Diners Say They Were Locked Inside Restaurant For Refusing To Pay Automatic Gratuity

It’s a common policy at many restaurants in the U.S. — if you have a party of a certain number or more, say, five or six, gratuity will be automatically added to your bill. But should you be able to refuse to pay that gratuity, if the service wasn’t so great? One group of friends thought so, and ended up locked inside a restaurant until the cops arrived.

Channel 2 News in Houston reports on the story of Jasmine and her friends, who dined out at La Fisherman. According to her, the service was less than stellar for many reasons. The wait staff was rude, they didn’t get drinks refilled and their entire order didn’t arrive.

So when the bill came, Jasmine says they didn’t want to pay that 17% gratuity that had already been added. She asked the manager if they could opt out and add the tip they felt their server deserved.

“We asked her, could the gratuity be removed? Could we give our own tip? She said it was part of their policy and there was nothing she could do about,” she said. “If you’re not satisfied with the service, you shouldn’t have to pay gratuity.”

Since the policy was marked on the menu, the manager said they’d have to pay the gratuity. Jasmine then claims that she and her friends weren’t allowed to leave the restaurant without paying it, and said workers locked the door and called the police.

“She was like, ‘You have an unsettled bill and ya’ll can’t leave until you pay it,’” Jasmine said. “We paid our bill for what we ate, we paid the bill.”

She says when the cops arrived, she asked an officer repeatedly if it’s against the law to not pay the gratuity, and he was unable to give her an answer. Eventually, the group paid the gratuity instead of drawing out the ordeal.

Yes, policies are in place and (usually) clearly stated for a reason. But a policy isn’t a law, and perhaps there could be some leeway when tipping is involved, if there is a valid reason or reasons for a customer to not want to pay the entire automatic gratuity.

*Thanks as always for the great tip, Harper!

Family says restaurant locked them inside over tip refusal [Click2Houston.com]

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  1. Blueskylaw says:

    If automatic tips are not against the law (and they shouldn’t be) then the manager at La Fisherman’s needs to be arrested for kidnapping.

    How did the archaic system of tips come about anyways?

    • MCerberus says:

      It’s sadly, in its current form, a way for businesses to pay under minimum wage.

      • andsowouldi says:

        If restaurants were forced to pay servers more, they would up the prices on the menu and you’d pay the difference anyway. This at least allows you to tip them what you think they are worth (except when gratuity is added in a case like this).

        • shockwaver1 says:

          This doesn’t really show itself to be true. In Canada, servers are paid at minimum wage (the real $11/hr minimum wage, not that $2.17/hr crap) and our meals aren’t really more expensive. We might not get the same $1 cheeseburger deals at McDonalds (they are $1.39) but I can live with that for people to make a living wage.

          • axhandler1 says:

            Eaxctly. The “no-tipping” system seems to work fine in countless other countries around the world, but instituting a similar system here would magically cause meal prices to skyrocket.

            *rolls eyes*

          • huadpe says:

            Did you just cite as your evidence of similar prices a 40% price difference?

            Restaurant meals are in my experience more expensive in Canada, both in low-end restaurants and high-end restaurants. Not all of this comes from labour law, since agricultural policy has a big impact too, but the difference is there and it’s actually substantial.

            • iesika says:

              They sited a 40% increase on one item at a restaurant that doesn’t even have “servers” in the traditional sense. That doesn’t mean there’s a 40% increase on everything. It doesn’t even mean there’s a 40 cent increase on everything.

          • spamtasticus says:

            Ha! Good stuff. The food in Canada was ridiculosly overpriced. I always tip well unless the staff is utter garbage but in Canada, my tip was the ridiculos 14% sales tax going toward the waiters health care. Nothing more, nothing less

          • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

            Depends on the province. In Ontario, minimum wage is $10.25/hr, unless you’re working in a licensed establishment (or other places, like if you’re a hunting guide–look it up here.) If you serve the public (i.e. a bartender or waiter/ess, not the cook or the busboy) minimum wage is $8.90/hr. Guess what else? There’s no provision to make up the wages if tips didn’t make it to the standard minimum wage.

      • Murph1908 says:

        The other option is that this 17% or equivalent would be added into the cost of the food, and you’d be paying for service whether it was good or not.

        • Lackwit says:

          Whereas, under the current system, a server pays out-of-pocket if the service was excellent but the diner under-tipped for any other reason.

          • Murph1908 says:

            I was a server during and for a while after college. Getting stiffed or undertipped was rare, probably because I did a good job.

            I worked with people who were undertipped, mostly because they were more interested in smoking in the back room or hitting on the girls at the bar than actually waiting on tables.

      • rrbc says:

        Not really. If the server does not make minimum wage (this can be $10+/hr in California and I believe also Washington state?) then the business must pay them the difference so that they do earn minimum wage.

        It’s Dept of Labor, it’s the law. Yes, I’m sure that if the server consistently does terrible service and the employer has to make up the difference because people reflect this in the tips the server will eventually be fired.

    • Geekybiker says:

      Its no longer a tip once its automatic and non-removable. Its a service charge. In any case it isn’t a question of if adding an automatic tip is against the law or not. Its a question of if you are required to pay any charged listed as a gratuity.

    • CommonSense(ಠ_ಠ) says:

      I am amazed the manager was not arrested for holding them captive illegally.

      They should have paid the full bill and then did a charge back on the gratuity.
      If they had cash they should have left close to the total minus the gratuity with their cash and quickly left.
      I did this once at rainforest cafe. Their service was horrible and we had 8 people. The server only took the order and we never saw them again. To get refills we had to flag down bus boys. The server never showed up even when our food came.
      We paid cash to the exact amount minus the automatic gratuity like $120ish and then left.

    • VHSer says:

      Are you on any sort of medication ? Of COURSE automatic tips should be against the law. If the service is crappy, the tip should be crappy, too…or even non existant. You have absolutely no idea how the world works, do you ?

  2. Marlin says:

    Yea but they were black so we know they were not going to tip anyways. ;-)

    • WB987 says:

      What the hell? Is this some tasteless racially-insensitive joke or are you a terrible racist?

      Anyway, kinda dumb for the restaurant. Congratulations on making the news!

    • speckles says:

      Flag for review. Racist stereotyping.

      • Alarmpro says:

        Speaking one’s mind is not against the law, or a violation of the TOS, So, if you don’t like something your read it does not mean you get to CENSOR it.

      • Mad Monk says:

        I am sorry about this but before I even seen the video I knew that the complaint was filed by a black person. Call it whatever you want but if the sun rises in the east since the beginning of time; i know tomorrow that it will rise in the east. Twenty years in the Food and Beverage business has given me a lot more insight that most people. I have seen it all. You can call me racist but I call it EXPERIENCE! If you haven’t been in the industry you don’t know…..so kindly keep those labels to yourself.

        On the other when the gratuity is automatic the service is usually insufficient. I have seen this over and over. The customer is taken for granted and compounded. with being black didn’t help matters much either.

        I don’t believe any paying customer should be treated poorly and all should get good service regardless on how they tip or any other quantifier you choose to inject..

        The Mark’s family should sue the restaurant on kidnapping charges. As manager you got to know when to hold them and when to fold them. This is one battle the restaurant will lose.

  3. Costner says:

    Seems like unlawful detainment and/or false imprisonment. I can see a lawyer being involved before the week is out, and that 17% gratuity is going to seem pretty small by the time this is all said and done.

    • longfeltwant says:

      It’s similar to that, but I don’t think this counts. If a person refuses to pay for an item, then businesses are allowed to (and commonly do) detain the person and call the police. It’s calling the police, I think, which would be sufficient defense against a criminal charge. “If I kidnapped her, Your Honor, then why would I immediately call the police?” The police are the ones who sort these things out, which it sounds like they did.

      • Reading Rainbow says:

        If they locked the doors prior to the police arriving that’s detaining them. The police are supposed to track down perps, not restaurants.

        • Such an Interesting Monster says:

          So when in-store security prevents you from leaving the store with the spiral ham you’ve stuffed down your pants is that also an illegal detainment?

    • Jawaka says:

      Actually I can see a lawyer arguing for the restaurant as well. You couldn’t walk out without paying for your food. Well the service fee (lets not call it a tip) is clearly listed up front and by ordering you agree to pay it. It becomes a debt that you owe regardless of weather you feel the wait staff did a good job or not.

      Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t like this system. In fact, I don’t like tipping in general (your low pay is between you and your boss, not me) but if this policy is clearly displayed on the menu and if you agree to it then you’re responsible to pay for it.

      Suck it up and make a decision to not go to restaurants to add mandatory tips (fees) to their menu.

