Monday, July 28, 2008

Flushing Will Cost You at the Home of the Whopper in Houston

Have you ever sat down for a nutritious meal of a Double Whopper, fries and large soda and prepared to enjoy an ambience that only can be found in your local Burger King? Then, suddenly, your mood darkens when a carload of tourists walks into the restaurant and heads straight for the restroom. Surely, they will order lunch once nature’s call is answered, right? But, no … they flush and leave without a visit to the cash register. Your mood is ruined. You can’t even finish your burger. How can people be so selfish and inconsiderate?

The Burger King near the Medical Center in Houston is putting an end to those who use them only for their toilets. Locked restroom doors now have the following sign posted, "Doors open with token or coin. Customers must request a free token from cashier." Patrons can either pull out a quarter or go to the counter for a free token. The hope is that this new policy will cut down on vandalism in the toilet stalls and perhaps offset the costs that inevitably come from repeated use of a public restroom.

Houston does have a city ordinance that states it is "unlawful for any person to make a charge for the use of a toilet maintained in a place open to the public or to a substantial part of the public." However, Larry Schenk, a senior assistant city attorney, has determined that Burger King is not violating Houston’s law because you can receive a free token from the front counter.

While the token system is only in place at the one Burger King location in Houston, its installation has opened up the debate concerning wider use of public pay toilets. The practice is already common in several large cities and first steps were taken to install such facilities in Houston several years ago. To comply with law, Houston likely would be required to supply quarters for those who can’t afford to pay the door-opening costs. For those with the available loose change, keep it handy and be prepared to flush at will!

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