Save while dining out

‘Tis the season to eat out. Watch out for these restaurant tricks designed to make you spend more on your meal

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by Gail Vaz-Oxlade
December 2nd, 2011

Online only.

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If you know what restaurants are doing to play with your mind, you can thwart their psychological games and put the money you didn’t spend in your bank account.

Top-of–the-list trick
Did you know that you’re more likely to order the first item on a list. That’s why restaurants put their most profitable dish at the top of the list. And that’s why some menus have so many lists; more top of the list spots. Read further down the list and you may not have to spend quite so much, or you may get better value.

Box-it trick
When a restaurant wants to sell something, hey draw a line around it. That simple step will get people to buy it. Steer clear of the boxes.

No-dollar-sign trick
We have a huge avoidance response to dollar signs. When a number has a dollar sign in front of it, it has way more of a negative impact on our decision-making then when the number appears without the dollar sign. Restaurants are eliminating the dollar sign and decimals to play with your brain. The next time you’re planning to pay 18 50 for that salad, say the amount out loud so your brain can hear what an idiot you’re being.

Small-large version trick
I love rocky road ice cream. I buy two scoops, I pay $5. I buy one scoop, I pay $3.50. Hey, wait a minute. Restaurants use this trick all the time, convincing you to spend more because it’s a better “value.” Order the smaller version and you can also save money on the diet program.

Fancy-ingredient trick
When restaurants list exotic-sounding ingredients, it’s to trick you into thinking you’re getting something special you should pay more for. Don’t fall for it!

4 comments on “Save while dining out

  1. Most diners aren't idiots and most restaurants aren't "tricking" you. The average restaurant in Ontario makes a profit of 3%, so you get the idea.

    Yes, it's true I own a small bistro and we do our best to attract people with value instead of tricks. Like the wine list which starts at $22 and a fixed price menu at $19. You can also order higher priced specials, but the choice is yours. http://www.jamcafe.net

    Reply

  2. Most diners aren't idiots and most restaurants aren't "tricking" you. The average restaurant in Ontario makes a profit of 3%, so you get the idea.

    Yes, I own a small bistro and we try to attract people with value instead of tricks. So our wine list starts at $22 a bottle and we offer a fixed price 3-course meal at $19. We also have specials at higher prices, but the choice is yours. Check out what customers are saying… JAMcafe on TripAdvisor.com

    Reply

    • I'm inclined to agree with you Joe – running a restaurant business isn't easy, and margins are slim. Why not try and make as much money as possible! It's the onus of the consumer to spend wisely, it's your job to get them to spend more!

      Reply

  3. watch out for the % button for tips its on top of the taxes,better to give 15% on the before tax total.

    Reply

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