5 Ways Restaurants Get You To Spend More Money? Yeah, Right.



An article has turned up on Huffington Post called “5 Ways Restaurants Get You To Spend More Money.” It was actually only a partial list that was culled together from another website called The Daily Meal, but since Huffington Post is the one that’s getting more attention, I want to focus on their version of the article. It was written by Dan Myers and here he is on Twitter if you want to tell him hello (Tell him The Bitchy Waiter sent you!). The first sentence that alerts me to the ridiculousness of the article is this one: “Restaurants bilk unsuspecting customers out of their hard-earned cash nearly every time they sit down…” News flash: restaurants are a business and they are there to make money. If you think going to a restaurant is the same thing as going to a food pantry or soup kitchen, you’re dead wrong. A restaurant is not a charity and the servers are not volunteering their time. Everyone working at the restaurant is there for one reason and one reason alone: to make money. We don’t wait tables because it fills a void in our otherwise empty lives or because we always grew up wanting to serve food, we do it because it pays us money.

Shall I reiterate the five ways Dan thinks we are “bilking” customers?

  1. “I would recommend the 2006…” The article says that customers are too embarrassed to order the cheapest bottle of wine on the menu so they order the second least expensive bottle which has oft times been marked up higher than it should be. Why is that wrong? If the customer wants to make sure they aren’t overpaying for a bottle, then look it up on your damn smartphone that you insist on leaving on the table, see how much it is and make an educated decision. Or just embrace your cheapness and order the bottle that costs the least. I don’t see how this is any different than a department store raising the price of a pair of jeans one week just so they can offer at 10% off the next.
  2. More Sneaky Wine Tricks. In my decades of waiting tables, I have never once done what they suggest we might do, which is bring the customer a cheaper bottle of wine and hope they don’t notice. I have also never lied to a customer telling them that we are out of the wine they wanted but I instead offered a similar bottle that is a lot more expensive. I don’t know any server who would do that. Sure, I might lie that the cappuccino machine is broken because I already cleaned it, but that’s not making you spend more money, is it? If you noticed that the server brought you a less expensive bottle of wine than you paid for, you have every right to be pissed off about it, but I resent that the article implies that we do that it all the time. Bullshit.
  3. Power Positioning. “Restaurants design their menu with a goal of ripping off their customers.” Of course the restaurant is going to highlight the items that are more profitable than others. That isn’t sneaky, that’s called advertising and it’s not “ripping off customers.” It isn’t any different than the grocery store putting cereals and candy on the lower shelves so they are eye-level for kids. Any business that is trying to make money is going to do whatever they can to make a profit. It’s how successful businesses are run.
  4. “Would you be interested in any appetizers or side dishes?” Oh, so restaurants are the only ones who suggestively sell? Why don’t I see an article anywhere about The Gap and how every damn time I’m in there buying a pair of jeans they try to sell me some new fucking socks? I also see no article about T-Mobile and how when I went to buy a new phone they made sure to tell me about the protective carrying case, the ear buds, the extra battery and the insurance plan. The restaurant is there to make money, so if you don’t want something that your server is suggesting you buy, here is how you avoid having it added to your bill: you say, “No, thank you.”
  5. “Gratuity has been already added…” Yes, some places are going to add the gratuity, especially for a large party. New laws have passed, so it’s not as likely to happen as often as it once did. If the menu says the tip will be added for large parties and it is clearly added onto your bill and the tip line says “additional gratuity,” whose responsibility is it to know that the tip has been added? The customer, that’s who. If the customer is too drunk or distracted to read a bill and ends up tipping extra, then it’s a bonus for the server. Of course, there is always the chance that three days later that customer will finally look over his receipt and then return to the restaurant with his tail between his legs and ask for that $20 back. The gratuity is not added to scam money from customers, it’s added to protect the server from having his section full all night with a 13-top who decides to leave a 5% tip.

