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Big Gulps of "Free" Coffee: What do you think?
Old 05-15-2013, 08:30 AM   #1
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Big Gulps of "Free" Coffee: What do you think?

Since there are many frugal people here, I thought this small matter may interest some:

The local gym has a couple of coffee urns for the patrons' convenience after workouts. The staff make the coffee. Small 6-oz cups are supplied.

We have started seeing a number of men leaving the gym after having filled big, 16- or 20-oz travel mugs from the gym coffee urn. Mr. A. calls this "stealing." I don't consider it stealing, but I do think it's greedy, and over time could result in the gym starting to charge for coffee, instead of including it in our membership dues. Others probably just see it as a practical, frugal thing to do.

Thoughts?

Amethyst
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Old 05-15-2013, 08:45 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
Since there are many frugal people here, I thought this small matter may interest some:

The local gym has a couple of coffee urns for the patrons' convenience after workouts. The staff make the coffee. Small 6-oz cups are supplied.

We have started seeing a number of men leaving the gym after having filled big, 16- or 20-oz travel mugs from the gym coffee urn. Mr. A. calls this "stealing." I don't consider it stealing, but I do think it's greedy, and over time could result in the gym starting to charge for coffee, instead of including it in our membership dues. Others probably just see it as a practical, frugal thing to do.

Thoughts?

Amethyst
Perhaps being rude, selfish, and inconsiderate is not really against any "rule"...
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Old 05-15-2013, 08:48 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
Since there are many frugal people here, I thought this small matter may interest some:

The local gym has a couple of coffee urns for the patrons' convenience after workouts. The staff make the coffee. Small 6-oz cups are supplied.

We have started seeing a number of men leaving the gym after having filled big, 16- or 20-oz travel mugs from the gym coffee urn. Mr. A. calls this "stealing." I don't consider it stealing, but I do think it's greedy, and over time could result in the gym starting to charge for coffee, instead of including it in our membership dues. Others probably just see it as a practical, frugal thing to do.
If the company wants to curtail the benefit, it can do so very easily.

This reminds me of my last workplace, where I saw many people fill up jugs of water from the deer park water cooler, as they leave at the end of the day. It also reminds me of the coffee club that serves really cheap, foul-tasting coffee for $10/month.

Ask the staff how much coffee they throw away at end of day. Maybe the 16oz fillups are a good thing.
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Old 05-15-2013, 09:46 AM   #4
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From my upbringing, the coffee is provided to be consumed on the premises. If you are going to push it and take the coffee with you, you do so in the provided cups, not by filling up your own cup. That is equivalent to going to someone's house, having them serve cookies, and filling up your purse with all you want from the plate, to eat later.
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Old 05-15-2013, 10:04 AM   #5
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Where I work (very large defense contractor) a 16 - 20 oz. travel mug is the standard size coffee cup. Seriously. I rarely see anybody with a "normal" size cup around here. The coffee is provided by the contractor at no charge. I'm not an employee, I'm a government rep at this site. I get free coffee too. That said (pointing out that size of the cup is relative) the free coffee is usually consumed on the premises. Nowadays I think many people see the bigger cups as standard equipment, and don't consider themselves as coffee hogs. I have a 20 oz. sitting here on my desk right now. The issue of whether they should be filling & leaving the establishment is of course a whole other thing, and if management doesn't like it they need to post a big sign to the contrary. They should then also ask violators to kindly refrain from such activity. It's up to the mangagment though, not individual patrons. That kind of confrontation at the coffee pot might cause some workplace violence! You know how people get when they don't get their coffee...lol
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Old 05-15-2013, 10:18 AM   #6
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From my upbringing, the coffee is provided to be consumed on the premises. If you are going to push it and take the coffee with you, you do so in the provided cups, not by filling up your own cup. That is equivalent to going to someone's house, having them serve cookies, and filling up your purse with all you want from the plate, to eat later.
Well said.
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Old 05-15-2013, 10:26 AM   #7
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I doubt they throw any away. One or both of us is at the gym almost every a.m., where we see them making new coffee regularly. We have also gone for our 6-oz refreshment right after Mr. Big Shot emptied the urn, and had to ask staff to make more coffee (they obviously don't want patrons doing it, since the instructions and supplies are not openly available). There is always decaf available; it's the full leaded urn that gets emptied

There are lids available for the small cups.

