Intended penalty for bad manners backfires, prompts pub to make drastic change to its beer pricing policy.

Just one month ago, Tokyo pub Konro-ya had the Internet applauding its unorthodox beer pricing system. While customers with the good manners to use the phrase “Excuse me. One beer please,” when talking to their server could get their jug of suds for the low price of 380 yen (US$3.40), less courteous patrons would be charged 500 yen if they commanded “Bring me a beer.” And at the top of the pricing pyramid, customers who simply shouted, “Hey, beer!” (“Oi, nama biru” in Japanese) would get stung for 1,000 yen per glass, more than double polite drinkers.

▼ The viral tweet of Konro-ya’s prices, with large red text reminding everyone that “The customers are not God” and “Our employees are not their slaves.”

But when your menu has similarities to the selling of Catholic indulgences in the Middle Ages, it opens up the possibility that customers won’t react in the most enlightened way. See, from one perspective Konro-ya was tacking on a penalty surcharge for rude customers, but looking at it a different way, you could also say it was selling the right to be brusque with the waiters and waitresses and not feel bad about it. After word got around about Konro-ya’s policy, the restaurant saw a sharp increase in the number of customers ordering with “Hey, beer!”, the exact opposite of the intended effect of the 1,000-yen price.

It’s not clear whether the customers were genuine jerks or simply engaging in what they thought was a little tongue-in-cheek fun. Either way, Konro-ya, citing a desire to reduce employee stress, has done away with making customers order beer at all. Instead, it’s instituted a self-serve beer system, where customers pour their own drafts and can drink all they want for 290 yen per 30 minutes (unlimited wine is also part of the package).

Honestly, it’s a little hard to tell how serious Konro-ya actually is about the whole thing. Even if a customer drinks at the leisurely pace of one beer every 30 minutes, 290 yen is cheaper than even the politest 380-yen beer under the old pricing structure, and it seems like if the restaurant was truly angry at its customers, it wouldn’t be in the mood to economically reward them in any way. Still, the switch to self-service has been made, because if you can’t ask someone for something politely, you’re usually going to have to end up getting it yourself.

Restaurant information
Konro-ya (Iidabashi branch) / コンロ家(飯田橋店)
Address: Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Iidabashi 4-5-6, ECS #6 Building, 1st floor
東京都千代田区飯田橋4-5-6 イーシーエス第6ビル 1F
Open 5:30 p.m.-11;30 p.m. (weekdays), 5 p.m.-11 p.m. (weekends, holidays)

Source: Netatopi via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso