Hoodrat Heroes

Dude Gets $525 Ticket From VA For Not Paying $0.89 For Fountain Soda Refill

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A South Carolina man was hit with a federal fine for refilling his drink without paying. The on-site construction worker says he didn’t know refills at the VA Medical Center in downtown Charleston came at a price, and Wednesday, during his lunch hour, he was slapped with federal charges. The ticket was issued by the Federal Police Force at the VA Medical Center in downtown Charleston after Christopher Lewis refilled his soda without paying the $0.89. A hospital spokesperson called it a “theft of government property.””Every time I look at the ticket, it’s unbelievable to me,” says Lewis, who works construction. “I can’t fathom the fact that I made a $0.89 mistake that cost me $525.”Lewis is now out of a job. According to a hospital spokesperson, signs are posted in the cafeteria informing patrons that refills aren’t free. Lewis says he never noticed the signs and admits he had refilled his drink without paying on other occasions. “As I was filling my cup up, I turned to walk off and a fella grabbed me by the arm and asked me was I going to pay for that, and I told him I wasn’t aware that I had to pay for that.”Lewis says he tried to pay the $0.89 right there, but wasn’t allowed to. He says he wasn’t given the chance to pay the cashier either.”I never had an option to make right what I had done wrong.”He says he was taken to a room, given the $525 ticket for shoplifting and told not to return to the property.


I read a lot of shit that outrages me, but this one takes the cake. I HATE businesses that don’t offer free refills for fountain soda. If you’re running a business and you have the nerve to charge me money for something that costs you literally nothing, then I’m taking my business elsewhere. You know where I can get free refills? Everywhere.

I can understand paying twice if you buy two bottles of Pepsi. Those were packaged and shipped to you. They cost the company money. But fountain soda? A fucking machine made it in front of my eyes. I did all the work by pressing my cup against the lever. Highway fucking robbery like you read about.

Here’s my question – what constitutes a refill? This is the argument I’m just DYING to get into. I wanna be challenged on a refill so badly I can taste it. I fill my cup up halfway the first time if they don’t have free refills. After I finish it I just fill it up halfway again. Therefore I never actually fill my cup, so it’s not a refill. Can someone please call me out on this?? Please???

And what about ice? Should that count towards what is and is not considered a refill? Isn’t that just empty mass that takes up valuable space? Shouldn’t the drink come out ice cold in the first place? And what’s the ruling with the fizz? If I sip at the fizz to make it go down faster, and then top off my cup, is that a refill? Who knows? You can’t define any of these things, which is exactly why refills are universally supposed to be free.

The WORST type of places are the ones that don’t tell you they’re gonna charge you for a refill. You’re out to dinner and you order a coke. Of course it costs $2.50 but you don’t give a shit because you’re a baller like that. Then when your drink gets low the waitress asks, “Another coke?” You only have one possible answer there – “Sure.” Why the hell not? It’s obviously free or else why would she be offering it to me so cavalierly?

Then the bill comes and you notice you’ve been charged three times.

That sneaky fucking waitress.



If you work at a place that charges for refills, and you don’t tell the customers before offering them a refill, then you’re violating their Miranda Rights. Because the assumption is that it’s free. Why wouldn’t it be free? There’s no logical reason to charge for it, because it literally costs them nothing. So by not mentioning anything, the waitress is just running up the bill because she knows it increases her tip. Well, she’s in for a surprise later on.

In circumstances like the one I just mentioned, it’s not even close to as outrageous as what happened to this poor guy. At least in my situation, the refill was outside of my control. It had to be filled by someone else. When it’s a self serve fountain soda, it is simply laughable that they think they can charge you for a refill. Like, I’ve seen these before. I always think to myself, “Who’s the moron that actually goes up and pays 89 more cents for a refill?”

Well apparently at the VA they have spies that are paid to look out for shit like this. Glad to see our tax dollars are being used for such good purposes. Because I don’t know if I could sleep at night knowing that people aren’t paying for refills. You would think that once this story caught wind, they’d obviously drop the charges, since, well, ya know – it’s really, really stupid. But of course this is America, so you’d be wrong. Here’s a statement the hospital released:

The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center is fortunate to have a highly trained Federal police force to ensure the safety of our patients, visitors and employees. As Federal police they are responsible for enforcing the law. Today a Federal citation was issued for shoplifting in the VA cafeteria to an individual who stated to VA police he had not paid for refills of beverages on multiple occasions, even though signs are posted in the cafeteria informing patrons refills are not free. Shoplifting is a crime. The dollar amount of the ticket is not determined by VA as it is a Federal citation. The citation may be paid or the recipient may choose to appear in Federal court to contest it

The safety of our patients? Yea thanks for saving everyone from that guy who thought he could top off his Mountain Dew without paying. Give this mofo the chair!!! These are the same people who proudly wore their fluorescent orange bus patrol sash and told you to stop yelling out the window at all the kids who have to walk home from school. I wasn’t listening then, and I’m certainly not listening now. These idiots really, really think they’re doing some great service for our country. The dude OFFERED to pay for the refill, and that wasn’t enough? Somebody do society a favor and give these kids the swirly they earned. Worked in the 90’s. This dude sounds wayyyyy too nice, which is probably why they’re bending him over like this.


