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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 (61-70):
by Bazinga! on May. 3, 2012 at 9:34 PM


Quoting Mommy_of_Riley:

If the service was crappy then NO I'm not paying a 17% tip!
by Bazinga! on May. 3, 2012 at 9:37 PM
2 moms liked this

 2-3 an hour? Where I live all servers make at least minimum wage or above. We too leave decent tips, but if the sevice is shitty, we pay just for our meal. Fortunately we usually have excellent service.

Quoting Veni.Vidi.Vici.:

Every time I read a tip post I am shocked and saddened to see how people feel good about leaving a crappy tip.

If you go to a restaurant where a person takes your order, fills and refills your drinks and checks on you at least one time during the main course you should be tipping at minimum 15%. My minimum tip is 20%.

If you go to a buffet or a place where you retrieve your own food but someone refills your drinks and fetches you plates you should tip at minimum 10%. Guess what? Buffet servers only make $2.00-$3.00 an hour, too.

If you cannot afford a decent tip then go somewhere that you can carry your own food to the table, fill your own cup and pick your own table. Or, stay home and eat.
by Member on May. 3, 2012 at 10:26 PM

 I guess I would never eat there bc my family is of 6 and there is no way I would pay 17% extra!

by Member on May. 3, 2012 at 11:07 PM
1 mom liked this

the people who LOCKED THEM IN FORCFULLY should of been charge with kidnapping

by Member on May. 3, 2012 at 11:10 PM
2 moms liked this

What is the legality of locking them in the restaurant?

How pissed off would the police have been to have their time wasted for something so trivial?

Was this worth the bad press?

by on May. 4, 2012 at 12:20 AM
1 mom liked this

I'd have to agree. I worked as a waitress too, and even when I would work my butt off to keep a large party happy, I would get compliments but a small tip.  A lot of people get sticker shock when they see the bill for a big party, and figure that they can economize by stiffing the waitstaff. This is even more rotten because when you work a big party, you can't wait any other tables at the same time to earn more tips. As a server, it is a much better deal to work a bunch of smaller tables than one big one, unless they do auto-gratuity. And the worst tippers are often the people who seem to have the most money (nicest clothes, etc). Maybe they've never waitressed and have no idea how exhausting it is.

Although I think that the restaurant behaved very stupidly, I do think that it isn't out of line for an auto gratuity for large parties (although I'd say more like parties of 8 to 10 or more, 5 really isn't that big).

Quoting UpSheRises:

In my experience as a waitress large groups are a pain in the ass, the complain about everything, and they tip like shit. There is a reason most restaurants charge an automatic gratuity.

by on May. 4, 2012 at 1:31 AM
3 moms liked this

Even if it's an automatic gratuity, it damn well better be automatic good service or they can sue me.

The restaurant is in the wrong for locking them in.

by Ruby Member on May. 4, 2012 at 2:51 AM
2 moms liked this

I think the customers should decide what gratuity is warranted NOT the dining establishment.

by Ruby Member on May. 4, 2012 at 2:54 AM
1 mom liked this

 I can see both sides.  Personally, I wouldn't eat anywhere my tip was taken for granted.  I would never tip a waitress who completely sucked.  Tipping is supposed to be optional it is supposed to show the appreciation for the service, not given whether the service was good or not.

That being said, if it says it on the menu, they should have known that it was going to be mandatory, although I don't always see EVERYTHING on the menu, and when I have seen it, it's usually in small print on the bottom of the back page.

by Gold Member on May. 4, 2012 at 2:54 AM
3 moms liked this
It sounds like the waitress knew she was going to get a 17% tip whether she did her job or not. That is the problem with tips becoming expected. They are supposed to encourage good service. If a server knows she is getting a certain amount no matter what, there is no motivation to do a good job. 17% is a little high and 5 people is a little low to be mandatory anyway. I wouldn't pay that much for lousy service either.
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