Smart soda cups max visitors out at six refills per hour.

By Mike Pomranz
October 23, 2019

The idea of "unlimited refills" on drinks seems pretty straightforward: You can fill your cup as many times as you like. And yet, even "unlimited" refills usually have limits. For instance, it might be "per visit." Or you might be prohibited from sharing your refills with other people. But at what point is such a limit put on your "unlimited" refills that they are no longer truly "unlimited"? According to a new lawsuit, a refill every ten minutes is not "unlimited"—and Universal Parks & Resorts should have to pay.

Михаил Руденко/Getty Images

In a class action lawsuit filed last week in New York federal court, back in July, Luis Arnaud claims he bought a Coca-Cola Freestyle Souvenir Cup at Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park in Florida for $16.99—a purchase that was promoted as including unlimited refills for the calendar day—and reactivated the cup the next day for $8.99 at Universal's Volcano Bay park. It was on this second day that—after filling, downing, and attempting to immediately refill his cup again—he realized the refills were not truly "unlimited." What was later uncovered is that the cups contain a Radio Frequency Identification chip. These chips do things like check that you've actually paid for the day you're using it, but they also limit refills to one every ten minutes.

In case you were wondering like I was, yes, the lawsuit gets down to the nitty-gritty: "The MacMillan Dictionary defines 'unlimited' as 'with no limits relating to amount, time, freedom, etc.' By definition, Plaintiff's and the class' refills were not unlimited because they were only afforded a finite number of beverages for a limited amount of time," court documents state. Turns out "a total of only six (6) refills per hour" is not "unlimited," at least according to these lawyers. The filing also suggests that Universal knew of this ten-minute limit and used the term "unlimited" anyway.

As Law360 points out, the lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages on claims of breach of express warranties, violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, and common law fraud. If it is indeed approved for class action treatment, millions of people could be included, the filing states.

Meanwhile, if this suit moves forward, it could potentially set a huge precedent for companies moving forward and represent a huge win for extremely thirsty people everywhere. Or it may just mean that there's a paragraph of fine print anytime you see the word "unlimited."

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