Chinese Restaurant Trusts Customers to ‘Pay What They Want’ For Food, Plan Completely Backfires


With much faith in the “inherent goodness of human beings,” three entrepreneurs thought it would be a great idea to launch a promotional campaign with a “pay what you want” scheme for their new restaurant. The policy would allow customers to order as much food as they want and then let them just pay whatever they wanted for the meal.

If that doesn’t sound like a good idea at all, then maybe because it simply isn’t.

This restaurant in the Guizhou capital of Guiyang did attract a huge crowd on opening day, however, it failed to make any earnings at all, according to The Paper (via Shanghaiist).


In fact, after seven days of the promo, the karst cave-themed diner managed to lose as much as 100,000 yuan ($14,845).

Owner Liu Xiaojun and her partners apparently did not anticipate how brazen customers can get when given the opportunity. They reportedly presumed that most of the diners would be “rational and fair.”

During the promo, a significant number of customers reportedly paid only 10% of the total cost of their meal. Some even had the gall to pay just 1 yuan ($0.15).



“If our food or service was the problem, then that would be one thing,” said Liu. “But according to customer feedback, our dishes are both filling and tasty. It’s just that the payments don’t match up with the evaluations.”

The failed promotion had a huge impact on Liu’s business partners who ended up arguing just a week from the restaurant’s opening on October 2. One of the partners even decided to just return to his hometown in frustration.

After a week of the huge loss, the restaurant then experienced even more betrayal when none of its original customers who took advantage of the“pay what you want” scheme even came back the day the promo ended.

“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,” Liu said.