Ripping People Off?

Are we getting ripped off in the following two situations?:

1.  I’m all for “user pays” systems and thus like when public and private road systems charge tolls.  But is it me or is Delaware totally taking advantage of where the federal government decided to put I-95 by charging not just one $4 toll but two $4 tolls on one of the shortest stretches of highway in the system?  By contrast, New Hampshire only charges $2 to cross its tiny stretch of I-95 – and people complain that it is taking advantage of its quirky geographic position.  Again, I get user pays (and the need to maintain that big bridge in Delaware) – but when is it more like a tax on travelling and less about maintenance of the roads and bridges you utilize?   

2.  A McDonalds tried to charge me the price of a small drink ($1.59 by my recollection) for a paper cup so that I could get tap water.  As you might guess, I politely told them to shove it  “no thank you.”  Now I understand charging customers for the price of the cup and a profit on the exchange.  I also understand charging a bit of a premium given the greater possibility of a customer defrauding the company by using the cup not for water but for soda.  The company may also want to encourage soda drinking and its high profit margins by making it difficult to drink water instead.  But $1.59?  Isn’t the business risking my patronage by either making me feel ripped off or making me decide to go thirsty and thus feeling less positive about the dining experience (and remembering that the next time I decide to eat out)?  I can certainly say tonight that I’m more likely to go to Burger King or Wendy’s tomorrow should I need to satisfy an urge for an inexpensive burger and fries.

Bonus points if you see why one is much harder to tolerate than the other if both situations represent trying to rip off “customers.”

2 thoughts on “Ripping People Off?

  1. Situation #1: to the extent the tolls collected exceed the cost of maintaining the subject roadway you are getting screwed.

    Situation #2: you are not compelled to pay the $1.59 so if you are getting screwed it is on you. Bring your own cup next time.

  2. FWIW – most fast food places have higher costs on the cup than the beverage you fill it with. That’s why they don’t care how often you fill it up.

    When I worked at a competitor, you could drink as much pop as you wanted, but it absolutely had to be in a cup you brought from home.

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