Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I HATE! No Free Refills on Fountain Soda

I'm not what I would call cheap - most people who know me are aware of the fact that I shop often and impulsively. I am not exactly what one would call conservative. But there are certain things that I absolutely cannot stand paying for and one of those is multiple glasses of fountain soda.

We all know that if a restaurant has a soda fountain, it costs the place something along the lines of five cents per each glass of soda. So when a restaurant does not give you free refills on an initial glass of soda that they have the audacity to charge you $3 for, it makes me furious. At $3.00 a glass, the restaurant is already making a huge profit, even if you have more than one glass of soda with your meal. There is nothing like getting a check for meal with which you had three glasses of Diet Coke to find that the establish has charged you $3.00 for each one. I'm not going to lie, it kind of makes me want to stand up and flip the table over with rage.

What's worse is that half the time, the waiter or waitress will just refill your glass without really letting you on to the fact that you'll be paying our of your ass for each and every one of the sodas they bring you.

What are these restaurants afraid of? Do they really think that someone is going to drink so much fountain soda that he or she will put the restauarnt out of business? It's not humanely possible to drink that much fountain soda in one sitting; there is almost no way that a restaurant could lose money by giving away free refills on fountain soda. Just to further prove my point, let's do the math:

1 glass fountain soda (actual cost) = 5 cents
1 glass fountain soda (menu price) = $3
$3.00 / .05 = 60 (glasses)

That means, for a restaurant to actually lose money on a glass of fountain soda, a person would have to drink more than 60 glasses of soda during his / her meal. N-O-T P-O-S-S-I-B-L-E.
And let's say, I drink four glasses of fountain soda with my meal and the restuarant only charges me for the first one:

4 x .05 = .20 (20 cents actual cost to the restaurant for 4 beverages)
$3.00 - .20 = $2.80 (profit)

The restaurant still makes $2.80 in profit - pure profit - even without charging me each individual drink!

In conclusion, I see absolutely no reason why free refills aren't mandatory at every restaurant across the country. If this were 1910 and a glass of soda still actually cost 5 cents, I might be willing to pay for each one, but it's not, and at today's inflated prices, I think free refills are completely reasonable - it's all in the math.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It actually costs a lot more than you think. It's common for people to say it costs practically nothing, or less than a nickel, or the cup costs more than the soda, but I've just been doing the numbers for our restaurant and I'm happy to share them.

Depending on the flavor, bag size, and where you get them, the syrup bags can cost around $75 for the 5-gallon bibs, more or less. These make about 30 gallons of soda -- actually a little less because you can never drain them completely. According to our rep at Coke, each 16-oz cup usually takes about 9 oz of soda with the rest being ice. So if we're looking at about .02 per ounce of soda from that box, then we're at about 18 cents for the soda itself in the cup.

Now even though Coke was nice enough to loan us the fountain dispenser, we still have to rent the ice machine. Amortized over the amount of sodas we sell in a month, that's about 10 cents per soda just for the ice. Cups are a nickel, lids are 2 cents and so are the straws, and don't forget the CO2 tanks, which work out to about 3 cents per cup over the course of a month for us.

So add it all up and it comes out to about 39 cents for a 16-oz cup. Ironically, a 12-oz. can of the same stuff from Coke costs about .38, less if we get them from Costco. So a fountain drink actually costs us more than a canned one, for less soda.