Friday, 23 March 2012

A minor ethical dilemma: Free refills

A number of restaurant chains charge patrons an unreasonably high price for drinks, on the basis that they can drink as much as they want. Of course, very few people will actually have more than one refill, and no one will ever drink enough to claim it was "good value for money" (if you're really thirsty you might just be able to manage 15 glasses of Pepsi).

The obvious solution for the shrewd customer is to pay for one drink which everyone on the table shares. Everyone drinks as much as they want, and you only pay for one glass of 7-Up!

But, as you might have guessed from the post title, there is a wee dilemma here. Is it really a noble thing to play Robin Hood - pinching what you can from Nando's coffers in order to feed your impoverished friends? But then, when the restaurant's prices amount to daylight robbery, what's wrong with exploiting a little loophole?

What would you do?


I get very uncomfortable in situations where I feel I'm breaking some kind of law, whether written or implied. It's almost like being at school - I'd be thinking "what if the manager comes out and tells me off?" That and the inconvenience of sharing one drink between a group would definitely put me off the idea.

Beyond feeling uncomfortable and inconvenienced though, I wonder whether the principles of honesty and integrity totally preclude any behaviour of this kind. I've got one more case study up my sleeve and then I'll discuss the issues a bit further.

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