      • rmorin says:

        Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t like this system. In fact, I don’t like tipping in general (your low pay is between you and your boss, not me)

        This is incredibly short sighted, and a really poor way at looking at the practice of tipping. Tipping allows the individual consumer to decide the cost of service (with the obvious exception being mandatory tips like this one). The price of food on the menu would be greatly increase to allow the servers to be paid minimum wage. Good servers at most restaurants who make above minimum wage now would have their wages drop as business owners aim to still maximize their profits and keep costs low to the consumer. Regardless of how well servers perform their job, compensation would be the same, so service levels would drop. Perhaps business owners come out a little more ahead financially, but the average server would suffer from your suggestion. Instead of the value of service being between you and the server, you advocate a business stepping in and telling you. That’s crazy talk on a blog called “Consumerist”.

        You have to be a child to want that choice taken away from you. “I can’t handle the decision of whether the service was worth 10% or 15% today, someone please hold my hand and tell me!” is what you are advocating for. And that person? Not someone has your best interest in mind.

        • Big Dave says:

          So, you tip everyone with whom you come into contact in a service setting? The clerk at the convenience store provided you a service. How much did you tip? The guy who sold you your mattress … How much did you tip? You tip a cab driver … How much do you tip a bus driver? The local librarian? And on, and on, and on…

          Tipping is a chaotic and unfair system. It will stop when everyone is guaranteed a minimum, living wage.

          So, all those hundreds of people with whom you come into contact each day, and who you DO NOT tip; do you really believe they are all lowering the quality of service they give you because you are not tipping and they are being paid minimum wage?

          Amazing point of view.

          • rmorin says:

            Tipping is a chaotic and unfair system. It will stop when everyone is guaranteed a minimum, living wage

            And yet on average food servers make over a dollar an hour more then retail workers per Department of Labor statistics. Tell me, what is the magical threshold for a “living wage”?

            And in regards to your whole rant, oh yeah, negotiating prices for goods and services is a very, very, very good thing for consumers.

            • D007H says:

              Years ago, I was a dishwasher working for minimum wage with no tip. I don’t think I was working less harder than the waiters, mainly because there were fewer of us. If we slack off, dishes would pile up quickly and the manager would notice. Still the waiters made far far more money than I did due to tipping. Always thought that tipping was unfair and archaic.
              If given a choice, I would gladly pick up my own food and bus my own table rather than have to pay a tip. If only the fast food places serve better stuff.
              I mean aren’t restaurants still govern by supply and demand? If everyone got rid of tipping, wouldn’t substantially increasing up prices drive away customers? If a restaurant choose to let service slide to make up for no tipping, wouldn’t that drive away business also?

              • rmorin says:

                Your argument is silly. Servers get paid too much?!

                • D007H says:

                  I don’t know about all waiters, but the waiters I worked with definitely got paid more than me with tips factored in. Some of them got double what I made on some nights, even more than the chefs. I don’t think they were doing double the work.

                  • Jawaka says:

                    Of course no response to this valid point.

                    • rmorin says:

                      Yeah food service workers are the 1%, just living large off the backs of you guys the REAL hard workers.

                      You don’t get it. At McDonalds YOU DO PAY FOR THE SERVICE AND YOU DONT GET TO DECIDE THE PRICE. YOU DO “TIP” THEM IN THAT THEIR SALARY IS BUILT INTO THE COST OF THE PRODUCT.

            • pythonspam says:

              “Tell me, what is the magical threshold for a “living wage”?”

              There is no easily definable threshold. It must be determined by the true cost of living in that area.
              The national minimum wage is not perfect (proven by the number of states who have imposed higher minimum wages than it), but at least it sets a baseline for “business-friendly” states and opens a dialogue regarding the whole point of a minimum wage. Easily replaceable workers like retail and fast food would be in even higher turnover than they are now.

              You may note that not a lot of places pay the actual minumum wage (perhaps $0.50 to $2 per hour in excess, in fact), but the baseline it sets allows employers to go over the top of it to get and keep good workers.

              • rmorin says:

                How is anything you are saying specific to servers? How is anything that you are saying specific to servers not making a living wage?

                I am in fact pointing out that “living wage” is a nebulous and largely political term.

                • Jawaka says:

                  The point is that there shouldn’t be a special set of rules specifically for servers.

          • BStu78 says:

            Workers might be better protected if we ended tipping and paid a higher wage to those workers. That’s not an unreasonable argument to make. What it is an unreasonable argument for is to not tip at all. I’m not talking about the 7-11 clerk. I’m talking about not tipping food service employees who are paid sub-minimum wage because laws take into consideration tipping as part of their compensation. That’s not between employee and employer. Its between employee, employer, and society. You’re a part of that society, so you’re a part of that transaction. Refusing to pay doesn’t change the system. Its just you abusing the system. Which may prove why the system is flawed, but it doesn’t make you the least bit righteous. It just means YOU are the problem you profess to want to fix. That being the case, you have a much more direct means of correcting that problem than wholesale change of our socioeconomic structure.

            • Jawaka says:

              Bullshit. You’re just buying into a scam that allows certain industries from paying their employees a fair wage.

        • Hi_Hello says:

          I dunno…
          tipping as a way to pay for worker’s salary seems really stupid to me. I get that it was suppose to help small business hire workers for cheap but if they were given a min. wage and tip was acctually tip. something extra they get for a great service, then I’m cool with it.

          You can’t acutally guess what’s going to happen.

          I don’t think the price of food will increase, they will lose business. My guess the number of wait staff will go down.

          wouldn’t it be more profitable to pay a wait staff more money to keep them around in order to attach more business?

          Service level isn’t dependant on how much you pay them or how much money they get.

          Base on other countries where they don’t accept tip at all, the prices are reasonable and the services are great. As an American, I still leave a little tip at the end.

          • rmorin says:

            Where to begin …

            tipping as a way to pay for worker’s salary seems really stupid to me. I get that it was suppose to help small business hire workers for cheap but if they were given a min. wage and tip was acctually tip. something extra they get for a great service, then I’m cool with it.

            Every server, in every state is guaranteed minimum wage. This is law. If people are breaking the law, then deal with them.

            I don’t think the price of food will increase, they will lose business. My guess the number of wait staff will go down.

            Great? So you can’t be bothered to decide how much money to tip, and that should cost people jobs?

            And yes food prices will go up, where do you possibly think the 3X increase in hourly wages is going to come from?

            wouldn’t it be more profitable to pay a wait staff more money to keep them around in order to attach more business?

            What does this mean?

            This is very easy for everyone:

            With no tipping prices will rise to adjust to salaries. Under the best case the scenario you as a consumer roughly pay the same you are paying now. But again, you lose the ability to adjust for poor service. You are still paying a tip (and likely a pretty good one) regardless of the quality of your service.

            Salaries will go down for servers in an effort to maximize profits while keeping costs down. Right now tipping goes to the individual (or a pool) without the business owner (legally) taking a cut. They will most certainly begin to take a cut of what would be normally paid as a tip, because legally they are able to. Servers would be largely relegated to minimum wage, with no ability to increase that if they try their hardest, or heck even just get lucky with some generous tables.

            Servers wages go down, prices go up, consumers lose control to negotiate a price of a service. That is what happens when you have a system which does not tip. Who wins here?

            • Hi_Hello says:

              I told people that about server getting min wage. here they are paid about 3 bucks an hr, if tip doesn’t cover it, the employer are suppose to make up the difference. But when I tell people that, they said the employer would rather just fire the person if they don’t make enough in tips.

              anyway.
              consumer will always have power with or without tip. Without tip, bad services, they no longer go there and business shut down.

              everything you said are just assumption.

              My experience, the best services I got was in other country. the food prices were cheaper. the tax was a little higher thought, but still cheaper without having to tip. But I still tip and it all went directly to the wait staff that was serving me. I asked.

              like I said, my problem isn’t tipping, is that fact that tipping is use to pay worker and that if we don’t tip, they don’t get paid.

            • Jawaka says:

              “With no tipping prices will rise to adjust to salaries. Under the best case the scenario you as a consumer roughly pay the same you are paying now. But again, you lose the ability to adjust for poor service. You are still paying a tip (and likely a pretty good one) regardless of the quality of your service.”

              How about like every other job if you do a shitty job you simply stop getting as many hours, or you lose your job altogether? Again, don’t expect a tip for doing what you’re expected to do in the first place. However if I go to a restaurant and you do a shitty job you can bet your ass I’m going to let the manager know when I leave. The waiter’s job is to take my order and bring me my food. The manager’s job is to (among other things) make sure that the waiters are doing their jobs. Don’t ask me to discipline your staff for you.

              • Peggee has pearls and will clutch them when cashiers ask "YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA'AM?" says:

                How about like every other job if you do a shitty job you simply stop getting as many hours, or you lose your job altogether?

                Every other job? Look around you at work, wherever that may be. How many times have you raged against management for not getting rid of slackers/jerks? It’s even worse in retail/food. I’ve always had a second job in one or the other, and even in this lousy economy when employers can afford to be as picky as they want, they seem physically unable to fire even the most egregious offenders.

