Dine And Dashers On The Rise, Wearing Ties

In the last year the NYPD says there was a 20% increase in the number of “chew and screwers” – customers who run up a restaurant or bar tab and then duck out before paying it. And it’s not just the usual “live fast die young crowd,” entire families and guys with Monopoly mustaches are getting in on the action.

The New York Post rounds up several restraunteur anecdotes about how they’re seeing professional-looking types do the ol’ “chew and screw.” They might say they’re getting a smoke, pretend that they forgot their wallet, or even use their kids. The children go outside to play, the parents follow, and all of a sudden they’re all gone.

Perhaps the most devious though are those who bring along props, like a credit card or old cellphone that they leave behind. They never return, and the supposed collateral turns out to be stolen.

Hey, what the check?! [New York Post] (Thanks to Alexa!)

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  1. rpm773 says:

    Dine And Dashers On The Rise, Wearing Ties

    Eatin’ Fries?

    Mostly Guys?

  2. Geosama says:

    Ah, collateral damage of the recession

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      Yes, it’s all the recession. People shouldn’t have to give up eating because they have less money dammit! It’s not their fault the recession happened.

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        Epic fail. Make that give up eating out. Never mind. It’s too late. I already screwed up.

  3. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    What’s next, those clad with monocles skipping the check at the local speakeasy? Balderdash!

  4. Bernardo says:

    Id also like to thank useless waiters for this problem. If you make me wait a half hour to give me my check you really must not need the money. This actuly happens ALOT. Sometimes i have to start walking around a resturant trying to find my waiter or asking any and every other person who seems to work there to give me my check so i can pay to leave.
    Im not joking, at times it makes me want to bolt for the door and twice, im not joking twice after waiting about a half hour I just left.
    If i ask five of your coworkers to give me a check, and whoever looks managery to do so and they still dont care screw em. And when the check does come they get no tip. I dont care how good the food or service before the check fiasco was, nor do i care about this person crap wages. If you dont want my money for the restruant you dont want my tip, nor do you want my friends and I to return.

    • Christopher Jablonski says:

      Agreed. Stealing is perfectly justified when it’s inconvenient not to.

      • nbs2 says:

        I’d hardly call it stealing. If an effort is made to obtain the bill for a product that was intended by the establishment to be paid for after consumption, and the establishment does not provide the bill, the recipient can hardly be expected to wait around for an unknown period of time.

        If they left after waiting two minutes and not telling anybody, I’d agree that would be theft. But, waiting 20 minutes and informing multiple other employees (including requesting assistance from managerial personnel) is sufficient in my book. At that point, the restaurant, through its agent, has shown no desire to charge for the services and is inviting them to enjoy the free meal. And, if they have small children, that wait time will drop to 10-15 minutes.

        • Bernardo says:

          Seriously one of those times it was like 35 minutes and we just left. This is after tryign multipal times for someone to take our damn money. In the parking lot we see the guy smoking a cigg and he has the gaul to ask if someone got our check. We ignored him and kept going.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        How long before it goes beyond just “inconvenient”? Does it not matter where you have to be later?

        I’m not saying it’s OK to skip out on a check just because you’re annoyed but being late getting back to your job and getting in trouble (or fired) or missing an appointment or job interview isn’t just inconvenient.

        What’s a reasonable amount of time to wait on a check? Should customers have to figure on waiting 30 minutes to get the check? How long should it take to get your credit/debit card back?

    • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

      What’s up with the trolls today?

      • Bativac says:

        How is this trolling?

        Many of us have been in a similar situation: satisfied with our meal, ready to go (or perhaps in a hurry to catch a movie or something), the waiter vanishes. Other waiters are unable to track our guy down and nobody else seems able or willing to assist.

        I’ve asked for the manager on occasion and then waited another fifteen minutes. At some point I can see just giving up and leaving, though I’ve never actually done it.

        Now if it was just a simple “slow servers deserve it” then I could see that being a troll.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        It’s not trolling, but the numerous grammatical and spelling errors didn’t help his point, however valid I think it is.

    • danmac says:

      If you dont want my money for the restruant you dont want my tip, nor do you want my friends and I to return.

      They would very much like you to return. Makes it easier to press charges.

