China restaurant's pay-what-you-want policy backfires as some customers pay as low as 1 yuan for meals

Restaurant owner Liu Xiaojun had been banking on diners to pay what was fair when he introduced a pay-what-you-want promotion. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM THEPAPER.CN

A newly opened restaurant in China racked up losses of 100,000 yuan (S$20,600) during its first week of operation, after its policy of allowing customers to pay what they wanted for their meals backfired spectacularly.

The music-themed eatery in Guiyang, the capital city of Guizhou province, had introduced a pay-what-you-want promotion to mark its opening on Oct 2, reported Shanghaiist.

But while its dishes got the thumbs up from customers, the restaurant's owners were left to rue the cost of their risky initiative.

Some diners reportedly paid only 10 per cent of the bill, while others had no qualms leaving just 1 yuan (20 Singapore cents) on the table after eating.

Speaking to, one of the restaurant's owners, Liu Xiaojun, said the feedback he had received from customers was that the food was both filling and tasty.

"It's just that the payments don't match up with the evaluations," he lamented.

Mr Liu's relationship with the restaurant's two other owners have since gone sour after they argued over the decision to "believe in the inherent goodness of human beings".

He added that they had been banking on the majority of diners to do the right thing and pay what was fair.

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