                In theory people should be fired or given fewer hours if they rack up consistent complaints, but in practice that doesn’t happen enough. So looking at it purely from the standpoint of how it would realistically affect you, all that would happen by eliminating tips is that you’d pay more and have no recourse when you got lackluster or really bad service.

        • Jawaka says:

          Personally I’d rather that restaurants pay their staff a fair wage and increase the cost of the food to reflect it rather than guilting me into paying 15% more for my food then whats printed in the menu. Again, if you’re not being paid a fair wage then it’s not my problem. Sorry if I sound dickish for saying that but things will never change if we keep buying into this scam. If someone goes above and beyond to serve me in some way then I’ll give them a tip. I won’t however tip a person for doing what they’re already expected to do.

          • rmorin says:

            Personally I’d rather that restaurants pay their staff a fair wage

            Why do people keep saying this? Servers are legally guarenteed minimum wage equivalence. In practice servers often make much more then minimum wage. In fact according to the US Dept of Labor they make over a dollar more an hour on average then retail workers.

            increase the cost of the food to reflect it rather than guilting me into paying 15%

            It’s not guilt! It is you get to decide the cost of the service. I can not believe that when it boils down to it, you are stating “I would rather have the CEO of Chilis tell me what my service was worth then decide myself”.

            People that have an issue with tipping are mad because of they have a cognitive dissonance between; I don’t have to pay this and actually paying it. Again you have to be a child to not be able to understand and decide the cost of your service.

            • Jawaka says:

              Sure servers are legally guaranteed minimum wage but unlike most jobs I’m being expected to subsidize their pay to make it reach that point. Why am I expected to tip a person for carrying my order to my table at a restaurant but not at McDonalds? The quality of the food shouldn’t make a difference since the waitress isn’t making it.

              And yes, it’s guilt. If I don’t tip at a restaurant waitresses will look at you insulted and some will even ask if they’ve done something wrong. No, you didn’t do anything wrong. You did your job. And yes, the CEO should decide what the service is worth just as every other employer in the world determines how much they’re willing to pay an employee.

              I guess I just don’t understand why some employees at some industries feel that they’re special and deserve a special bonus for doing what they’re already being paid to do in the first place.

      • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

        Then they should change their menu- if it’s a mandatory charge, it’s NOT gratuity. It’s a service charge and should be stated as such.

        “Parties of 8 or larger will be billed a service charge equal to 15% of their total bill to ensure our waiters/waitresses receive proper payment for their services.”

        See? Much clearer.

        • wrjohnston91283 says:

          I agree, but at the same time, many people argue that we should be tipping REGARDLESS of service because the waitstaff get low pay. As a society, we’re trying to get it both ways. We want to be able to pay the appropriate way for the service we get; but at the time time, we want the waitstaff to get paid ‘properly’.

        • FredKlein says:

          to ensure our waiters/waitresses receive proper payment

          Why is it MY responsibility to pay for the restaurants employees??

          That’s the problem i have with tipping. I’m entering into an agreement with the business, a restaurant, to exchange money for food. I am not entering into an agreement with the waiter. The waiter has an agreement with the restaurant, to exchange their work for money. The waiter does not have an agreement with me.

          Therefore, I pay the restaurant. The restaurant pays the waiter. The waiter, to earn their pay, takes my order and brings my food (and other jobs as required).

          What’s the problem with that??

          tl;dr- the waiter doesn’t work for me, so I shouldn’t have to pay him.

          • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

            True.

            If this restaurant pays $3 an hour, and their waitresses are constantly stiffed on large parties and their orders that take up the whole night for little or no tip… I can see the logic. Don’t agree with it, but can see it. It’s just worded incorrectly on the menu. Mandatory Gratuity is an oxymoron. If they want people to understand that it’s mandatory, then word it as such.

            • Farleyboy007 says:

              I read somewhere that if you make under minimum wage, the restaurant has to shore you up to minimum. as in, if you make 2.17/hr, constantly get stiffed on a bunch of tips, and wind up making literally $5/hr (I don’t know the time frame however… a year i guess?), the restaurant has to pay you the difference. There was a big hullaballoo about a bar owner who also bartended, and split tips with the other bartenders. the minimum wage thing was discussed in the case.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Failure to pay is a civil offense. Illegal detainment is a criminal offense.

        I think if both parties are found guilty of each infraction, the customers will come out far ahead.

        • Such an Interesting Monster says:

          I’m pretty sure it’s criminal, as in “defrauding an inn-keeper”.

        • BStu78 says:

          I doubt many jurisdictions would treat eating food without paying for it as a purely civil offense. There are criminal violations that can and should be enforced in such cases. Whether that allowed the restaurant to detain them, I am uncertain, but calling the police was obviously justified when a patron has accepted goods and services and threatens to walk out on their bill.

          • joako says:

            If they paid for the food on the bill arguably their intent was not to dine and dash. It is a contract issue regarding items on a bill and the payment for that bill.

        • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

          When last I checked, failure to pay for service of any sort, as long as it was agreed to up front, is considered theft of service, and therefore a criminal offence. The menu stated that parties of over x amount of people will be subject to this automatic gratuity. Is it fair? You had your chance to state your opinion on that before you ordered the food, or at the very least, before you were handed the check. Does this suck? Of course it does, but the patrons did imply they agreed to the terms of the deal when they ordered the food. Should the restaurant have detained them? That’s up to a judge to decide, not me.

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      Nope, seems like an attempted dine and dash. You’re required to pay the full amount as listed on your bill. If Jasmine and her posse have a problem with it and feel they didn’t get what they paid for they can take it up in small claims court.

      If I order a meal and I don’t like it but eat it anyway I don’t get to then later say to the manager “well I didn’t like the meal so I’m not going to pay for it” and expect to just walk out. If they had a problem with their server they should have expressed their dissatisfaction *before* they were finished eating, since it was clearly written they were going to have to pay the service fee regardless.

      • EllenRose says:

        A friend and I were aggressively neglected at a restaurant a few months back. Then they added a “gratuity” onto the bill. Two people, for pete’s sake!

        So I left the money on the table, precise change: bill, less gratuity, plus one cent. Tips are supposed to be for service, and we hadn’t gotten any. The penny, I have been told, is the most dire insult you can possibly give to a waitron.

        • Difdi says:

          I’ve done something similar in the past, though I usually leave two pennies, not one, literally putting my two cents in on the quality of the service.

  4. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    The last time I was at a restaurant with automatic gratuity (Chili’s I think) there were three lines on the credit card receipt (amounts are for example. We had seperate checks but it was a party of 20):

    Sub Total: $15.00
    Included gratuity (18%): $2.70
    Additional or less gratuity (+/-): ____
    Total:____

    They gave me the option of adding more or taking away if the service sucked. 18% was just a strong suggestion.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      I want to know why the hell an automatic gratuity was tacked on to a $15 bill.

      • alSeen says:

        Because the automatic gratuity was in play because of the size of the party, not the amount of the check.

      • K-Bo says:

        Everywhere I have been, it’s done by the size of the party, even if the checks were separate.

        • dks64 says:

          I think it’s weird when people think “Oh, we have separate checks, so we shouldn’t get that gratuity added on.” So let me get this straight… they think that because we have to do more work, we should be paid even less? That makes no sense.

          • wade says:

            Man, separate checks is when the server really needs the automatic gratuity, because that’s when all the cheap bastards play the “I’m sure someone else will take care of the tip” game.

          • TOWNIE says:

            No servers should be able to comment on any tip issues without posting a copy of their tax returns , with their comment, showing they paid taxes on all their tips. If they do that, then they may complain about tips.

      • Charmander says:

        He said it was a party of 20, but with separate checks.

    • rmorin says:

      Reposting myself:

      This is incredibly short sighted, and a really poor way at looking at the practice of tipping. Tipping allows the individual consumer to decide the cost of service (with the obvious exception being mandatory tips like this one). The price of food on the menu would be greatly increase to allow the servers to be paid minimum wage. Good servers at most restaurants who make above minimum wage now would have their wages drop as business owners aim to still maximize their profits and keep costs low to the consumer. Regardless of how well servers perform their job, compensation would be the same, so service levels would drop. Perhaps business owners come out a little more ahead financially, but the average server would suffer from your suggestion. Instead of the value of service being between you and the server, you advocate a business stepping in and telling you. That’s crazy talk on a blog called “Consumerist”.

      You have to be a child to want that choice taken away from you. “I can’t handle the decision of whether the service was worth 10% or 15% today, someone please hold my hand and tell me!” is what you are advocating for. And that person? Not someone has your best interest in mind.

      • rmorin says:

        WTF? Wrong post!

