Food: Restaurant: Service
Advertising through Waitstaff   (+5, -1)  [vote for, against]
advertising with a mint

About half of all restaurant bills are paid with credit or debit cards, requiring a signature.

A signature requires a pen.

A business that wishes to advertize itself or a new service simply pays a restaurant to use their pens and only their pens in little black folder when the bill is presented.

First-time customers at this particular business could be randomly polled to see how they found out about this particular business or service - for example, "Chez shapu." Restaurants with higher rates of cross-references would qualify for bonuses, and eventually this leads to a free-agency mentality among restaurants and thus higher initial contracts, possibly resulting in lower food prices or higher pay to employees, or both.
-- shapu, Jun 11 2006

Would be a good idea for anything that you might want to use right after a meal - a taxi service, ice cream place, espresso bar or the like.
-- jutta, Jun 11 2006

i'm glad it's not wearable billboards for the waitstaff. that would ruin the atmosphere of the dining experience.
-- tcarson, Jun 11 2006

Great Idea! Expanding on [jutta]'s comment, I wonder if taxi services could get their name printed on the martini glasses?
-- Zimmy, Jun 11 2006

/About half of all restaurant bills are paid with credit or debit cards, requiring a signature./

You guys don't have PINs?
-- Texticle, Jun 11 2006

[jutta]: I agree, labeling it as pseudo-viral was a bit of a misnomer.

[Texticle]: We do have those sorts of things in the states, but most restaurants don't bring a PINpad to your table when you pay. This is more of a sit-down restaurant kind of thing, as opposed to fast food.
-- shapu, Jun 12 2006

Fascinating. So you pay while remaining seated? What do you do after that? Sit around for "free" for a while longer?

I thought paying on the way out was the norm.
-- Texticle, Jun 12 2006

Yeah, you finish your conversation or your cup of tea. If everything works out, the waitstaff doesn't have to hurry, and you don't have to hurry. Yay pipelining! In my parts of the world, of the places that don't bring the check to a seated patron, slightly more are pay-as-you-order than pay-as-you-leave.
-- jutta, Jun 12 2006

Waiter! I didn't order the spam! [-]
-- pertinax, Jun 12 2006

Almost all restuarants that are worth dates to (so that excludes fast food, curry houses and other generic-cuisine places) bring the bill to the table and allow you to finish your coffee before you leave. Paying on the way out is generally reserved for places that want you out quicker.

Good idea on the pens though.
-- miasere, Jun 12 2006

Alternatively, with many city restaurants using wireless PIN devices, these machines could be sponsored by the same firms.
-- Jinbish, Jun 12 2006

I think pay-at-table vs. pay-on-way-out is a cultural difference, and not necessarily a swankiness difference. I've only paid at the table when abroad, and most of those times were in "sensibly priced" restaurants.
-- Texticle, Jun 12 2006

I would go as far to say that most restaurants in the UK (using my neck of the woods as a guide) use the wireless system - unless it is pub type food where you pay at the bar. So I agree - it's not a swankiness thing, it's simply a cultural implementation of chip&PIN.
-- Jinbish, Jun 12 2006

I run a restaurant, and we use random pens...currently, we use pens from a neighborhood hotel, a Speeddating organization, pens from a family reunion in 2004, and pens from some animal doctor.

No one has ever asked about the pens, which may indicate that the average customer (at least the average USA customer) doesn't care enoough to notice.

Since I don't like to dole out fishbones (because all ideas are probably good in SOME way...I hope), I will award you with this --- an undercooked fish-stick sandwich
-- sleeka, Jun 12 2006

Maybe you should go to the hotel management and try to implement this? I'd be interested in hearing how it goes.
-- shapu, Jun 12 2006

Bun just for providing pens to the waitstaff instead of making them supply their own. (which get taken by the customers, and have to be replaced.)
-- Galbinus_Caeli, Jun 13 2006

What if the pen had a hi-intensity LED attached to a pressure-sensitive pad so that when the person started writing, it would (through an el cheapo small plastic lens) throw an image of the advertising on the customer's writing area? Can't miss advertising. The advertising is not user-changeable, thus keeping theft to a minimum. If someone still takes it for the novelty aspect, the person has just walked off with your advertising, which is not bad in itself.
-- maheshvv, Mar 26 2007

random, halfbakery