Have you seen the image above?
I picked up on the story behind the image from an article on Springwise in late December. The story has since made the rounds of various news sites, including The Independent, The Daily Mail, The Mirror, Huffington Post and Fox News amongst others.
The story concerns the Petite Syrah café in Nice, France and it’s introduction of a ‘tiered’ price system for it’s customers, depending on how polite they are to staff when they order their coffee.
In short, if you say ‘Hello, a coffee, please’ then you only pay the regular price of EUR 1.40 ($1.90 or £1.16) but if your order is shorter and more curt or impolite then the stated price of a coffee rise to EUR 7.00 ($9.52 or £5.81). That’s some hike!
It’s an interesting approach and takes the idea of ‘carrot and stick’ motivation to a whole new level.
Now, while I suspect some firms already charge ‘difficult’ customers more than others, this is one of the first times that I’ve seen a firm do something like this so explicitly.
According to the press coverage, the original board was put up more ‘tongue in cheek’ than anything else and in response to the behaviour of some of their busy customers. The owner also said that they haven’t really enforced it so far.
But, it does express a clear sentiment from the firm…….be nice to us or pay the price. And, that the café is willing to filter, choose and ‘fire’ it’s customers through it’s pricing.
We’ve all heard stories about abusive customers and some of us may have been on the receiving end of abuse. But, I think this story raises an interesting question around how firms ‘educate’ their customers in how they would like to be treated and showcases one idea of how one firm is deterring or ‘firing’ rude customers, without explicitly saying ‘no, we don’t want your business’.
After all, no business has the responsibility to have to do business with any customer, regardless of their behaviour.
So, how would you feel if you saw this menu?
Would you be motivated to be polite? To conform?
Or, would you feel a sense of indignation, feel like you have been insulted and storm out of the cafe, cursing the management and, in effect, firing yourself?