      • Coleoptera Girl says:

        The repost is irrelevant to this comment. AustinTXProgrammer merely provided an example, one that gives the consumer more flexibility in choosing how much to pay the waiter in tip/gratuity. I love that Chili’s did this, indicating that, yes, it’s okay to reduce the gratuity if the service sucked.

  5. pgr says:

    Don’t ever go back.

    Tipping is a foul and disgraceful way to pay people and should be outlawed.

    • JohnDeere says:

      that would kill strip clubs lol..

    • Jawaka says:

      Agreed.

    • StarKillerX says:

      Okay, but like it or not that is they way things are currently so the question because, do you penalize the wait staff because you don’t care for the way they are paid in the US?

    • Cerne says:

      Yah merit based pay is just so wrong.

    • rmorin says:

      Reposting myself:

      This is incredibly short sighted, and a really poor way at looking at the practice of tipping. Tipping allows the individual consumer to decide the cost of service (with the obvious exception being mandatory tips like this one). The price of food on the menu would be greatly increase to allow the servers to be paid minimum wage. Good servers at most restaurants who make above minimum wage now would have their wages drop as business owners aim to still maximize their profits and keep costs low to the consumer. Regardless of how well servers perform their job, compensation would be the same, so service levels would drop. Perhaps business owners come out a little more ahead financially, but the average server would suffer from your suggestion. Instead of the value of service being between you and the server, you advocate a business stepping in and telling you. That’s crazy talk on a blog called “Consumerist”.

      You have to be a child to want that choice taken away from you. “I can’t handle the decision of whether the service was worth 10% or 15% today, someone please hold my hand and tell me!” is what you are advocating for. And that person? Not someone has your best interest in mind.

      • whogots is "not computer knowledgeable" says:

        If waiters were suddenly paid a fair wage, I could still _choose_ to tip for exceptional service. As it stands now, knowing that they make about 1/4 of minimum wage, I feel _obliged_ to pay for mediocre service. You basically have to spit in my soup, and then _not bring the soup to me_, to get less than 15%. I resent that.

        • rmorin says:

          Your argument makes no sense.

          If a business charged for service in it’s entirety through increases in meal prices you’d be obligated to pay whatever the business decided regardless of the quality of your service. Right now you get to decide through tipping. No tipping = business decides how much service is worth, and guess what? It is probably going to be more then you are used to. The cost of tipping does not disappear, it instead gets lumped into your meal cost, taking it our of your hands.

          Not to mention the ridiculousness of your assumption that not tipping would help wages for servers.

          • D007H says:

            So a restaurant sets a fix price with no tip. If customers think service is bad given the price, couldn’t they just choose to go the another restaurant? If a restaurant want to stay competitive, it needs to adjust prices accordingly.

            • rmorin says:

              Summarizing your argument: “We have two choices now, how much to tip and where to eat, if we take away tipping we still have a choice of where to eat”

              I think consumers would prefer 2 choices over 1.

          • whogots is "not computer knowledgeable" says:

            If tipping went away, the tip wage would have to go away. You do know that waiters are paid two dollars and thirteen cents ($2.13, seriously) an hour, right?

      • msbask says:

        If restaurants can provide their service at a fair cost and pay their employees a fair wage, how does every other service industry stay in business? Why are they any different?

        I’ll tell you why: Because people are TRAINED to think it’s different, when it’s not different in any way, shape or form.

        • rmorin says:

          If restaurants can provide their service at a fair cost and pay their employees a fair wage, how does every other service industry stay in business? Why are they any different?

          Don’t let facts get in the way of your self-righteousness. Servers in every state in this country are guarenteed minimum wage equivalence.

          And hmm you mention other service industries … like retail workers right? Funny …. Food servers make more than a dollar more an hour on average compared to retail workers per US Labor Department statistics. So they are different because consumers get a choice in the cost of service, and in practice servers get paid more.

          • JollyJumjuck says:

            Also they are different because food servers in general feel much more entitled than other service employees. In general servers don’t work any harder than other service employees, yet feel like they should be making so much more. I worked at a very busy gas station for nearly a year. The self-serve employees at other stations made more money while we ran our asses off serving customers, yet we got the rare tip around Christmas time and that was it. We made minimum wage. And food servers have the gall to be disgusted when they don’t make at least three twice that. Gas station attendants have to deal with inclement weather (no canopies to protect us from rail, hail, etc.), bad attitudes from customers, smelly working conditions, and getting run off our feet. Food servers have the life of Riley by comparison.

    • AK47 - Now with longer screen name! says:

      I strongly disagree.

      When I was a server, I did a great job and was able to make $15-$20/hour with tips. Yes, there were plenty of people who tipped poorly or didn’t tip at all, regardless of the level of service. But the good tippers who are willing to reward good service more than made up for those few.

      If a restaurant decides to pay a wage rather than the tipping system, there’s no way they would pay that much.

      • shufflemoomin says:

        And you think $20 dollars an hour to write things on a piece of paper and carry plates and glasses between tables is a fair wage? I’d pay you half of that or less. ANYONE could do that job.

    • Bionic Data Drop says:

      I agree. Wages should be paid by the employer, not directly from the customer, especially for subpar service.

      If I was in that party, I would pay the bill minus the 17% and tell the officer to arrest me or I’m leaving.

      Oh and BTW, locking the doors so people can’t get out is a big fire code violation.

      • rmorin says:

        Wages should be paid by the employer, not directly from the customer, especially for subpar service.

        The ignorance of this comment is immense. The cost of their 3x increase in salary to reach minimum wage would be footed by the employer, which would pass on that cost on to you. So you would still be paying a “tip” (as in the additional cost of service), regardless of whether it was the best, or worst service of your life. At least now with tipping you have a choice.

        • Jawaka says:

          Shitty waiters (employees) would then be fired like any other shitty employee in any other industry.

          • rmorin says:

            Yep you got it figured out. There is no grey in the world. A server is either going to spit in your food in front of you while punching you in the face, or they are going to do everything right. Can’t possibly be that they just are sort of out of it and only provide service worth 13% that shift. Nope, either 0% or 20%, you got it pal.

  6. deathbecomesme says:

    If he couldn’t say if it was against the law then he can’t arrest you for it. Pay your bill and leave the tip you think they deserve and leave and NEVER go back.

    • Youngfrankenstein says:

      Yeah, this is true. Why bother involving the police. Just pay it and move on.

      • George4478 says:

        Did you read the story? He didn’t want to pay a tip for lousy service so the restaurant called the police.

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      Problem is that refusing to pay your bill IS against the law, and that could have been enough to arrest them if they pressed the issue.

    • Difdi says:

      Actually, police can and do arrest people for absolutely no reason. They’re not supposed to, and doing so is illegal. But if nobody ever broke the law, nobody would have ever invented police.

    • Tyanna says:

      Wasn’t there a story just a few days ago where a cop arrested someone for “being a dick”? So yes, cops can arrest you if you haven’t broken a law.

  7. oldwiz65 says:

    I can’t see how you can legally lock people into a restaurant. The smart thing to do is to find out their tipping policy and leave before you order. And of course, never ever go back and tell your friends all about the restaurant so that your friends won’t go there either.

    • RandomHookup says:

      Kinda hard to figure out the mandatory minimum tip thing until you need it. We all see the policy on the menu, but wouldn’t think to ask if we have any flexibility with it because it’s not usually a problem.

    • longfeltwant says:

      Yeah I’m pretty sure businesses can detain you specifically when they are keeping you around for the police. If all they want to do is look in your bag, or talk to you, then no, but if you were shoplifting or refusing to pay, AND they call the police right away, then it’s not kidnapping or unlawful detention.

      • doctorc4 says:

        That is incorrect.
        You, as a Citizen, do not have the power to detain. You have the power to Arrest. Once you have informed someone that they are under Citizens Arrest, you may hold them until the authorities arrive. Once the Authorities arrive, the person that called Citizens Arrest must sign the arrest form. If they sign the arrest form, and it turns out to be a bad call, they can be brought up on charges for false arrest.

        So….

        If the manager did not notify them that they were under Citizens Arrest, and barred their exit, that is grounds for kidnapping. I politely inform all receipt checkers of this.

        I worked Private Security in CA for way to many years, and that is how it works (I have had to do it more than once).

  8. MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

    The manager was a moron. The restaurant will be lucky to stay open for another 6 months after treating customers like that and having it make the news.

    That said, the policy was pretty clear, and the gratuity was on the bill. Do you get to not pay for a dish if it’s awful? You shouldn’t have to pay for it if the management wants to stay in business, but if they really insisted, I’d pay it and spend the next month complaining about them on every review site I could find.

    • jeadly says:

      Do you have to pay for the dish if it says it’s awful on the menu?

      • Nidoking says:

        Did it say on the menu that the service would be awful?

        • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

          Exactly. The payment expected for (gratuity|dish) was clear, but the (gratuity|dish) really failed at meeting your expectations, and is considered unacceptable by you. That’s essentially the issue.

          The best solution in either case is to bring it to the manager’s attention before you finish your meal. If you’re sending it back or refusing to eat because of the issue, you have a lot more credibility and better standing to dispute the charge.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      I, as the manager, would of been more concerned about the wait staff performance then arguing over that charge. The manager should be fired for this, it was a horrific call. I would of done the same thing you stated; remove the mandatory gratuity, but still mention that it would be courteous to leave one that they felt was more appropriate, as well as invite them back with a gift card or a free desert.

      Even if this party didn’t accept the free food offers, I would try to part ways with them on a positive note so they don’t spread the negative experience with others- I would go as far as discounting the bill if they didn’t want to return again.

      Calling the COPS on them? Forget it. I’m a patron of a few local restaurants and love their food, but if I found out that they provided bad service, still expected to charge this mandatory “gratuity”, and went so far as to call the cops instead of making things right with the customer?

      I’d NEVER step foot in their again.

      • Such an Interesting Monster says:

        Remember too that we’re only getting one side of the story without hearing from the restaurant. For all we know these people were truly awful patrons that were loud, obnoxious, and overly demanding, and the poor waitstaff that was stuck with them was doing his/her best to appease people that simply were impossible to please.

        In a situation like that if I were the manager there is no way in hell I’d let them leave without paying the full bill, and I’d be thankful they if they never came back.

        • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

          Yes, but no matter how bad the customers are and how good the waitstaff is, you can’t force customers to tip…unless it’s agreed upon before they are served. (Which is why we need to simply eliminate the lower minimum wage for waitstaff and let tipping become a reward for good service.)

          • Such an Interesting Monster says:

            In this case it was — due to the size of the party the gratuity (or “service charge” for those anal-retentive types) is fixed, and is clearly labeled as such.

            If they had an issue with or the service it should have been brought up prior to finishing the meal, not after.

            • Difdi says:

              Unfortunately, a service charge is not legally a tip. It belongs to the employer, not the wait staff, and is taxed differently than a tip is. The two terms are not interchangeable.

              A tip cannot be legally withheld from wait staff. A service charge can be withheld from wait staff without any penalty at all, because under the law, it is not a tip. Any moral considerations with regard to stiffing wait staff on tips do not apply to service charges, because they are not tips.

              http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs15.htm

              • Such an Interesting Monster says:

                And you’d be one of those types I was talking about, ain’tcha?

    • Lee Harvey Griswald says:

      I agree that if the policy is clearly stated you’re probably obligated to pay it. Having said that, I also don’t think the manager is legally allowed to essentially kidnap/falsely imprison you. And if the customers had simply paid and then complained, as you suggest, the restaurant wouldn’t be suffering all this bad publicity, which they rightly deserve. I suggest heading to La Fisherman’s website and leaving a comment or two. Bury them.

  9. longfeltwant says:

    Damn that’s a tough one. I guess I’d have to say that if it is on the menu, it’s part of the price and you have to pay it.

    BUT like with any price for a product, if you are unsatisfied you are allowed to raise a snit about it, to the point of going to the media if you want. That is what these people did: received bad service; attempted to settle with the manager; raise a snit; eventually pay the bill; take the problem to the public. Thus, I have to conclude that all parties acted within the bounds of reason. Nevertheless, if I were that manager, I probably would have apologized, taken the gratuity off the bill, and invite the group back with a free appetizer. That’s called good customer service, but at the end of the day businesses aren’t required to provide good customer service.

  10. full.tang.halo says:

    I believe it would be considered theft of service, and that can be a crime in some states.

    • RandomLetters says:

      Not paying for the meal is theft of service. A tip is a purely optional way of expressing appreciation for good service. So no matter what the policy is, the cost of the meal and tax is all you legally owe.

      • NeverLetMeDown says:

        “So no matter what the policy is, the cost of the meal and tax is all you legally owe.”

        True, if the tip is optional. In this case, it isn’t, it’s a predefined set charge on the menu, just like the price of the soup.

    • tinmanx says:

      Can’t be a theft of service if there was no service.

      This reminds me of a Vegas cabbie taking a 50% tip on my CC when I purposely didn’t tip him for taking the long way around and doubled the cost of the ride. Saw it on my statement when I got home and disputed the tip with my CC company. I paid for the overpriced ride, but not the tip.

      These people could have done the same, maybe dispute 12% of the tip amount and leave them a 5% tip. So they still paid for the service, just what they thought the service was worth.

      • nishioka says:

        > Can’t be a theft of service if there was no service.

        Did the food get brought out? Yes? Then there was service.

        • LastError says:

          That’s idiotic. Did something theoretically edible show up on the table? Then pay?

          So you order a steak and they bring you cheetos and koolaid. It’s something. It’s edible. It was put on the table. Now pay for the steak. The restaurant didn’t promise to bring you what their menu promised?

          Hell no. THAT is where the fraud comes in.

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      It’s called “defrauding an inn-keeper” and is a criminal offense like shoplifting.

    • TRRosen says:

      Judges have ruled if its called a gratuity its optional. End of story.

      • Such an Interesting Monster says:

        Only if one of those judges is in this district, otherwise the story is far from over as their rulings hold no weight there.

        It is an interesting question tho — does calling it a gratuity make it optional whereas calling it a service charge makes it mandatory? Seems like silly semantics to me.

  11. AtlantaCPA says:

    One upside is the controversy certainly let the manager know that server’s service was bad. It’s not like this one could fly under the radar!

    • Coleoptera Girl says:

      Considering the manager’s reaction, I suspect that the poor service is typical and definitely not flying under the radar.

    • Doncosmic says:

      Unless the service wasn’t bad and these people are just awful customers. If I were the manager I just would have let them leave and ban them from the restaurant, some create more problems than they are worth.

  12. zandar says:

    if the gratuity is prominently displayed, why is it not considered a de facto part of the actual price of the entrees? And is not paying the price of your food considered theft?

    I don’t necessarily sympathize with mandatory gratuity- although as a former server I know large parties make the wait staff work a lot harder- but if I said on my menu, for instance, “everyone will pay a surcharge of $1 per item at the register,” it’s a strange way of stating the price on the menu, but is it not part of the price?

    • jayinatlanta says:

      This is a good point. I also respect the point of view of folks who don’t think tipping is a good way to pay a portion of the actual cost of a meal.

      However, please be rational for a moment and understand the industry as it currently exists in the United States of America.

      One thing that I didn’t see mentioned in the article was the size of the party. Let’s just say it was 6 people.

      In many cases, tips have to be split with the bartender, the “runners” — people who deliver food, clean tables, etc., as well as other servers who need to help out because of the size of the party. So, understand that even if a server was the rudest person on earth, the tip is really paying for the necessary extra physical service it takes to deliver food and clean up before and after your large party.

      In Jasmine’s case, she says she asked if the automatic tip amount could be reduced. Maybe Jasmine’s theoretical table of 6 had an additional server helping out. Why should that server be penalized for not being able to take as many tables during that timeframe?

      And what if Jasmine’s table was not 6, but rather an office party of 20?

      Now to the folks who think tipping is a bad way to pay some of the actual costs of a meal (namely: the costs of fully employing the servers and runners and bartenders). That is a good point. My understanding is that in Europe, waitstaff get paid much more than $2.15/hr, and therefore tips are not expected at all. But, because it’s a set fee regardless of the amount of work, that’d be socialism, right?

      [Just from a dude who managed a couple of movie theaters and video stores, and whose wife was a long-time, very nice waitress. :)]

      • daynight says:

        If there are other people who depend on the waitperson’s tips, and if the waitperson is poor at their job, then these other individuals need to put the pressure on the incompetent waitperson to shape up. Giving a low tip is intended as encouragement to do better. These other people might take a day to ‘do poorly’ for the waitperson to show the repercussions of poor service and how it fans out. But don’t blame the customer for judging by what they actually experience. That is all they have to go on.

    • Boehme417 says:

      Not exactly… I’m an accountant and used to work for a company that owned hotels and restaurants. With the restaurants, catering, and banquets (hotel), you CANNOT force anyone to pay tip/grat., regardless of whether or not it’s posted. That said, you can enforce a “service charge” (typically a percentage stated before services are rendered). We would auto grat some groups, but you can’t force the party to pay it.

    • Razor512 says:

      does it magically change everything if 5 people walk in and order food, vs 5 people walking in and saying they are a group and ordering food?

      they are still serving the same number of people’ and if anything the group should get a discount because someone dragged in 4 other people to the restaurant and thus provided additional business that they may not have gotten otherwise.

