NROP: Paying for a drink twice.

It was one of my co-worker’s birthday recently so we (they) decided to go out for lunch to celebrate the occasion. The birthday celebrant ordered a soft drink with ‘light ice.’ That did not surprise me – not everyone needs their beverage freezing cold. However, what DID surprise me was what the waitress said – “It is just that the glass will not be full.” My co-worker said it was OK and that they understood. WHAT?

Several weeks ago, as I was browsing through various news sources to find a topic for one of my NROPs, I stumbled upon a piece that talked about Starbucks (or a similar coffee chain place) charging extra for drinks with no ice. Never having seen anything like that myself, I figured that it simply could not be true. ‘Simply ridiculous!‘ I thought and scrolled to the comment section at the bottom of the article. One of them explained how the premise was inaccurate, which confirmed my belief, and so I moved on – happy that it really was not the world we live in (as if we did not have other problems already).

Until now. I mean – until that lunch.

As a kid, I remember my parents telling me that restaurants displayed their greediness by putting (more) ice into your drink. That way, they could save a few cents here and there on putting less of the actual drink into your glass. (That is specifically true for cocktails! Hence, I prefer the spirit neat when out and about.) I smirked at them. ‘How much money could the restaurants really be saving? People want ice.‘ I thought and figured it was another one of those ‘old people thing.’ When my parents ordered a beverage for me and my sibling, they asked for either light or no ice. Even though they were fully aware of the restaurant’s ‘trick,’ that was not what affected their order. Instead, they were worried that a drink chilled too much might hurt our throats. Whether it is because of their teachings or not, to this day, I prefer a drink that is not freezing cold. (A sip is fine but anything more than that is overkill.)

For some reason, I remember going abroad around that same time and being told that a beverage with ice was priced ‘extra.’ Since it was very warm and the beverage with no ice – room temperature, we had no choice but to pay extra for the ice (even if light). It was before I studied economics, so I just tried to reason with myself to find out why anyone would pay extra for ice. At home, you just poured water into a tray, stuck it in the freezer, and voila! My parents helped by suggesting that the water used for the ice might not be tap water (hopefully) and therefore more expensive. Additionally, you had to have a freezer, which used up electricity. Of course, they had to charge extra for ice! (Those were small mom-and-pop places abroad, way back; it is possible that they did not have ice machines.)

Returning to the US, I was glad that – even though our drinks were full of ice – at least we were not being charged for that. (Perspective, anyone?!)

Many years ago, my parents predicted that one day we would be paying extra for a drink with no ice but people would just raise their eyebrows at them. Pessimists… People have the same look when they glance at me these days. No. Not a pessimist – an unfortunate realist.

A few weeks ago, a TikToker (because that is THE business to be in) shared with the world how the coffee place listed a surcharge on their menu of $1 for no ice. First of all – charging extra for a drink with no ice is ridiculous. Second of all – charging a DOLLAR for no ice is even worse. That is a lot. Should we maybe start suing those companies for charging us a price in which a dollar worth of a beverage was missing? If I had a dollar for every drink I have had… I might be rich (or not).

Some people think charging extra for ‘no ice’ seems fair because ‘you are getting more product.’ My manic laughter quickly turned into tears. Is that really a depiction of the society we live in? I am assuming that these people were only born in the last couple of decades and just do not know better.

Now, of course, there is always someone who makes things worse for all of us by trying to make things better for themselves. There is a Starbucks ‘hack’ that has gone viral, which might have fueled the ‘charge for no ice’ change. Apparently, in order to game the system and get two drinks for the price of one, you should ask for a drink with no ice… and a cup of ice on the side…

I have personally witnessed someone doing that (at the airport) and I did not really think twice about it. I figured that the ice was for bottled water that was had by a fellow traveler or just to dose the ice as the customer saw fit (that the drink would not dilute too quickly). And people say that I always see the worst in people. No, I do not. I do not want to, but the reality- I am sure you see it yourself.

