Coffee Shop Owner Fed Up With Rude Behavior Teaches Value Of Politeness By Pricing Coffee By Kindness

Oct 12, 2021 by apost team

For those of us who have worked in the service industry, we know customers can be, well, just plain rude — even when they do not realize it. Whether it's their tone, their overcomplicated order, or their reluctance to tip, an impolite customer can throw a wrench into someone's otherwise good workday. The fact that service workers have to deal with low wages and a highly stressful work environment just adds insult to injury.

But Austin Simms of Cups Coffee and Tea, located in Roanoke, Virginia's quirky Grandin Village neighborhood, had had enough. For Simms, experience with his own coffee shop has shown that the customer is not always right.

Taking matters into his own hands, he placed a sign outside the cafe in 2016 that not only encouraged customers to say "please" but also charged extra for rude customers who forgot to say at least that magic word.

It seems like manners are in short supply these days, especially in the context of a consumer-business relationship. Many customers are rude not only to the employees but also to the actual business owners.

They have this sense that the customer is always right no matter what happens, even if they act like complete jerks. Things like common courtesy and manners are often unseen in such situations. But Simms wants to put manners back into business transactions.

"I decided, because I need to solve all the injustices of the world, to start charging more for people who didn't take the time to say hello and connect and realize we're all people behind the counter," Austin told WDBJ7 with a little bit of self-deprecation.

Let's have a look at his coffee pricing and how it all came about in greater detail.

Be sure to reach the end of this article to see the full video :-) 

His new sign displayed the cost of a small coffee as $5. So, if the customer walked up to the person serving and simply uttered, "small coffee," they would need to pay $5 for that small coffee. The price of a "small coffee, please" went down to $3.

In other words, a nice please with their request for a small coffee would drop the price by as much as $2. The coffee only cost $1.75 if the person said, "Hello. One small coffee, please." So you can see that the approaches that showed the most manners got the largest discounts. It's sad that this pricing method was seemingly needed. Simple greetings and a 'please' should be something all of us can do, even on days when we are feeling down.

The new strategy certainly inspired some surly folks to rethink their manners, given that the post spread across the world. Simms' pricing idea gained international attention quickly. This was most likely because many people working in the serving industry all over the world were reminded of all the times they had to deal with not quite courteous customers.

A newspaper in England even published an article about Simms' strategy, according to WDBJ7. With so much exposure and media attention, we can hope that at least some customers changed their behavior - and that's a good thing, even if they were just doing it to get discounted coffee. The more you do something, the more accustomed to it you become. So, this little strategy that the business owner used could actually end up causing many people to become more courteous all the time.

The sign that he put out about the coffee ended up spreading across the internet. We can probably look forward to this store owner inspiring others to remember the importance of manners, courtesy and kindness.

Unfortunately, however, it appears that Cups Coffee And Tea went out of business, as Google Maps lists the cafe as permanently closed, and the business hasn't updated its social media account since the summer of 2017. The cafe seems to have been in business in 2019, as Google reviews show, but sometime between then and now, the cozy little coffee shop closed its doors for the final time.

With that said, the lesson Simms taught the world — and his customers — is a perennial one: be polite to service workers. While the customer surely deserves courtesy, the serving staff deserves the very same. And a simple "hello" should be something we can all manage, any day of the month.

What did you think of Austin's actions? Do you agree? Let us know. And tell your neighbors, friends and family members about Austin's message while also reminding them to be polite to service workers everywhere.

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