Pay as you feel. A story of trust from Iceland!

Hafnarfjörður, Iceland. Don’t get boggled by the name. It’s a nice town to the south of Reykjavik. The thing is that one of the town’s admittedly best cafesPallett, has decided to rely on people’s trust and fairness, to run their business. They introduced the “pay as you feel” model as a way to give back to society.

How does that sound to you? Instead of charging what you believe is right for the product or service you sell, you let your customers decide. It is all about trust. And trust in the Nordics is something deeply ingrained in their everyday life and society. But can trust really work? How easy is it to trust people you don’t know? How the Nordic people managed to do it and what lessons can we learn?

What’s the price?

Well, you don’t know the price. You order your coffee and food and when it is time to pay, you“pay as you feel”. What you believe is a fair price for the quantity and quality of your orders. This initiative is valid Monday to Friday from 8 in the morning to midday at 12. Some people pay more, some people may even pay less. But at the end of the day, it is the total balance that counts.

The owners say they did not do it, in the belief that their customers would pay more than the regular prices. Money is not behind this. They wanted to contribute back to the local community that has supported them so far.  This is why the scheme also includes the option of “paying as much as you can”.  How nice!

This system, that has already been tested elsewhere in the world, is based on people’s sense of fairness and justiceTrust too. You know, trust is an intangible social bond. It requires both sides to commit. In the case of Pallett’s “pay as you feel” scheme, the owners trust their customers that they will pay a fair price for their orders. On the other hand, the customers trust the people at Pallett that they will deliver high quality, so they can pay them that fair price. It’s a win-win situation.

The lost wallet experiment

Trust is all around in the Nordics. Stats prove that too. According to OECD, four Nordic countries top the ranking of trust. Danes, Swedes, Norwegians and Finns have the most trust in others. This trust is not only towards friends, family or colleagues. It expands beyond them. To strangers and institutions.

There was also the so-called “lost wallet experiment” a couple of years ago. They dropped 12 wallets in several cities across the globe, in order to find out how many would be returned(with the money still inside). Guess what! Helsinki was found to be the most trusted city of all, as 11 out of 12 wallets (with their cash inside) were returned to their “owner”.

So relax next time in Helsinki! Even if you lose your wallet, someone is going to bring it back to you. Just remember to put a name and phone number in it!