At the risk of the graphic conflating two related issues, this site was delighted to learn of the confidence of Mission Sydney of New South Wales, Australia. They have recently instituted a refund policy that roughly runs: play first, pay later, but only if you thought it was worth it. Specifically:
(…)you can pay after playing or even decline to pay if you think it is not fun or doesn’t worth that price.
We believe most of our customers are honest, if we can not put exciting and amazing on your face, it would be our fault and you could simply decline to pay us.
The meaning is clear. Different businesses have tried this in the past, with mixed results. There’s always the theory that someone might go in, have a great time, then come out, claim to have had a terrible time and not pay. In practice, if the product is good, it seems to take someone really pretty sociopathic to actually pull that stunt off. Later on they say “Words can lie, but face can’t”, and that gets to the crux of the issue; if the game and service are good enough, then it would take a real piece of work to try to freeload. It’s not as if pieces of work cannot try to freeload as it is, so giving one very obvious freeloading route may not actually make that much difference.
Many locations, when they open, find it difficult to fill their rooms for the first month or two, some rather longer still. While this is probably more about the effectiveness of their marketing than anything else, implementing such a “pay only if you like it” scheme for the first month or two – particularly to an area unfamiliar with quite how much fun exit games can be – might be an amazing, effective publicity stunt to get the word out about your site with a bang. (The word of mouth would surely be brilliant…)
There have been plenty of studies into “Pay What You Want” as a pricing strategy, which is a related but slightly different issue. (Sidenote: in practice, do people ever tip, or alternatively pay above the stated ticket price, if they have had a particularly good time? Does this vary from country to country in line with other tipping practices?) There are some circumstances under which it works well, and others where it doesn’t. There are no obvious conclusions to be drawn, but it’s becoming more popular. Again, the first location with sufficient confidence in their product to give it a try – even if only as an introductory gimmick – would surely cause quite a splash. Even if the theory doesn’t work out and the policy is quickly withdrawn, you’ve got to give immense respect to a company who tried it.
This site lauds Mission Sydney for their chutzpah and looks forward to being able to do the same for a UK site – or several UK sites! – some day.