Upsize your drink, downsize your wallet

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(Andrea Bárcenas/AQ)

Third-year St. Thomas University student Caden Bass noticed he was paying a lot more than he expected for his cafeteria meals a few weeks ago. After checking the math, the fan of upsized drinks realized the school doesn’t have an upsized drink option at all. Rather, it breaks the meal up into fries, drink and entree, charging full price for each.

While there is nothing indicating an upsized drink option in the George Martin Hall and Forest Hill cafeterias, most fast food places offer the option. Bass thought it unfair that he wasn’t told he was paying nearly $2 extra on each meal.

“I found this on my own, without the cafeteria telling me,” Bass said. “I did ask them about this after I discovered it and (the staff) did confirm my findings afterward.”

Using the example of a $5.55 grilled chicken sandwich, Bass said a meal of sandwich, fries and drink would cost $8.55. The same meal, broken up into its pieces by adding a large drink, costs $10.50. A student who purchases two “broken up” meals per day is spending an extra $300 per semester. He said meals are also broken up when certain substitutions are made, like purchasing spicy fries rather than regular fries.

A representative of Aramark declined to comment.

Bass immediately started spreading the word, telling friends and writing a formal complaint to the university administration.

“I was glad to catch it when I did and not at the end of the term when I had made the mistake a larger number of times, but still a bit surprised that they would go this far just to make more of a profit,” Bass said.

Trinity Kirk was one person who learned about the bad deal through Bass.

“I don’t expect to get a larger size for free,” said the first-year STU student, who lives in Rigby Hall and has a meal plan. “ But I would expect a smaller charge.”

Bass said even with a small charge to up-size items in the ballpark of 30 to 50 cents, students would still save hundreds.

“It’s also deceptive because even though it says ‘with a medium drink’ to make it a meal, it doesn’t say anything about breaking it apart and charging separately,” said Kirk.

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