The outrageous surcharge of $1 for no ice in the TikTok video seemed isolated. Until my co-worker received 3/4 of a glass of whatever they ordered. If that ever happens to me, I will ask them how they feel about me suing for all the time when they gave me ice with a squeeze of a drink when I ordered a drink. It will not change anything but it will let them know that not everyone is OK with being robbed. (I will applaud anyone who actually has receipts and will attempt that.) Let this be a warning to you all – if it feels like something can be exploited – sooner or later – it will!

(P.S. I miss the days when we went out to lunch and had an alcoholic drink without anyone batting an eyelash.)

  • Do you like a lot of ice in your drink?
  • Have you encountered the ‘no-ice’ surcharge?
  • Are you ever surprised by how things end up or do you see it coming a mile off?

Stay golden,

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41 thoughts on “NROP: Paying for a drink twice.

Add yours

  1. Hah, what a story! I wasn’t aware of this at all.

    It does seem like drinks in the US consist of so much ice that half of the drink seems water.
    Also, I don’t I have ever seen shaved ice in Europe.
    If the drink comes with ice here, it would usually contain two ice cubes.
    I do like my drink to be a bit cold yes.
    And if for some reason I don’t, I’d just put it on the side.

    I think paying for tap water is a bit insane too.
    Which is something that is often true in west and Northern Europe.
    Take Bosnia as an example, every tiny cup of coffee will come with a glass of water, free of charge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s the thing – I feel like many of us are not aware of many things as they start happening and then we are shocked when they hit us full force. Ii thought the ‘no ice’ thing wouldn’t affect me until I heard it in a place I dined at.

      The US is a weird country in a variety of ways. The soft drink filled to the brim with ice is a peculiar one for sure. I have not really seen people in other countries do that with their dinner. Usually it’s tea, or wine, or room temp water.

      Things like shaved ice and sorbets baffle me.

      Two ice cubes is OK as long as you”re not drinking from a shotglass. Hahahah

      Water… Yes, I’ve paid for that in the past in Europe but that was usually bottled water/sparkling water (another debate re: flat vs sparkling). I do like a glass of water when I go out, however, if I’m ordering another beverage, I usually don’t even touch it and it goes to waste.


  2. This is not something I’ve ever experienced or thought about, but it just goes to show what a strange world we live in! It’s possibly balanced out by the free refill policy some places have…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And this is why I don’t love humanity. In places where I get free refills (often ‘included’ in the base price), I either don’t refill at all or might refill 0.5 times. But, there are some who will make their way to the machine multiple times as they spend the entire day there… And just yesterday, I saw so much ice scattered by the ice/drink machine. Owners have to pay for things like that somehow…


  3. I’m a “no ice” person myself. Always have been. But I don’t drink sodas. Generally speaking, just water. I like my water room temp. Same with iced tea, ironically, without the ice. I guess it’s just Cold tea that I like.

    I HAVE heard of the adding a dollar (or 25 cents) to say no ice. I have never paid it. I’ve also seen the 3/4 full beverage served. To which I say, hey, fill it all the way up (if I know I’ll drink the whole thing).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I keep the sodas to a minimum. But the ice thing applies to all. While the ice doesn’t water down my water, it does my iced tea. SAME with the cold tea. A few months ago, I stopped at Starbucks and asked for a cold tea and was told that it would take upwards of 5 minutes. I was rather surprised. Turns out they were making it to order (so, hot and then had to cool it down). It was a specialty tea. I don’t think that’s what restaurants do, though. Just bring me the cooled down tea and I will be fine.

