Do shoppers need reminders to play nice?
A French café has earned viral acclaim for posting a sign that shows higher prices for rude customers than polite ones. Essentially, the price becomes cheaper when a simple "Hello" and "Please" are used when ordering.
A blackboard outside the café, Le Petite Syrah in Nice, listing prices for coffee reads:
"Un café" ….. €7
("One coffee" – $9.75)
"Un café s’il vous plait" ….. €4.25
("One coffee, please." – $5.90)
"Bonjour, un café s’il vous plait" ….. €1.25
("Good day, one coffee please." – $1.74)
Speaking to the English-language website, The Local, owner Fabrice Pepino said the sign started as a half joke because some of his lunchtime crowd "would come in very stressed and were sometimes rude to us when they ordered a coffee."
He added, "It’s our way of saying, ‘Keep calm and carry on.’ I know people say that French service can be rude, but it’s also true that customers can be rude when they’re busy."
The price scheme has never been enforced, but Mr. Pepino said his customers have become more relaxed and congenial. He added, "Most of my customers are regulars and they just see the funny side and exaggerate their politeness. They started calling me ‘your greatness’ when they saw the sign."
In the U.S., an extreme example of a store or restaurant guiding customer behavior was the classic "The Soup Nazi" episode on "Seinfeld," inspired by a soup shop in midtown Manhattan. In the episode, if strict ordering guidelines weren’t exactly followed, customers might miss out on bread with their soup, an extra apple, or horrors, hear the server bellow, "No soup for you!"
Although rare at national chains, it’s not surprising to find themed signs at some independent shops or restaurants around shopping behavior, most with a whimsical tilt. Many focus on rambunctious kids, such as "Unattended Children Will Be Given Espresso" or "Children left unattended will be sold to the circus." But other versions serve as a tongue-and-cheek reminder on the merits of being polite.
Here are a few:
- Prices are subject to change according to customer’s attitude.
- The customer is sometimes right.
- Caution: I don’t have an attitude. I just have a personality you can’t handle.
- Notice: Customers who think our waitresses are rude should speak to the manager.
- Attitude is Everything. Pick a good one.
- French café charges extra for rudeness – The Local
- French cafe causes a stir by rewarding ‘polite’ clients – BBC
- Excusez-moi? French cafe charges rude customers extra – NBC News
- Petite Syrah cafe in Nice, France, bases coffee prices on patrons’ manners – New York Daily News
Do shoppers need reminders to remain polite? Do you see signs at stores or restaurants encouraging customer behavior as appropriate or inappropriate?