File this one under, "I'm really not making this up."
I went into Dunkin' Donuts the other day and ordered a #6 -- an egg and cheese sandwich and a medium coffee for $3.99.
But I didn't want that much coffee (I knew I'd drink whatever was in the cup), so I asked the guy to just give me a small. He said ok, but when he rung it up, it came to $5.25. I'm no mathematician, but even in Massachusetts that sounds like a lot of tax on a $3.99 order.
Turns out the small coffee wasn't part of the package so the computer rang them up separately. "No problem," I said, "go ahead and ring it up as a medium, just give me a small coffee."
No can do. The kid behind the counter -- very friendly and seemingly quite sharp -- told me that he had to give me a medium coffee in order to give me the $3.99 price.
Eventually, we reached a compromise: I whispered to him over the counter as he was filling the cup, "Psst... just fill it halfway." He smiled, gave me a knowing nod, and that's what he did. A small coffee disguised inside a medium cup.
What's it all mean? To me, the message is simple: When you, a small business, compete with companies that are so large as to require a manual in place of common sense, you've got an unfair advantage. Are you using it?