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Family Locked In Restaurant For Refusing To Pay Automatic Gratuity

 

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.

Link

 

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

by on May. 3, 2012 at 3:35 PM
Replies (201-210):
aka_speezolove
by Bronze Member on May. 5, 2012 at 2:26 PM

Except for in states where there is not tipped wage and all workers make at least min wage no matter what industry.

Quoting mrs_mckay:

That may be how you feel but it is not how it works. Most resturants pay less than $3 an hour which doesn't even cover the taxes. It is your decision what to tip but 20% is customary for good service.

Quoting wanita61:

The servers help bring business to the restaurants. So it should be the restaurants' responsibility to pay them, not the customers' responsibility. As far as gratuity is concerned, it is totally up to the customers to decide how much to pay.


Quoting mrs_mckay:

I have worked in plenty of restaurants. I find this story BS. If the service had indeed been as bad as they claim any manager would have done far more than just void the grat...they probably would have gotten a free meal out of it. Most servers DO NOT get a paycheck. They are paying their bills and raising their families on that gratuity. 

20% is customary for good service. If you can't afford to tip, do not go out to eat.




kris0921
by on May. 5, 2012 at 2:26 PM

I think both were wrong. The restaurant should have just taken it off and not locked them in, and the family should have read the whole menu. But think how many times do you go somewhere and only look for what you want? My mom was reading the menu at a local mexican restaurant (located about 30 miles south of Houston). They started charging for refills. If my mom would of not read this, and we would of been charged for it and this would of been on us. But the restaurant also put it in a place on the menu, where people would see it. I would like to know the name of the restaurant that locked them in, so I never go there.

RoyalBlossom
by Member on May. 5, 2012 at 2:47 PM
1 mom liked this

 I would have been furious having to pay 17% if the service was crappy and they missed some of my orders. If it stated that and the service was fine, then no one probably would have complained, but to demand it be paid regardless or service, would be a sure fire way for them to lose the business of the five people at my table.

Baby_G_24
by on May. 5, 2012 at 2:56 PM
1 mom liked this

maybe the resturants should start paying their employees enough to do thier job & we should stop tipping all together. Being a waitress my self once its hard to make it depending on what your customers may or may not give you even when you offer great service some people still dont leave tips. The resturants need waitress' in order to serve their customers, so it should be their job to pay them accurately, the waitress' dont work for us...

IQuitCounting
by on May. 5, 2012 at 3:00 PM
1 mom liked this

Legally the restaurant is correct, that statement on the menu served as a contract and by choosing to eat there they agreed to the terms.  However, on a moral level, the family was right.  Gratuity should never be forced one customers, it's something you offer up to the server as a private thank you for doing their job well.  Their pay check covers the general service, they must go above the standard to earn a tip.  The restaurant should have acknowledged that and just redone their bill.

starlit_kissez
by on May. 5, 2012 at 3:01 PM
2 moms liked this

Who cares if it's stated on the menu. It's not a law. It's a tip! Goodness! You get tipped if I feel like the service was beyond exceptional. Just because it says mandatory does not mean anything to me. If you a lacking in the service part what makes you think I'll tip in full? Should a child on punishment get a piece of candy? NO. Nor shall bad service with a gracious tip... they need to get over it. Train your staff a bit better then maybe they will deserve that exorbitant tip.

cjsbmom
by Lois Lane on May. 5, 2012 at 3:02 PM

I do not eat at places that require a set gratuity for this very reason. If the server knows they are getting a tip regardless of how they do their job, you are almost guaranteed to get crappy service.

However, if these people chose to eat there knowing they had to pay a 17% gratuity, then they are at fault.

Allebas
by Bronze Member on May. 5, 2012 at 3:24 PM
1 mom liked this

We went to Red Robin one time. There were 10 of us. They added a gratuity onto our bill! My mom paid the EXACT amount minus the gratuity!! The service was HORRID!!! We had an expediter who brought out our food--the burgers my 3 boys ordered, were NOT prepared the way they ordered them!! They wanted NOTHING on the bun except MEAT--PERIOD!! They had EVERYTHING on them!! I told the expediter that they had been ordered PLAIN!! She said, "Can't they just wipe off the bun?" I was like WTH????? I told her, "NO!!! We did NOT order them with everything, and we are NOT accepting them with everything!! Take them back and have them re-made please!!" DANG!!!!! Plus--our waitress was rarely ever around to fill our drinks! We had to stop other servers and ask THEM if they could find our waitress and send her over. That STILL seemed to take a LONG time for her to come back to our table!! Sorry--but you are NOT 'required' to pay a gratuity for larger parties! I even contacted Red Robin about our situation. One of their Managers called me back, and told me that the gratuity is added on automatically by their cash register. He told me that 'legally' they cannot 'force' anyone to pay it!! I told DH what if a large group comes in, is paying cash, they have NO credit cards, and no 'extra' money to pay the gratuity! Are they going to make everyone in the party go back in the kitchen and wash dishes?? HMM!! NOPE!! IMO, the restaurant having its register automatically adding in the gratuity is STUPID and RUDE!!

firespurity
by on May. 5, 2012 at 3:28 PM

The family. Who knows how hectic the situation was when the servers were taking orders. Large parties can get kinda crazy. Also people declare servers are being rude over the weirdest things. I once had a woman write a letter about how she was never coming back because I didn't tell her daughter that her button was pretty. I had however smiled as I passed carrying six drinks for the table next to theirs. Then the kitchen was the other way... Luckily the manager just told me then dismissed it, he was like "that was the busiest night last week, it would have caused a delay for you to stop and talk to a 6 year old."

Automatic gratuity is really common for large parties. Even low service places have it. I go in expecting to pay a tip at any dine in restaurant. And the manager may have lowed it, but a server is working when she is bringing you food and cleaning up after you, so expecting to NOT PAY for a service is ridiculous. 

firespurity
by on May. 5, 2012 at 3:34 PM

Its unreasonable to demand God-like service before giving a server a tip. Servers are often worked to the bone, and get taxed for 10% even if you leave ZERO. I think 2 dollar minimium, because even if they are kinda crappy, I was brought my food, and my table is getting cleaned when I leave. 

Quoting starlit_kissez:

Who cares if it's stated on the menu. It's not a law. It's a tip! Goodness! You get tipped if I feel like the service was beyond exceptional. Just because it says mandatory does not mean anything to me. If you a lacking in the service part what makes you think I'll tip in full? Should a child on punishment get a piece of candy? NO. Nor shall bad service with a gracious tip... they need to get over it. Train your staff a bit better then maybe they will deserve that exorbitant tip.


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