Common practice in Brazil, in some bakeries and restaurants it is possible to pay only after you've finished your meal. Learn more about this Brazilian habit in this article.
Brazil has some aspects that greatly differ from the other countries'. The Brazilian culture, like any culture in the world, can cause a culture shock to foreigners who go to the country without previously knowing some of the habits of the people.
Besides our different breakfasts, lunches and dinners, there is another matter which is pretty unique in Brazil: in some places, when in lunch or dinner time, it is possible to eat first, and then pay for what you've eaten, even when there is no table service. This is a habit that can cause strangeness for newcomers, since it appears that Brazil is one of the few places in the world with this mechanism of paying after you've finished eating in establishments where you help yourself at the table.
Eating and (then) Paying
What happens is that, in Brazil, the food services vary according to the restaurant chosen. It is usual to have counter service, when you order drinks and foods directly at the counter. In this form, the person receives a piece of paper, in which the cost of what is being consumed will be written down, or a card with a bar code, in which the cost is stored. This paper or card, also known as ticket, is received either upon arrival, when people place their orders or when they weigh the food in self service buffet restaurants. Then, after the food is finished, the total amount consumed is paid to a cashier.
Brazilians usually pay after their meal is finished when there is no table services – in other words, when there are no waiters in the establishment and the own people help themselves. In this way, people can eat and drink without previously having to go to the cashier to make their requests.
Pros and Cons
This system is very common in bakeries and lunch places. In the paper or card given to the consumer, it is registered all the consumption you had during the time you stayed at the establishment. On the one hand, they are very practical: people don't need to get in queues (another Brazilian habit) each time they want to order a drink or a food – they can only order whatever they want at any time and have the cost established, to pay for everything in the end.
Snack bars, some restaurants and nightclubs also joined the system. Besides being more efficient in terms of serving food, it is also better when it comes to eating or drinking, because the meal or the drink can be consumed as soon as possible if you don't have to get in a long queue to pay for it and then get it.
On the other hand, there must be a strict control so that the establishment is not jeopardized by people who eventually try to leave without paying – although these are isolated cases and most people are honest enough to pay for what they've consumed.
Usually the cashiers and the cash registers stay right beside the exit doors. In some places there is an anti-theft system there, as well, or a person who controls the exit and only allows you to leave after you presented some kind of paper proving that you've paid. Another problem faced in places with this service is that, sometimes, there are few cashiers compared to the size of the establishment and the number of people that it is able to contain, which can cause a long queues and long waits until the payment is done.
Check Your Bill
Before paying, check your paper or card to see if all the items consumed were registered and if there isn't something extra registered or anything missing. Sometimes the number of people in the establishment is so big and people are in such a hurry that the servers can get confused and register some products wrongly.
Take Care of Your Ticket!
It is important to mention that you must take well care of your paper or card, because losing them may cause you trouble at the cashier. Even though it is illegal, many places charge high penalties claiming that people may lose their tickets intentionally.
According to the Brazilian Consumer Defense Institute, known as Procon, people can refuse to pay the fees and, if their exit is hampered, they can request in the Justice system a compensation for moral damages. However, unless you want to call the police or hire a lawyer to try to get your money back, the best you can do if that happens to you is to try to negotiate a smaller penalty fee.