Math is Hard

Math is hard.  That point was made once again by James Taranto in the March 13 Best of the Web Today at the Wall Street Journal website.  The excerpt below is the last item in today’s column.

Talk About Small Beer

The Los Angeles Times’s Paresh Dave brings us the latest legal news:

For years, thousands of hockey fans and other arena-goers in Idaho have paid $4 for a “small” beer, served in a squatty plastic cup, and $7 for a “large” beer, served in a taller cup. According to a lawsuit filed this week against CenturyLink Arena in Boise, the cups hold the same amount of beer, despite their apparent differences.

The arena, operated as Block 22 LLC, is accused of knowingly misleading and defrauding customers and intentionally adopting “unconscionable methods” that amounted to deceptive business practices.

The lawsuit filed in Idaho state court by two individuals and a couple seeks class-action status to represent the thousands who have bought the $7 beer. They seek punitive damages as well as more than $10,000 in actual damages.

In response, the arena president put out a statement acknowledging error:

“It was recently brought to our attention that the amount of beer that fits in our large (20-oz) cups also fits in our regular (16-oz) cups. The differentiation in the size of the two cups is too small. To correct that problem, we’re purchasing new cups for the large beers that will hold 24 ounces, instead of 20, for the remainder of this season to provide better value to our fans.

It’s not clear how a 20-ounce cup can hold only 16 ounces of beer [sic] (or perhaps a 16-ounce cup can hold 20). But 16 ounces for $4 amounts to 25 cents an ounce, while 24 ounces for $7 comes to more than 29 cents an ounce, and 20 ounces for $7 is a whopping 35 cents an ounce.

Plaintiff Brady Peck claims he’s bought 30 large beers over the years, which means that even if he got the full 20 ounces, he paid $60 more than the small-beer price. The other three plaintiffs “attended multiple sporting events during the last five years and purchased at least one large beer.” It’s hard to see how that could add up to $10,000 in actual damages, but math doesn’t seem to be the plaintiffs’ strong suit.

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About Tony Lima

Retired after teaching economics at California State Univ., East Bay (Hayward, CA). Ph.D., economics, Stanford. Also taught MBA finance at the California University of Management and Technology. Occasionally take on a consulting project if it's interesting. Other interests include wine and technology.