Product: Drink Dispenser
Soda Machine Contest Cap Validator   (+4, -4)  [vote for, against]
Redeem your winning caps right at the vending machine!

The big soft drink companies always seem to be running one of those contests where you look under the bottle cap to win a grand prize. Most of the caps are losers, but quite a few have the consolation prize of a free soda when you hand the cap to the store clerk. This is a pain if you're like me and you buy most of your soda at a vending machine.

Encode the cap with a small chip or bar code and have an extra slot in each vending machine for contest cap redemption. When the cap is validated, out comes your free soda. Machines in popular locales might be enhanced with the ability to dispense a variety of other prizes, maybe even cash.

Since Coke and Pepsi are such close competitors, the one that implements the Cap Validator first has the competitive edge in the vending/contest market.
-- hinkle, Aug 21 2002

Amen. The prospect of getting two-for-one /instantly/ would likely sway those knee-jerk, PoP instincts. A carbonated croissant for you.
-- absterge, Aug 21 2002


Good idea... However I am sure it has been thought of before and decided against for more than one reason. The number one reason I would think would be fraud. How easy would it be to replicate a barcode and stick it to a cap to get the soda free everytime. Now the microchip idea is better but could still be faked relatively easily if it is radio based. Capture the signal and then replay it at anymachine for a free soda. Yes its highly illegal but even in a great country like this its bound to happen.
-- StonedRaider, Aug 21 2002


am I the only one who has trouble getting the stupid little plastic things out of the cap to check for a winner? maybe. this would be much better.
-- rbl, Aug 21 2002


What I would like to see is a map of all the contestants who win the big prizes. I strongly suspect it would be clustered around the bottling plants.

For several years, 7Up and Sprite ran this kind of contest with results that were visible if you turned the bottle upside down and squinted. I can't believe the grand prize ever got out of the factory gates.
-- DrCurry, Aug 21 2002


If it is like most other contests though employees and direct family are disqualified. Sure this leaves friends but how bad would it be to get caught in a scam like that. Or even better have the "friend" who was going to split the cash with you take off and leave you empty handed.
-- StonedRaider, Aug 21 2002


did anyone else read about the McDonalds game piece fiasco? just that, people in the company having others cash in the winners.
-- rbl, Aug 21 2002


My point.
-- DrCurry, Aug 21 2002


I like what rbl said, have a little tab on the inside of the cap that can easily be pulled out. On the inside of the tab is a code you can punch into a keypad that is installed on the vending machine. The code has checkdigits in it so that it would be hard to just make one up to get a free drink. I still like this idea. I remember in my days of drinking only out of vending machines this would have made life a little eaiser, I once had a run of 5 free drinks. That week I felt like I should have been playing the lottery, if it were legal in my state at the time that is.
-- barnzenen, Aug 22 2002


Regarding fraud potential: if the machine was internet connected, part of the validation and payout process could be to invalidate that particular winning code once the prize was paid out.

That does leave the possiblity of someone figuring out the code generation scheme and generating their own codes. This bit of fraud would probably not be worth the effort if RFID technology was used instead of a barcode or manual entry for validation.
-- half, Aug 22 2002


I'm speaking in ignorance here because a) I don't use drinks machines and b) I don't use drinks machines, but...
If the machine were to have an input slot and recognition mechanism for tokens, and if the tokens were to be given away inside the bottle cap, and if they all had an array of holes in them but only those with a particular pattern of holes were winners, how would that be? Fraud wouldn't be a problem, because potential fraudsters wouldn't know what the winning hole pattern was.
-- angel, Aug 22 2002


Okay, the coin idea would be great, but it would have to be sterilized, ya know? Oh by the way, are the caps ever sterilized after they have been printed on? The chip idea would work, if it was not too big, and it either be waterproof or covered in something. Companies wouldn't pay for anything like that,though. They are big money grubbers, why should they make it easier to obtain our free drink? I know half of those free caps are thrown away from the lack of time and or places to use them. Which brings us to they key point: Convience of being free, is a business's enemy.
-- Athenaeum, Aug 23 2002


Regarding the fraud issue: I suspect that for the same reason people don't counterfeit one-dollar bills, it wouldn't be worth the effort to steal 20 oz. sodas. It's easy to find them for half that price at a regular store, anyway; they're just marked up for single-serving sales.

Since it is presumably worth the effort to counterfeit $20 bills, does that mean we are in danger of having 2-liter bottle caps faked now? <waits for laughter>
-- hinkle, Aug 27 2002


On what am I commenting again? Oh yeah, yet another positively brilliant idea. How some humans still manage to be hungry amidst such a wealth of brain power as this tank of half-bakers, is just another of the wonders of our time.
-- Seer Chin, Aug 27 2002


Sarcasm will get you nowhere.
-- hinkle, Aug 28 2002


Not to mention that here in Sunny California, you have to pay when you get your 'free' soda at a store. Any store. 15 cents, usually.

Why?

California Cash Redemption Tax or something like that.
-- gbomber, Mar 17 2004



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