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It would appear that upscale restaurants may have been inadvertently pulling a fast one on consumers for years. A recent study conducted by The Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University determined that, “contrary to expectations, guests given [a] numeral-only menu spent significantly more than those who received a menu with prices showing a dollar sign or those whose menus had prices written out in words.” Basically, a number without a dollar sign attached to it seems to be less meaningful to the consumer, and helps them spend above and beyond their usual limits.

The survey concedes the findings might not hold true for all restaurants, but it does conclusively determine a restaurant’s menu format can have a significant impact on customer spending. So, be careful the next time you come across a fancy looking menu with an unusual way of displaying the price — they might be trying to get more money than you’d care to spend.

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