Smartphone Obsession Can Cost You...Dinner

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Smart phones and dinner conversation
Can't bear to let go of your smartphone? It'll cost you.

Last week, it was widely reported that Eva Restaurant, a small eatery in Los Angeles, is offering customers a 5% discount for handing over their cell phones before dining.

According to the Associated Press, owner Mark Gold says about half of his customers take him up on the offer.

"We just want people to connect again," he told Fox News. "It's eliminating one more distraction from the dinner experience."

Gold isn't the first restaurateur to tackle the issue of distracting cell phone use. Darren Groom, who owns a coffee shop in Norwich, England, attracted media attention when he put up a sign in front of his register, reading: "Sorry we are unable to serve you if you are on the phone. Thank You."

But Groom isn't anti-cell phone. He just enjoys making a personal connection with his customers. "I only did it because when customers come in it is nice to greet them and there is better interaction for myself and staff," Groom told EDP24.

Both owners say that the responses from their customers have been nothing but positive.

In food establishments that don't have explicit cell phone policies (i.e., most of them), some diners have taken it upon themselves to incentivize putting away their phone during meal time.

In January, Brian Perez, a hip hop dancer in California, introduced to the world the game of "Don't Be a D**k During Meals." The basic idea is as follows:
  1. Each diner places his or her phone face down on the table.
  2. The first person to crack and look at their phone loses and has to pay the check.
  3. If no one looks at their phone before the check is delivered, everyone wins and pays their own way.
Even as some restaurants and people actively try to curb the use of cell phones, others actually encourage it. During New York City's Restaurant Week, patrons who connected their Foursquare accounts with their American Express cards could knock five dollars off their bills when checking into the restaurant on the popular social network. Other apps like Groupon, Living Social, ScoutMob, and LevelUp also encourage diners to use their phones to claim discounts while eating out.

What do you think? Should people make a concerted effort not to use their phones while eating out? Or is it OK as long as it's not too disruptive? Let us know in the comments! Or tweet us @daily_finance.

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24 Comments

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VIPRLARES

Beware, that 5% discount may cost you more if you release your Smartphone. With so many people using their Smartphone to pay their bills, keeping all their personal information on these electronic devices, you need to make sure that you don't fall short when you hand your phones to your restaurant staff. It’s better to turn off your electronic devices and keep them in your pocket instead.

August 23 2012 at 9:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lindy

I'm in sales....if someone is on their phone and comes into my store, I don't greet them. I am a commissioned sales person and my time is money. Most often the person who holds up a finger if you start to approach them on the phone is the first person to complain they weren't waited on. I don't have time for some rude person to conduct business while I lose business to another salesperson.

August 23 2012 at 6:05 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Patricia,,,,,

Old news....

August 23 2012 at 6:02 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
hello dolly

Actually, msm, I do not have to justify anything. It is America and my bill of rights that justify my freedom of speech. That being said, perhaps the person calling me is the one who has something important to say and it cannot wait. And if I happen to be on the phone while out having dinner, it would not be to tell that person what it is I am eating. Most of the time, I do not talk on the phone while eating because it is not very convenient to try to cut a piece of steak while balancing a phone on my shoulder, but if i choose to, it is no business of yours to tell me I cannot or that it is rude. If you don't like it, don't look at me on the phone. The level of speech I use is the same as if I were talking to someone with me at the table so there is no valid complaint about the noise there. And I am NOT someone who spends a lot of time on my phone - I prefer personal interactions. However, I will not complain about other people who are glued to their phones and talk in restaurants. A conversation at dinner is a conversation at dinner whether or not two people are present at the table or over the phone. Maybe it is you who has the pathetic life and no one to talk to, or who cares enough, and that is why you feel the need to insult my life based off of an assumption you make about a someone you know nothing about. As long as a person is not being so loud that you cannot hear your own conversation, it should not make a difference. People can be even louder and more obnixious without a phone - just give them a few glasses of wine and the volume goes through the roof. Now that would be disruptive to my dinner, not a person minding their own business talking on a phone.

