The economy has forced a lot of consumers to make some decisions when it comes to where, and how, to spend their money. Rising costs mean businesses are raising prices across the board, but is the value for the customer getting higher or lower despite the higher costs?

A couple of weeks ago my family went out to eat at a local restaurant. The place was obviously understaffed and we did our best to be patient. It took a while to get our order taken, it took a long time to get our food and after we did get the food, we didn't see our server again until we had long since finished our food.

In all, what should have been a quick in-and-out lunch ended up taking almost two hours. To me, there is a difference between being busy and just abandoning a table... I'd appreciate a little communication at some point.

When we got the check, there was an 'automatic gratuity' added to the end of the bill. As a former server I understand the need to tip but I also think a tip should be earned, not given. We paid the bill (and the tip) but made a mental note not to return.

A coworker of mine went to a local orchard last fall and bought a blueberry pancake mix, a small bag for almost ten dollars. He and his partner saved the mix for a rainy day and recently went to make the pancakes for breakfast.

Upon opening the mix, they found a total of three blueberries in the entire bag. He said he felt 'ripped off,' and made a mental note not to return this fall. I don't understand this businesses' strategy at all... sure, they saved a couple of cents by limiting the number of blueberries in the serving, but you also turned off every single person that bought the already spendy product.

This weekend I brought my son to the monster truck show in Sauk Rapids. Tickets for $40 (!) for adults and about $20 for kids. This is for a local show at a small track with a total of five competing monster trucks.

However, the $120 I paid to get into the barely two hours long event was apparently not enough, as I was gouged TWENTY DOLLARS to park on the lawn at the event. On top of that, they were charging $30(!) for a toy monster truck that was nearly identical to the ones selling for $4 or less at Wal-Mart.

The company is doing what they feel they need to do, but business practices like this, where you feel like a company is after your bottom dime, are keeping me from being a repeat customer.


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