|PRICE GOUGING IN VANCOUVER DURING OLYMPICS (AND PRICE HEROES!)
Feb 16, 2010, 12:20am
If you've been following me on twitter, you may have noticed one or more of several things happening recently. You may have noticed a huge climb in off topic (OT) tweets from me because normally, I tweet 95% of the time about coffee. And you might either be a) annoyed with that, or b) intrigued - because the topic is the Olympics in Vancouver. (btw, if you're annoyed by the Olympics posts, my apologies - unfollow, come back in 2 weeks).
In the last few days, something of a grassroots protest / awareness thing has happened on twitter with me and Rick Green (bcbrews) - we came up with the idea of identifying local restaurants, bars, food service businesses that are jacking up their prices during the Olympics. We have two hashtag campaigns going: #2010profiteers (or 2010profiteer) for the companies excessively raising prices or including the despicable practice of "auto gratuities" of 15-20% on the bill; the other campaign is #2010niceprices for businesses keeping their prices and policies stable. This marginally includes businesses that have done nominal price increases (5-10%) or raised the prices on one or two menu items out of 10, 20 items.
I have already been asked several times why I'm doing this - and the answer's pretty simple for me. Vancouver's already an expensive town. Cocktails are routinely $12 at a lot of places, mains are $25-$45 even at middle of the road restaurants. We have massive added on taxes (about to get higher with impending HST), and our servers in town are somehow trained to believe anything less than 15% tip is a slap in the face and an insult.
Jacking up prices, making "gratuities" compulsory - they all send a very bad message about this city. Tourists from around the world are visiting Vancouver for the first time, and if we send them home with memories of $7 "dollar pizza" slices, $12 for a plastic cup of Molson Canadian, and $35 prices for a $15 steak, you're embarrassing us all. Tossing on a 20% compulsory tip at the end of the overpriced bill just adds insult to injury.
And, I might add, you're damaging Vancouver's reputation, long term.
This is particularly tough for me, because I'm either friends with, or on friendly terms with some of the restaurants making the #2010profiteer fail list. I don't want to list those companies, but not to do so makes one a hypocrite. I'm a hypocrite at far too many things in my life, and want to be less so. Why should I go after the Earls of Vancouver and give places like Hamilton Street Grill a pass because the owner, Neil Wyles, is frankly quite awesome otherwise.
It's been argued that I shouldn't list places with auto gratuities, since it is the servers who are to "blame" rather than restaurants. I don't agree, only because many of the restaurants with the auto gratuities are running at full steam, taking in double, triple the amount per seat in an evening compared to pre-olympics. Thats a lot of money. If your staff is working twice, three times as hard during service compared to before, pay them twice, three times as much to cover for the lame excuse of "cultural differences" resulting in less tipping.
A Plea for the "away from Olympic zones" businesses
I'm friends with a lot of restaurateurs and cafe owners in Vancouver, and word is, business is down 50% or more at a lot of these places during the Olympics. As well as visiting all the Nice Prices restaurants listed below (and boycotting the price gougers), please consider spending your next night out at a restaurant a little off the beaten path, or away from the downtown core. They're hurting right now, and things are only going to get worse with the incoming HST. They need your business so much more than a hopping Yaletown joint charing inflated prices and 20% auto gratuities.
With that said, here's the ongoing (and ever changing) list of Vancouver price gougers and price heroes - I'll be updating this often. If your business is listed in error, please contact me in comments or via this website's email contact, and I'll make the necessary corrections.
Vancouver 2010 Nice Price Restaurants / Bars etc
Edited February 24, 12:30am
These are businesses that have either committed to having prices as usual policies during the Olympics (including gratuity policies), or have been noticed by locals to have stable pricing. If you find one, or want it on this list, please do so via twitter, using the hashtag #2010niceprices.
Six new additions, but only one in Yaletown - which is depressing.
NEW - Subeez Cafe, 891 Homer, Yaletown Great prices, no auto gratuity (one of the few Yaletown busineses to have #2010niceprices!). (source: @Network_Guy)
NEW - Sammy J. Peppers, Granville Island - prices stable, NO auto gratuity charged. (source: @hfguiere)
NEW - Ouisi Bistro, 3014 Granville Street - no price raises, great specials during Olympics, no auto gratuity. (source: me visiting).
