Grapevine, TX - A laid-off Verizon employee, Stephen Hunter, 32, has begun charging his friends the pleasure of his company in order to make ends meet. He decided to try this the day after getting his walking papers. A salesman by trade, he figured he could charge his friends the way cell phone carriers and airlines charge for every miniscule item.
He states that the vast majority of his friends are receptive to his plan. As Hunter puts it, he has found out whom his true friends are by how much they are willing to pay to hang out with him.
Hunter charges friends $.50 for every handful of chips they eat, but learned quickly that it was more economical to buy the 100-calorie snack packs of pretzels. Water is free as long as you wash your own glass before you leave. Beer is only $2.00 a bottle because drinking with him in his two-bedroom apartment is comparable to having happy hour at a bar.
Friends of Hunter have also noticed that the prices for certain cable channels have gone up in recent weeks. He began charging a flat rate of $10.00 an evening to watch his 45-inch flat screen. However, it went up to $15.00 for the Stanley Cup and NBA Finals. He charges more a few dollars more for HD channels as well as PBS. He states that he plans on donating the money charged for watching PBS to PBS during their upcoming pledge week. However, none of his friends like watching PBS so he doesn't think he'll have much of a donation.
Currently, Hunter is researching a flat fee option. He thinks that will be more economical for his friends, and a way he can add hidden fees without them realizing. He is also researching Paypal to keep track of how much his friends are paying, thinking that this is easier than the pickle jar on the kitchen counter.
When asked his friends said they didn't mind paying to hang out at Hunter's apartment. "I don't mind really because he's so cool. He also makes the best nachos, which, at $1.99 are actually a better deal than Taco Bueno," states Jason Whitmore.