The unwritten rule book on how "garçons" from Paris and the rest of France manage to lengthen diners' bills without raising their hackles has been set in stone by the rue89 websitewrites Henry Samuel in a Daily Telegraph post that makes one think of America's Democrats.
In an article headlined: "Seven serving tips to increase the bill", rue89 claims that waiters or waitresses are taught skills such as [employing] closed questions like: "Will you have an aperitif or move straight onto wine?", steering customers away from cheaper options like free water.
Among the more subtle techniques is that of listing wines from cheap to expensive, such as "Sauvignon, Chardonnay or Chablis?" as customers tend to remember the last wine mentioned and don't dare to ask for a waiter to repeat the list.
One golden rule is never to place bread on the table before an order, as diners are likely to get full too fast for several dishes. "My boss wants me to give it after bringing the dish, even if it means forgetting it entirely so customers will be hungry for dessert," Romain, one waiter in Montparnasse told the website.
… An old trick to pull in a bigger tip is to cheerily inquire whether "everything is OK?" when collecting the credit card or ensuring there is plenty of small change instead of a banknote in case of a cash payment.
Sylvain, a waiter interviewed by rue89, said he always recalls advice from a manager at the Costes restaurant group, who told him: "Waiters are here to screw the clients, not physically but by taking his money."
"Everything is codified, thought out down to the smallest details to sell the most products."
But Aurélie Viry, a teacher with AV-Conseil, which offers catering and hostelry courses, said there was more to the art of serving than simply taking orders.
"Everything that can be sold means more profits. It's all about how it's proposed. We're not forcing the customer, who can always say no," she said.
Above all, the customer must associate the experience with pleasure, she said. "Hence, you must say: 'Would another coffee give you pleasure?' rather than "No more coffees?" she said.