Not sure the workplace analogy is accurate. There is no big defense contract picking up the tab; everything is paid for from our dues.

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If the company wants to curtail the benefit, it can do so very easily.

This reminds me of my last workplace, where I saw many people fill up jugs of water from the deer park water cooler, as they leave at the end of the day. It also reminds me of the coffee club that serves really cheap, foul-tasting coffee for $10/month.

Ask the staff how much coffee they throw away at end of day. Maybe the 16oz fillups are a good thing.
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Old 05-15-2013, 10:27 AM   #8
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Personally, I would be ashamed and embarrassed to do that but then I get embarrassed easily. I just couldn't do it.

On the other hand, the semi-illicit pleasure of making off with a huge cup of free coffee may keep them coming back, and this might increase the gym's business/profits in the long run.

So maybe the gym knows about this practice, and gives it a wink and a nod.
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Old 05-15-2013, 10:34 AM   #9
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This reminds me of something I see often at a fast food restaurant where there is a soda fountain in the eating area. Customers who buy a drink will refill it up as they leave and take it with them.
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Old 05-15-2013, 10:46 AM   #10
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We have started seeing a number of men leaving the gym after having filled big, 16- or 20-oz travel mugs from the gym coffee urn. Mr. A. calls this "stealing."
I am glad to hear that it is only being done by men. After all, few expect much out of men any more. About as unexpected as male dogs peeing on the shrubbery.

Ha
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Old 05-15-2013, 11:04 AM   #11
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This reminds me of something I see often at a fast food restaurant where there is a soda fountain in the eating area. Customers who buy a drink will refill it up as they leave and take it with them.
That is not the same. The gym is providing FREE coffee, the fast food place you are PAYING for the cup. You do know that 20 oz of a fountain drink cost about 17 cents to the restaurant, right?
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Old 05-15-2013, 11:23 AM   #12
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This reminds me of something I see often at a fast food restaurant where there is a soda fountain in the eating area. Customers who buy a drink will refill it up as they leave and take it with them.
I sometimes do that. I only feel a little cheesy about it. IMO what the OP descibes with the free coffee at the gym is VERY cheesy.
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Old 05-15-2013, 11:27 AM   #13
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I feel like, when you're paying for the membership and the coffee's included, it's not that big a deal, I wouldn't consider it stealing. My local Publix offers free coffee when you walk in and out, along with provided cups. I've seen a few people head in with their own mugs in the morning, grab some coffee, and head out without shopping. That seems pretty rude to me since, unlike paying for the gym monthly, Publix has no membership fees, so you're not really doing anything for them buy yanking coffee.
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Old 05-15-2013, 11:28 AM   #14
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I agree with the rude / inconsiderate comment. If they had drank a 24 oz mug of coffee on premises we woulnd't be discussing "stealing" - but it would STILL be rude and inconsiderate to fill that big mug up in one go.
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Old 05-15-2013, 11:56 AM   #15
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Have not yet observed any women making off with the big gulps. Perhaps some are doing it when we haven't been looking . Can't speak for what may be happening to the shrubbery, as we aren't sitting outside.

A.

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I am glad to hear that it is only being done by men. After all, few expect much out of men any more. About as unexpected as male dogs peeing on the shrubbery.

Ha
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Old 05-15-2013, 12:00 PM   #16
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Thoughts?
I think it's ill-mannered.
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Old 05-15-2013, 12:21 PM   #17
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Maybe I'm ethically challenged but I don't see a problem with it. I imagine the cost of the coffee vs the cost of gym membership is de minimis. I did some quick calcs and it looks like the rocket fuel I drink is around $0.10 to $0.20 for one of those "16 to 20 oz big gulps".