      If you ask for it to be filled all the way up, do they just do it? I guess it’s place/employee dependant. (I recently got a discount at a store even though I refused to sign up for their store’s credit card. Sometimes we can be pleasantly surprised.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve never been charged before, but I’m guessing it IS store/employee dependent as well. To be honest, if I went somewhere and they tried to charge, I’d simply never go back again. I prefer to put my money where my mouth is. I generally will calmly talk to a manager or owner and tell them why I will never be coming back and that I’ll let anyone I come across know as well. I’m not disrespectful but I AM honest. I figure, if I was in their shoes, I’d want to be told.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I have not really gone back to restaurants since the Pandemic. We have been eating out at the home of friends, and hosting friends at our home. For some reason restaurants have lost their charm.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been out a moderate amount of times. I think there’s a group of people that has been so ‘starved’ that now chooses to go out every time they can (that will soon stop with all the prices skyrocketing), and those that got used to not going our. I’m in the middle.


  5. That’s interesting, Sam. I must say, I’ve never heard of paying extra for no ice in a drink. I’m in the UK and haven’t come across this ploy yet. Having said that, I’ve perhaps, not thought it through thoroughly enough. I think if we order a cold drink on tap, such as Diet Coke with ice, it comes already measured out in the glass complete with ice, so, I suppose, we are getting less drink for our money! Mmm – I’ve never considered that before. However, if the drink comes in a bottle (orange juice, for example), we get the ice in a glass and the drink on the side in its bottle. I’m unsure whether this applies to wine and spirits as I don’t drink. You really have to have your wits about you all the time, don’t you?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We live in a terrifying timeline! I personally don’t need or want ice but don’t care if there are any. I always end up realizing that I finish my drink too fast and am left with too much. I also thought, as a kid, that ice, as it melts, just gives you a bit more to drink, even if it’s diluted. But man… to get surcharged now for an iceless drink? Terrifying…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. interesting… Looks like for us the capitalists had already set shop when they introduced the beauty of frozen water. I suppose having rather warm tropic climate makes ice quite the premium additive and paying extra for ice is the norm.
    I get surprised when I find places where they wont charge you extra for the ice. When we are out on a mission to get dranks we usually buy our own ice from the supermarket where its ridiculously then just carry it about in a cooler box subject to making inquiries if they will let us bring our own ice, some refuse and sometimes if the prices are exploitative can actually just bring our won beverages and figure out how to smuggle them inside even when there is a big bright sign that says no external beverages but why would you charge triple for the regular price, I cant afford to simply pay triple for ambience *raises a smuggled shot glass of Jack daniels*


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I absolutely agree – capitalists can often be sneaky and give us something that we don’t want but then end up not being able to live without… Like we’ve recently spoken – you just always have to be weary.

      In the States, traveling with a mug everywhere you go is normal, so some people that I know started using those mugs to bring in alcohol incognito into restaurants. It feels weird to me so I don’t do it, but maybe you can bring in ice that way?

      That’s why drinking at home isn’t worse than at a bar.


  8. I do like my drink cold so that usually means adding ice, but I like A&W’s method of serving their root beer in a frosted mug. I’ve always assumed that the price I was paying was for the amount of beverage, so the business was probably making a profit by adding ice. I would have a problem paying more for no ice.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh gosh. I hope this trend never finds us over here where I live. Being charged extra for something that’s missing is insane. Almost like if I ordered a drink and they charged me for a pizza I didn’t get. “Why’d you do that?” “Well it’s your fault, should’ve had the pizza!”
    Environmentally speaking, it’s also not good to force people to consume more, even if it’s just ice – like you said, the ice needs electricity to freeze.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, absolutely! I remember some years ago – I would order a meal at McDonalds (burger, fries, drink) and then throw out the drink. Why? Because I’m not much for sodas but it costs less to order all three instead of just fries and a burger. And people weren’t keen to just accept a drink from a stranger.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Wow, it really does show what a country of abundance the U.S. is (generally speaking) when they charge extra for a lack of something. Really??? Like you point out, it takes electricity to make ice… and in a third world country (or any other country, probably) ice would actually hold some value! Economics 101, folks… but when you consider the current state and direction of our economy now, it really shouldn’t be such a surprise to see something as backwards as this haha!

    Liked by 1 person

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