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Nov 11, 2012 02:28 AM

When that extra is "too much"

I live in Jerusalem - so I've tried to figure out how to explain the financial extra cost of my issue given the different currency.

There is a place I order food from for lunch about once a week that does various omelette sandwiches/meals that I like and their prices are fairly resonable. A plain omelette sandwich is 12 shekels (~$3.15), if you add mushrooms or hotdogs to the omelette the prices goes up to 14 shekels (~$3.68). However, my favorite omelette is the one with onion and parsley added which is the most expensive at 18 shekels (~$4.74). To put this in context, 6 shekels is about the price of a 750 ml bottle of Coke or half a kilo of couscous.

It's not a huge price increase - but it's fairly significant given that parsley and onion are not pricey ingredients. And I have to mentally justify that adding a protein (no matter the quality of the hotdog) is cheaper? So the choice I have to make is whether I forgo my favorite item because it seems overpriced or just suck it up as it's not so expensive.

Where is the line of not getting what you want because the price of the "extra" is too much? At this point, the principle of the issue bothers me more than not ordering what I want....but I do feel like I'm being had.

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  1. Seeing as this is a place you visit regularly and, presumably, are on good terms with the staff, perhaos you could ask how they reach their pricing decision on this. it does seem odd that there's such a % price difference - but perhaps by asking you'd find the reason (assuming it isn't just good old greed). Other than that, the extra small cost for me wouldnt be a reason to not order what I wanted and enjoyed.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Harters

      In this specific case, it's a place that does delivery to where I work. So my primary relationship with the staff is with the range of delivery boys who come to my office and whoever takes orders over the phone that day. Based on my previous phone calls when I've asked for things like an extra fork - they're not likely to be management making creative decisions.

      The primary charm of this place is that they will take any delivery order no matter how low the price and how many times they send people to our office in a day. So I've come to terms with the non-negotiation.....but I do usually go through a moment of asking myself if I really want to pay what I feel is a bizarre over-charge.

      1. re: cresyd

        Ah. Understood.

        I think you have to suck it up then. Or become, like me, a mushroom omelette fan (my favourite sort). Cheap sandwiches though (if I've correctly done my shekel/sterling conversion) - wish those here in the UK were so reasonable.

        1. re: Harters

          Yes - these are the East Jerusalem prices, and they are super reasonable. But if I go over their whole menu there's always (what seems to me) to be an assortment of oddly priced items. So while my primary gripe is with 6 shekel parsley - there are definitely other things to complain about if you wanted.

    2. The choice seems simple enough...... suck it up or figure out a way to find out why. Perhaps stop by one day and ask someone who would be responsible for such things? One would hope that any good business owner would welcome questions from customers that give them feedback. At least a reason, if you get one, will help you decide if it's worth the extra money.

      1. I know nothing about Jerusalem so take this with a grain of salt but are fresh herbs hard to come by making it more expensive? Are onions local or have to be shipped in from far away? I pay a lot more for items that readily available.

        Or it could be the McDonalds way of pricing. The reason they can sell hamburgers so cheap is the markup on their other items-salads, chicken, "fish" etc is outrageous. Maybe yours is how they sell others things cheaper?

        2 Replies
        1. re: foodieX2

          This is what I was thinking -- perhaps it is an item that they know people really like and have thus raised the price knowing that people will still pay for it. That extra mark-up (or the other items that seem to be oddly priced) might be making up for other items at lower prices. It could also obviously be the prices needed to ship in the onions/herbs, but that still seems high. If you ask, make sure you speak to the owner or GM. I doubt that servers/delivery drivers etc will know the specifics of each item.

          As to your specific question... how much is too much extra? I don't know... i often think about this myself. If I can get something I like and that will satisfy for me a $1.50 less than something that I enjoy the most, is it worth it? I guess for me it comes down to how often I am eating it. If it is a place I frequent often, out of convenience, necessity, etc and I am trying to be more conscious of my spending, then I will go with the lower priced item that I know I will enjoy, however I will still splurge or treat myself to what I really crave once in awhile (or maybe thrice in a while).

          1. re: pollymerase

            Fresh herbs - especially parsley and cilantro - are quite cheap in Jerusalem comparatively speaking and also quite commonly used in Palestinian cafe dishes. So it's also not that they're keeping the parsley and onion around just for this omelette.

            While this issue is the one that I notice the most (as it impacts my ordering), there are other menu items that have similarly strange "why does this cost this much?" moments. Were this a restaurant I chose to go to for their awesome food, I think I'd see this differently. But it's that issue of "convenience work food" - and so makes me feel like I should just go with the plain omelette because it's just about my preferred flavor. By getting parsley and onion I'm not making the omelette more or less healthy or have more or less protein/calories (should I be really hungry).

        2. It does seem strange that the onion and parsley omelet is so much more. Are the onions caramelized or something to make them more costly?

          1. This is really a question of personal preferences and it comes down to how you value the marginal utility of an extra dollar versus the marginal utility of onions and parsley in an omelet.

            If the former is greater than the latter, don't order the omelet with the onions and parsley. If the latter is greater than the former, go ahead and get the extra fixins.