This Restaurant’s ‘Pay What You Want’ Promotion Was a Disaster

A trusting restaurateur put her faith in human kindness, and she was not rewarded
Guiyang Guizhou China


A new restaurant in Guizhou, China, tried a pay-what-you-want promotion, and it was a complete disaster.

A restaurateur with a lot of faith in the goodness of her fellow human beings decided to try a “pay what you want” promotion to bring customers to her new restaurant, but it turns out that was a terrible idea and the restaurant lost a fortune in its first week.

According to Shanghaiist, owner Liu Xiaojun’s said she believed in the “inherent goodness of human beings,” when she opened her new restaurant and announced that for the first week she would just let her guests pay whatever they wanted for their food. She thought they would be so happy with the food and service that the customers would pay something at least in the vicinity of what the food was worth.

Unfortunately, while everyone said they enjoyed the food and the service, a lot of customers just decided to eat and run. Some people paid about 10 percent of their bills, but others left only a single yuan on the table, or about 15 cents. All in, the restaurant lost about $15,000 in its first week.

Even worse, after the promotion ended, none of the freeloading customers came back.

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"It makes sense that people like to eat food and not pay much. I just don't understand why they haven't come back since the promotion ended," she said. The customers’ reviews of the restaurant’s food and service were reportedly very good.