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Sep 7, 2011 07:51 AM

Charged more than menu price [moved from New York State]

We are semi-regular patrons at Marino Pizza on Rt 9 in Queensbury. Semi-regular meaning that we stop there for dinner half a dozen times a year with friends and kids after outings in the Lake George area. It’s conveniently located and we enjoy their pizza and garlic knots. We’ve never ordered entrees, but the marinara sauce that is served with the garlic knots is very tasty.

But I’m not really posting about the food. Our most recent visit was the last weekend in August. We enjoyed our meal as usual but then got a surprise in the check. The prices charged for 3 of the items were higher than the menu. Two pizzas were 50 cents higher each, and an order of garlic bread w/cheese was $4.25 instead of the $2.59 listed on the menu (a 64% increase).
Presuming this was just an error I mentioned it when I went up to the register. The waitress said, oh no, it’s correct, our prices have gone up, we just haven’t gotten our new menus yet. And then she pointed to the bottom of the menu where it says “prices subject to change”.

Since the total difference was only about $2.50 I figured I’d just pay and be done, but while paying I mentioned that the increase in the garlic bread price (64%) was really significant and that they should have mentioned the price increases before we ordered. The response I received was that food prices have skyrocketed and what do I expect them to do, cross out the prices on all the old menus and write in the new prices? At that point I simply paid and left.

I don’t care about the $2.50. I do care that this just somehow seemed wrong. We like their food, but I’m not sure I want to go back. And there are a lot of other pizza places around that I’m guessing would be happy to have our business.

So here’s my question. Should they have done something differently? Do you think they really are just “waiting for their new menus”, or were we charged the “It’s the end of August and they’re probably tourists who’ll never be back price”?

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  1. You may not get much of a response because of the way this topic is named, but I was bored and looked at it even though I had know idea what I might find.

    To answer your question.................. VERY WRONG of the restaurant to use the 'fine print' as an excuse for hiding their new prices from guests. Even more wrong, and exceedingly STUPID (IMHO) to think they could do this at all. I'd send them a letter, enclosing a fine-point Sharpie, and telling them I'll never be back. How hard would it be to change the prices by hand until the new menus arrive? It may be technically legal (you'd need a lawyer or local consumer affairs office for that) but it's exceedingly unethical.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Midlife

      Thank you very much for the reply. (The topic name is due to having originally posted it on the New York State board.) It is good to have my sense of the incident confirmed. Sometimes you really wonder whether you're being too picky about things.

    2. This is not only highly unethical but most likely illegal. You can't put one price on the menu and then charge another, and saying "Prices subject to change" doesn't get you off the hook at all. I'd report it to the state AG, seriously. Who knows how long they have been getting away with this? Do they charge you LESS than the menu price when their costs go down?

      This sort of thing really irks me. When they asked you that snotty question, "what do to you expect us to do?..." etc, the answer is, "Yes." Imagine if the shelf prices were not honored at the grocery store.

      They are legally obligated to honor the posted price. If they refused to do so I would have deducted the difference from the tip and let the waitress work it out with management. I bet she starts mentioning the price increases in a hurry.

      1. I'm with you Fisher - this is B.S. And I agree that I bet they are legally obligated to honor the posted price on the menu. That clause "subject to change" is typically used for ads or marketing materials that have a "long shelf life". NOT for the menu at the point of purchase. And YES, I would expect them to go through and change the prices on ALL the menus EVERY time they change the price.

        1. A small bit of white medical tape over the expired prices would do the trick. That, and the new price in ink.

          1 Reply
          1. re: RedTop

            I'm sure many of us have seen this done. It's easy, cheap and most of all, effective.

          2. "...and what do I expect them to do, cross out the prices on all the old menus and write in the new prices? "
            Hi... As it is not the customer's fault that the establishment poorly timed the arrival of the new menus reflecting the updated higher prices, what the establishment was expected to do was keep thier original/lower prices in place until the shipment of new menus arrived. No need for them to cross out the old prices and hand out tacky looking menus with scribbled new prices on them. Just respect the customer by not 'dinging' them with the new /higher prices, until the new menus arrive. How in the world can the restaurant conceivably presume that the customer should pick up the slack for either poor planning (on the restaurant's part) or unprofessional execution (on the part of whoever was in charge of creating and delivering a new menu in a timely fashion)...