Is It Ever OK To Walk Out Of A Terrible Restaurant Without Paying?

Reader C wants to know if it is possible for a restaurant’s service to be so bad that you are justified in walking out. We’re thinking he means “morally” justified because we’re pretty sure you need to pay if you eat the food.

To start with, upon entering the the restaurant around noon, we noticed there was no hostess. A waitress called from the floor “oh just sit anywhere”. Not a big deal really.

We sat and a few minutes later a some disinterested looking waiter came and took our drink orders. A reasonable amount of time later, he brought them to us and promised to come back and take our order. Almost 20 minutes later we still hadn’t ordered. At that point we questioned whether or not he was actually our server. We asked another waitress who our server was, only to be asked “was it a guy or a girl?” which didn’t really answer our question.

A few minutes later the earlier guy did come back and my wife told him immediately (as she does normally) that it was 2 couples, separate checks. He takes our order WHICH HE WROTE DOWN and then read back to us WRONG. Between the four of us we got 3 cups (not bowls) of soup as appetizers, 4 entrees, and 3 beers. Now, our mistake thus far was not asking how much the soup was, as it was on the specials menu.

Almost 30 minutes later, our food had yet to arrive, not even the soup, which we had specified was to be an appetizer. Other tables who had been seated significantly later than us, were not only eating their food, but where almost done.

My wife went and asked the floor manager exactly “I don’t want to be rude, but we ordered almost half an hour ago and we’ve still not even gotten our soup appetizer.” The manager’s response was “look, I’m sorry, we’re really busy” but her tone was very unapologetic and I know a brush off when is see it. Not 2 minutes later we had the soup. They had literally lost or forgotten our order and had to be reminded.

It should be noted that THIS moment was around when they started getting busy. There were empty tables in the place before. The manager saw an influx of people and used that as a quick excuse on us.

Another 20 minutes or so later, we finally got our food and it was wrong. My wife and the other woman’s chicken kabobs were a sad state of affairs, the side of pasta salad was a measly thrown down portion. The other guy’s burger was dressed wrong. My gyro pita was a sad, wilted thing with like 2 strips of gyro in it (anyone who’s had gyro knows that that’s measly), plus it was the prepackaged kind. Yes, I waited over an hour for a pita I was pretty sure had been microwaved.

Around this time they started telling people that they weren’t seating anymore, come back in an hour. Not “there’s an hour wait”, COME BACK IN AN HOUR. One server said “we’re closed until 2.” Incredible, considering that a number of tables had opened up and they just hadn’t been cleaned yet.

After four failed attempts over about 15 minutes, we finally flagged down our server to get our bill, which apparently was less important than brewing a pot of coffee and disappearing into the kitchen for 10 minutes, because he did both of those things before we got our bill which of course, was not separated. That’s when my eyes fell out of my skull.

He had charged us for 3 bowls of soup instead of cups, and 6 beers instead of four (one of the ladies ordered another). The bill was 90 bucks. Now, it was our fault for not checking the price of the soup. However, they charged us for the wrong size and charged us foe 2 extra beers. Rather than potentially waste another half hour getting it corrected, we just got up and left making sure to tell the patrons foolishly waiting outside about our experience. It was around 2 pm.

All in all, we were in there in the restaurant for close to 2 hours. The service as atrocious on every level, and the food wasn’t even that good.They may have been short handed or something, I don’t know. The largest problem was the uncaring and downright surly attitudes of the staff at times. I get that they might be stressed out, but I fail to see how being snippy and short with the customers is going to fix anything. I also understand that this is very detailed account, I apologize, but it’s a very small place and we were seated right in the middle and therefore could see everything that went on. I’ve been an avid reader for a number of years now, and I’d really value your input. Do you think we were in the wrong for walking out?

It depends on what you mean by “wrong.” Do we think you are a bad person? No, it sounds like you got really upset and did something impulsive. Were you justified in being upset? Sounds like it.

Obviously if you’re writing in here asking us what we think, you know, on some level, that you should have disputed the bill and tried to work something out with the awful restaurant. We took a look at the Yelp reviews for the place to see if they were just having some sort of off day and it seems like this is exactly how they treat all their guests. So at least you know it wasn’t just you. (The name of the restaurant was not included to protect the innocent and all that. Like Dragnet.)

We’ve provided a poll that should help you get an idea of your restaurant ditching approval rating.