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Free Dining: 5 Ways to Eat Out for Free! Print E-mail
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Food - Restaurants
Written by livecheap staff   
Thursday, 21 January 2010 00:43
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You'vEat for Freee probably all read your fair share of articles on how to trim back the cost of dining out using coupons - showing up for the early bird special - bypassing the Boston cream pie and bringing your own bottle of wine. But when all is said and done, nothing beats a free meal.  Think it is impossible, read these 5 ways to fill your stomach with free restaurant food.


Mystery Shopper:

Mystery shopping started in the retail industry as a way of giving national chains feedback on the quality of the service at their branch stores.  But restaurants also need the same sort of feedback on the quality of the food and service and cleanliness of their facilities.  The best way to get this kind of gig is to approach a restaurant chain that you like and inquire about whether it has a mystery program.  We fell into mystery shopping by accident, the result of a bad service experience.  Although we didn't get paid to dine, we did get several large dollar gift certificates that fed us plenty in exchange for giving back a ten minute evaluation.    Some of the national chains will advertise in classifieds and you might get two free meals a month and get paid a little bit of money.  Great if you like the restaurant.

Beware of scams.  There is a good resource at the FTC's website that gives you the ins-and-outs of mystery shopping and what to be wary of.  As a general rule, anyone who solicits you in exchange for money is probably trying to scam you.

Become a Food Critic:

In the age of Yelp, food critics aren't the end-all and be-all that they used to be but they still get nice perks.  For one, their food should be paid for by their newspaper or magazine.  Although food critics are not supposed to accept free meals, it happens all the time.  Even when a restaurant lets a critic pay for a meal, it usually is heavily discounted.  We were fortunate to be a first hand witness to this in a five star eating establishment in Los Angeles where  a food critic got the royal treatment and only paid the tip.  So write a few restaurant reviews for your local paper, print a business card that identifies you as food critic and see what happens next time you show up at your favorite dining establishment.


Work: Load Up on Free Meals

You don't have to work for Google to score a free meal from your employer.  Many businesses offer free meals for those who work late, work through lunch or just do a great job.  Even if you aren't a road warrior, you can take advantage of some of these perks.  If you are working late and earning overtime, you can score twice.  Time and a half for the hours worked and a free meal which might be worth as much as another 45 minutes of working (remember, if you have to buy that meal on your dime, it is after taxes).

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Michelle  - Ugh |2012-01-13 20:55:34
I really really hate some of the ideas that Americans have come up with as of late. I don't understand this sense of entitlement and why everyone is always looking for something free when it's not deserved. As a previous server (we are SERVERS, NOT WAITERS OR WAITRESSES) and bartender, I cannot begin to count how many customers I have experienced that will complain about something only to get it for free. If there is a genuine complaint about your food or experience, then fine. Please tell your server or manager so that we may fix it. But DO NOT look for stupid, petty complaints only to insist that you get your food for free! You are receiving food, atmosphere, service, and experience and YOU SHOULD PAY FOR IT! This whole idea that "I am going to sit here and eat this entire meal only to complain about it so that I can get it for free", is ANNOYING! Servers work very very hard for very little to no pay from their employees and depend solely on the tips that customers leave them and THEN have to tip out to other coworkers so they actually only go home with 60-70% of their tipped wages.

I used to work at a high end steak restaurant and had a guest order a steak Medium Rare. He complained that the steak was overcooked. Fair enough. We cook him a brand new steak and upon bringing it to him and apologizing for our mistake, he insists that we comp his steak off of his check. Ok sir, whatever it takes to make you happy. After comping the steak, he demands that we BRING HIM A BOX TO TAKE THE WRONG STEAK HOME WITH HIM SO HE CAN ENJOY IT FOR LUNCH THE NEXT DAY! Are you kidding me???!?! So now you get TWO STEAKS FOR FREE!? No. We made a mistake, we corrected our mistake. You have two options. You take the correct steak and we comp it for you. Or you take both steaks and pay for one of them! Why in the hell should you get both?!? I'll tell you why! Because you're greedy and think that you are entitled to whatever you ask for because restaurants and their managers have trained the public that if they complain, its free! I have seen people complain about the DUMBEST THINGS just to get their meals for free!

Another thing. Please please please! If you look at a menu, read a description, and choose to order a particular item - DON'T COMPLAIN AND SEND IT BACK IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT! If the description says the pasta contains mushrooms and you order the pasta dish, don't return it because you don't like mushrooms! The menu gave you a fair warning that there are...
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