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Vending Machine Finds

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Pillar of the Community
Canada
2805 Posts
 Posted 03/18/2013  8:55 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add nalaberong to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I read something somewhere that vending machines do not return the same coins you put into them when you press Return. Intrigued, I brought a couple of marked (with a red Sharpie, not anything drastic) quarters to a nearby student lounge and got to work, seeing how long I could go before seeing my marked quarter again, or if it would just return my marked quarters immediately like an ATM would.

Fortunately, both machines just kept rolling out different coins, which makes sense: you're putting your change at the top of the stack, and the machine has to take change from the bottom. So I'm in business! I can go anywhere with a vending machine where people won't look at me funny, and look through an authentic selection of circulation coins that I'm sure haven't been picked through by any teller or machine.

I started with low expectations, trying to finish my War of 1812 quarter set and looking out for a few coloured commemoratives. Those machines hold a lot - one had about 50 quarters before I got my marker back, but the second had plenty of $1.25 items and I went through over 100 with the marker still inside. Check the prices, at least if you're Canadian! Obviously there are going to be more loonies (or golden dollars/Susan B.) in a $1-a-can drinks machine.

My finds were great - if you're low on cash and don't have $100 to sink into a Brinks box, the vending machine method lets you turn a small amount of change entirely into what you want with enough patience. I found the other 3 quarters (coloured and not) I needed, a non-silver 1968, lots and lots of commemoratives (including some 1999/2000 month series), and a nice 1964 nickel. When going through loonies, I was also lucky enough to find one of every Lucky Loonie to date and a few Parliament 1992s, but I could only keep one due to a lack of foresight on my part (didn't bring enough change...).

Has anyone else searched vending machines this way? Have you found anything good?

* Bonus Canada tip: Always check the return slot, even if you're just walking by! One of our machines rejects new 2012 loonies/toonies and I've made at least $5 through regular checks - people hear a "clunk" and just give up.
Pillar of the Community
United States
1388 Posts
 Posted 03/18/2013  11:00 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add allranger to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I have a friend who does this in airports when he has layovers. Sometimes he gets some funny looks but he usually brings home different types of coins.
Valued Member
United States
140 Posts
 Posted 03/18/2013  11:10 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add CJ Cents to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I haven't tried this method but I recently wanting to search some coins went to a car wash or laundromat and put in my $5, $10 or whatever and just got a quantity of quarters real quick.

Haven't found any silver but some fillers I needed.
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United States
2448 Posts
 Posted 03/19/2013  10:21 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add carmykle to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Nope, never even thought of it. Now it'll become an obsession. Thanks for the idea.
Valued Member
United States
74 Posts
 Posted 03/19/2013  3:18 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Joex481 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I've tried it, but not on a scale as big as that.
I'm too nervous of people giving me funny looks
Haven't found anything, though
Valued Member
United States
498 Posts
 Posted 03/19/2013  3:18 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Dasaki to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
If US machines work the same way.. Wonder what the machines at Walmart hold XD
Pillar of the Community
United States
5068 Posts
 Posted 03/19/2013  4:11 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jack jeckel to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Some machines have a change dispenser that the machine operator fills with coins. The coins that are deposited for purchase go into a separate hopper or container and do not get issued back in change. You can set the machines to sort all quarters or dimes or whatever to go into the hopper and only dispense nickels as change.

So there is a chance that you will never get the coins you put in back only the ones that have already been searched by the machines operator (and everyone I know that has vending machines already knows about looking for silver) and you also run the risk of the machine eating your change and not getting anything back if you do not make a purchase.
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United States
92192 Posts
 Posted 03/19/2013  5:43 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Something to do next time I find myself waiting on the wife.
Pillar of the Community
Canada
2805 Posts
 Posted 03/19/2013  9:33 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nalaberong to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Today, armed with a bunch more marked coins and with Scientific Progress in mind, I set out to go through the entire change stack of the snack machine.

I had yet to get a marked quarter out of this machine; but the mark was just a Sharpie dot on a high point, and it wore right off. To prevent this from happening again, I put a giant X on them so that there was no way it would wear off. Sure enough, after about 120 quarters (it went fast because you can put in up to 3 quarters at once without it changing into a larger denomination) I found my mark again. So there are at least a few vending machines where all change cycles - which makes sense. Since they aren't dealing with large amounts of cash at once like an ATM, it's not like they need to return the exact coins you put in.

It also likes to make change for you, but its behaviour could change depending on how stocked it is. Here's what I got:
1 toonie -> 2 loonies
4 quarters -> 1 loonie
1 dime -> 2 nickels (?!) Maybe it was understocked on dimes at the moment.

Also, the drinks machine ate my money on at least three separate occasions. Usually I was able to free my trapped change by kicking the button (no, really: if it gets stuck then jostling the machine a bit helps. but please do not actually shake the machine and get squished by it), but on the last occasion it refused to return my money, while keeping $1.00 in credit. Defeated, I bought a can of soda. The moral: never give a coin-eater a second chance! You will get more and more frustrated. Only use machines that have never had any problems - ones with sliding doors in the coin return usually perform the best for some reason.

Today's finds weren't very illuminating, except for a couple 1970s American nickels (in Canada I'm pretty happy to find old American change). I had gone through most of it yesterday, so all I got was Vancouver 2010 quarters (way too common and hard to distinguish for me to keep all 12 kinds!). Luckily, the loonies were more fruitful and I found a 1910-2010 Marines loonie, along with two funny defacements: a lioncash loonie and a 1992 Parliament loonie with flames drawn over the House of Commons. Probably counter-cultural in some way but I don't care, it brightened my day to see what other people doodle on their coins.

I think the most gratifying way to vending machine hunt would be to buy a fresh to-date folder for nickels or dimes, get out some junk bankrolls and keep searching until the folder's full. Finding commemoratives is also a possibility, but then I'm living the commemorative-quarter dream up here in Canada. You could probably fill a couple State Quarter albums and turn them (full) for a profit, if you played up the "caught in the wild" aspect on eBay enough. Just imagine - free-range quarters, found in their natural habitat...
Edited by nalaberong
03/19/2013 9:43 pm
Pillar of the Community
United States
1088 Posts
 Posted 03/20/2013  12:11 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add stud722 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
hmm I will have to give it a shot. I work in a university with lots of vending machines
264 Countries and Counting!
Valued Member
United States
318 Posts
 Posted 03/21/2013  4:30 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add SilverEye to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Are there machines that will not return coins at all, they just rack up credit and keep it until you buy something?
Valued Member
United States
306 Posts
 Posted 03/21/2013  4:43 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add ksmcents to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
"Something to do next time I find myself waiting on the wife."

This made me chuckle, I have small bags of cents and a loupe in both vehicles for this specific circumstance.
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92192 Posts
 Posted 03/21/2013  4:48 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
This made me chuckle, I have small bags of cents and a loupe in both vehicles for this specific circumstance.
And yet another idea.
Pillar of the Community
Canada
2805 Posts
 Posted 03/21/2013  7:55 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nalaberong to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Are there machines that will not return coins at all, they just rack up credit and keep it until you buy something?

Only the broken ones...

But a bag of cents? You have machines that take pennies? Wow...
Valued Member
United States
306 Posts
 Posted 03/22/2013  11:23 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add ksmcents to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
But a bag of cents? You have machines that take pennies? Wow...


No not that I'm aware of, I was just referencing things to do while waiting on the wife...which is quite often.
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92192 Posts
 Posted 03/22/2013  1:59 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
But a bag of cents? You have machines that take pennies? Wow...
Just in case you want to know, that question has been asked here.
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