Do restaurant customers who receive an unreasonably low bill bring it to the server's attention? A field experiment on dishonesty

Yossef Tobol, Erez Siniver, Gideon Yaniv

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Inspired by Azar et al's (2013, 2015) study of customers’ tendency to return excessive change in a restaurant, the present paper reports the results of a field experiment destined to examine restaurant customers’ honesty in a different real-life situation where customers receive an unreasonably low bill. To ensure that customers noticed the error in the bill, the experiment was restricted to single customers who ordered two items only (e.g., coffee and a toasted sandwich), presenting them with a bill from which one item, either the more or the less expensive one, was omitted. A majority of customers (169 out of 278) failed to bring the error to the server's attention. Several factors appeared to have a large effect on the decision of whether to report the bill error. Female customers reported the error in the bill much more often than male customers, customers whose more expensive item was omitted from the bill reported the error twice as often than customers whose less expensive item was omitted, repeated customers (presumably) reported the error much more often than one-time customers and customers who paid with a credit card reported the error much more often than customers who paid in cash. We also consider the possibility that the means of payment is a choice variable determined by the decision of whether or not to bring the error in the bill to the server's attention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102491
JournalJournal of Economic Psychology
Volume90
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.

Keywords

  • Bill error
  • Dishonest behavior
  • Field experiment
  • Restaurant customers

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