Mikvah Price Gouging

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  • #1373920

    Meno
    Participant

    Why does the mikvah cost more on Erev Yom Kippur than on a regular day?

    I would think the opposite should be true.

    Is it like this everywhere?

    #1373934

    Joseph
    Participant

    This seems to be what the vast majority of Shuls with Mikvas do.

    Aren’t Shuls entitled to use this as a form of raising funds, whether for the Mikva or even general operating expenses? I don’t see why not. They are a Makom Kodesh not a capitalistic enterprise.

    #1373935

    Joseph
    Participant

    How much is this so-called “price gouging” anyways? Most places seem to be about $5 or $10 on Erev Yom Tov.

    #1373936

    Takes2-2tango
    Participant

    For the reason why many kosher foods are more expensive before yomtov. There no heter whatsoever but the rabbis are afraid to speak up for various different reasons.

    #1373946

    Meno
    Participant

    Most places seem to be about $5 or $10 on Erev Yom Tov.

    The place I went was $15 (early bird special). I’ve only been to this place one time other than erev yom tov, and it was around $5 (maybe $8)

    Aren’t Shul’s entitled to use this as a form of raising funds, whether for the Mikva or even general operating expenses? I don’t see why not. They are a Makom Kodesh not a capitalistic enterprise.

    Shouldn’t they just normally charge enough to cover general operating expenses?

    #1373948

    apushatayid
    Participant

    would YOU like to spend the entire erev yom kippur washing dirty towels, cleaning the showers, mikva areas and changing areas? someone is paid to do it. if you find a sponsor to step up to the plate and cover the cost, im sure the mikva will be happy to charge you less. i’m not the DOT and didnt do a study, but, im willing to bet erev yom kippur the mikveh sees 10x the number of men than a normal erev shabbos.

    #1373954

    Joseph
    Participant

    I’ll bet your wife pays 12 times a year at least double what you’re paying twice a year.

    You should go to the Mikva at least every Erev Shabbos, if not every day, not just twice a year.

    #1373956

    Meno
    Participant

    apushatayid,

    im willing to bet erev yom kippur the mikveh sees 10x the number of men than a normal erev shabbos.

    And that also means 10x the money to cover all the things you mentioned. That doesn’t explain why they charge a higher rate.

    #1373960

    Meno
    Participant

    I’ll bet your wife pays 12 times a year at least double what you’re paying twice a year.

    You should go to the Mikva at least every Erev Shabbos, if not every day, not just twice a year.

    Not sure why any of that is relevant

    #1373964

    Joseph
    Participant

    I hope my suggestions in the comments come across as me offering them out of love for fellow Yiddishe brother.

    #1373967

    ubiquitin
    Participant

    Joseph
    Your last line threw me off “They are a Makom Kodesh not a capitalistic enterprise.”
    Isnt that a reason NOT to price gouge?

    #1373970

    yitzchokm
    Participant

    Come to Brooklyn.
    In places where people use the Mikva often, the mikva pays for itself throughout the year. When people use it twice a year, they expect the full facility to be waiting for them with limited use. How in the world is it supposed to support itself?

    Try getting into a private swimming pool. Let me know what that cost you.

    I think Joseph point is a good one.

    #1373972

    yitzchokm
    Participant

    ubiquitin

    I think Joseph’s point is that by definition, it’s not price gouging. Price gouging would only make sense as an capitalistic endeavor.

    Price gouging only works with supply and demand. That’s not the case here.

    Takes two

    I have no idea what you’re talking about. Prices are the same throughout the year unless there’s some kind of sort of shortage or something.

    #1373973

    Joseph
    Participant

    ubiq: My sense is that a Makom Kodesh needs funds to operate. Whether the Mikva, the electricity, gas, or even general shul non-mikva expenses. I don’t think many shuls with mikvas are operating on a profit-level where they’re bringing in much more income than they need to continue serving Klal Yisroel. If they need to raise funds from a certain aspect (i.e. Mikva) than their actual cost for that service so that they can pay other general kodesh expenses, that’s entirely legitimate.

