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Chick-fil-A offers free ice cream if you put down your phone

Technically Incorrect: A Chick-fil-A restaurant operator in Georgia says he's tired of people staring into their devices.

2 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


A fine idea that relies on your honesty.


Most people have the disease.

Most think it's incurable too.

We stare into our phones like surgeons over a patient's open stomach. Our lives happen inside those devices, so much so that we bump into people in the street. They're staring at their phones too.

A Chick-fil-A operator in Suwanee, Georgia, has had enough. Brad Williams looked out at all these people in his restaurant posting nonsense to Instagram and decided something must be done.

So he created the Cell Phone Coop Challenge.

There's a little box on each table. Everyone at the table is encouraged to silence their cell phones and put them in it.

If they don't take them out for the whole meal, they get a free ice cream. Or, more precisely, a Chick-fil-A Icedream. (Which I hope is an ice cream of some sort.)

On the company's Web site, Williams said: "The challenge has completely taken off. We have families who aren't successful the first time and come back to try again. We even have people asking to take the boxes home with them! Our whole community is talking about it."

It's not entirely a new idea.

Eva restaurant in LA offered customers 5 percent off their check if they'd check their phones in before the meal started.

What's curious about the Chick-fil-A version is that it appears to rely on customers' honesty. It's up to the customers to let staff know whether they've been successful in completing the challenge.

Relying on the word of others is a quaint notion, especially if you're running a business.

Still, if the idea is such a success, will it be expanded across all Chick-fil-A restaurants? Will they suddenly become havens of familial bliss, cheery conversation and a loving tolerance with which Chick-fil-A hasn't always been associated?

"The Cell Phone Coop is an opt-in program created by one of our franchise operators and is not a corporate initiative," a spokeswoman for Chick-fil-A told me. She did, say, however, that it's now expanded to 150 restaurants. The company has 1,900 in total.

Gestures such as the Coop will surely crop up more in the future. Just as theaters try to stop people using phones -- in the case of theater legend Patti LuPone, by confiscating them -- so many other establishments yearn for a bygone age of attention and respect for your fellow human.

But we're hooked beyond salvation. Americans spend 4.7 hours a day on their phones, Chick-fil-A says on its website (citing a figure from Informate Mobile Intelligence).

Progress is coming, however. Soon, we'll have chips implanted in our brains. Then we'll look our families in the eye and appear to be paying attention. In fact, we'll be listening to the latest news from E!