French price discrimination on the basis of politeness

Be polite, or be prepared to pay.

That’s the message a French cafe is sending its customers. Employees of La Petite Syrah in Nice, France, posted a menu that rewards politeness and punishes rudeness. A photo was posted on Twitter with the line, roughly translated to “There are still people who know how to live!”

So, here’s the deal. Customers who can only be bothered to mumble, “un cafe” (without a greeting or a “please”) can expect to pay 7 euros ($9.63).

A lot of money for a cup of java. Fortunately, there are simple ways to cut that cost dramatically. If the customer includes a “s’il vous plait” (“please”), the price goes down to 4.25 euros ($5.85). But wait — don’t order quite yet.

If you really want to save cash, greet your barista with a “Bonjour” (“Good day” for those who never saw “Beauty and the Beast”) and the cost drops again, this time to a perfectly reasonable 1.40 euro ($1.93).

This may be a marketing vehicle for the cafe, although the manager claims it was started as a joke.  I am not sure what is the most plausible theory for how this might actually be effective price discrimination.  There is more here, and I thank Mark Thorson and Ray Lopez for the pointers.  Jason Kottke offers more detail.


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