    #1373983

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    Joseph
    For most normal yidden who have a family and job, life is already a treadmill with trying to get the kids off to school, getting to minyan a few times a week commuting to and from work, having dinner with the family, helping the kids with homework, caring for or checking in with elderly parents, etc. Toiveling at mikvah “every day” is not a realistic option for 90 percent of the frum tzibur.

    #1373989

    Joseph
    Participant

    You can be in and out of the Mikvah, dried and dressed, in less than 15 minutes. All in the same place you daven at. You could even double it up with your regular shower, so it is effectively taking even less time than that.

    #1373990

    ubiquitin
    Participant

    got it Joseph Thanks

    So if there was a mikva(not shul) that was well funded, and Erev Yom Kippur they decide t otake advantage and raise the price over that which was required for upkeep, you would be opposed to that?

    Yitzchokm
    Thanks for your explanation of Joseph. Certainly a valid point
    However “Try getting into a private swimming pool. Let me know what that cost you.” Thats just it. I think it rubs people the wrong way when a mikva (Makom Kadosh) operates like a “private swimming pool” (capitalistic endeavor.) A mikvah should be made available to the tzibbur at cost (including salary for the people running it, that is part of the cost) It should not work like a private swimming pool, where they are trying to make a quick buck on days when people want to be mekayem a possible mitzvah.
    Again, if the cost of operating all year when the mikva may not be well used, is defrayed by the increased revenue from Erev Yom kippur, then that is part of the cost.

    #1373991

    Meno
    Participant

    Come to Brooklyn.

    How do you know I’m not in Brooklyn?

    #1373997

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    How do you know I’m not in Brooklyn?

    Because you paid $15 to use the mikvah.

    I think they charge more on erev Yom Tov because people are going to come anyhow, but charging more during the year will cause there to be fewer people to come.

    It’s simple economics.

    Most (almost all?) mikvaos are not self funding, they operate partially on donations, so I don’t see where there’s any tayna.

    #1374005

    yitzchokm
    Participant

    ubiquitin

    My Ruv tried working with that model for many years, saying that the usage of a Mikva should be akin to using a siddur.
    After having this policy for close to four and a half decades he finally gave up about 5 years ago.
    When people were okay with dilapidated mikvahs it was feasible. People today expect a much better experience, including better towels, soap and other amenities. Besides having to rebuild the Mikvah, taking care of it and replenishing it is a costly endeavor.
    I forgot the exact figures he told me, but he explained to me that simply washing and replacing the towels cost over a dollar each time someone uses it. And that’s just the towel.

    #1374007

    apushatayid
    Participant

    “if the cost of operating all year when the mikva may not be well used, is defrayed by the increased revenue from Erev Yom kippur, then that is part of the cost.”

    Of course it is. If you want the mikveh to be open and available to you for the twice a year you use it, they have to charge you money so that can cover their annual operating expenses. It happens to be, the costs increase on the 2 days a year most people want to use it because they require additional resources.

    again, if $10-$15 is too steep, go to the beach.

    #1374006

    apushatayid
    Participant

    Meno 10x the usage means 10x the dirty towels, 10x the number of people to clean up after, longer hours to keep the water heated, to run the lights and possibly a/c in the building. instead of someone coming in for a couple of hours to clean up, now they have someone there all afternoon, possibly all day. you are free to head down to the beach where there is no fee to jump into the water.

    #1374017

    Meno
    Participant

    apushatayid,

    10x money means 10x the money. That should easily cover all the things you mentioned.

    I would like to point out that I am not complaining, and I am very happy to pay the fee, whatever it may be. I was just wondering what the rationale is. Some good points have been made in this thread, but the argument that “more people = higher prices” just doesn’t seem to add up.