Last thing I’ll say about free refills is a little tip that a lot of you probably already know. When you go to a place where you fill up your own cup, you ALWAYS ask for a water. They give you a cup, then you fill it up with soda. Of course you run the risk of getting caught. I’ve been caught exactly three times, but I’ve done it at least 500 times, so that’s a pretty solid average. I would’ve been embarrassed, but I ride a magical turtle in downtown Worcester, and a lot of people think it looks questionable at best. So I’m used to public scorn.

The times I have been caught though it’s always some 40 year old woman, and it’s NEVER the manager. You know why? Because women love the rules. That’s why they do better in school – because following the rules is a major component of school. But in general, men are better critical thinkers. We realize that it doesn’t effect us at all if someone fills a water cup up with soda. If I was asked to give you a water cup, and you fill it up with soda, that’s not my fault. Plausible deniability.

It’s like, hun, you do realize you’re not gonna get a reward from Moe’s for catching me right? They’re not gonna give you a raise, or even thank you. You’re literally busting my balls because you live to enforce these rules that don’t effect your bottom line whatsoever. I could understand if you got a bounty for this, but you don’t. So why are you doing it? Of course they’ve never thought about this, which is why they’re saying “Welcome to Moe’s” 100 times a day.

Either way, when I do get caught, I always have an alibi – I changed my mind. Ya see when I asked for a water, that’s what I thought I wanted. Then I got over there and the sight of Coca-Cola’s brand in my face was just too much to pass up. I was about to come and pay you right after I tasted that sweet bubbling nectar.

But that’s because I’m from Worcester, and generally most people around here know how to work the system. We grew up using plastic bags as lunch boxes, and we lit things on fire for entertainment. We can talk our way out of any situation. This poor guy wouldn’t last very long here, but we still got your back Christopher Lewis!! Keep fighting the good fight. #freerefills

Feel free to share your thoughts to keep the conversation going.

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7 Comment(s)
  • Wendy
    April 19, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    The soda DOES cost money, but not nearly as much money as that in bottles. Still, that $2.50 a pop pop the restaurants charge is plain highway robbery. And, someone needs to step in and arrest the cops that hang out at our local convenience store all night eating free donuts and drinking free coffee. They don’t even try to do patrols. They just hang out.

    The feds are just trying to make an example out of someone because some wannabe hero was having male PMS. To refuse to allow a man to pay for his drink is just wrong. Hopefully, the judge will see through the sham and overturn the ticket.

  • April 18, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    And, Joey G., we must know each other because I did the same thing back in the day with the same dream team cups. Main south McDs?

  • April 18, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    If the soda machine is accessible to the patrons free refills are assumed and taken advantage of. Screw stupid signs proclaiming 2 refills only or $.89 for a refill. Eff that. If the machine is accessible it’s free. Your paying for the cup.

  • SUL
    April 18, 2014 at 11:57 am

    This is outrageous. I would like to add Bars that charge for Soda. I understand ordering a soda and throwing a buck the bartenders way , I mean they are working on tips. But a guys buddy doesn’t want to drink, has to work that night or just wants to do the right thing and be the Designated driver and your hitting him with a charge for a fountain Sprite, outrageous!

    On a side not there is no doubt this fine gets thrown out. $525 for an .89cent product. The punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

    On a second side note , there is no way this guy didn’t know refills weren’t free. I’d be willing to bet my next paycheck there was 20 signs plastered over that machine saying refills weren’t free.

  • April 18, 2014 at 9:34 am

    You haven’t been to Moes in a long time I guess. They caught on to this scheme. Now If you ask for a cup for water, they fill up a clear 4 ounce cup with nasty sewer water behind the counter and hand it to u.

    • Joey G
      April 18, 2014 at 1:26 pm

      If you really want to be a cheap bastard, why not just save your Moe’s cup for next time. It worked for us when they were giving out 1992 Dream Team cups at McDonald’s and we walked up to the counter and asked for a refill. Come on guys, get your heads in the game.

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