August 15, 2008

Overpaying: Part II of when good food goes bad

Things can go wrong when you're eating in a restaurant. Then you're left spitting an undercooked burger into a trash can or waiting in a 20-minute line when you're already late for work. It's time to take a look at the dark side of the food industry.

One of the nicest things about fast food restaurants is the fact that their prices are displayed on giant billboards behind servers' heads. It gives a pretty good idea of how much you're paying.

But what happens when the person serving you can't seem to read those giant prices? What happens when you order a $6.95 burrito and the kid behind the cash register asks you for eleven bucks?

There are only two options: Point out that you're being overcharge and explain that you know the worker's job better than he or she does, or grit your teeth and part with the extra cash to avoid the trouble.

When there are four people waiting behind you in line, impatiently shuffling their feet, nobody wants to be that person who asks to see the manager. Nobody wants to hold up the line and deal with the disapproving stares and sighs of exasperation from fellow customers.

Giving the person behind the counter a hard time isn't easy, either. Most of the time it's some teenager who's probably doing their first job. Even if they're unmotivated and mumble like they came straight from a morphine-filled dentist visit, it just doesn't feel right. None of us want someone to give us a hard time at work, so we don't want to ruin anyone
else's day --especially some kid who should be off drinking Red Bull and playing Nintendo in a dark basement.

Match that against the feeling of Mr. Washington in your pants. He certainly knows how to whisper sweet nothings. Breaking up with him is hard to do, especially when you're being asked to pay more than you should.

So it's a no win situation. Point out the price
discrepancy, and there's a big fuss that leaves you feeling sour. Cough up the extra cash, and you're annoyed you get ripped off.

It's the easiest way to ruin a meal before even seeing the food. Maybe it would be nicer if we didn't know the prices before we ordered.

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