    • Dover says:

      I *hate* this. I have had otherwise great servers who take forever to bring me the check. It’s like they don’t want to turn the table, which I really don’t understand. Only once did it take so long (about 25 minutes, and we had a show to catch) that I left, but I did leave cash for what I estimated was the price of the meal.

    • JennQPublic says:

      While I would never actually do it, I’ve had evil thoughts about dashing in this situation. I really don’t understand why someone would give us good service all through the meal, only to leave us waiting for half an hour to get the check. I was going to tip you over 20%! Why would you work hard for that 20%, and then blow it by ignoring us when we’re ready to go?

      It really aggravates me, because I want to tip well. But if you leave me hanging, I’m not going to.

      Why does this happen so often?!?

      • Kibit says:

        Its amazing how quickly the tip that I was going to give will shrink when I am left to sit there for so long. Especially when I have asked repeatedly for my check and or waited for the server to take my payment.

        When this happens I go to the host/hostess or maitre de desk and have them take care of it. However, by this time the tip is almost nonexistent and I let the host know why.

    • outis says:

      I mean, it’s not my fault if the fire exit is closer than the register.

    • veritybrown says:

      I have been tempted (not very strongly, but still tempted) to do this myself when I literally could not find anyone to give me my check. It’s as if some of these restaurants don’t care whether you pay or not. There have been multiple times when I could have easily walked out without paying because none of the restaurant’s personnel were around to even *discourage* people from doing so.

    • Consumeristing says:

      Yep, been in this situation too many times. I WANT TO PAY YOU, but where the f*ck are you at?

    • psm321 says:

      I’ve been tempted too. Why do they think I just want to sit there for half an hour after eating?

    • Hooray4Zoidberg says:

      I notice this happens about every 2 out of 5 times I go out. It’s like the waitstaff is awesome the whole meal then vanishes after dropping off the food.

      You gotta close the deal if you want a good tip. I get people like to hang out after meals a bit, I do to, but when you don’t even come by again to ask if I want another beer and we’re just sitting there for 20 minutes it’s annoying.

    • ARP says:

      If its really bad, I’ll get up and find the waitperson or, I’ll get up and to to the hostperson (since they’re reliably there) near the door and tell them I’d like to pay. It has a side effect of scaring them a bit, since they see the empty table. I’m reluctant to do it, but sometimes I’m actually in a hurry and not just impatient.

      • Bernardo says:

        The worst is then when the rest of the staff are annoyed at you for bothering them with asking them for the check.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      I’m surprised by the comments; I wouldn’t expect the it to be so common for the waitstaff to disappear before getting your card or cash.

      The few times I’ve had to wait when it comes time to pay is after the payment has been given. Now you’re waiting to either get your card or your change. Seems like a smarter time to take longer if you’re going to disappear on someone.

      But it’s actually a rare occurrence at the restaurants I go to.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      I noticed this also. At a few restaurants I’ve had to track down my waiter for the check. Why? They never return to my table and I can’t even find them in the restaurant at times. I’ve had to get a hold of another waiter or the manager to get my check.

    • bluejena says:

      We had this happen when stopping for dinner on our drive home from our honeymoon. We were in New Brunswick, low on Canadian cash (we were on our way home to New Hampshire, so figuring on mostly debit/credit card use for gas and quick food on the go). We waited literally an hour after finishing our burgers, including going over to the bartender, hostess and another waitress to no avail (our waitress had the check on her), then paid with whatever cash we had on hand – a combination of American and Canadian – which came out to very close to the bill as we figured it from remembering the prices when we ordered and adding on tax. As we got in our car, we saw our waitress finally go over to our table (we were seating near the front window), then glare out the window at us.

  5. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    Shades of Al Bundy!

    • nybiker says:

      Having just received a Roku this past Christmas, I just finished watching Season 3 (let’s face it, since I first saw them 23 years ago, I don’t recall all the episodes in great detail). They actually had an episode where they ended up doing just that.

      • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

        …and Peggy used Al’s socks as a weapon to get out without paying!

        BTWhttp://www.antennatv.tv/

        • nybiker says:

          Thanks for the antenna link. It’s 11.4 (WPIX) here in NYC.
          What I have come to like about the Roku is that when I don’t have anything recorded on my vcr from the OTA stuff and no dvds, I can watch stuff like MWC or A-Team (and movies).