    • balderdashed says:

      A surcharge is part of the price, and the customer would most likely be legally obligated to pay it. But a gratuity, by definition, is “a GIFT of money, over and above payment due for service” or “something given without claim or demand.” If the restaurant had clearly stated on the menu, a 17% SERVICE SURCHARGE is automatically added to price of your menu item (and the typeface was large enough so it would not likely have been missed) that would be one thing — to refuse to pay it would be the same as refusing to pay for one’s dinner. But if they call it a gratuity, it is by definition voluntary — even if they choose to add it automatically to the bill. That’s the plain and ordinary meaning of the word, and it’s hard to see how the restaurant could persuasively argue otherwise.

  13. winstonthorne says:

    Maybe this would work: in the “tip” line, put in a NEGATIVE amount to bring the tip down to where you want it to be. In the “total” line, put the revised total. Keep a copy of the receipt in case the restaurant does something silly. Anyone seen this done? (Not talking about the Chili’s example where the receipt provides for it, above). Does it work?

    An article about tipping…and Texas…the comments are about to get REAL.

    • Nidoking says:

      It was done on zug.com, during the great credit card experiment. That wasn’t a reduction of automatic gratuity, but an actual “negative tip” added to the raw total. He was charged the full amount of the food, discounting the invalid tip amount.

  14. cornstalker says:

    Some of the worst service I’ve ever gotten was when the “gratuity” was automatic. I had dinner with friends at a restaurant and saw our server all of once during our entire meal. I literally had to corner him gabbing at the bar to get a refill, and then had to tackle him as he rushed by our table in order to get our check at the end.

    I had to settle for just giving the place a bad review on Yelp.

    • Jillia says:

      Brunch buffets are the worst. Last time I went (and haven’t been back since), since you obviously get your own food, all our waitress did was get us a few drinks and could barely do that! I had to flag her down at least twice. A couple times I saw her outside smoking a cig or on the phone. I guess considering they need someone to get you drinks, but know people won’t leave a good tip for just that, they include mandatory gratuity or whatever you want to call it of 18%!. What a bunch of crap. Never again thank you.

  15. InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

    The staff was in no way justified in locking people in. It was an overreaction, and not the appropriate way to handle people who refuse to pay what is listed on their tab.

    However, if the automatic gratuity was clearly stated beforehand, I would say it is therefore part of the bill that is owed. If you don’t like the idea of an automatic gratuity, then don’t patronize that restaurant. I’ve never been to a place that didn’t notify me in some fashion about automatic gratuities *before* I placed my order. At that point, I had every right to walk out and go somewhere else. So did this family.

    • RandomHookup says:

      But most places that do have an automatic tip will allow you to adjust it downward if the service is inadequate. It’s impossible to judge that before you take your seat.

      • InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

        Well, I look at an automatic gratiuity as the diner saying “I agree to pay this amount”, not “I agree to pay this amount if the service is up to my standards”.

        • bonzombiekitty says:

          Once it becomes a required fee, it’s not gratuity. A tip/gratuity is, by definition, optional. If they want to make it mandatory, it should be a service fee.

        • RandomHookup says:

          If the food isn’t edible, don’t I have a right not to pay for it? Yes, the service charge is “mandatory”, but if it doesn’t come up to some minimum standard then I am paying for something that wasn’t delivered.

          Again, almost every restaurant will adjust the charge if asked.

  16. Chasing Headless Chickens says:

    Has this restaurant never heard of Yelp?

    Defending their crappy service and demanding gratuity in exchange for their new two-star rating on Yelp sounds like sound business judgment, in my opinion. /s

    • MMD says:

      Of course, if the restaurant has a relationship with Yelp, they can probably get negative reviews removed.

      I used to write reviews on Yelp until a business complained about my negative review (I complained that they were not open during their posted hours). The business owner tracked me down through Yelp and wrote me a nasty email. Soon after, *all* of my Yelp reviews had been taken down, even though the rest were positive reviews of restaurants I liked.

  17. Cat says:

    This may or may not work, but it’s worth a try:

    Two charges – one for the bill, one for the tip.
    Pay with a credit card, and chargeback the tip.

  18. MrEvil says:

    Last time I was out with a big party we ate at a restaurant with 18% gratuity for groups >10 However the service we received was not anywhere close to being worth 18%. We had 14 people, and most restaurants will dedicate one server to a party that size and then have the server responsible for that section fill in when needed. Instead we had one server who was responsible for that entire half of the restaurant with about 100 people in it.

    Thankfully when asked about it, the manager knocked the mandatory 18% right off the bill without a fuss.

    • liz.lemonade says:

      Not arguing with YOU, but I’m surprised the manager would agree to stiff the waiter the mandatory tip when it wasn’t the waiter’s fault she was saddled with so many tables. You shouldn’t be expected to tip for bad service, but she shouldn’t have to suffer the lower income because of something out of her control. (Bad manager. Hope s/he made it up to the server in some other way.)

      • msbask says:

        Which is EXACTLY why tipping is a stupid system.

        The food is too salty?
        Waiter gets stiffed.

        The food takes too long?
        Waiter gets stiffed.

        Waiter has too many tables and can’t keep up?
        Waiter gets stiffed.

        Takes to long to seat a party?
        Waiter gets stiffed.

        The waiter is the ONLY one who suffers no matter what the cause of the patron’s dissatisfaction. How does anyone think that’s fair?

        • Such an Interesting Monster says:

          Dude, you need to let it go. We get it, you hate tipping. But you need to get over it cause this is way things are and isn’t going to change anytime soon, if ever.

          I’m curious tho — do you let your servers know prior to serving you that you won’t tip them no matter how hard they try to please you? Cause y’know, it’s only fair. Let them decide if you’re worth treating as a valued patron when you’ve made it clear there is nothing extra in it for them.

          Cause otherwise you’re just a tease who is using the system you claim to despise against the hard-working people who are just trying to make a living like everyone else.

          • msbask says:

            this is way things are and isn’t going to change anytime soon, if ever

            That is the most ridiculous comment I’ve read all week. Especially since what I’m trying to say is that the tipping system benefits no one except the owners of a restaurant. You can’t really believe that servers themselves are better off with wildly fluctuating paychecks depending on the goodwill of the patronage that week or worse, subject to a hundred variables outside their control.

            The system is broken and needs to be changed, but gosh darn, I’ll just shut up and mind my little ole business. Heaven knows nothing’s ever been changed by people speaking up.

            • Such an Interesting Monster says:

              Because there is no need to fix a system that’s not broken. YOU may see it as such, but as someone who has worked in the service industry I can tell you it’s not.

              Many of the issues you bring up are no different for those that work on commission. Do you believe that should be abolished as well? What about those that don’t work a consistent 9-5 job, and whose schedule and hours vary from week to week as the business deems necessary? Should we outlaw that practice as well and demand employers give everyone a set, fixed schedule so that their income never, ever fluctuates?

              Service workers that work hard to please their patrons are, in general, rewarded with higher tips than those that don’t. And in many cases they make far more than if they were working salary. The system by nature weeds out those that don’t belong in the service industry as they won’t make the kind of money they expect. And this is a good thing; it’s the way it’s supposed to work. If you remove the incentive to provide quality service then you’re unlikely to get it, despite paying more for it.

              Seriously, think it thru a bit. I think you’ll realize that the system works and works well, except for those that for some reason have a bug up their ass about having to tip.

      • kurtisnelson says:

        Here’s my counter to that:
        If service quality suffers due to a waiter having too many tables, they break even.
        20 tables at 10% each on an average check = X
        10 tables at 20% each on an average check = X

  19. Rocket80 says:

    Wtf so they asked the police if they were breaking the law, cops have no idea, so they pay the bill anyway?! Grow a spine people!

    “Officer, either arrest me or let me go – but I’m not paying that bill. Am I free to go? Also, I’d like to file kidnapping/unlawful detention charges against this owner.”

  20. cyberpenguin says:

    If one party (the restaurant) doesn’t deliver their side of the contract, the other side shouldn’t be forced to fulfill their side either.

    You shouldn’t have to pay for service you didn’t receive.

  21. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    There doesn’t seem to be any argument over whether the doors were locked. That’s most likely a clear violation of fire code. Call the fire chief and ask him to issue a citation. It will cost them more than whatever the cost of that meal and tip was.

    • tungstencoil says:

      It’s only a violation of code if there’s no one staffing the door to unlock/relock. This actually came up in one of the news stories.

  22. Costner says:

    …And the Yelp reviews are already bringing their rating down into the crapper. I don’t know what the 17% worked out to be, but I bet it is a mere fraction of the business they will lose over this incident.

    Resturaunt managers need to have a bit of foresight. This is going to kill them.

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      Only if they or the majority of their patrons care about Yelp reviews.

      • ovalseven says:

        You don’t need the majority. All you need is a few. If the people who posted these reviews never eat there again, I’m sure the cost will exceed that 17% gratuity.

        http://www.yelp.com/biz/la-fisherman-houston?sort_by=date_desc

        • Such an Interesting Monster says:

          It depends. As I said above we haven’t heard the restaurant’s side of the story. If these people were truly horrific patrons then losing a bit of money is probably worth not having to put up with them and any of their friends.

