Beer-measuring test shows some bars served 5 oz less than advertised

Acting on a tip from a CBC Montreal listener who said he was short-served at two Sports Stations on the South Shore, CBC News set out to find out if customers were getting what they thought they were in their beer order.

Bar owner Peter Sergakis changed menu to remove mentions of volume after CBC News investigation

Dan Halton and a CBC cameraman measure their beers at Sports Station on Ste-Catherine Street East and St-André. 0:20

As a consumer, do you believe you always get what you pay for?

Acting on a tip from a CBC Montreal listener who said he was short-served at two Sports Stations on the South Shore, CBC News set out to find out if customers were getting what they thought they were in their beer order at three Sports Station locations and PJ’s Pub in NDG.

Sports Station and PJ's Pub changed their menus after CBC News conducted its beer-measuring test. They now indicate the size of the glass or pitcher, with no mention of volume. (CBC)

All of the bars are owned by Peter Sergakis, the president of the Union of Quebec Bar Owners Association, who owns more than a dozen establishments in the Montreal area.  

CBC tested five 20-ounce beers ordered from the previously mentioned four bars. Every time, the beer served only amounted to an average of 15 ounces, around 25 per cent less than what was advertised on the menu.

Joe Schwarcz, a McGill University chemistry professor, verified the accuracy of the measuring cup used by CBC.

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According to Industry Canada, "Vendors are required by the Weights and Measures Act to deliver, within the applicable limits of error (0.5 fluid ounces) the quantity of the product they are claiming to sell."

CBC also asked patrons to measure their own pours to check how much beer they were given.

One patron at a Sports Station, a bartender himself, measured 13 ounces of beer.

“That’s a scam,” he said. “I don’t think it’s right. He should change this because people see the price, see the ounces and think it’s a good price. But it’s not. They got robbed right here.”

When contacted by CBC Peter Sergakis initially questioned our results. However, two days later he sent a revised menu to CBC that changed the beer sizes simply to medium and large size glass with no mention of volume.

Sergakis, who recently made headlines when he filed a complaint in Quebec court alleging the Bell Centre was hurting his business when it opened up during away games in the playoffs, said that the volume measurement on the menu was meant to indicate the size of the glass, not the amount of beer.

However, according to Measurement Canada, a branch of Industry Canada, the beer glasses at Sports Station can't even hold 20 ounces of liquid.

The agency looked into the bar after a complaint was filed.

Listen to Daybreak story here:

Glasses don't hold 20 ounces

“It is impossible to put 20 ounces in the mugs,” said Measurement Canada senior investigator François Alexandre Bourdon in an email sent to the original complainant.

“Please know that the establishment was asked to submit [to] us a plan to correct the situation,” Bourdon continued.

Sergakis told CBC when you sell a customer a 20-ounce glass of soda, no one expects it to be a full 20 ounces. There has to be room for foam, ice and space to transport it without spilling. The whole industry is like that, he said.

But from now on, to eliminate any confusion or misunderstanding, he said all his menus have now been changed and that it was never their intention to short-change customers.

As for the size of the glasses, Sergakis says they hold 19-and-three-quarter ounces and he plans to continue using them.  

About the Author

Dan Halton

Dan Halton is an investigative journalist with CBC Montreal.


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