How Restaurants Can Trick You Into Spending

Last week we mentioned that restaurants are use inventive marketing and aggressive selling strategies to try and get their guests to spend more money. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t great deals out there, but to stick with your food budget, you need to weed through the slick promotions. Here are two other strategic techniques used commonly by businesses in the food and service industry:

  • Fake Specials – Many restaurants offer a “daily special” offering food that is only available for a limited time. This is a great way for them to push high-profit items with the impression of giving their guests a discount. Sometimes these deals are worth it but be wary and check the regular menu to see if the “special” price is actually less than the regular price. Sometimes restaurants trick their guests into thinking it is discounted because it is “the special” but there really may be no discount.
  • Salty Snacks – This technique is typically seen in bars but they are sometimes used in restaurants as well. They offer you complimentary snacks that are extremely high in sodium, like popcorn, pretzels, chips, and peanuts, because of the dehydrating effect. Eating these free snacks will force their guests to spend more on beverages to ease their growing amount of thirst. To avoid this, order a glass of water along with your beverage so that you can keep hydrated without increasing your tab.

For the entire article on common ways restaurants get you to spend, visit

14 thoughts on “How Restaurants Can Trick You Into Spending

  1. After reading this article I think I’ll definitely be more conscious of the daily “special” prices. I never thought about how salty chips or other appetizers could make your bill more expensive, but I think it’s certainly something to be more aware of next time I eat out.

  2. This article is very useful especially to the busy college student. Most college students are in such a hurry to get school work done that they resort to eating out a lot, but articles like this will show them that not all restaurants are being truthful with their “specials”. It is true that some places only want to make money off of students by trying to trick them into spending the same amount of money on one “special” meal that they would any other regular one.

  3. I am glad i read these helpful restaurant money saving tips. I have never checked to see if the special prices were the same as the regular prices. I will check to see if they are different from now on. I do recognize that some restaurants push certain items on the menu to make more money. I am going to be more conscious of these things when eating at a restaurant.

  4. After this article, I will be saving a few dollars every time I eat out. It reminded me of how marketing can pull one in to think that they are getting a deal. I learned a while back that menus are made to draw people’s eyes to the more expensive and more profitable items that the restaurant makes. Now I know about their “specials” trick. Another thing that I have started to do is just order water instead of a soda. This easily saves me a couple bucks, and I am healthier for it.

  5. This article can definitely help with saving money because I eat out a lot. I never thought about specials at restaurants not really being “specials” . I used to waitress at a restaurant and when we had specials they were only 1 or 2 dollars less than the regular menu. Paying more for food helps the waiters because the more you pay the bigger the tip is causing the customer to spend more money. The next time i go out to eat i will consider these tips.

  6. I have been trapped into these restaurant schemes before. These tips will sure keep me from buying the “special” without checking the menu and price. I will stay away from the mixed nuts at a bar as well. It will help me control my spending money and allow me to stay on the budget that I plan.

  7. These tips are very important to raise awareness for people that are on the go and eat out very often. Daily specials are common in all restaurants; being aware of what theses specials and the prices of them compared to the regular menu can help someone figure out the cheaper method if they are on a budget.

  8. I am glad I came across this. When I go out to eat, if they have a “special,” I always look for it because I think of cheap. Once I order the special, i realize that it is only actually a couple dollars less than something else on the menu and the portion size is a lot smaller. From here on, I will look through the menu and compare prices and the amount of food that I will get. As far as drinks at restaurants, I always order water, partly because I don’t really drink sodas and partly because it’s free! Next time I am eating out, I will definitely remember these tricks that restaurants use to benefit themselves instead of the customer.

  9. This is a very relevant article for a college student like myself. I go out to eat with my friends all the time. When I see the word “special” I automatically think of discount. But this article has brought to my attention that “special” does not always mean it is being served at a lower price. From now on, I will check to see if the prices are the same or not. Thank you!

  10. I have considered that restaurants do this beforehand, but reading this article makes me more conscious to comparing prices before I fall for the “special”. It is a shame that businesses do this to people, but you have to remember that it is, unfortunately, only about earning money for them! Ordering water is a great alternative regardless because it saves you a few more dollars when you are on a budget. I have never thought about the use of salty snacks in this way before though. In addition to this, cokes dehydrate you on their own, so it is only making the effects of salty snacks worse.

  11. I find this to be very true to life. I have worked as a server at a few restaurants where we push “daily or chef specials” that really are just items we need to move in order to decrease inventory. No cut in price is offered, only an embellished named distinguishes it from it’s counterpart on the menu. However, the “salty snack” trick may be a slippery slope. Some restaurants offer free refills, and may be filling the guests up before their actual meal. Regardless, I see how one must be wary of service industry gimmicks. Thanks for the info.

  12. I always order the “daily special” at restaraunts because I thought it was a special price. Now, I know that I need to compare it with the menu. Also, now I get why restaraunts give you numerous amounts of peanuts before your meal comes. Thankyou for the helpful tips I will be sure to use them in future purchases.

  13. This article definitely brings out the money making techniques used by all restaraunts and food business. I’m glad that I read these tips. I will definitely read the menu more thoroughly in the future to find the better deal on a meal.

  14. Before I read this article, I had never double checked the “special” prices at restaurants. This post further enlightened me of the importance of making sure that the restaurant is being completely honest with their prices. This is something I will definitely use in the future.

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