If they come in every other day during the month and fill up on coffee at each visit, then they are perhaps consuming $3 per coffee per month. Maybe $5 if you throw a little sugar and creamer in.

What is the ethically allowed serving? 1-2 6 oz cups per gym visit?? Cost will be very similar, and you consume one of the cups they are paying for (at least a couple pennies in value). Say the in house drinker consumes $3 worth incl. cream, sugar, and disposable cups.

So the Mr Big Shot has managed to eek out an additional $2 in value from the gym each month. As compared to a ~$50 membership? Not a big deal. All types of consumers patronize facilities like the gym, and some consume more resources than others. Maybe some shower there, others don't. Some use lots of toilet paper or hand soap, others use none (they should really wipe though). Some use lots of towels and generate more laundry, others pack their own. Some may only use the gym a few times a month.

I would even hesitate to classify a 16 to 20 oz container as a big gulp. I think that is the standard size for travel mugs. When I read Big Gulp I figured somebody had their 64 oz trucker mug from the gas station in there emptying the coffee carafes. My mistake!

I imagine the patrons that take the coffee are in a hurry, and value the 5-10 minutes it saves them versus waiting in a drive thru or stopping at a coffee place on the way to work or wherever. If they had unlimited free time they could probably sit down for a spell and sip on a 6 oz styrofoam cup or two of the brew. Regretfully people have busy schedules, and after their self indulgent work out they are probably off to the next agenda item of the day.

I wouldn't hesitate to bring in my (roughly) 14 oz travel mug and fill it about 2/3 to 3/4 full of the gym's delicious brew if I had stopped by the gym on the way to work. It would be a convenience that might make me prefer one gym over another since the time saved in coffee prep or buying would partially offset the time spent working out. I like a little more than 6 oz of coffee but don't really want 16-20 oz (probably isn't good for you). And I like the coffee cool enough to drink comfortably. As a result the 6 oz styrofoam cups wouldn't serve my needs well. I'd rather take my 6 oz allotment and let it sit for a little while to cool down. Which lends itself to the to go travel mug.

If the gym really wanted to control their costs on coffee, they could put up a sign that said "for consumption in the gym only" and/or "no travel mugs" or "use provided cups only" or "no to go coffee". I doubt that is their intent. It is a value added service that is convenient for patrons and they probably aren't bothered by the pennies they are losing on the Mr Big Shot Big Gulpers.
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Old 05-15-2013, 01:36 PM   #18
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....
We have started seeing a number of men leaving the gym after having filled big, 16- or 20-oz travel mugs from the gym coffee urn.....
DH would do that and think the staff wanted him to and that he had already paid for it out of his dues. Maybe it's a guy thing.
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Old 05-15-2013, 03:02 PM   #19
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So this brings up the question at restaurants Do you take home all the crackers in the basket? Equal packets? I have done both on occasion if I had a reason ex staying in a hotel..
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Old 05-15-2013, 03:15 PM   #20
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..

Small 6-oz cups are supplied.

We have started seeing a number of men leaving the gym after having filled big, 16- or 20-oz travel mugs from the gym coffee urn. Mr. A. calls this "stealing." I don't consider it stealing, but I do think it's greedy, and over time could result in the gym starting to charge for coffee, instead of including it in our membership dues. Others probably just see it as a practical, frugal thing to do.

Thoughts?
I see this as a typical example of "the tragedy of the commons" phenomenon.

We use to have a similar problem with a coffee club that I use to help run at w*rk. There was a charge for the coffee and small cups were provided. Normal size mugs were expected to be used by the local employees. When we started see the big gulp cups -- especially from people in other departments -- we eventually instituted a tiered pricing that scaled up quite quickly beyond the normal size mug.

It makes you feel bad after volunteering your time for something like this, and then be taken advantage of.

-gauss
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