/ Technology

Want to pay your restaurant bill on your iPhone?

PizzaExpress iPhone app

Sick of trying to catch the waiter’s eye? PizzaExpress has announced that its customers can now pay the bill using their iPhone. Download the new app and you’ll be able to pay without reaching for your wallet.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve ended up looking like a bit of an idiot making complicated hand signals across a busy restaurant to indicate I’d like the bill. Could PizzaExpress’s new app spell the end of all that fun? Maybe not.

The catch is that you’ll still have to get a bill from the waiter (to type in a code), making this not quite as revolutionary as it had first appeared.

PizzaExpress joins up with PayPal

Still, you’ll be able to ask for your bill at any time – from when you place your order, to during the meal or the more traditional end. As soon as you’ve got it, you can select the ‘Pay Your Bill’ option on the app and enter the 12-digit code supplied. You’ll receive confirmation that the payment’s gone through, as will the PizzaExpress till – then you’re free to go.

PizzaExpress says it understands that it might feel a bit funny leaving your table without interacting with a waiter, but it suggests ‘giving the guys at the till a quick wave as you leave’.

Payments are made through PayPal – the first time this online payments system has been used on the UK high street. PizzaExpress claims payments will take less than a minute if you have an existing PayPal account – handy for customers in a hurry. You can also pay by credit or debit card, though this option will mean keying in your card details.

The future of phone payments

So will this app actually save any time? Sure, you won’t have to wait to pay anymore, but you’ll still have to ask for the bill. Though I can see it being helpful in a busy restaurant.

More interestingly, where is this heading? Are we on our way to a fully automated restaurant experience, with no need to speak to anyone? An app to book a table, an app to order the food and an app to pay – all you’d need is a waiter to bring the food…

Sophie Gilbert says:
20 June 2011

How many apps do we need indeed? And would this be one more area where security could be breached? I won’t be using this system.

We need as many apps for as many different problems as is possible in my opinion – my smartphone is now more useful than my computer ever dreamed of being (I’ve been fully turned around since my Nokia days). It’s just a shame this isn’t on Android – though I agree with Catherine that it doesn’t really solve the problem of having to call the waiter over for the bill. Still, isn’t that part and parcel of going to a restaurant?

And Sophie has a point – we now have access to so much on our phones – adding a PayPal log-in could be dangerous. Please make sure your smartphone is fully secure, to ensure you’re not up the creak if it’s stolen. There are some security tips on Which? Mobile if you need help with this: http://www.which.co.uk/mobile/advice-and-support/smartphone-advice/smartphone-security/

The more apps the merrier if they are for fun and to provide information.

Proper security needs to be in place before we move to making more use of phones for financial transactions.

I would almost echo the sentiments of Wavechange and Sophie

I don’t trust any apps with my payment details, besides apps are now being created to solve “problems” that don’t exist. Honestly, this is just the laziest app ever, it’s not a problem that needs to be solved

The mad clamour for apps will soon die down. Everyone is trying to make a million from their little “idea” when in fact, you are actually taking longer to do what you normally would’ve done. Especially if you have little or no connectivity, which let’s be honest, is most of the time.

I have an android phone and I find the apps to be rubbish anyway, the good thing about apple apps is the uniformity of the UI, which on Android, is utterly terrible.

I had an iphone for a year, an HTC desire for half a year and I can say without prejudice that I will refer to applications from now on as (Cr)apps 🙂

What if the restaurant allows you to swipe your card before you eat? They can then give you an invoice reference number and then when you leave, you and your guests can either all pay at a machine or through your app against the invoice reference number. Any shortfall (e.g. if you leave without paying) can then be claimed against the card originally swiped. The technology could ask how many bill-payers are present and how much tip you want to leave.

That does away with the need to grab a waiter.

PS I love apps. The concept of apps has always been around for savvy users, but mainly in unfriendly applications like spreadsheets on bulky computers. Technology has enabled them to be user-friendly and solve problems that we no longer need to worry about – indeed, many that we’ve now completely forgotten we had. Or simply allowed us to do more.

Emily says:
21 June 2011

Since when was Pizza Express one word? Has Which? started to slavisly follow silly company branding against generally accepted style rules? Disappointing!

Hello Emily, thanks for the comment. The brand is indeed PizzaExpress as one word and that’s what we generally stick to, as much as we might think writing it as one word is ridiculous.

Just be glad they havent stuck a lower-case ‘i’ in front of it – yet!

From Martyn’s post (below), Pizza Express might not be appropriate. Patrick is right. Let these companies do what they want and we can make fun of them.

I was in Pizza Express last night and the service was so shockingly slow that I would have welcomed being able to pay by PayPal (although, like Patrick, I’ve got an Android phone so am feeling rather excluded). An app to take your order might also be a good idea, especially given how long we had to wait in the first place…

However, I usually enjoy the interaction with staff members – it’s part of the dining experience. And anyway, this concept isn’t really new. Back when I worked in the corporate world, I used to stay in a Club Quarters hotel a lot – you never had to speak to a member of staff, just insert your credit card in the machine and out pops your room key.

And finally, with my credit card hat on, if you’re dining in Pizza Express (two words) and have a Barclaycard, you get 1% cashback on all Pizza Express purchases under its Freedom Rewards scheme, so you could be a little better off paying that way.