  6. raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

    Also, the Dashing Diners rarely leave a decent tip, the skinflints!

  7. dreamking says:

    Passive-aggressive resistance to the burgeoning tipping-service industrial complex! :-)

  8. BigFoot_Pete says:

    From the other replies, it looks like I am outnumbered, but I too have had the same problem. If I ask for the check from my waiter multiple times and am required to wait a ridiculously long time, coupled with multiple efforts to find other ways to pay (ie. the other waiters/managers/bartender if it is a pub) and the restaurant still can’t figure out a way to take the money I am trying to give to them–I would draw the line and consider it acceptable loss.

    Having worked as wait staff for years myself to get through college, you learn very quickly not to keep happy satisfied customers waiting to pay and tip you. Waiting to be seated, time waiting for additional condiments, slow food from the kitchen are all delays that I can understand that the waiter has far less control over, but the bill is 100% his responsibility.

    tldr: If you make it exceedingly hard to pay, I understand people choosing not to.

    • Red Cat Linux says:

      I left a restaurant once for that. We waited and waited for the check. Flagged down another server. Waited some more. Our table got bussed. We waited a bit more, then left.

      So, to the Red Lobster out in Waldorf, MD: Sorry about that. It was some 15 years ago or more, so I’m sure you don’t remember, but we never went back.

      Now I ask for the check and when it arrives, review it briefly and don’t let the server leave without the cash or card. You spend a lot of time waiting for the card to come back or to get your change too sometimes.

  9. Big Cheese Make Hair Go Boom says:

    I have been working in restaurants for years…I have only seen one dine and dash. Not even my table. Three teenagers. I ran out after them. Funny as hell watching them zoom around the parking lot to find an exit…this lot had only one entrance and exit…I and two other servers blocked the exit. Most of the restaurants guests are now on the patio, watching the spectacle. This young 15 year old girl gets out of the car, cash in hand, tears welling up, apologizing profusely. I yell at her to sit on the curb and wait for the cops, she complys and bursts into tears. Cops show up, make the kids call their parents and wait for the parents to show up. The parents collectively pay the $40 bill then tip the waitress very well. Between the parents generous tips (for the inconvenience) and her other tables (that got dinner and a show), she ended up making something like $600 that shift. That was a fun shift. She took us out for drinks that night after the shift ended.

    CSB, I know

    • cmdr.sass says:

      Wow, you would risk your life by standing in the way of a fleeing criminal in a car over a couple of bucks?

      • babyruthless says:

        A waitress at a Bennigan’s in Dallas died a few years ago doing exactly this. http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/816527/posts

        • Supes says:

          So sad… I wonder if it was an accident (in their rush to leave) or intentional. I suspect accidental since it’s not like she was blocking their path.

          No way the vast majority of people would run someone over to avoid a restaurant bill. I can imagine the other 3 occupants of that car going to the driver “WTF man? Why the hell did you do that?”

          • babyruthless says:

            I think she was standing behind the car getting the plate and they backed over her. So I think it might have been intentional. There was also alcohol involved. :/

      • Kibit says:

        I was thinking the same thing.

        This is why when I worked in retail we DID NOT go after shoplifters. A girl I know almost got hit by a car for a pair of Nike’s. Not worth it!

    • Bativac says:

      My favorite part is the busted teenage girl bursting into tears. I worked retail once upon a time, and we would catch these girls shoplifting underwear, and they would always pull the crying act and beg to just pay for the stuff and be allowed to leave.

      They were a little bit worried about the police but they were especially worried about their parents showing up!

    • Mom says:

      I’ve also only seen one dine and dash, despite years of restaurant work. Not at a place I was working, at a place where I was eating at the next table. Middle aged couple, plenty respectable looking. Asked for the dessert menu, and took off while the waitress was off getting the menu. She wasn’t gone very long. It was obvious that they meant to run.

      Since we were able to confirm to the manager that we saw the couple take off, the waitress didn’t have to pay the check herself. She was so grateful that she bought us dessert.

    • zibby says:

      Aw, see, you GOTTA have your escape plan in place before doing something like this. ALL of the plan.

  10. yessongs says:

    Monopoly Mustached guys? Did they eat on Boardwalk or Park Place?

