Waiters in France are being given the power to charge customers more or less depending on how polite they are. Waiting-on is considered a profession worthy of respect in France, so the policy of charging rude customers extra is reportedly becoming more widespread. In 2013, La Petite Syrah in Nice became so fed up of rude customers it began penalising them. If waiters were asked for “a coffee” they charged 7€ (£4.90). Ask for “a coffee, please” and the price was dropped to 4.25€ (£3.60).
The winning formula, though, was to say “Bonjour [‘hello’], a coffee please”, which would cost you the typical price of 1.40€ (£1.20). Manager Fabrice Pepino told The Local at the time: “It started as a joke because at lunchtime people would come in very stressed and were sometimes rude to use when they ordered a coffee.” Meanwhile at L’Hamburgé in Grenoble, southeastern France, three prices are advertised for one coffee, using the same conditions as La Petite Syrah.
The Times (£)reports that critics believe the policy is often just used as an excuse to charge tourists more – with holidaymakers charged far less than regulars. However, the policy is not completely far from the Pret A Manger one which allows staff to give out free hot drinks and food to customers they like or find attractive. Adam Garah, owner of L’Hamburgé, said the idea was a joke and that some customers had become “excessively polite” in the hope of getting a free coffee.