NEW - Alibi Room, 157 Alexander in Gastown, prices stable, specials in effect, no auto gratuity, no cover charge. (source: @CAMRA_YVR)
NEW - On the Edge Pub, 303 Columbia Street (Gastown), Great prices (eg - $5.35 for 18oz of Phillips Blue Buck), no auto gratuity. (source: @ilford)
NEW - Black Frog Eatery, 108 Cambie Street, Gastown - No price increases, no auto gratuity, great beer prices in effect (as usual). (source: @loxyisme)
Pacific Culinary Institute, Granville Island - a favourite "secret" haunt of Vancouver locals, all prices etc as per normal even though Gastown is Olympics Crazy! (source: @SurreyMarket)
Irish Heather, Gastown no price increases, no cover, no auto gratuity - business as usual at this hopping Gastown favourite (source: @StephenLambie)
Salt Tasting Room, Blood Alley, Gastown - no increased prices, specials as per usual, no autogratuity. (source - personal visit)
Main Street Eateries on S. Main - word from a Main Street Restaurateur is that most, if not all Main St. eateries having prices as usual, no auto gratuities - Go Main Street dining! (source: @LatitudeonMain)
Urban Thai Bistro - Yaletown - featuring "as usual" happy hour, dishes under $5, no auto gratuity. Yay! (Source: @urbandiner)
Phat Sandwiches - Yaletown - nominal price increases, but Vancouver loyalty cards for locals to give a price break during Olympics. (was formely on negative list based on incorrect information via twitter). (Source: Global News Hour)
Au Petit Chavignol - nice discounts on weekends on fondues, wines during Olympics. (source: @petitchauvignol)
Incendio Pizza in Gastown - prices "as per usual" during Olympics, no autograt. (source: @IncendioPizza, @SBonnerABV)
Milestone's in Yaletown - prices kept stable, $8 breakfast is available everyday. (source: @tellytelly
The Whip - 7th near Main has maintained their prices, service during Olympics. (source: @cbjerrisgaard)
The Diamond in Gastown has prices more or less stable. (source - me visiting)
Irashai Grill in Coal Harbour has promised to keep prices neutral during Olympics! (source: @Irashai)
Campagnolo on Main Street - reported to have no price increases, same service as always during Olympics. (source: @campagnolomain)
Refuel Restaurant and Bar keeping prices stable for some awesome food and drink. (source: same as previous)
Amarcord Ristorante of Yaletown - prices stable, no autogratuity for Yaletown! Yay! (direct from Restaurateur)
Provence Marinaside - removed - auto gratuity, realised it was bad policy - go Provence!
Corner Suite Bistro Deluxe, Thurlow at Alberni - no automatic gratuity, "launch" pricing in effect (they just opened), great service, killer deep bartending staff. (source: me, visiting).
Vancouver 2010 Profiteer Restaurants, Bars, Etc.
Edited February 24, 12:30am
These are places identified as having excessive price increases, auto gratuity policies during the Olympics, or both. If you have a business to add, please do so via Twitter using the hashtag #2010profiteers (or 2010profiteer).
As a consumer, what can you do about these policies? My advice is to drop in, ask to speak to the manager, and make it clear you don't support Olympic price raising and do not support auto gratuities. Then boycott these businesses - permanently - if they don't change the policies within the next few days. We need to let these restaurants know that, as consumers, we won't support businesses long term who are seeking short term profiteering gains that damage our city's reputation and rip off consumers.
I am also now adding links to these restaurant's Yelp Reviews - IF you visit these restaurants, and IF you are charged #profiteer items, I encourage you to write an objective review of the restaurant, including comments about auto gratuities and raised prices.
NEW - Academic Public House, 1619 West Broadway - 20% auto gratuity on all bills, prices raised on menu (source: @kafkascoffeetea, @MattsMedia)
NEW - The Hub, 1165 Mainland St - 18% auto gratuity, inflated ($21) pitcher of beer prices (source: @AndreaWoo)
NEW - Fairmont Hotel Restaurant, - $34 for breakfast buffet - not sure if this is a big price jump or not, but it's bloody expensive. (source: @willisturner)
NEW - El Furniture Warehouse, 989 Granville Street, 18% auto gratuity, "attitude" applied by staff if locals questioned it. (source: @TiaSparkles)
NEW - Cafe Crepe, Granville & Robson Locations - 15% auto gratuity added to all bills. (source: @AndreaWoo)
NEW - Lolita's Restaurant, 1326 Davie Street - 18% auto gratuity (or as many are now calling it, "Olympic Tax" (perhaps that should be "privateer Olympic Tax")) on all bills, and reports of jacked up prices. (source: @asml)
NEW - Society Dining Lounge, 1257 Hamilton Street (Yaletown) - 20% (!!!) Automatic Gratuity added to all bills. Additionally, lots of shenanigans with reservations - apparently you have to order the $59 set menu, and leave your CC (to be pre-charged, incl. auto gratuity we're guessing) for each person in your reserved party. (source: Yelp commenter Mac D.) (nb - Social is part of the Glowbal group - most, if not all Glowbal restaurants have enforced a 20% auto gratuity during the Olympics).
NEW - Section 3 Restaurant, 1039 Mainland Street, Yaletown - 20% auto gratuity (also a report on Yelp about staff not informing about auto gratuity, and locals double-tipping as a result); reports of price increases (source - various twitter, also Yelp Forum)
NEW - Bean Around the World, various downtown locations - 20% premium charged to "tourists"; local purportedly given a card to say they're local and get a discounted price. (source: CTV News) (ed.note: take it from a coffee expert - their coffee is mediocre, and you can do much, much better in this city).
NEW - Cafe Medina, 556 Beatty Street - 15% automatic gratuity put on all bills; staff not informing customers (leading to some double tipping scenarios). (source: Yelp commenters Emily S. and Dominique N.).
