“It’s a way of them potentially getting what in essence is a free pizza to start with,” Ben Cumming, Hell Pizza’s chief executive, told The Washington Post, “and then really not have to worry about the payment of it until much, much, much later when they pass away.”
The idea for the campaign, which Hell Pizza termed “AfterLife Pay,” came around February as buy-now, pay-later providers began trying to offer their services to the restaurant. In recent years, buy-now, pay-later options have exploded in popularity, giving consumers the chance to pay for products months or years later — often without interest. But the plans can be risky for overextended shoppers, and late payments often result in fees and penalties.
Cumming said he believes the services are harmful and could put his customers in a position to accumulate debt. AfterLife Pay is meant to tease those buy-now, pay-later providers by pushing payment options to an extreme. Cumming said he won’t make his diners pay late fees or penalties for their pizzas.
“We’re basically just making a bit of a stand against it in a fun way,” said Cumming, 40, who has operated Hell Pizza since 2012. “I doubt it will be a long-term thing.”
Hell Pizza’s attorney and staff wrote a codicil to a will that requires customers to pen their name, the amount of money they owe once they “perish from this earth” and the type of pizza they bought. The customer, and two witnesses, must sign the contract.
Since the payment option launched May 25, Cumming said more than 10,000 people have applied to be considered. Sydney resident TeRina Josling said she was thinking about the sudden death of her father, Paul, in August while applying for the program on Sunday.
“Going through his will and estate has been tough,” Josling, 32, said in a message to The Post. “And I would just love to see my family have a laugh when eventually mine is read out, and the estate has to pay for a pizza from several decades prior.”
Hell Pizza, which has built 77 franchises in New Zealand since opening in Wellington in 1996, has a history of campaigns that play off its name.
Its website features images of skeleton heads and bones, spiders, red eyeballs and eerie music. Some of the restaurant’s pizzas are named after the seven deadly sins. In March 2012, Hell Pizza poured the world’s hottest sauce on one random slice of a full pizza, calling the venture “Pizza Roulette.”
Customers who applied for the posthumous payment program will be randomly selected by June 17. Cumming is uncertain how the restaurant will enforce the contracts once customers die.
“That’s hopefully a long time in the future,” he said.