  23. AnonymousCommenter says:

    The manager gets an A+ in policy enforcement, but an F- in customer service

  24. az123 says:

    What this tells me is that the gratuity is not even going to the servers, as it should be; or everyone working in the restaurant is a family pocketing the money into one pool.

    Normally the manager and actual restaurant should not care about what level of tip is left and if the service is bad and someone does not want to leave the automatic level (with some legitimate complaints behind them) it is not impacting the business but the servers pockets, thus they don’t care outside of keeping servers happy.

    The purpose of automatic gratuities is to ensure the server gets something reasonable. Having worked in food service, large groups take a lot of effort and may impact tips at other tables and what is worse people will make the server work and rack up a $200 bill and then say that a $30-40 tip just seems high and they get screwed. If they had 2-3 smaller tables with the same number of people they would have likely gotten a 15-20% off them, but people don’t just think % but also total dollars and forget they are preventing a server from getting other tips.

    That being said I have never worked in a restaurant where a complaint did not pretty much automatically get a forced tip removed from the bill.

  25. Cooneymike says:

    There is legal precedent that mandatory gratuities can be negotiated, altered or refused after the sale. See http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/15/nyregion/15tipper.html?_r=1 for example, but this will vary by state. False imprisonment is a crime in every state. The manager may have been attempting a Citizen’s Arrest with his detention, but in my state detention is only allowed for violent felonies. Theft of Service is a crime in my state, although not paying for your meal doesn’t apply here, it would be just Theft, but the customer said they would pay for the food, just not the gratuity. The rest would never fly in my state and I am guessing in any other.

    The short answer here is the customers ought to sue in this case as a matter of principal. It was wholly innappropriate for the manager to either refuse to negotiate the gratuity after the meal and to lock them in under any circumstances. Making this an expensive matter for the resteraunt will not only teach him a lesson but also send a message to all little despots that they will be accountable for their actions.

    • bhr says:

      I don’t know the innkeeper laws in Texas, but there might be some added protections/rules on what is allowed. (I just think it’s bad business)

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      How about a lesson for badly-behaving restaurant patrons, like “we can act like total inconsiderate and demanding slobs, refuse to pay our bill, and then drag the restaurant to court for a big cash payout”? How would that work in your state?

  26. dush says:

    If they saw that on the menu and didn’t want to pay the auto gratuity they should have walked out before ordering food.

    • AK47 - Now with longer screen name! says:

      But I think their complaint is more that the level of service was terrible during the course of the meal. No way to know that before ordering the food.

      From the video I saw on this story, it seems the diners were OK with the idea of the auto gratuity at first, but after the service was so awful they asked the manager to waive it so they could leave a smaller tip that was more in line with the poor service.

  27. RoadDogg says:

    They should have written the amount they wanted to pay on their copy of the receipt, then wrote the same amount on the restaurants copy and scratch it out to change it to the + gratuity amount. Then they could call up and do a charge back.

    Yes it would be a shitty thing to do, but fuck them.

    • SeattleSeven says:

      This!

      People get so involved in arguing with wage slaves who rarely have the power, will, knowledge or tools to solve their problem anyway. Just charge it and fight it later.

      Of course I guess this mostly applies to consumers who are capable of writing a comprehensible letter. Based on the people I see in these various consumer outrage news reports, they isn’t always the case.

  28. Snape says:

    I don’t understand why it should be a % of the total. Does it take more effort to serve a $15 dollar steak versus a $45 steak?

    • InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

      Actually, yes, it usually does. Because in a restaurant that has a $45 steak, the waitstaff is generally expected to be more knowledgeable about the offerings, and be better at selling you on the restaurant’s dishes and wine offerings. This is an additional skillset that isn’t necessarily expected at your local chain restaurant.
      Moreover, because the higher-end restaurant tends to have a lower ratio of tables to servers, each server is (theoretically) able to provide more attention to each table; they also have fewer separate opportuinities to earn tips (a quality vs. quantity issue).

      • Hi_Hello says:

        so I go to the the same restaurant that offer the $45 steak rare, no sides, no sauce, and cutting knife is already on the table and my partner order a $10 mash potato, with gravy on the side (extra plate), asked for extra pepper to be grounded and extra butter on the side (extra plate).

        The server should get (%20) $8 tip from me and $2 tip from my partner…even though there was a lot less work for me and a lot more for my partner.

        we were both recommended certain type of wine for out meal.

    • msbask says:

      I couldn’t agree more. This is even more telling when it comes to serving alcohol. Because you know it’s much harder to pour a glass of $30 bourbon than it is to pour a $5 glass of Jack Daniels.

      I don’t think so.

  29. JohnDeere says:

    GRATUITIES ARE NOT GRATUITIES ONCE THEY BECOME MANDATORY…..

    sorry caps where needed i was shouting on purpose.

  30. RandomHookup says:

    I look at this the same way I would at food that doesn’t come up to standards. Just because it’s on the bill, I still have a right to dispute it.

  31. Hoss says:

    Something tells me this restaurant will be out of business before summer. They should have eaten the “mandatory” charge.

    But what’s up with the BBB guy? What an arse.

  32. homehome says:

    Well, if the agreement before the ate was that, then that’s what it is, either pay it or don’t order food. If they let this go, then people will be able to say yea that McDouble is $1, but I feel it should be .80 so I’m going to pay .80. No, it doesn’t work that way. Where they pro bably messed up was holding them, but the customer are no more right in this situation. Gratuity for that isn’t an option after the fact, either you agree to pay or don’t eat there, that simple. Everybody wants to be a lawyer after the fact instead of using common sense before. And if the customer’s sue, as the manager, I’d sue them.

    • Dr. Shrinker says:

      I’m not sure what a McDouble is, but if the price is $1.00 and they hand you a small, cold cheeseburger instead do you STILL have to pay the $1.00? The gratuity was for service, and poor service was provided. If poor food is provided, I’m sure as hell either going to get it replaced or get my money back, so why should service be any different?

      • homehome says:

        Bad analogy, McDouble served at some McD’s they advertise it as warm to hot, so if they hand it to you cold, then no you don’t have to pay for it because they didn’t give it to you as advertised. If I buy a tv 1080 LED 55 inch and they end up sending me a 1080 LCD 55 inch, then I’m going to want my money back because that is not what I bought. In this case, it was full disclosure about the 17% gratitude, from what I under no hwere in that disclosure did it state they were promised great service, am I right? So you shouldn’t put the two together because they have nothing to do with each other.

  33. Fishnoise says:

    Even if there was such as thing as a mandatory “gratuity” (they should have called it a service charge, although that’s dubious too, not least because they didn’t get reasonable service), locking people inside a building is a HUGE no-no.

    I’m just wondering now if the restaurant’s commercial insurance policy would even cover intentional torts like this. If not, the patrons might still get some satisfaction by swearing out a criminal complaint and testifying against these thugs in court.

  34. bhr says:

    I’m with pretty much everyone else. The restaurant had no right to lock them in (that is a huge legal issue) but if the gratuity is on the menu/signs, and it was clearly disclosed as automatic then they should be responsible for paying it. The anti-tipping people want exactly that, so I’m surprised that they are so against it. If the customers had an issue with the service/food they should have complained during the meal.

    All those “just dump the tip and pay a living wage” trolls that come out for every tipping column: Do you realize that automatic gratuity does that exact thing? They raise prices by a set amount to compensate the employee, regardless of service level.

    If every restaurant did that and just put a line on the menu that said “We do not require or expect tips for our employees, all meals in the restaurant will have a 15% service charge added” do you think that would increase or decrease the service level and amount of customers.

    • Hi_Hello says:

      not really.
      Price probably stay the same, or increase smaller than 15%… I guess it would vary by state.

      but it’s all theories.

      • bhr says:

        Where do you think that money comes from?

        Let’s say that the average restaurant 10 waiters, open 12-10 (I’m limiting the numbers intentionally) seven days a week. That gives them a wait staff working 36500 hrs a year. Upping them to a rate slightly above retail (say, an extra $6 an hour over their current 2.50 average) would create an additional labor cost of $219,000. How many restaurants would be willing to eat that as a loss? How many restaurants could eat that cost?

        If you think eliminating tipping would lower total cost you are kidding yourself.

        • Hi_Hello says:

          im just going base on what I experience on places that have no tip.

          i didn’t say it would lower the cost. I said it would stay the same or the increase would be smaller than 15%.

          what if, because of increase of cost for business, the average restaurant wait staff decrease from 10 to 6 or 5?

          bus boy position get removed and wait staff handle the clearing of the table and cleaning it.

          more businesses would probably shut down but customer would go to those that are open.

          there is probably longer wait time but I would be cool with that.

          all theories.

