Nice Café Charges Rude Customers More

Have you ever wanted to slap an exceptionally rude customer silly? That won't help as much as a solution a café owner in Nice, France has been making headlines with worldwide: charging polite customers less and rude customers more - five times more, in fact, for a "un café."

News outlets around the world, from the BBC to NPR, had a field day reporting on this in December - with few missing out on the irony of this occurring in a country famous for its rudeness to foreign visitors. If you live in France, apparently different rules apply.

So if you missed the story, here are some snippets from news reports that made the global rounds. Maybe this will even inspire a few good ideas among the more creative CMOs and branding experts who have to deal with (horrors!) rude customers.

BBC
"At the Petite Syrah in Nice on the Cote d'Azur a cup of coffee becomes cheaper by adding a simple 'Hello' and 'please' when ordering. ... Owner Fabrice Pepino says it started as joke but his clients now smile more."

Vinecdote.com
"Your correspondent has learned the hard way that it's pretty much mandatory to say "Bonjour" when you enter a store or other place of business in France and "Au revoir" when you leave it (a pharmacie employee once actually followed me to the door and blocked my way until I figured out she wanted a cheery goodbye) and you should scatter the rest of your conversation with beaucoup pleases and thank yous."

The Local
"Although Pepino admits he's never actually had to enforce the price scheme, he says he has noticed a difference in his customers' behavior.

"Most of my customers are regulars and they just see the funny side and exaggerate their politeness," he said, adding "They started calling me 'your greatness' when they saw the sign."

"But people are more relaxed now.... That's the most important thing."

There must be some lessons in here about the power of social media, but we'll leave them to you to figure out. The owner, for example, told one reporter that "For three years we have put all our passion into what we do, which is trying to provide quality food, and good wines, and what causes a buzz? A few words scribbled on a blackboard."

Ironically (again), Pepino said he came across the idea surfing the Internet, and nearly took the sign down before it went viral. Marketers and reporters around the world are glad he didn't. Merci!

Published: February 11th, 2014

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