And THAT is why you should always read the fine print.
Frequent flyer miles are pretty awesome. You could get flights and hotels at a discount, or even completely free. One man, now known as "The Pudding Man", made the history books for receiving 1,253,000 frequent flyer miles by taking advantage of a mail-in promotion.
In 1999, refrigerated and frozen food company Healthy Choice ran a promotion offering 500 miles in exchange for each pack of 10 Healthy Choice barcodes mailed in as proof of purchase.
And an early bird stipulation said that people who took advantage of the promo within its first month would receive double that — 1000 frequent flyer miles for 10 barcodes.
American civil engineer David Phillips did the math. He went to the supermarket to see which products would offer the best return. Then, he found a discount grocery chain that was selling individual chocolate pudding cups for 25 cents each.
He could get 1000 frequent flyer miles for only US$2.50.
"I basically grabbed the entire display case and threw it in the shopping cart and bought all of the chocolate pudding that they had in that store," he told Business Insider.
He drove around 200 miles to visit all ten of the chain's stores in his area and bought every case of the pudding available — 12,150 all in all, for US$3,140. When people asked what he was doing, he simply said that he was preparing for Y2k.
Removing the barcodes proved to be difficult. His wife got blisters from peeling off the stickers. His kids were sick of eating chocolate pudding. Soon, Phillipps figured out that he had to enlist outside help to be able to reach the deadline for the early bird promotion.
And so, he approached the Salvation Army to ask for help to peel off the labels. In exchange, he would donate the pudding. Not only was he able to meet the deadline, he got a US$815 tax deduction for his donation.
After he was given the 1,253,000 frequent flyer miles, Phillipps applied to several frequent flyer accounts. Now, he continues to stay on the lookout for frequent flyer programmes and promos, and is said to be earning points five times faster than he is spending them.
For a small price of US$3,140, Phillipps and his family have taken several trips to Europe and the Caribbean. Phillipps would also take his friends on crazy trips, such as going to Korea via Amsterdam.
"It probably took me about seven years to burn through all of the miles from the pudding project," he says.
Lesson learned: read the fine print. It might just change your life.
What do you think of The Pudding Man's story? Let us know in the comments!
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