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Can a fast food place like Wendy's, charge for refills at whatever price they want, without having any form of notice or pricing on their screen menus?

  • In the US, this will be a matter of state law, if there is any law regulating such charges. In other countries, this will vary by country, or possibly by province or even municipality. Where are you concerned with? – David Siegel Nov 29 '18 at 19:04
  • What country or state are you in? – bdb484 Nov 30 '18 at 0:25
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    Toronto, Canada – Edza Geovanny Sanchez Zantizo Nov 30 '18 at 20:05
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Normally, a fast food place will make clear whether or not refills are free and at a minimum, provide a price from a printed tariff of prices on request. Customary practice would clarify the default assumption regarding whether refills are free or not. Written item pricing doesn't necessarily have to prominently include everything that can be purchased on a single large display at all times.

In the absence of an agreement, where it is clear that refills aren't free, the recovery of the vendors would be in quantum meruit (i.e. a common law claim for unjust enrichment) for the fair market value, but that would be very uncommon in this situation where a price is almost certainly set in advance somewhere and available with little difficulty.

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    If there is no price displayed for a refill wouldn't that just be another drink? – Moo May 25 at 1:19
  • @Moo indeed, if nothing is posted the basic assumption in europe is there are no refills [safe for tap water in France and Italy] – Trish Oct 21 at 22:11
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Based on This document from the US NIST it seems that most US states would not require such a charge to be posted.

To give an example, The US State of Maryland laws (found through the link above) are at https://www.nist.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2017/05/09/MARYLAND.pdf

They provide that:

MARYLAND Commercial Law §14–103.
(a) Except as provided in § 14-102 of this sub title, each person who sells or offers or displays for sale a consumer commodity at retail shall disclose: (1) The total price of the consumer commodity; or (2) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, the unit price of the consumer commodity if:
(i) It is sold only by units; or (ii) It is a prepackaged or retail-packaged consumer commodity within any of the following categories:
1. Foods, condiments, cooking oils, shortenings, and similar
consumer commodities;
...

§ 11–309.
(a) If any commodity or service is sold, offered, exposed, or advertised for sale by weight,
measure, or count, the price may not be misrepresented or represented in any manner calculated or tending to mislead or deceive an actual or prospective purchaser.

§11–309.
(a) If any commodity or service is sold, offered, exposed, or advertised for sale by weight,
measure, or count, the price may not be misrepresented or represented in any manner calculated or tending to mislead or deceive an actual or prospective purchaser.
...

§14-101. Definitions
... b) Consumer commodity – “Consumer commodity” means any food, drug, cosmetic, or other article, product, or commodity of any kind or class which is:

(1) Customarily produced for sale at retail for consumption by individuals for purposes of personal care or in the performance of services ordinarily performed in or around the household; and

(2) Usually consumed or expended in the course of that use or performance other than by wear or deterioration from use. ...

§ 14-102. Exemptions from unit pricing.

a) Exemptions. – This subtitle does not apply to:

...

(6) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, a retail sales agency which:

i. During the preceding calendar year, sold a gross volume of consumer commodities of less than $750,000;

ii. Is not part of a company which consists of ten or more sales agencies in or out of the State;

iii. Derives less than 15 percent of its total revenues from consumer commodities subject to this subtitle; or

iv. Is owned and operated by not more than one individual and the members of his immediate family.

...

§ 14-104. Manner of disclosure.

The seller shall disclose the total price or unit price, as the case may be, for each item in the following manner:

(1) If the item is visible conspicuously to the consumer, by attachment of a stamp, tag, or label:

i. Directly on the item or its package; or

ii. Directly adjacent to the item or on the shelf on which the item is displayed; or

(2) If the item is not visible conspicuously to the consumer or if the stamp, tag, or label would not be visible conspicuously to the consumer, by a sign or list which contains the price information and is visible conspicuously to the consumer. (An. Code 1957, art. 83, ⎝ 21E; 1975, ch. 49, 3.)

It is not fully clear to me if this applies to retail restaurants, it seems to be aimed more at shops where goods are displayed on shelves. But it does not specifically exclude restaurants, and it might well apply, they are surely retail sellers. Note that if a retailer provides prices for at least 90% of goods available for sale, the remaining items may be omitted without penalty under this law, which could be relevant.

My main point here is the level of detail of regulation specified, and the various reasons for exemption of particular cases. (I have quoted only what seem to me the most relevant sections.) All this will vary by state, or by country if this is not a US location. All this was reached via the NIST link.

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  • I don't see how you're connecting NIST guidance on commodity pricing to a Wendy's. – bdb484 Nov 29 '18 at 20:13
  • bdb484: Because it gives links to various state laws on item pricing. Do yu have a better source? – David Siegel Nov 29 '18 at 20:56
  • They don't seem to be talking about "item pricing" in the sense that would be relevant here. – bdb484 Nov 29 '18 at 21:41
  • @bdb484: I have provided detailed quotes from the Maryland law, just for an example. i think they might well apply to the situation in the question if it was in that state. – David Siegel Nov 29 '18 at 23:26

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