    #1374025

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    the argument that “more people = higher prices” just doesn’t seem to add up.

    That would be a terrible business model.

    #1374036

    midwesterner
    Participant

    Being involved in a few local mikvaos, I can tell you that What Daas Yochid says is exactly how it works. Mikva fees do not cover costs. Donations fill the gaps. They charge what they can and they’re still not making money. So when they have a captive audience, they try to reduce that gap. Also, as a followup to Joseph, where I live, if you buy a regular membership for either daily or weekly use, the Erev Yom Tovs are included, even ERH and EYK.

    #1374045

    apushatayid
    Participant

    How much do you think the fee would be if a special mikva was built just for the 2x a year mikva goers and the fees from those 2 days had to support the mikva for the entire year.

    #1374049

    ubiquitin
    Participant

    Yitzcokm
    “When people were okay with dilapidated mikvahs”

    I have never been to a non-dilapadated mikva. I’m not doubting that they exist but that isnt the scenario’s ive encountered. I dont understand how it can cost a dollar to clean a towel. And at any rate I bring my own towel. (Perhaps mikvas can stop offering towels as a way to save money if it is so expensive?.)

    APY
    “Of course it is. ..”
    Then it is. That is what I said.

    DY
    “That would be a terrible business model.”
    Unless there was a non-economic artificial factor driving people to go to the Mikva that day, in which case it is an excellent business model

    #1374054

    Meno
    Participant

    How much do you think the fee would be if a special mikva was built just for the 2x a year mikva goers and the fees from those 2 days had to support the mikva for the entire year.

    Assuming the original construction was already paid for, is there any other major upkeep if no one is using it?

    #1374069

    Joseph
    Participant

    It is very reasonable for the fee to include covering the original construction costs. Otherwise you’re being someach on third-party donors to cover the costs of building the mikva. All things being equal, everyone would equally share the cost for the construction through the usage fee spread out over time after construction.

    #1374078

    Meno
    Participant

    Ok but let’s assume the building is completely paid for. Are there any other overhead expenses if no one is using it?

    #1374080

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    Unless there was a non-economic artificial factor driving people to go to the Mikva that day, in which case it is an excellent business model

    The point is if you’re running an operation where more customers means larger cost per person, there’s some mismanagement going on.

    #1374081

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    Ok but let’s assume the building is completely paid for. Are there any other overhead expenses if no one is using it?

    Even if the mortgage was paid for, I believe even with little use, there would still be a cost to maintain it.

    #1374099

    Pinchas
    Participant

    In my Yerushalayim mikavah the price went up to 10NIS (like $2.75) from the normal price of 7NIS (like $1.95).

    #1374101

    Forshayer
    Participant

    Our Mikvah in Bais Hamedrash Ohr Chaim opened up Erev Slichos. The day before Erev Yom Kippur, the Bal Habayis who donated the Mikva asked me to send out an email stating the benefits of going to the Mikva daily but especially on Erev Yom Kippur. He asked me to announce that the Mikva will be open and free all day yesterday. Sorry I didn’t see this earlier.

    #1374104

    CTLAWYER
    Participant

    @meno
    Assuming the building is paid for…ongoing expenses:
    Utilities>>>water, electricity, gas, oil
    Insurance……lots of possibilities of slip and fall accidents in a Mikvah (we tile, steps).
    Cleaning>>>>>the showers must be cleaned, bleached regularly, floors swept, etc.
    Supplies>>>soap, shampoo, towels, toilet paper
    Upkeep on rotation>>>painting
    Alarm system and monitoring
    Telephone
    Salaries

    #1374156

    CTRebbe
    Participant

    It seems like most of the people commenting have no clue what the costs of running a mikva are. If you think it is a good way to make a profit, go for it. I know we have a mikva which is used just for shabbos where I live and we needed to pay $850 to fix the boiler. This stuff happens just like when you own a house. Unless you know what the expenses are or if you would like to volunteer being the guy in charge of managing it I think you should keep your comments to yourself.
    Sort of reminds me about all those that complain about tuitions being too high but have never looked at a yeshiva budget to make suggestions where to trim the waste. But that is a whole other story

    #1374166

    Meno
    Participant

    CTLAWYER, I was asking about upkeep in a case where the Mikva wasn’t being used most of the year. I think most of the expenses you listed wouldn’t apply in that case.

