Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bait-and-switch at a restaurant near you

Restaurants (and most businesses) are struggling in the current economy, so promotions seem to be running high to get people in the door. But can these promotions actually keep a customer from coming back?

Recently, my husband and I went to a chain restaurant because they were advertising $5 burgers or chicken sandwiches. It seemed like a pretty good deal seeing as the regular price was around $8-10. I ordered a Coke and my husband ordered a beer. When the check came, I was very surprised. The sandwiches were $5 each, but my Coke was $2.80 and the beer was $2. A Coke costing more than a beer? Obviously, I felt ripped off. I've never had a soft drink cost more than 50% of the entree price!

Things like this seem to be happening all too frequently. In a recent casual dining study by Intellaprice (a market analysis company), side dish prices are up 8%, desserts 7%, and bar beverages 2%.

casual dining article

As a customer, are these bait-and-switch tactics leaving a bad taste in your mouth? As a restaurant owner, have you raised your prices on "extras"? How do you keep customers coming back after promotions?

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