Pay What You Want: Good or Bad Idea?

Kim Conte
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restaurant


A cafe owner in Ohio is trying the ultimate social experiment at his restaurant in a desperate attempt to turn business around during the recession:

He's gotten rid of all the prices on the menu and instead is asking his customers to pay what they want.

And guess what? It's actually working.

The menu at Java Street Cafe in Kettering, Ohio has no prices. Instead, at the end of the meal, cafe owner Sam Lippert asks diners to pay what they think the meal was worth. His no-pricing policy is modeled after restaurants in Europe where this type of thing is common practice and based on the fact that people will pay for what they think is fair.

And even though some people once in a while might pay a few dollars under what he would expect, Lippert says in the end it usually works out. In fact, business has picked up—his sales and customer count are up 50 to 100 percent each day!

What keeps people honest when it comes time to pay the bill? According to Lippert, "They have to look me in the eye and say that's what they think is fair. And, you know, that's a big incentive."

What do you think? Do you think people would take advantage of this policy?


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