    CTRebbe (hey do you guys know each other?), no one is complaining about high prices. I was just asking why the price is higher on erev yom tov

    #1374170

    sariray
    Participant

    My husband runs a men’s Mikvah (volunteer) so I feel qualified to answer this. Normally the worker will wash the towels , as the shul owns four washers and dryers. Erev holiday towels get sent out (at a cost of over $1000) because the machines can’t wash quickly enough. Also more workers are needed because of the crush, to keep the place clean and to keep an eye on things. So while the cost is normally $5, holidays the charge is $8. Some may charge more, and yes some of it is probably going to the organization. But it’s not much. Mikvah’s do require a lot of maintenance and sometimes money is put aside for future expenses (costly plumbing repairs or new hardware etc.)

    #1374172

    YudelF
    Participant

    Imagine, just imagine, that Egged busses decide to charge an extra few shekels to go to the kosel on chol hamoed. They have extra load, need to hire more people, more expenses. So is it legitimate to charge?? Of course not!
    Why is a Mikvah different? For your information, the Mikvahs in Israel do NOT charge more on Erev Yom Kippur than a regular Erev Shabbos. For that matter, they don’t charge more any Erev Yom Tov. Why is that? Because they only have one day Yom Tov! However, in Chutz L’aretz, they charge extra for 2 days of Yom Tov as it gives you a right to use the Mikvah each day. THIS is legitimate! Now, when it comes to Erev Yom Kippur they feel they can charge like Erev Yom Tov because people are just “used to” giving $5 on Erev Yom Tov. But in truth, the reasons don’t apply here because it’s only one day and plus we don’t use the Mikvah on Yom Kippur itself. So it should really be maybe LESS than Shabbos! If it’s not price gouging, it certainly is taking advantage of the customers!
    If the Mikvah is not covering its costs then taking extra Erev Yom Kippur is a shaylas chacham. I personally feel it’s taking advantage of people and the better way is to charge more on a regular basis to fill in the gap. As I mentioned, in Israel where the Erev Yom Tov phenomenon doesn’t exist, nobody would think of charging extra on Erev YK. So my analysis seems correct.

    #1374176

    smn
    Participant

    I agree with apushiteryid.
    Mikva maintenance all around, including but not limited to towels, hot water, detergent, cleaning supplies, and paying someone to make sure everything is available at all times, which is increased quite a bit during rosh Hashanah and Yom kippur, necessitating increased fees during these times.

    #1374178

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    Apashutayid and smn, of course they need more money to serve more people, but they get that already, because the extra people are paying.

    The question remains why they need to charge more money per person.

    #1374184

    sariray
    Participant

    Egged is a money making business. Mikvah is a non for profit service that the shul runs as a service to the community. My husband (and I) put in time for no compensation. Erev Chag expenses Are significantly higher than normal usage, and yes maybe it’s an opportunity to put away a few dollars for future large expenses. The last time my husband changed the hot water system (enough complaints about the showers running out of hot water) to the tune of $20,000… and yes, the shul got a slip and fall lawsuit once.

    #1374182

    apushatayid
    Participant

    “Assuming the original construction was already paid for, is there any other major upkeep if no one is using it?”

    Who paid for the original construction? The twice a year mikva goers? If they did, then let them set the price for those 2x a year. More than like there is a mortgage or some other type of loan that financed the construction. The bank likes to get paid every month, not once a year after yom Kippur when the twice a year crowd showed up and paid $10.

