Washington Nationals coupons and the Great Beer Scam of Sept. 2, 2011

      Last Friday, the Post ran a two-page Washington Nationals advertisement that wrapped around the sports section and contained eight coupons for food and drinks during the Labor Day weekend homestand. The two offers for that night's game, which I'd already decided to attend: two-for-one hot dogs, and half-price Miller Light drafts.

      I was, perhaps, more ecstatic than an adult my age should've been. But hey, ballpark beer is expensive $8 for a draft, to be exact. I snaked around the newsroom in search of the Post, and ended up collecting four sets of coupons. Two friends of mine, meanwhile, concluded that it was worth buying copies of the Post just for the deal, as the Miller Lite coupon alone represented, presumably, a $4 savings.

      Clutching our discounts in our ink-stained hands, we found the nearest concession stand and, first in line, I presented my beer coupon.


      Note that it reads, "AVAILABLE AT ALL CONCESSION STANDS."

      "Oh, we don't take those here," the concessionaire said. She told me to try sections 203, 217, or 229. "Did they send you here?" the concessionaire at 217 asked. "I don't know why they keep doing that!" He told me to go to 229, assuring me that they had two-for-one Miller Lites.

      At 229, at last, I was successful. That is, my coupon was accepted. But there was a catch. An $8 Miller Lite draft at Nationals Park is served in what appears to be a 16-ounce cup the one on the left in the above picture but my Miller Lite came in the 12-ounce cup you see on the right. (The cup in the center, which I'm estimating at 14 ounces, is for $8 specialty beers.) In other words, I was paying half the price but only receiving three quarters (or half?) of the expected volume of beer.

      Here's what it looked like next to a 12-ounce can (which I used to confirm the cup's volume):

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      Had I been charged{}$3, I'd have no reason to complain, mathematically speaking. But a coupon for half-price drafts implies that the beer's volume will match what you get when paying full price. Instead, the Nationals who didn't pick up the phone when I called, perhaps because today is Strasmas should've advertised $4 Miller Lite drafts, and then mentioned, in the fine print, that it's only a 12-ounce cup. In the case of Friday's beer coupon, though, the fine print only stated, "Some restrictions apply." Nowhere else in the entire advertisement did it explain that the restrictions applied to the size of the cup itself.

      And what of the two-for-one dogs? That coupon was misleading, too, albeit less so. It couldn't be used for the $6 Hebrew National dogs, only the $4.50 Nats Dogs; again, the fine print clarified nothing. One man who used the coupon ahead of me wasn't happy when he unwrapped his hot dogs and realized what his frugality had gotten him. "These are dollar dogs, man!" he said, to no one in particular. "It's a scam."