News and Reaction

Café Notes: No Cash Register

I have long felt that it would be sensible for retail service outlets to round prices to the quarter, and account for sales tax: just like every bar I have been to! Well, it appears that at least in Canada, there’s one place that does just that, and then takes it a step further:

When Bergen and his partners first started discussing the concept of the City Café Bakery, Bergen was more interested in how things would be done at the business . . . will you [not] see a cash register in the bakery. Instead, customers add up how much they owe themselves and drop their money into a fare box from an old bus.

“I liked the idea of simplifying things and … the honour system made a whole lot of sense,” Bergen says. “What irritated me about going into Tim Hortons, for example, was waiting in line for something as simple as getting a donut and a coffee. So the thought was, someone can pour his own coffee, grab his own bagel, cut it himself, throw the money in, and walk out. We don’t touch 60 per cent of the transaction.”

The article says they have only once come up short, and they have had to kick out the occasional deadbeat jerk, but that in fact plenty of people tend to overpay a bit if they want to get in and out and don’t want to bother asking for change.

I have noticed as well, at the local Irish bar in my neighborhood, regulars pay by piling money down in front of them at the bar, and the barkeep leaves it there until it is time to settle up the bill.

(Thanks for the tip, Jason.)

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