Inspiration Online Magazine



What are 20 old freebies that
we now get charged for?

Inspiration Online Magazine "Butcher in the Sky with Biscuits" by Lorna Hernandez
Graphic Design By Lorna Hernández, Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale

The best things in life are free, or so pop songs and well-meaning grandparents insist. While love and sunlight and smiles still don't cost a cent, much of what used to be free isn't anymore.

1. "Doggie bones" at the butcher. "Once it was OK to ask for them and the butcher would wrap them up for you, but now they call them soup bones or soup starters and they are $1.69 to $1.89," says Spider, a semi-retired artist in Mesa, Arizona.

2. Extra cheese at the pizza parlor. Forget having a little more cheese, just because you're the customer and it's the restaurant's job to make you happy. "Now everything is premeasured and instead of flipping an extra handful on the pie, they ring up another dollar and grumble about going to the refrigerator for it. Or worse, charge you for it, but 'forget' to put it on," adds Spider.

3. Butter at restaurants. Expect to pay for it at Bruegger's Bagels, in the Midwest, and at many Dunkin' Donuts outlets on the East Coast. The cheaper the restaurant, the more likely you'll pay for butter.

4. Parsley. "It used to be available in bunches at no charge," says Glennis McNeal. "It helped flavor the soup made from 'dog bones' — also provided free by the butcher, who was kind enough not to ask for proof of dog ownership."

5. Coffee refills. The local diner may refill your cup for free, but don't expect the pricey coffee house to give you a second cup of java for free. At $3 or $4 a pop, Starbucks won't give up profits to be that generous.

6. Water. Sarah Courteau, who grew up in Arkansas, sometimes has to pay for a glass of water. She's not the only one complaining about that indignity. In fact, Arizona had to pass a law making it illegal to charge a parched customer for a little H2O.

7. Paper cups. In the old days, a deli might give you a paper cup to take a pill or split a soda can between two kids. But a sign in a funky Des Moines coffee shop spells out the hard modern truth — "We don't give out paper cups."

8. Gift wrap. "Gift wrapping in many stores is an extra-cost item now and that used to be the bachelor's salvation," says Spider. "The people wrapping them seemed to care and they had some real skill. "Now it's plain paper and a stick-on bow that won't," he says. "You're supposed to pay for a fancy bag to put the gift in since everybody is too busy to even unwrap what your hard-earned money went for."

9. Supermarket carts. Remember when you could just take a cart and shop? At some chains, you now need to lend the store a quarter for the use of the cart. No quarter, and you'll be stuck carrying, not wheeling.

10. Bags. Call 'em what you like — sacks, bags, wraps — they now cost money at many grocery stores. ALDI, a discount food chain with outlets in Illinois and Iowa, charges 10 cents a bag.

11. Shipping. Von Maur, a department store in the Midwest, will ship your merchandise for free. But that doesn't happen too often anymore.

12. Maps for the lost. "Highway maps at gas stations used to be free," says Dave Bertollo, a computer scientist in Orangeburg, New York. Seldom the case now.

13. Full-service gas stations. You pretty much have to pump your own gas in nearly every state, except New Jersey. That isn't the way it used to be. "Going to get gas for the car meant somebody would check your oil and clean your windows — all of 'em. And mirrors," says Spider. "Now you pay extra for 'full service' and that just means some bored person will stand by the gas filler to make sure the tank overflows onto the paint." The gas-station freebies are gone, too. No windscreen cleaning, oil checking, radiator filling or tire-pressure checking," he says.

14. Air for the tires. Free air for your flat or water for the overheating radiator was common, according to several older drivers. In fact, they point out that someone usually came out to help — and that was free, too.

15. School supplies. Kris Jones, a health economist in Orangeburg, New York., remembers free rulers and pencils. No more.

16. Copies for college students. The cost of copies used to be included in tuition. "Printing and copying at university libraries used to be free," says Brian Martin, who recently graduated from George Washington University in Washington, DC. "It's eight cents a page at GW now." And at the famed University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, a $12 "copy fee" is tacked on for many courses.

17. Cashing a check. "Banks are supposed to cash checks written by persons who have accounts with them," says Don Baumgart, a writer in Nevada City, California. "A free service, right? Wrong. A recent story aired by KCRA TV in Sacramento told the story of two workers who don't have checking accounts who (took) their paychecks to the issuing banks to cash them," Baumgart says. "And they were charged $5 because they were not customers of that particular bank."

18. ATM use. "There used to be a state law in Iowa prohibiting ATM fees," says Laura Crossett, an Iowa native who now lives near Chicago. "Obviously, that's a thing of the past. I no longer have an ATM card, as a protest." Go to an ATM and try to find out your balance, and you might be charged a buck for the privilege.

19. Free checking accounts. They're harder and harder to find.

20. Telephone information. Remember when you could call the operator — and get a human operator, not a computer — to give you a phone number, free of charge?

Sometimes, it's still free. Even in this time of rising consumer complaints, great customer service is still free — if you can find it. "I'm a bicycle commuter," says Marge Murray, a mathematician. "A couple of weeks back I brought my bike in to have them check an annoying, potentially ominous clacking sound in my bicycle crank. They took me right in, looked at the bike right away, made a couple of adjustments and sent me on my way, gratis. Aaah.

The bottom line ...
Some things are still free, but you've got to search for them.
So walk outside, and look at the sky
still there, and still free.

~ Story by Aviya Kushner at

More Facts and Trivia from  Inspiration Online Magazine


Inspiration Online Magazine - Tell A Friend

Inspiration Line ArchivesOnline Magazine Archives



Click Here

"The intent of Inspiration Line is to show What Is Possible By choosing new perspectives,
we can change ourselves from the inside out and improve our relationships and our planet."

Chelle Thompson, Editor ~ Jane Cate, The TechAngel
This publication originates in Santa Fe, New Mexico 87502 U.S.A.


COPYRIGHT NOTICE: All articles and images shown are believed to be public domain and, therefore, reprintable material.
We make every attempt to credit original authors and websites, and do not intentionally infringe on anyone's copyright.