Sunday, May 1, 2016

How Universal Got Smart with their Refill Cups

We've been in Central Florida for YEARS and have had annual passes to either Disney or Universal over the years.

We really like the Universal ones mainly because they're more affordable.  The Disney annual passes are insanely expensive, especially if you're a family of 4.  Yes, the Florida Resident passes are excellent compared to what our visitors from out-of-state/out-of-country pay, but we just cannot swing $2,500+ for the same passes we paid $1,300 for about 8 years ago.

Anyway, Universal.  See this cup?

We've had this cup for about 6-7 years.  We pay $1.27 (it used to be $1.06 three years ago) for refills now.  They never say anything.  They never say "we can't fill these anymore."  I love Unuversal for that.

So when they began their Coca Cola Free-Style system, I thought "What?"  See, you buy a cup like this for $9.99

and for the rest of the day, you get free refills of your choice in selected areas that have the Coca Cola Freestyle Machines.  You can't just go to any food kiosk and ask for a refill. You have to go to set locations in both parks that have these.

All that I can think is, "How in the WORLD are they going to keep a handle on this?  How can they stop people from coming back tomorrow, the next day, next year?" 

I figured it out today AFTER I purchased one.  We got our cup, And went to go fill it.  I tried selecting something but got an error like this one:

It sensed a cup was not on the dispenser area.  I'm thinking "OK, it senses there's no weight there." We filled it, drank our drink and then went back 9 & 1/2 minutes later to refill it.  How do I know it was 9.5 minutes?  Because the screen then displayed "Your next refill is available in 33 seconds."  There's a 10 minute wait time in between refills.

"How does this know this," I think?

RFID Chip.  THIS is how Universal got smart with its refill cups.  After 24 hours, this cup is null  void, and you can no longer use the cups, unless you reactivate it for $6.99 or so (I'm finding this info on the internet from 2014, so that may have gone up/changed)!

I am so thankful that I still have two of the older refill cups.  $1.27 refills is much better to me than a $10.00 cup I can only use in certain areas.  Maybe for you, if you're ok waiting in lines to use the machines (I have to wait in kiosk lines anyway to get an employee to give me my refill too)  and you can get at least 10 refills in your day (dang, that's a LOT of soda!) then it may be worth it to you, but tomorrow, you have to pay like $7.00 and refill it at least 6 times ($1.27 refills for the other cup) to get your money's worth.  I'm not getting that much soda, so my old red cups are  going to be our go-to cups when heading to the parks.  

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