Because life is a series of edits

Lemonade Concessions: Baseball’s Underbelly

In Sports on September 17, 2007 at 10:33 pm

I took my five-year-old to the Cardinals game tonight. We had two free tickets (courtesy of the St. Louis public library system), right behind home plate in the upper deck – nice.

We took the train from Brentwood to downtown, found our way up to section 451, and decided to get a lemonade as our one treat of the evening. The girl working the stand was very nice and told me the prices (which were not very nice). Sensing my hesitation at plopping down $6.50 for a lukewarm lemonade (complete with souvenir cup), she said she’d “work something out” by giving us a refill if we wanted one “all because of the little lady” (i.e. my daughter, who played the part and smiled adorably).

While I usually consider myself pretty shrewd when it comes to reading people, I somehow missed it on this one. Taking her at her word, I gave her $6.50 for a lukewarm lemonade (complete with souvenir cup), told her I’d be back in a couple of innings, and we made our way to our seats.

Three innings later, I went back to the stand with cup in hand. Because I didn’t want to get the girl (she was probably all of 20) in any trouble in front of other customers, I made sure the stand was empty before I approached, put my souvenir cup on the counter, and asked her if I could have the promised refill. Sure, she said; no problem.

As she prepared the second lemonade, I made small talk, observing that it must be a lot nicer working games in the cooler temperatures of September than the beastly weather we had in August, to which she smiled and agreed. Then, as she put on the lid and gave the lemonade a shake before handing it to me, I mentioned how much I appreciated her “working something out” with the refill, wondering to myself if I should give her a tip or something because she was about to give me a two-for-one deal.

I didn’t have to wonder long; all of a sudden, the smile was no more and it was business as usual. The girl put the second lemonade on the counter, stuck out her hand, and said I owed her $3.25. I balked, realizing I’d just been had.

Pausing, then pulling out my wallet, I let my disappointment and disapproval come out a bit more than I would have liked: “It would have been nice to have known you were going to charge me on the front end.” Her silence confirmed her initial intention to “work something out”; namely, that I would come back and pay $3.25 for water, ice, and a lemon (minus a second souvenir cup). What a deal.

Realizing I was in the presence of Vegas-like genius, I paid her the money, grabbed my second lemonade, and staggered back to my seat, spending the next three innings dumbfounded at how I had just been had in a very legal way. My daughter enjoyed the second lemonade, which helped, but I was still reeling from somehow missing the free refill bait and switch.

To make matters worse, the Cardinals lost, 13-11. Worst of all: because it was a school night, we had to leave at the end of the fifth inning when the Redbirds were losing 7-0 (yes, for those keeping track, that’s 17 runs we didn’t get to see).

Thankfully, though, we did make it home with our $9.75 plastic souvenir cup.

  1. Oh man, that kind of situation ticks me off.

    My response would have been slightly different. I would have said something like what you said, then when she didn’t relent, I would have left the cup sitting there and gone across the aisle to another stand and bought my daughter an $8 ice cream cone or whatever.

    p.s. I haven’t forgotten my ticket for tomorrow’s game. Are you going to be up for more misery?

  2. She should be reported. The Cardinals wouldn’t approve of this. If you say nothing, she will continue to do it to others. Stand up for your rights.
    The Sultan on Sports

  3. Sorry man, that does suck. Just boycott all lemonade stands from now on and claim “I had a bad experience!”

  4. Nick, sorry to say, but I have class tonight, so I’ll miss you at the game this evening. Megan, her father, and two of the girls will be there, though, so run interference for them at the lemonade stand. We’re taking the whole fam (in-laws and all) on Wednesday with the rest of the Covenant crowd. Are you in on that shin-dig?

    Sultan, I thought about reporting the experience, but I’m not sure she technically did anything wrong – she didn’t say she would give me a free refill, just that she would “work something out” (i.e. the refill – minus another cup – for $3.25). I suppose she could have made me buy another full drink (that is, another lemonade in another cup) for $6.50, but she didn’t do that either, which was nice.

    No, she was not exactly forthright in defining her terms, but that was as much my fault as hers, as I jumped to the conclusion that “work something out” translated to “free refill” and didn’t ask. I’ll probably just chalk it up to experience and let it go (though not after whining about it here on my blog first, which is really mature).

  5. Oh man, I’m such an idiot! I just looked at my ticket…and it’s for tomorrow night! At least I’m a lucky idiot.

  6. In terms of the price: sorry you were had. In terms of missing the rest of the game: it could be worse. You could go to get a burger when the score was 0-2, and then come back to find the score at 8-2 and realize you had missed 80% of a record inning.

  7. Yes, Kent, but you did that already (and at a game with me, as I recall), so why repeat history?

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