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Family Locked In Restaurant For Refusing To Pay Automatic Gratuity

Posted by on May. 3, 2012 at 3:35 PM
  • 463 Replies


What happens when you take issue with a restaurant's automatic gratuity?

Jasmine Marks told KPRC that she and her family and friends were locked inside a Houston restaurant after they refused to pay an automatic 17 percent gratuity.

The gratuity was added to the bill because Marks sat with a party of more than five, a policy clearly noted on the menu. But when Marks refused to pay because of poor service including rudeness and missing orders, she said the restaurant called the police and locked the door.

Despite Marks' insistence that the service she received wasn't worth a 17 percent tip, the bill was eventually paid in full.

The story generated mixed reactions when it was posted on Reddit.

"The restaurant should have just voided the gratuity," one commenter wrote. "They get the 17% from this family but then lose tons of business once this story makes the rounds. Basically the whole town has just found out their food and service sucks."

But another commenter said the diners were at fault since the restaurant had a clearly marked gratuity policy on the menu.

"It was on the menu that a party that size would have the gratuity included in the bill," the commenter wrote. "I will agree that 17% is a bit much, but they really have no right to complain."

In the end, perhaps Marks should be thankful that she wasn't arrested.

NBC Philadelphia reported that a Pennsylvania couple were handcuffed after they refused to pay a mandatory 18 percent gratuity at a pub in Bethlehem, Pa.



What do you think?  Who was right, the family or the restaurant?

by on May. 3, 2012 at 3:35 PM
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Replies (1-10):
by Member on May. 3, 2012 at 3:40 PM
28 moms liked this
I think that both were in the wrong: the family for refusing to pay even when it was clearly marked, and the restaurant for locking them in and for crappy service. Who's going to suffer in the long run? The restaurant.
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by on May. 3, 2012 at 3:42 PM
1 mom liked this

It has a popular following.   I doubt it is going to hurt it very much

by Jes on May. 3, 2012 at 3:48 PM
52 moms liked this
If the service was crappy then NO I'm not paying a 17% tip!
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by Platinum Member on May. 3, 2012 at 3:48 PM
1 mom liked this

 I've never had bad service when in a large party like that, but I'd be pretty ticked if I had to pay 17% when the waitstaff was rude and I didn't get my full order.  I don't know if I would flat out refuse to pay, but I'd be awfully ticked.

by on May. 3, 2012 at 3:55 PM
9 moms liked this

Hahaha, wow.  I think it's ridiculous that the family got locked in the restaurant.  I was a server for years so I understand how waiters and waitresses get paid, but it is my belief that you should work hard and give excellent service to deserve the tip.

I for one am not a fan of automatic gratuity.  I recently visited a very expensive restaurant with my husband for our 5 year anniversary.  At the time I did not realize that they automatically gratitied us 18% so we ended up tipping $60 on a bill around $150.  Since it was a special date, we did not scrutinize over the check, but we were certainly angry when we realized later.  

by on May. 3, 2012 at 3:58 PM


by on May. 3, 2012 at 3:59 PM
27 moms liked this

A gratuity is no longer a gratuity when it's obligatory.  Instead, restaurants like this should just be honest and state on their bills that if you sit with a larger party you get charged 17% more on your bill than if you don't.     Then people can decide if the food is worth it, because obviously in this case the service wasnt'.

by Member on May. 3, 2012 at 4:05 PM
3 moms liked this
If its required then its a straight fee not a gratuity. When I got married they automatically included a gratity, but the waiters were horrible, even telling me husbands grandmother who was 94 and independent that if she demanded going up to the buffet rather then allowing a family member to get her plate they would time her and force her away. It was awful, and the complaints we heard from friends and family truely horrid. The place changed hands suddenly about 2 months before the reception and they fired everybody then hired new people.
I don't believe in automatic gratuity and I've worked as a waitress. A tip is for good service a gratuity is for the same. Its actually depending on the state illegal to require even if its stated.
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by on May. 3, 2012 at 4:20 PM
1 mom liked this

A party larger than 5?  Really?  Man that would have sucked for my family and quite a few families we knew that had six members!

Or maybe they just mean 5 unrelated adults . . . . . 

by Bronze Member on May. 3, 2012 at 4:24 PM
15 moms liked this
I think a gratuity should be something you want to pay not something that you have to pay and if I see it states that in a restaurant, I leave. Because situation like this happen where you get shitty service and can do nothing about it.
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