This article is so full of shit and the writer thinks he has cracked some code that no one knew about. For instance, he wants you to pay close attention to the way the server treats you the next time you go to a restaurant. “Odds are they’ll be chummy, like an old friend, trying to help you navigate your way through the menu and order the best food you can. But don’t be fooled: you’re just a paying customer.” No shit, Sherlock, I don’t think any customer thinks otherwise. They know I don’t want to be their friend; it’s as obvious as my Chardonnay breath. I wonder how my tip would be if I treated the customer like a piece of crap? Hmmm, probably not so great, so I’d better be chummy instead. Genius!

This article is just one more example of someone who knows nothing about the food service industry, but is trying to write about the food service industry. Nice try, Dan Myers, but please try again.

13 thoughts on “5 Ways Restaurants Get You To Spend More Money? Yeah, Right.

  1. Lauren

    How do I convince my boss to implement a policy where a 15% gratuity is automatically added to a bill of 8 or more people? I got a part of 12 and no tip.

    1. J

      Lauren it’s called find a better restaurant to work. you’re not going to convince your boss to implement or change anything. You’re not the 1st for this to happen to and won’t be the last.

  2. Meg

    It’s just as bad in the hair industry. I’ve read countless articles in magazines about how to save money at the salon, or how your hairstylist is out to rip you off. Of course I’m going to try to sell you hair products! Of course I’m going to encourage you to try hair color if you’re thinking about it. But we are actually more likely to be flexible and creative in an attempt to keep the price down so that you’ll COME BACK! Salons don’t want to drive paying customers away, but we have a lot of over head, and most of us work for commission and tips, so, surprise! We actually want a decent paycheck!

  3. Kelly

    All good points. I went to the website and, much to my relief, discovered that most of the HuffPo commenters echoed similar sentiments instead of displaying outrage at being asked to pay money for goods and/or services.

  4. sally

    In my experience, contrary to what this writer believes, most regulars don’t become regulars because they are desperate for friends. I have found that people who like being regulars like it specifically BECAUSE of the surface relationships they might form with staff. It may just be an illusion for a little while that one is well liked and respected, but most regulars know very well that they pay for that illusion. That’s why they tip so well.

  5. maxi

    I have never seen anyone switch a bottle of wine. That. Never. Happens. Also as far as I know, all menus have prices on them. So who cares if a certain dish is highlighted? Read the damned menu!

  6. Skip

    I love you, I have always loved you and I continue to love you.

    This article is complete and utter BULLSHIT. Suggestive selling? Sure, if you’re good at it. I was the worst Girl Scout in the world because I couldn’t even sell a calendar or a box of cookies, but when my boss said “You MUST offer our appetizer special and/or the wine” I did my job. I wasn’t padding the check, and where is it stated the customer isn’t allowed to say “NO”? Jiminy crickets. I think they may be talking about McDondald’s and such – where it is “Would you like to Super Size that?” And sorry – FF is simply *not* a restaurant in the true sense.

    I have never, ever lied about what a customer ordered [coffee, wine, etc]. Why would I do that? You not only risk your tip if they find
    out, you risk the check being comped AND YOUR JOB. No one does that.

    As for highlighting the things that bring us more profit – well, guess what. Yes, they do, but they are usually in the chicken and fish range and you are paying less for your meal than the prime steak that has a smaller profit margin [for us] but ups my tip percentage. Highlight the pasta dishes all day long – the restaurant makes money, but I want you to order the Surf and Turf because if you actually know how to tip, you cheap ass, then my tip is going to be higher percentage wise.

    I wish those that have never, ever worked in the restaurant world would keep their yaps shut. Until they strap on a pair of non skid Sketchers and an apron they can kiss my nasty, bacteria laden check presenter and go write about the stupidity that is “consciously uncoupling”.


  7. Kelley

    The sad thing is, that these are the same people who would bitch if you DID NOT offer them an appetizer or side dish. Sometimes you just can’t win.

  8. Leffert914

    What do you expect from the Huffington Post? They have long been a Sensational Blog with questionable credentials. Their Chief Editor for Medical News is a long time anti-vaccine hack who has lost any respect in the medical community. The sad thing is that the people who read and believe everything posted their are just little sheep who have no thoughts of their own.


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