August 23 2012 at 5:30 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
Elkhartoldie

Seems some people aren't smart enough to display good manners. When I dine with someone, my phone is turned off -- that's right -- off. I owe the person -- or people -- I'm dining with the courtesy of my attention. My husband and I just commented on this problem after a breakfast this morning. We meet with a group of people once a month for breakfast and today noticed that not a single person checked their cell phone during the 1-1/2 hrs we were together. One of my pet peeves are the people who can't shop without the phone glued to their face. Today it seems to be a game of "just how rude can you be". So sad for the younger generation. Guess our parents cared enough to instill a few manners during our formative years.

August 23 2012 at 5:27 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
crrunch

Unless you're a fireman on call or something of that nature, I see no reason to be on a phone in a restaurant or at a checkout to name just a couple. Tho phones have given us 24/7 connection, it's disconnected us more than anything else from where we are (falling in a fountain - in a car) and who we're with (shoppers - ever had a full body block from someone not looking where they're going? - a room full of diners, be it Maxim's or McD's). Sad piece of social commentary.

August 23 2012 at 4:42 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
msm33vnl

No hello dolly, it's not the same thing at all. You're obviously someone who spends A LOT of time on the phone, and you're trying to justify your inconsiderate behavior in public, and it's not working. I'd love to hear your conversation with someone who's not with you at a restaurant, and what is so important that you feel you just had to talk to them. Do you need to be telling someone whose elsewhere what you are having for dinner? Is their life that much more pathetic than yours that they care, and they have nothing better to do at the moment?

August 23 2012 at 3:48 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
movielover1958

I don't have a cellphone. OK. Don't everyone have heart failure at one time. I still have a landline in my home, and am perfectly happy leaving home without a techno-ambilical cord attached to my ear. I like looking at what's going on around me, speaking to people who have faces I can see, and actually smiling at other people I come in contact with. I have NOTHING that is important enough to make me want to stop "smelling the roses along the way." Life's too short to be tied to a cyber phone cord. If you want to call me, wait until I'm at home. If I'm not at home often enough to suit you.... oh well, leave a message and I'll have my machine contact your machine. As for business calls..... Hmmm, that's a toughie. Wonder how mankind ever progressed this far without the continued and annoying use of cell phones. That said, I do see that they can be a godsend during a serious emergency, but really...... How many daily life-threatening emergencies does a person have? Try talking to your server at a restaurant, or even the person at the next table. You might be surprised at the reasons they can give you to smile, laugh, and even pause for thought.

August 23 2012 at 3:42 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
hello dolly

So when two people are out dining (or out shopping or where ever), should they not talk to each other? Why is it so much more of a disturbance to people nearby if it is only a one sided conversation you get to eavesdrop on? The only people who should see a problem with it are the people with the horrible phone talker, otherwise, it is the same as being next to people who are talking to each other. I am sure all of you people complaining about phone conversations at dinner are not sitting quietly with your dinner mate - I am sure you are engaged in conversation. It is the same thing except you don't get to hear both sides of a conversation. You are within earshot of any conversation be it on a phone or between two people face to face. Get over it. People like to converse and it should be no different to strangers who are not at their table whether the conversation is on a phone or not. Is it rude because you cannot be a complete busy body and hear the whole conversation? It should be deemed just as rude if my friend and I are talking to each at the table at dinner as if one person was on the phone having a conversation because you will hear either just the same. So - there should be no talking allowed whatsoever out in public... period.

August 23 2012 at 3:20 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to hello dolly's comment
Lindy

I don't agree...my daughter and I sat next to someone in an upscale eatery last week. He was on the phone the whole time, conducting some sort of business, loudly....it is a fact that people do not use restaurant voices on the phone. If fact he seemed to be loudly posturing for the two young females he was with. Obnoxious behavior, I know everything about the business he was conducting for the day, he knew nothing my daughter and I were discussing.

August 23 2012 at 6:11 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Lindy's comment
mrtaxattorney

Because most cellphone yakers YELL into their phones about 5 times as loud as they normally talk!!

August 23 2012 at 7:55 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down
T

good! more businesses and parents should do it, if the user doesn't know when to turn it off. it's just rude, and don't even get me started on the movie-texters!!!

August 23 2012 at 3:07 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply