Sketchy or not ?
A restaurant has a nice buffet for about $40 per person. The price has been the same for several years. The price recently increased by 10%. Assuming the cause was inflation, we never thought to ask about the increase.
It turns out that the increase now covers the price of non-alcoholic drinks (which must be ordered from the server). The previous price did not cover drinks. However, nowhere on the website or menu is it mentioned that drinks are now included etc. The only way a returning customer would find out about this change is if they ordered a non-alcoholic drink and found it not included on the bill, or if they happened to overhear a newcomer sitting nearby who asks the server.
Does this seem sketchy to you ?
I don't think it is particularly sketchy...if the price of the buffet hasn't gone up for several years, and you're talking 4 dollars, then I'll bet most of this is to cover for increased food costs.Non-alcoholic beverages are fairly inexpensive and probably not ordered by too many, so I suspect that it isn't the sole reason for the jump in price.
The fact that it isn't on the menu is that it costs a ton to print up tons of menus. It could be mentioned on the website, but it really seems to be a non issue to me, IMHO.
In order for restaurants to survive, they must adapt to conditions presented before them. They made a decision they needed to increase their price. Think of it as good will on their part for allowing you to have all the beverages you want now.....non-alcoholic, soda, coffee or tea.
In reality, too many people were not ordering any drinks at all, other than water. I think all buffet places should follow their lead. It's better for the house and the customer.
So you are upset that your bill was less than you were expecting it to be? While it would make sense that they would mention it somewhere or somehow - position it as giving back to the customer - I dont find it odd that they havent. You know for next time and so will everyone else. Plus if you are spending $40 for a buffet I doubt the $1.99 for a soda will break you, regardless if you are charged or not.
Not sketchy, no. Not really wise, either, on the part of the restaurant. It would be in the restaurant's best interest to make it known that non-alcoholic drinks are included because that adds to the perceived value of the buffet. They should post that info on the web site and also have the servers mention it while it's still a new policy.
you made me think of a restaurant i went to as a teen with my mom, her ex-husband and his two boys. the boys each had like 3-4 diet coke refills. i think i had 1 refill. mom and ex-stepdad each had iced teas. the menu neglected to reflect that they had changed their soda refill policy. Mom was pissed, to say the least, when lunch was an extra 30 dollars. I believe ex spoke to management just to express disappointment and deceit felt, and the manager may have comped all the refills...