Avoid Overspending At Restaurants By Knowing Their Tricks

Avoid Overspending At Restaurants By Knowing Their Tricks

Eating out can be fun, but it’s easy to splurge and end up with a higher bill than you necessarily expected. Sometimes this is your fault, but sometimes you’re lured in by tricks they pull to get you to spend more. Here are a few of the most common traps and how to avoid them.Photo by Javier Lieva

MSN Money details several ways restaurants try to pull a few extra dollars out of your pocket. For starters, if you’ve ever found that restaurants have made you wait for a table even when there are several, clean tables available, this is for two reasons. First, if you wait you’ll probably be hungrier when you’re actually seated. Second, it gives you a chance to go to the bar and order a drink and/or appetiser while you wait to be seated. Either way, this means more money for the restaurant. Avoid sitting at the bar and mention the empty, clean tables to be seated faster.

Specials are also sometimes fake, in the sense that they’re made from food the restaurant is trying to get rid of (because it’s going to spoil soon) or it’s just an entree you can order on the menu with a fancier name. Special prices are often equal or greater than what you’ll find on the menu, so be sure to search the menu for similar items and compare the price. If you want the special, often times you’ll find a comparable entree for less money on the standard menu.

If a restaurant ever offers you anything for free, don’t take it if it has a high sodium content. Lots of sodium will make you thirsty and that will get you to buy drinks. If you do want to eat the free, salty food, just ask for a water. Not only is it free, but most sodas contain a higher amount of sodium than you may realise.

These are all really simple things to avoid, so as long as you’re aware of them you should have no problem overspending when you eat out.

5 ways restaurants get you to spend [MSN Money]


    • As a regular to dining out in Sydney I have to agree. These tricks are almost inconsequential in a city (or country) where you rarely get shunted to the bar, always get table water and the specials I find are often something new and interesting the chef is trialling out.

      This article just makes me so happy to be eating out in AUstralia.

  • +1 Alan. If your going out for dinner you shouldnt be worried about sodium content making you drink more, which costs more. Go home to bread and water, your in the great depression!

  • Definitely American. This “entree” business dicked me around a bit my first time in the States – over there you have an “appetizer” then an “entree”, where we’d have an “entree” and then a “main”. (Though I wonder if this varies by region?)

  • At least here in Australia we aren’t obligated to give a tip, although if I haven’t had to wait for the waiter too long I will generally give something! I believe in the US you are obliged, and it is calculated on percentage of your meals cost!!

    • The reason your obliged to give a tip in america is that the wait staff are taxed on tips they are assumed to have earnt. So if you don’t tip, they still get taxed for money they never received.

      • Yes I was aware that something like that might be happening, but in OZ we don’t have that problem! Even though wait staff may not be paid enough, they obviously have a better deal than the US!!

      • Things must have changed since I worked for a US restaurant in 2007. We were taxed on our declared tips, not an arbitrary assumed amount. Most of my fellow servers declared less than 5%, whereas the usual tip was more like 10-15%; those sneaky bastards. 🙂

  • When is started reading this article, im thinking, hey maybe we should ask for a discount, when we book a table and were made to wait, or free drinks would be nice, not to be offered to sit at the bar while we wait.

    Always order water at restaurants and never get the specials, too often its food they are just trying to get rid of. It makes perfect sense, instead of it going to waste, why not sell it cheaper,

  • Not really sure why LH insists on running articles like this, which are pretty pointless for Australians. If I wanted majorly US-centric articles, I’d subscribe to the US RSS feed.

      • “Wait at the bar”

        Yep I had that trick played on us once in a tacky steak “restaurant” in Brighton a few years back.

        And like so many US casual dining chains, it failed. Denny’s, Sizzler, Lone Star…didn’t they all make you wait at that bar…and then fail?

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