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So You Think I’m Stupid?

04/12/2012

I ordered a coke light (= diet coke) yesterday night in the hotel restaurant in Helsinki. But what they gave me was a glass with a liquid that had more affinity with tar syrup diluted with swimming pool water than with a genuine coke. So I let the waitress know about my dissatisfaction, and my strong suspicion that they had not served me a real coke.

To my surprise the waitress acknowledged this immediately, and she said she would get me a real coke from a bottle. Which she did.

What annoys me most is not that a restaurant is trying to charge me the price of a quality product, while serving something that tastes like the excrement of a dishwasher. What annoys me most is that they assume I’m too stupid to notice.

Now I wonder, what are the extra profits from selling substandard products at a premium price? And what is the total loss incurred when some customers vow never to eat or drink there again? Are they being stupid? Or are they being smart?

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This article is written by on in Life & Work. Jurgen Appelo is at Happy Melly. Connect with Jurgen Appelo on .

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  • http://www.industriallogic.com/ Ingmar van Dijk

    They are not thinking that you are too stupid to notice. I guess they think you are not going to complain because you are a too nice person. At least that’s what they hope.
    They are going to have a low rate of returning customers, but if they are in a location where many tourists visit, that won’t be a problem for them.
    This strategy only works for products that people can buy for a small amount of money. Check most of the AppStore applications… You are not going to complain if a €0,79 app sucks.

  • Anto Jurkovic

    You should thank her because she was taking care of your health. How could you connect quality product and a coke? Just kidding. A little.
    Maybe she has just forgot what you have been ordered.
    Or she was just trying to make her month salary little improved with small differences on prices. I had similar experience at highway restaurant: a waiter was serving home made juice in small bottles of brand which I ordered. But he brought the bottle to the table without a stopper.
    From one liter of syrup (which is cheap) you can make approximately 10 liters of juice. That is 50 bottles of 2 dcl. So you can actually sell a watter for one, two, three… euros. And on places where is lot of traffic like a highway restaurant, the profit could be huge at the end of month.

  • John Farges

    Well… I have to say that there is enough mistake in drinking Light Coke alone. It pretends to be a healthier soda, but it actually has a lot more salt and chemicals, so it’s really, really bad for you. And you still drink it. So if you’re stupid enough to drink it, why assume you would notice a difference?

  • http://profile.typepad.com/jurgenappelo Jurgen Appelo

    Wow, thank you so much for that unsollicited feedback on my (lack of) ability to take care of my health.

  • Paul Dolman-Darrall

    Always interesting, anytime Coke is the subject. Out come the diet police – as if it is the only evil product in our diet.
    I would stop going to a place because of its failure to serve ‘the real thing’ and have. Additionally people will pay a premium for coke bottle served drinks – so there is profit in quality as well.
    Additionally, I tend to think if they are prepared to work out how to gain such few pennies from you, where else are they doing it?
    Diet coke also has a lower sodium level, though does contain chemicals

  • Mendelt Siebenga

    That’s an interesting problem with most cost-saving measures. The upside (lower cost) is easy to predict and easy to measure once you’ve implemented it. The downside, in this case dissatisfied customers, is impossible to predict and hard to measure so the downside is often ignored.
    In this case someone decided his local goals, making the financial numbers for his piece of the organization look better, was more important than the global goals. Making customers happier so they come back I think it’s an example of one of the hardest problems in big organizations. How can you make people act to optimize the whole instead of just their small piece of the organization.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/ltymoszczuk LTymoszczuk

    Maybe there are always sell that semi-coke. Clients (more or less) buy it and come back, so losing minor amount of clients does not touch there business at all.

  • http://nindev.se Alex Hallberg

    It’s not that unusal that you order a coke and gets something with the taste of cola. For example, if you order a Redbull it means you order “some kind of vodka with some kind of energydrink” Or like you order a glass of red wine in a restaurant. They just give you something they have standing there.
    I think this is very common in the restaurant business since not many people complain about it. I really don’t think they deliberitely tried to fool you or that they think their customers are too stupid to notice. It’s just the way things are done and since nobody seems to care anyway they don’t bother to change it.