A La Tete du Client (Sizing up your clients)


Much has been said about overcharging in Paris businesses (particularly fruit stands, markets and some restaurants), but the other side of the coin is getting charged far less than the listed menu price. This happened to us recently not far from the Champs Elysee of all places. Our friend, Huguette, suggested maybe that the owner had charged us ‘a la tete du client’ (by sizing us up). (We had mentioned that we were locals and we chatted with him for several minutes before his 12:30 rush came in (most people had reserved their seats). Although I won’t give away the name – for fear of creating an onslaught of eager customers hoping for a discount, my point is that nothing regarding business is written in stone in France.
A Norman friend of ours had just the opposite experience. He entered a restaurant dressed in jacket and tie (although in his business as housebuilder, he is normally in jeans and paint speckled t-shirt. He ordered the day’s special and noted that the table next to him was receiving an entree which he hadn’t received for the same special.
The waitress informed him when he questioned her, “But they’re workers!” So the workers received an additional carafe of wine and an entree as part of the meal. Does this mean you should wear you’re tattered jeans to a restaurant and expect a break? No. It just means take some time to smile and be friendly with your server and who knows? Maybe the bill at the end of the meal might be a pleasant surprise.

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