$3 Restaurant sodas...Why so much?

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PHOENIX – Are restaurants "price gouging" when it comes to charging you for sodas with your meal? 

A lot of consumers will answer "yes" to that question because sodas are $3 a glass,

which means for a family of four dining out, you're up to $12 or more in drinks before you even decide what to eat.

Some consumers, like Martha Farris, have had enough. She's a single mom who likes to treat her kids to soda at home every once in awhile but while the soda they drink at home seems affordable, Martha says soda prices are through the roof when she takes her kids out to eat.

"A lot of times we end of getting ice water and the kids are like, ‘Ugh!’ You know?”

For answers on soda prices, 3 On Your Side went to Outback Steakhouse and spoke with Matt McMahon, who owns 18 Outback locations throughout Arizona.

"I see where the consumer is coming from," McMahon said. He claims soda prices at restaurants are due to the increased cost of corn syrup.

Over the past few decades, he says corn syrup has gone up dramatically. "Well, just a container of syrup would cost $8 or $9 and today it's $90 so that's a lot."

That cost is passed on to consumers who are now paying around $3 or more for soda when they dine out.

While some restaurants are increasing soda prices, Matt says his steakhouses have remained relatively affordable with sodas costing $2.25. He says he has no plans to increase soda prices but did say it really depends on if corn syrup keeps increasing.

Matt tells 3 On Your Side another reason sodas may seem expensive is the amount consumers go through while dining. He is quick to point out that most restaurants have unlimited drink refills and that adds up.

If you consider the amount of soda you consume at one dinner, soda prices may not seem too bad.

"If you went to someone's house, they'll keep refilling your drink. So in the restaurant business, we consider it hospitality. It's expected."

But Martha and other consumers have a better idea. Forget the free refills and stick to one affordable price. "Maybe they should give a price for one drink. Like okay, you're only going to get one soda?  Alright, here's a dollar." 

The next time you dine out, look at the menu. 3 On Your Side discovered that many restaurants don't even list the price of sodas at all. They'll have a list of sodas but no price next to them.

Many consumers are unaware how much they're paying until they get their bill and then the sticker shock sets in.

However, Matt says never be embarrassed to ask about prices when your server arrives.