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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.



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

by on May. 3, 2012 at 3:35 PM
Replies (221-230):
by on May. 5, 2012 at 5:44 PM
I thought it was a 15% but ok...they were both wrong
by Member on May. 5, 2012 at 5:56 PM
$2-$3 is minimum wage for severs. In most places, when a server says they make minimum wage, they mean minimum wage for service industry. In my state, minimum wage for servers is $2.13. There's a difference between minimum wage, and minimum wage for those in the service industry that work for tips. Also, at least in my state, servers pay 8% of their sales to the irs in taxes. So when a server only gets a 10% tip, technically they've really only gotten 2%. You have to claim your tips, or you will be beyond screwed come tax time. Most servers still end up owing the irs at tax time even if they have claimed the proper amount throughout the year. I always did, and i would claim 10% every night when I clocked out.
Quoting Euphoric:

by on May. 5, 2012 at 5:58 PM
1 mom liked this

We went to a resturaunt and they charged automatic gratuity on parties over a certain number.  Well, our group had 2 infants, and they counted the 2 infants and tried to tell us our party was 2 over the certain number (because of 2 babies that weren't even close to eating regular food yet, talking 2 month olds) we refused to pay it and after speaking with the manager ended up actually getting our meal discounted because of our inconvienence.  I wouldn't pay 17% for crappy service either, I'd pay my entire bill for the food and maybe leave a regular tip...but no way would I pay 17% and I would have waited for the police to get there and let them handle the situation.  More than likely, the family would have gotten out of paying that extra 17%

by on May. 5, 2012 at 6:13 PM
1 mom liked this

Automatic gratuities are 11110% wrong.  The servers have no reason to do their best, because they get it anyway.  I would have complained loud and long before the meal was over, and called the police my damn self.  The place should be shut down.

by on May. 5, 2012 at 6:18 PM
1 mom liked this

Sorry, the minimum wage is different in different places, and no restaurant can legally pay less than the federal minimum, unless the place has too few employees or is subject to FFLSA or is covered by unio.  Texas, of course, takes a flyer at the federal law and uses it only as a "guideline" since they have access to a lot of cheap labor from across the border.

And who would work a $2-3/hr job, really.  $30/day before deductions if you work a ten hour day?  Seriously?

And locked inside the restaurant, too?  Manager should have been arrested for holding them against their will.  But this is Texas, after all.

by on May. 5, 2012 at 6:31 PM
I don't like automatic gratuity cause that means whether the service sucks or not the wait staff will be tipped.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
by on May. 5, 2012 at 6:31 PM
1 mom liked this

Once again, why does everyone assume the food was wrong and service sucked?

I've never had that problem.   I am thinking they just were cheap and wanted to get out of paying part of their bill

by Member on May. 5, 2012 at 6:32 PM
1 mom liked this

if it's required, it's not a gratuity it's a fee... tipping should be based on the service... good service deserves a tip, bad service does not.  Great service deserves a great tip.

I will not eat at a restaurant that has manditory tipping, because, as a former waitress myself, I believe that tips should be earned by great service, not expected by people too lazy or stupid to do a good job

by Member on May. 5, 2012 at 6:33 PM
1 mom liked this

this and ive done it before.. the year i became pregnant i invited my husbands dad stepmom brother his girl friend  sister and step sister out to applebees and i had horrible serivce and i guess since it was all on one bill they tried to make me pay 15 percent and i refused and asked to speak to a manager.  Bc franklly they get a tip if the serivce is good.. if its included like that then that just tells the severs they can slack off bc they are already getting their tip no matter what. I think the people were right in refusing to pay


Quoting Mommy_of_Riley:

If the service was crappy then NO I'm not paying a 17% tip!

by Silver Member on May. 5, 2012 at 6:36 PM

I agree with kaitalynn....the restaurant is going to suffer.  I'd never go there, EVER!

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