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That Will Be $7,000 at the Next Window, Please

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on February 16, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Perhaps you are familiar with the saying, "he lives in a world of his own?" Well, the employees and managers at the Sonic burger restaurant in Golden, Col., live in a time zone all their own. To be specific, "Sonic time" is about 13 minutes ahead of everyone one else on Central/Mountain time. This little discrepancy lead former Marine Ray Garcia to be charged with trespass and harassment and rack up $7,000 in legal fees, all over the price of his soda.

According to a thorough report by Denver news station CBS4, Mr. Garcia and some family members visited their local Sonic last Feb. 6th, for drinks during the Sonic "Happy Hour" from 2:00-4:00 p.m., during which time drinks are half price. At a little before 4:00 p.m., Garcia was presented with a full price bill for his parties' drinks. He pointed out the error to his server who agreed he was right about the "real time" but said the automated Sonic time was a bit fast and she could do nothing about the receipt showing the time to be after 4:00. When Garcia confronted manager Bobby Aragon, he agreed that Sonic time was a bit ahead, but would not honor the half price deal. That's when Garcia blew is lid.

When he refused to leave when asked, the police were called, Garcia was arrested and charged with trespass and harassment. After he spent thousands in attorney's fees, local prosecutors dropped the charges on the eve of trial upon realizing that a jury might side with Garcia when shown the evidence that Sonic was wrong about the "real" time.

In an outstanding example of understatement and backhanded apology, Sonic spokeswoman Christi Woodworth wrote to CBS4, "In this case, we missed an opportunity to take good care of the customer regardless of who was right ... Given the level to which this situation escalated, Sonic stands behind its employees' decision to call [the] police."

To Ray Garcia it was a matter of principle, and there are no regrets. "I don't like bait and switch and being lied to and taken advantage of in any shape or form. I don't expect it to be done to me," Garcia told CBS4. "I stand up for what I believe in."  Even if he has to spend $7,000 on three drinks.

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