value at such establishments. But I’ve never really thought about it, perhaps surprisingly. This time, it actually took the lady behind the counter to tell me about it on her own
After hearing her tell me all about this loophole, I laughed and told her that if I come back there, I’m going to do the exact same thing. What was interesting is how she and another employee there who overheard the conversation were both telling me that I might was well. If others try this, why don’t you? They didn’t have a problem with it. Plus, it’s yet another example of how it doesn’t hurt to ask for a discount, or at least think out of the box to try to get a better deal.
The thought definitely crossed my mind later that I should have asked them if they could change my order to a Tall, which was a mistake I made. I was busy talking with them about the whole idea, and trying that next time, that I didn’t think of asking for the discount right away. The order was complete anyway and they rang me up, and next time would be fine anyway! However, I did manage to get something small out of the deal.
I realized that they use 2 tea bags to make your tea. Right away, I saw a small opportunity. I asked her if I could only use one tea bag for this order. However, I wanted to keep the other tea bag and possibly have it later.
She smirked, and said that it would be fine. No problem. I asked if other people do this, and she mentioned that very few people ask, but some have. So, I took that extra bag of “Passion” tea and brought it home. Hey, every little bit counts, right? I’ve picked up coins at a drive through before, so I’m not above saving a few nickels this way either
My Questions for You:
Has it ever crossed your mind to think of a loophole when buying something at a retail establishment? If so, please feel free to share.
Have you heard of other people pulling off other “arbitrage” opportunities like this, whether at a coffee shop or anywhere else?