Universal Studios’ “free refill” policy is a cup of lies, claims class action lawsuit

Photo: Михаил Руденко (iStock)

We’ve covered many lawsuits here on The Takeout. Some have serious merit, like the one about the lack of accessibility for disabled people at fast food drive-thrus. There are the ones that are surprising, but still legitimate, like the case of Huge Ass Beer v. Giant Ass Beer. There are the petty ones, like the New Jersey couple suing Taco Bell over a $2.19 price discrepancy. And then there’s the flat out frivolous, like when Red Bull was forced to pay $850,000 to a group of Canadians who were upset the product didn’t literally give them wings. The lawsuit we are about to discuss may seem petty, it may seem frivolous, but, after serious research into the matter, this writer believes that plaintiff Luis Arnaud might be actually be an American hero.

On July 29 of this year, Arnaud was visiting Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, and purchased a $16.99 Coca-Cola Freestyle Souvenir Cup, which came with the promise of unlimited refills. The next day he reactivated the cup for and additional $8.99, bringing his pretax two-day soda expenses to $25.98. It was on this second day of his soda spree that he discovered the horrifying truth: the “unlimited” refills weren’t so unlimited after all. After pouring and chugging a drink, Arnaud attempted to refill his cup at a nearby Coca-Cola Freestyle machine, only to be denied.

Advertisement

It turns out that the cups in question are equipped with a computer chip that limits refills to one every ten minutes. While some may think that six drinks an hour is reasonable, please consider that on July 30, 2019, the temperature in Orlando was 95 degrees before factoring in the humidity. Coca-Cola Freestyle machines dispense a variety of sodas, of course, but they also dispense iced teas, dehydration-fighting electrolyte drinks, and good old-fashioned water.

According to the lawsuit which has been filed in federal court: “[Arnaud] paid the above sum on the assumption that he was purchasing products that would conveniently allow him to refill his cup whenever and however many times he wanted. ... Plaintiff had specifically seen the ‘unlimited’ misrepresentation all throughout the Universal parks. He would not have been willing to pay the sum he paid had he known that the products did not provide unlimited refills and were mislabeled and falsely advertised.”

It may seem like a mere quibble to sue a mega-behemoth corporation over a $25.98 soft drink bill, but when you tack it onto the price of admission to Universal Studios ($115 per adult for one park for one day, $110 per child), this quickly transforms from a petty lawsuit to a case of David vs. Goliath: a working everyman who is willing to stand up to corporate greed, an American hero who has said enough is enough and refuses to sit down quietly when he is denied his free refill. We are all, in some way, Luis Arnaud. May he be victorious in his quest for justice.

Share This Story

About the author

Allison Robicelli

Allison Robicelli is The Takeout staff writer, a former professional chef, host of The Robicelli Argument Clinic Podcast, the author of three books, and a swan meat influencer.