You would be hard pressed to find a person who is buying a pint and thinking about maths and economics at the same time. However, one engineer’s curiosity may just save you some cash next time you enjoy a hard earned beverage.

Patrick MacQuillan, a Western Australian engineer, was enjoying a drink at the Wembley Hotel when he noticed that “pints” were now sold in 480ml schooners as opposed to their true size of 568ml. Despite the drastic reduction in volume, the price of pints remained the same.

This begged the question; was it in fact the case that bigger is better? On a closer inspection of the bars pricing and a bit of number crunching the discovery was made that in most cases it was better value to purchase a smaller “midi” beer than the larger size.

While consumers expect that the bigger the beer you buy the better the value, this may not in fact be the case. WA Today surveyed several local pubs and found that in some bars the beers in larger volumes were less cost effective than in the smaller size.

As an example, at The Wembley only two of the 17 beers on tap were more cost effective. Don’t despair, there are still some bars that offer a fair price! Try the Northbridge Brewing Company or The Grosvenor where the WA Today survey found most, if not all beers were better value in the larger size.


So right about now, you are feelings pretty ripped off. You have just bought a pint, which in fact is not a pint at all. To make it worse, you could have had more value for your dollar if you has stuck to a midi. You must be thinking, surely they can’t do that?

In fact, it may be up to the consumer to be savvier. While you may think that bigger is better there is nothing in the legislation to say the same. In food produce consumers are often encouraged to purchase larger quantities in order to enhance demand and ensure fresh produce isn’t wasted. That is where sayings like “cheaper by the dozen” arise. In entertainment and bar culture the same principles need not apply.

When asked to comment on the matter, Mr Bradley Woods, CEO of the Australian Hotels Association provided no clear guidance when he said:

“Pricing is an individual matter for all hospitality venues to determine on a product- by – product basis”.

Always take note of “soft” sell techniques: when two people ask for the same wine or beer, they will often be encouraged to purchase a pitcher or a bottle. All of a sudden, the one drink you intended to order has turned into three because it’s cheaper by the glass that way. As there is no refund for what you don’t drink, your bill is higher and the likelihood is that, at most, you got one extra drink out of it.

While it may not apply to beverages, Australia’s consumer protection laws provide rights regarding many implied guarantees and warranties as to the working condition of goods and services. If you have recently purchased an item or used a service that you don’t think has lived up to what the salesperson has told you, speak to one of our friendly commercial lawyers to find out about your rights today.




About the author:
Haley Graydon is a law clerk at Lynn & Brown. Haley is currently in her final year of study at UWA. The areas of law that Haley has a keen interest in is family law and estates.


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