petty pet

As I have a significant menagerie of pet peeves, I will follow Flasshe’s example and occasionally vent examine their sociological significance.

I have nothing against paying whatever a restaurant wants to charge for its menu items. The prices are listed; if I think they’re too outrageous, I can choose to go elsewhere. But in addition to what’s listed, certain assumptions come along with the dining experience…and if a restaurant is going to do things differently from those prevailing assumptions, it ought to both have a good reason for doing so and be sure its customers know about it.

For whatever reasons, in the last five to ten years, nearly every restaurant has gone over to the endless-refill model where soft drinks are concerned. One exception is fast-food places that have the fountains behind the counter…but even there, many of them offer refills free or at a nominal charge. Your typical fast-food or fast-casual restaurant nowadays has the soda fountain out on the floor, where customers can fill and refill beverages themselves. Even most sit-down places will refill your soda for free, many times without asking, many times taking away a quarter-full glass just for their own convenience. How can they afford to do this? Having worked one summer for Pepsi delivering their product, I know that the answer is: because soda is dirt-cheap, particularly the fountain variety. Restaurants are still making good profits on beverages, and it’s to their benefit to keep customers happy by offering free refills.

So what’s the problem with the few holdouts? The other day I was at a place, and as usual, when my diet Coke or whatever was empty, the server returned, asked me whether I wanted another one, and went off and returned with a second soda. So it was slightly irksome when I look at the bill and find that this is one of these places that still charges for every individual soda. It’s not as if I can’t afford the addition two bucks – but I can’t escape the impression that, knowing as the place must that most restaurants nowadays do not charge for additional sodas, the quick service on the second soda is a way of driving up the bill – and along with it, profits. It’d be one thing if this place were charging some superlow price for soda – but as I said, it was a fairly typical two dollars. I didn’t say anything about it – I’m not that cheap – but hey, it’s just a little bit annoying, and a small little addition to my collection of peeves.

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5 Comments

Filed under food, grump

5 responses to “petty pet

  1. yellojkt

    If I know the place charges for refills I get a large. Otherwise I get a small and keep going to the dispenser. Drinks have an enormous mark-up. Refills should be a given.

  2. yellojkt

    PS
    I put more about this on my blog. Name names on these rip-off chains and we’ll start a boycott. Or not.

  3. flasshe

    I drink a LOT of diet pop with my meals (if I’m not drinking beer, that is). It’s a sin for a restaurant to not order free refills. It’s bad enough when they have the drink dispenser behind the counter and you have to ask the counter help for a refill. In those cases, I’ll sometimes get the bigger size cup so I don’t have to go back up there as often.

    Most places are pretty good about the free refills these days, so it is pretty weird when you run across one that doesn’t do it. Even the Asian eateries around here that don’t have a fountain and give you a can with ice, don’t charge for extra ones. Though I remember eating at a Thai place a couple of years ago in, I think it was SF, and was really surprised when I got the bill and saw they charged me for every glass of diet pop. No wonder the waitress was going “Are you *sure* you want another one?” I should’ve picked up on that.

  4. flasshe

    Pet Peeve Of The Day: Blogspot.com blogs with CAPTCHA spam filtering on the comments, where the current CAPTCHA usually expires before you can type in your whole comment, and so have to submit it a second time and type out a different CAPTCHA string in order for it to be accepted. That makes me tend to rush through my comment without proofreading it. Even though I know that no matter how quick I submit, I’m probably going to do it again.

  5. Steve

    There’s a Chinese restaurant near our office that gives you bottled water (at $2.00 a pop) when you ask for water. We started calling the place “bottled water”.

    Still looking for restaurants that give free refills on beer and wine. I think that might be popular.

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