  11. AD8BC says:

    One time, in college… after a night of bowling we went to the local Coney Island restaurant (yes, this was Michigan) and got some dessert. After finishing it, and waiting for the check, and waiting… and waiting… we discovered that we were the only people in the restaurant. I checked the kitchen, the johns, and looked outside the doors to see if they were smoking, nothing. Ended up calling the cops. They couldn’t find anybody either. Told us we could go.

    Free pie, and legal!

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      They locked you in? I mean, someone has to lock the doors. How did someone do that and leave without noticing you were there?

      • nbs2 says:

        I’m guessing they locked the front doors at closing time, went to clean up the back, forgot about the poster, and left out an employee entrance in the kitchen.

  12. melcat says:

    This has only happened to me once so far and it’s really frustrating to be a server because I had to pay the difference. The couple was getting up and handed me the book so I went and ran the gift cards. Empty.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      because I had to pay the difference

      Which was illegal for your employer to do.

      • Clyde Barrow says:

        Is is? I wish I had known this 30 years ago. I assumed that we were responsible. But thanks for the “tip”.

        lol

  13. SugarMag says:

    Due to the problem of disappearing servers at check time, I usually plan to pay cash – so I can leave it and dash. Often the same slow check leaver is the same that makes me wait a bit for the debit/cc slip to sign as well.

    My buds who insist on paying with debit on their portion only annoy me – yet another wait. Always wait until the end of the meal to request a separate check *groan*.

    I know cash is out of fashion but it truly does make life easier at times. That and I dont like giving my financial info to strangers in restaurants (easy to scam extra funds out of your acct).

  14. Hooray4Zoidberg says:

    I partially ditched a Ruby Tuesday’s bill one time about 6 years ago. I’m not proud of it, but we didn’t have enough cash to pay the full bill, so I was going to pay with a credit card. But the server disappeared for well over 45 minutes after dropping off our food. Nobody ever came back, I asked another server and they said someone would be right over, rinse and repeat a few times. Finally I was fed up, the whole meal was terrible anyways, the screwed up both our orders twice. So we left all the cash we had, about $10 short of the bill and walked out.

    I flip flop on feeling bad about and feeling justified. In my opinion wasting 45 minutes of my time and screwing up my order is worth a $10 comp. If there was a manager around I would have argued that with them anyways.

  15. Kibit says:

    This frustrates me. When diners skip out they are stealing from the restaurant owners, servers and raising the prices for everyone else.

    • Shadowfax says:

      Generally, no they’re not. They’re stealing from the waiter. The owner makes the waiter pay when the customer doesn’t, so he doesn’t lose anything.

      • stevied says:

        Waiter paying for the bill is a big Grey area.

        Garnishing wages is subject to a bunch of rules. Whether the wages could be garnished will depend upon the State. In most States is easier to just fire the waiter than trying to garnish the waiter’s wages (clawing back the $ from tips is the same thing).

        That said, where it is legal…. waiter failed to make any effort collect from the table for example…. then yes it could come from the waiter’s pocket….. especially some sheiting greasy spoon mom&pop.

      • Papa Bear says:

        Pretty much illegal in most all circumstances and jurisdictions. Even firing the waiter because of a walk-out is considered wrongful discharge in most jurisdictions unless it is an often repeated and documented occurrence.

  16. skepticalbunneh says:

    Couldn’t find a link, but this made me think of the assholes a few years back in Dallas that skipped out on their check and then ran over and killed their waitress as she was trying to write down the license plate numbers.

  17. Denis N says:

    I did a chew and screw once. But the place I was eating at was past the legal amount of time (in canada) that I was required to stay to pay. I waited for 1 hour after I was done to give them money. I was expecting to pay by debit, which is normally very easy to do, and they kept trying to stop me from going across the street to get cash, despite offering to leave my jacket behind. (this was in the summer. It doesn’t happen often, but it works both ways.

  18. pegasi says:

    If there was a policy that required a discount on your bill of a percentage for every 10 minutes they made you wait for your bill after you requested it, they’d be a lot more prompt in dishing up the tab.

    Funny how a lot of chains like Dennys or Perkins never have this problem…. the bill’s often on the table before you even finish eating your entree.