Would you leave your mobile phone with the waiter for a 5% discount?

August 19, 2012
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(Photo credit: Shutterstock)

Mobile phones have grown to be a pervasive part of our lives. The need to text, check social networking updates and even accept calls has meant that we have our phones on hand even during intimate occasions. As a result, families might rarely have meaningful conversations over dinner. Dates end up being disasters due to interruptions. Even business meetings over a meal might get interrupted.

Restaurateurs have been trying to discourage the use of mobile phones during meals. Someone at the other table might consider it rude to answer a phone and indiscreetly talk while others are enjoying meals and conversations. Eva Restaurant in Los Angeles has an interesting idea: they will give you a 5% discount for checking in your mobile phone with the maitre d’.

The idea is not so much about avoiding rude interruptions from the other table, but rather keeping the meal intimate. “We just want people to connect again,” says chef Mark Gold. It seems the customer feedback has been good, so far. “I think people generally like the idea of being able to turn off their cell phones,” Gold says. The 5% discount is, perhaps, just icing on the cake.

Other restaurants have tried different ways to discourage the use of mobile phones at the table, including adding a surcharge to the bill for cellphone usage, or even explicitly banning phones and photography. Then there are also some customer-driven interventions. Take for instance the Phone Stack game. It involves collecting everyone’s mobile phone on the table. Whoever picks up his or her phone before the meal finishes, for whatever reason, gets to pay for everyone else’s meal.

Sure enough, smartphones have been helpful in offering discounts and deals for patrons, especially given location-based services and app-based reservations. But once you’re at the table, it’s probably best to keep your attention off of the phone and on other more important things.

Would you be willing to part with your smartphone for a few minutes to get a discount?

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