Simply Thai, Hamilton Street, Yaletown - 18% automatic gratuity applied to all bills. (source: Yelp Reviewer Luisa D.)
Moxie's Grill, Georgia Street, Bute Street (possibly Davie too?) - 15% automatic gratuity added to all bills. (source: @trevin)
Granville Room Bar, Granville Street - 17% automatic gratuity on all bills (source: Yelp Reviewer Hubert F.)
All Glowbal Group Restaurants / Bars in downtown Vancouver have 18-20% auto gratuity on all bills with unconfirmed reports of raised prices on alcoholic beverages, up 30% (source: Various local media, incl CKNW)
George Lounge, Yaletown - 18% automatic gratuity (confirmed), price raises of up to 30% on alcoholic beverages (reports of $2--$4 increases, not confirmed publicy). (source: @twowheelgeek)
Chambar Restaurant, Beaty Street - 18% auto gratuity added to all bills. (source: @philwalston
Lickerish Restaurant, 1177 Hornby - undertermined auto gratuity (someone please get the rate). (source: @leigh_patterson)
Morrissey Irish Bar and Restaurant, 1227 Granville Street - 18% gratuity on all bills (source: Yelp Commenter Evilyn 13 T)
The Keg, Yaletown - yet another chain business with an 18% auto gratuity during the Olympics. (source: @TamaraHarvey)
Cactus Club - Burrard - 18% auto gratuity on all bills, have to assume all other downtown Cactus Clubs have same policy (source: @TiaSparkles
Hapa Izakawa Yaletown location Another place with an 18% automatic gratuity added to all bills (source: @YVRMark)
Cambie Bar and Grill, $10 cover (something new - has not have covercharge before). (source: @OnlineStrategy)
Earls Restaurants, Yaletown, Robson, Hornby. Earls has gone on record as stating they were eliminating their 20% auto gratuity; however visitors to Earls Yaletown reported still seeing the charge on their bills the day after Earls stated they were removing it. So Earls - 20% auto gratuity, and up to 20% price increases. Very bad. (source: various, incl Twitter, Global News Hour, Vancouver Sun)
Red Card Sports Bar, Seymour & Smithe - 18% auto gratuity added to all drink bills (source: @yvrmark)
Elephant and Castle, Burrard - 18% auto gratuity added to all bills "for your convenience". (source: @iford)
Glowbal Grill Restaurant - Yaletown - 20% automatic gratuity added to all food bills. (source: Global News Hour)
Steamworks Bar / Restaurant - Gastown. 18% automatic gratuity; local customers have noted "significant" price increases to menus; I called Steamworks asked about pricing / autogratuity, and was put on hold indefinitely. (source: @JonJennings)
Megabite Pizza - 100% increase in slice prices downtown. (source: Global News Hour confrimed, Twitter various)
Amended Feb 24: Dix Brewery BBQ - 17% auto gratuity "may" be added to bill. (source: @GingerLiz, comment by Dix BBQ rep in comments on this site)
Library Square Public House is charging $5 cover, $18.48 for a domestic pitcher and 20% autogratuity. (source: Vancouver Sun)
Hamilton Street Grill - Yaletown, 18% automatic gratuity on all bills. (source: Vancouver Sun)
Unfortunately, I expect the above list to grow. What can you, as someone local to Vancouver do about this? If you're a patron of one of the businesses above, don't just boycott them, let them know (politely, please!) your feelings about these price gouging policies. Failing that, take your business elsewhere - permanently. These things give Vancouver a black eye.
Unsavoury bonus gougers:
German Fan Fest (next to Steamworks, Seabus Station) $9 beers. (source - personal visit)
Doolins / Irish House also another major rip off, and not officially Irish "house" during Olympics. Large cover charge, expensive beer. (source - various twitter posts)
Downtown Hot Dog Carts - price increases of $1.50 to $2 on most hot dogs (from $3.50-$6 to $5-$8 now during Olympics).
Also be wary - many ATMs in Olympic-y areas are charging up to $5 for service fees.
|Previous Ten Daily Rants
|The continued fallout on auto gratuities
|| 5:35pm, 08/09
|Final thougths on price gouging, auto gratuities coming soon
|| 12:50am, 03/04
|The Real Reasons for Olympics Auto Gratuities
|| 7:20pm, 02/19
|Vancouver Olympics - Nice Prices, Profiteer (gouger) Restaurant Listings
|| 12:15am, 02/18
|More on Auto Gratuities
|| 6:45pm, 02/16
|Price Gouging in Vancouver During Olympics (and Price Heroes!)
|| 12:20am, 02/16
|Ideal Mac (or any pc) netbook....
|| 8:05pm, 12/22
|NetMacBook Hackintosh Update
|| 12:20am, 12/20
|NetMac... er Hackintosh... er NetMacBook. Yeah
|| 5:20pm, 12/17
|Balance Board Wii Game I'd like to see - Boxing!
|| 4:00pm, 07/26
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