    #1374191

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    More than like there is a mortgage or some other type of loan that financed the construction.

    He’s asking you to assume the original construction was already paid for, which means the morgage is paid for.

    #1374192

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    Erev Chag expenses Are significantly higher than normal usage

    So is erev Chag income significantly higher than an ordinary day, even without changing the price.

    and yes maybe it’s an opportunity to put away a few dollars for future large expenses.

    That part makes sense. Saying that they charge more per person because that day’s expenses are higher doesn’t make sense.

    #1374195

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    I would like to point out that I am not complaining, and I am very happy to pay the fee, whatever it may be.

    I think the thread title implies otherwise.

    #1374199

    lesschumras
    Participant

    I think part of this feeling was mentioned very early in the thread but got lost. It used to be very common for the price of kosher chickens and meat to rise significantly right before chaggim for no discernible reason .
    For Pesach it was worse. About 20 years ago, the price gouging for non meat was exposed by a Long Island supermarket in my town owned by a non religious Jew. He had opened a brand new building across from his old one about a month before Pesach. His lease on the old store, now empty, still had two months to run and someone gave him the idea of a Pesach superstore. When he saw what the wholesalers were charging ,for the same canned and paper goods he bought all year, he couldn’t believe it. He demanded that they charge regular prices unless they could justify the significant increase. They couldn’t and charged him regular prices and he passed those savings on. When I called my Brooklyn friends and they heard about it, they drove out and saved significant money.

    I can still remember my mother complaining about meat prices. My uncle was a shochet in the Midwest and he would tell us that shechting was the same all year round and butchers could raise their prices because they could get away with it

    #1374201

    YudelF
    Participant

    Sarira:

    I don’t think Egged is a money maker but even if it is that’s not the point. EVEN if it was non-profit, people consider it a public service and therefore would be up in arms if they charged extra. You need a reason to justify charging the customer more when the customer is receiving an identical product as a regular Erev Shabbos. Like I said, in Israel the Mikvahs do NOT charge more. According to your logic they should feel comfortable charging more but they don’t. Try to understand from a Mikva goer point of view.

    #1374202

    CTLAWYER
    Participant

    @meno
    Even if the Mikvah wasn’t used most of the year, the expenses I listed would exist.
    An organization would not dare operate without insurance, both liability for slips and falls, etc. and casualty….fire, theft, a tree crashes through the roof, etc.
    Towels need to be purchased and cleaned, soap, shampoo, etc is needed.
    Especially if not used regularly, deep cleaning is required. Have you ever opened up a bungalow or winter vacation home after a long absence? Dust, dirt and dead inssacts will be there, no matter how well you cleaned before leaving,
    Utilities>>>you still need water, maybe air conditioning, a heat source for water and building, electric lights, etc. Here in New England, you must heat to a minimum of 50 degrees F in the winter or risk freeze damage to the water system
    Payroll….who cleans and fixes for free?
    Upkeep? it will need painting every so many years, grout needs cleaning, rubber flappers in the toilets need replacing

    To the best of my knowledge I don’t know CT Rebbe…………………

    Pricing is based on 2 things: supply/demand and opportunity to raise funds. You might ask why a Kallah is charged 3 or 4 times the regular rate before her wedding compared to what she’ll pay afterwards.

    BTW>>>>OOT most communities have only 1 or 2 mikvaos. In our area there are set fees for women, but just a place to leave a donation for men.

    #1374309

    chasid
    Participant

    Unless you run an organization (i do) you really have no clue what costs are. Even if the building is donated, every so often you need to redo the tiles you need to replace the boiler you need to fix benches this so much upkeep there’s no way that daily charges could really cover these things.
    That’s before you get to things like liability insurance, workers comp, which I’m sure are very expensive.
    I believe that the mikvahs in Israel are subsidized by the government. So I’m not sure that that analogy works.
    Case in point: we just repainted our first floor and outside windows, it cost $5000, just like that!

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