Unto you it shall be stuck

A very popular exercise, found often in the vicinity of convention centers, is the Left-Handed Price Gouge:

I have arrived at conferences a few days early, eaten in some of the local restaurants, and then gone back DURING the conference to find that the menu has been reduced to just a few items — called CONFERENCE SPECIAL MENU — and prices jacked up by anywhere from $3 to $5. Which I found rather offensive, seeing as conference people are often a captive audience, there more or less against their will (if you’re in academia where any research component is expected, you have to go to conferences from time to time) and no, almost no one has an “expense account” any more, so most of us are paying for meals out of our own pockets.

Of course, they’re counting on people not checking those prices in advance. And if the conference is held in the Big City, folks from smaller places are expected to conclude that hey, that’s just the way things are priced in the Big City.


  1. fillyjonk »

    6 November 2015 · 7:10 am

    It occurs to me – now with the rise of the Web (and smartphones) and everyone and his brother having a website advertising their business, if places are gonna get away with this any more. I could see someone being JUST curmudgeonly enough to cache a copy (or print out a copy) of the menus with prices from a few days BEFORE the conference and then show it to the waiter when they see the “conference menu” with the “special” prices.

    Hm. I may have just found myself a justification for a smartphone….

  2. McGehee »

    7 November 2015 · 8:45 am

    Smartphone, yes. Also either your own GPS-equipped car, or a GPS of your own to use in the rental if it doesn’t come with.

    1. Find a known good chain five miles or so from the venue.
    2. Do cursory research on the location using the online resource of your preference.
    3. Use the GPS to drive there.
    4. Enjoy an ungouged meal.
    5. Use the GPS to find your way back to the hotel.

  3. fillyjonk »

    7 November 2015 · 9:41 am

    That’s great if you have a car. A lot of conferences I’ve been to, I did not, because they were in the center of a city where parking gouged worse than more expensive meals would. (The peanut-butter-and-bread in the suitcase is probably a better option.)

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