Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Cost Of Protecting Customers From The Threat Of Street Piracy - 20% Surcharge

AJC: Waffle House smothers customers with security surcharge at Underground location

From The AJC Article:

By Ernie Suggs
Myrtice White and Cynthia Delaney took MARTA from their jobs at Peachtree Center to Underground Atlanta to do what has become a tradition for many Southerners – breakfast at Waffle House.
The excitement ended when the bills came.
“Normally, this is about $10,” White said. “I just spent $16.”
Delaney shows off a cup of grits and a sandwich. $8.
“This is a $5 meal,” Delaney said. “I think the prices are high. But I would rather pay more if it means I am going to be safe.”
The Underground Waffle House opened with great fanfare in 2009, bringing one of the city’s favorite restaurants to the heart of downtown Atlanta.
It’s now believed to be the first and only Waffle House in the country to charge customers a 20 percent surcharge on all checks. The extra money is being used to pay for an off-duty police officer to help secure the 24-hour facility, which serves up its fare in one of Atlanta’s high-crime areas.
Pat Warner, a spokesman for the Atlanta-based chain, confirmed that the charge was established in mid-December to help address security needs and offset those costs. He said there was not one incident that prompted the move.
“It is mainly for crowd control,” Warner said. “That area has a lot of traffic and there is not a lot open around there late at night, so we felt it was needed.”
Warner added that while other locations have added security in the past, they have never included a surcharge — at least at the company-run locations. Warner would not disclose which hours security usually works — presumably overnight — but the fees remain in place all day.


ANALYSIS

Underground Atlanta.

The news that the Waffle House at Underground Atlanta pays for extra security and then passes it on to its customers has to be linked with two recent stories:

  1. The City Of Atlanta is linked to a 75 year contract with The Underground Atlanta as the center struggles to turn a profit largely due to security concerns from patrons
  2.  Video Of Atlanta Mall Security Guard Tasering Woman Gets Crowdsourced

The Underground Atlanta  facility has an image problem.   The target audience that would trip most of the retail and restaurant establishments contained within into profitability sees Underground Atlanta as an urban mall at which "violence" can jump off at any time and as a result they are loathed to volunteer themselves for a scene of danger.   This is the view of the young educated urbanite - White and Black.  (Don't let the people fool you into believing that just the "White folks" think this way)

While the reputation of Underground Atlanta proper might be unfairly tarnished as there is always an abundance of armed security guards - the larger area around the facility contains the main transit station for MARTA and a series of store fronts on Peachtree Street that is frequented by poor Black shoppers - just as the "taser video" shows.

Yes RACE and the perceptions there in is a factor - but so is CLASS.   While Underground Atlanta suffered a blow when the "World Of Coca Cola" moved over to the "Olympic Centennial Park" and it lost some natural foot traffic  - The Underground still gets it share of tourist traffic as visitors (and workers) to the downtown and state/county/city government complex fill its food court or go shopping for gift items.

I would prefer to have a commercial venture like Waffle House pay the cost for the higher level of security in protection of its customers than to have the City Of Atlanta to "eat it", drawing from the tax base. 

We always hear about the term "The Cost Of Being Black" - the notion that economic racism against Black people - that limits the choices of retail outlets in Black communities due to "No Urban Mandate", that foreign immigrant owned sole proprietorships offer inferior grocery and produce at elevated prices, that red-lined insurance coverage costs Black people more.  

With this "victimization" model as a popular narrative - few people are interested in discussing the twin brother of this same phenomenon:  the cost born by the multi-racial patrons at facilities such as Waffle House who must pay a surcharge on their bill in order to be provided with the sense of security inside an "island" that is surrounded by a threat that even the author of the "Cost Of Being Black" would recognize.