A Chinese Restaurant's 'Pay What You Want' Policy Lost It $15,000 in a Single Week

By Mike Pomranz |

Angela Wyant

If America’s current political has made you worried about the inherent goodness of human beings,” don’t worry: Things seem to be just as bad in China. A restaurant in Guiyang decided to attract customers by temporarily offering a pay-what-you-want policy for its grand opening. Within a week, the new eatery was out about $15,000.

According to The Shanghaiist, the optimistic promotion brought in plenty of patrons, but in some cases, they paid as little as a single Chinese yuan (about 15 cents) for their entire meal. Sadly, the owners said people’s unwillingness to pay a fair price had nothing to do with the restaurant itself; customers just didn’t really give a shit. “If our food or service was the problem, then that would be one thing," owner Liu Xiaojun was quoted as saying, “but according to customer feedback, our dishes are both filling and tasty.” Turns out the owners hope that diners would pay a “rational and fair” amount for their visit was not a particularly rational marketing choice.


Unsurprisingly, after a week of the deal, the owners of the restaurant, which opened on October 2, got into an argument, causing one to reportedly abandon the business altogether. Cutting their losses might have been a smart move. Apparently, once the promotion ended, the place became a ghost town. By 4pm on the first day after the pay-what-you-want deal ended, the restaurant still hadn’t seen a single customer for lunch service. “It makes sense that people like to eat food and not pay much,” Liu said. “I just don't understand why they haven't come back since the promotion ended.”


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