          • bhr says:

            So, the service level would drop and you would expect the employees to do more work for less money? And increase unemployment..

            Prices would go up 12-15% in order to keep staff (and keep them happy). Restaurants would not just choose to go out of business.

  35. wrbwrx says:

    yelp!

  36. apember says:

    Pay the bill with a credit card and then dispute the charge with the credit card issuer. From my earlier days in DC, I remember as long and you had no intent to defraud the restaurant in the first case it was a civil matter and not against the wall. Personally I would dispute the whole bill not just the tip.

  37. JohnDeere says:

    gra·tu·i·ty   [gruh-too-i-tee, -tyoo-] Show IPA
    noun, plural gra·tu·i·ties.
    1.
    a gift of money, over and above payment due for service, as to a waiter or bellhop; tip.
    2.
    something given without claim or demand.

    • consumerfan says:

      Exactly. It’s not a service fee. It’s not part of the cost of the meal.

      Whether the tip is automatically added to the bill is irrelevant. It’s added so that groups don’t stiff the wait staff in the process of collecting their share of the bill. That doesn’t make it mandatory.

  38. MickeyMoo says:

    I ordered ice cream (sit down) with 3 friends at a Swenson’s in Santa Rosa, CA once – it took forever to come to the table, and once it finally did, it was more like lumpy soup. I refused to pay, and conveniently, there was a valiant SRPD officer waiting at the door who threatened me with arrest for “defrauding an innkeeper”. I paid the bill, but $0 tip. Were this now instead of 1981, there would be iPhone video-a-plenty, and a harassment lawsuit (2 gays, 1 black, 1 pinko longhair hippy) Needless to say, I’ve never been to a Swenson’s since.

    Were I the customer in question in the story, I’d pay with a credit card and then chargeback the % of the tip I felt was in excess.

  39. RandomLetters says:

    If you want to make them have to pay the charge then stop calling it a gratuity. Call it a surcharge, servive charge or something but stop trying to force anyone to have to pay a gratuity. As stated above, legal precident has been set that a gratuity is not manditory no matter what policy states.

  40. Errr... says:

    If you see on the menu that there is an automatic gratuity, you have some choices as far as I see it- walk out and go somewhere else, complain so you get the service you’ll be paying for or suck it up and pay it. If the service was crappy, they should have complained to management before they even got the bill.
    Horrible service needs to be addressed with the manager, not just with the amount you tip. If someone is a bad server and constantly gets poor tips, they’re likely to not notice a difference and think people in general are bad tippers, or that the customer is just cheap. If the manager knows the server is inattentive or rude, he/she can retrain or fire the server.

  41. CharlesFarley says:

    Where is Mr. Pink when you need him?

  42. ToddMU03 says:

    Yes you should be forced to pay it. Wife worked a party of 16 people with separate checks for everyone. Left a total of 2 percent on the bill. Most of the people did not tip.

    • Reading Rainbow says:

      Does that make what they did illegal? Absolutely not. Moral? Probably not, but being immoral isn’t against the law. If they felt their meal deserved a 2% tip (it probably deserved much more than that) then the point with TIPPING is it’s their right to choose that. Doesn’t mean you can’t be upset about it but it doesn’t mean you can detain them.

    • RandomHookup says:

      And what does that have to do with this case?

  43. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Should have known better, going to a restaurant called ” La Fisherman”

  44. Ilovegnomes says:

    There needs to be some legal definition of expected service if states can legally enforce the requirement of gratuity to be added to the bill. Because the restaurant is setting the terms of the policy but not setting the expectation of what is the level of service. For example, if the restaurant advertises free refills on soda, you order a soda but your server refuses to come back to the table to refill your drinks, how is that fair to the customer? The customer isn’t getting what they paid for in terms of service and the product that they are paying for. The mandatory gratuity agreement only protects the restaurant and not the consumer.

  45. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    http://www.la-fisherman.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=62&Itemid=148

    *** A 17% gratutity will be added for parties of 5 or more ***

    • Ilovegnomes says:

      “*** Prices subject to change without notice!!!!! ***”

      The amount of exclamation points would make me wonder if that means that it could change mid-meal.

  46. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/la-fisherman-houston

    6/20/2011
    So we get the bill, and they overcharged us. We try talking to the waitress, and she had accidently given us an extra pound of crawfish that we didn’t order. So we ask her if it’s possible to take it off and correct the bill. She said she would ask the manager. She comes out like 20 minutes later and says that it is not possible to remove it. That’s ridiculous. At this point, we ask her to bring out the manager so we could speak with him/her. She proceeds to disappear for another 20 minutes. Then she comes back out and says that she took out the extra pound she charged us. Problem solved, right? Wrong. We inspect the check and see that they didn’t quite take it out. My friends and I were tired of going back and forth, so we just paid the bill and left.

  47. DoraAreGames says:

    Wow. I don’t know what I’d do in a situation like that. My husband and I tend to be very generous tippers, so we always get good service, but that springs from me knowing what being a server is like and my husband’s mother being a waitress for much of his life.

    I remember once a few years ago we were at a restaurant, and halfway through the meal I decided I wanted a cocktail. (Had only been drinking soda up til then.) When I went to show my ID to the waitress, a very young and nervous looking girl, I didn’t realise it had expired. She said she couldn’t serve me and then literally RAN off. I guess she thought I was going to be mad? I was in the middle of saying, “Oh, my bad, no worries, can I get another Pepsi…” when she left. And she never came back for the rest of the meal, no refills on ANYTHING, just dropped off the bill and ran off again. It was bizarre, and also frustrating, because the place had live music and we would have been happy to hang out there for a few more hours just ordering more (non alcoholic) drinks and some dessert, but after that, we were really disappointed.

    I mention that because it was the ONLY time I have ever seen my husband leave less than an 18% tip. He left 15%, and then wrote a freaking note explaining why on the back of the receipt. He was mad for DAYS about being “forced” to leave less than 18%. I can’t imagine what we would have done here.

  48. Hobz says:

    I think the issue at hand was, was the level of service worth 17%. If I see something at the bottom of a menu for either an automatic gratuity or service charge then my expectation has been set.

    This is where things like automatic gratuities and service charges in restaurants are a gray area.

    Example, you have the brakes replaced on your car. You paid for the materials (brakes) and for the labor to put them on. The expectation is that when you pay the bill, your new brakes will be on the car and will stop the vehicle.

    Restaurants on the other hand make no guarantee. How can they? By not explicitly outlining what type of service the customer will receive for 17% you leave it up to the customer to make that determination.

  49. RandomLetters says:

    Totally not related to what happened but its LA Fisherman not La Fisherman.

  50. hamhands says:

    It would be horrible if the restaurant owners were stuck paying a real wage in lieu of tips………

  51. TRRosen says:

    Just pay with a credit card and right down the amount before the tip. They never look at it before you leave.

  52. wkm001 says:

    The last place I went to (Montano’s in Roanoke Virginia) also included gratuity for our party, 22%. It was stated on the menu, but damn, 22%. When our bill arrived I did some quick math to find out my gratuity was 25.##%. A really weird amount. The restaurant was including tax in the gratuity.

    I find it hard to believe no one ever pointed this out before. The simple answer is typically the correct one, they are crooked.

  53. Jemaine says:

    Why not order the meals individually, that way each person can tip what they want instead of as a whole?

    • Charmander says:

      It’s the size of the party that determines whether or not you have an automatic gratuity, not whether the checks are separate.

  54. gman863 says:

    La Fisherman screws over customers and gets busted in front of 75,000(+/-) viewers on one of the top local Houston evening newscasts.

    My guess is, within a few months, the sign in the window will say “For Lease:.

  55. samonela says:

    When I get automatic gratuity, (say 17% like this example) I’ll usually include a little note:

    Your service was well worth 20% which I was more than willing to pay! But since I have been mandated to pay 17% here you go. It’s not your fault, it’s your employer’s.

    I know that they don’t care, and it’s not fair, but hey, life’s not fair and hopefully the restaurant’s policy will change.

    • Charmander says:

      Yes, indeed, way to go – penalize the server, who has nothing to do with setting the policy.

  56. lasscat says:

    I would not have paid the gratuity for the following reasons:

    1. The dictionar defines gratuity as: “a gift or reward, usually of money, for services rendered; tip
    something given without claim or obligation”

    2. The officer could not answer the simple question if it was against the law not to pay the tip. If it was illegal, he would have cited the reason why it was illegal.

    3. Don’t know which city this occurred in, but in NY, it doesn’t matter if the gratuity is on the bill, you don’t have to pay the tip if the service was terrible.

    After said and done, I would have filed charges against the store manager and employees who detained me against my will.

  57. vicissitude says:

    Welcome back to a Nation of ‘Indentured Servitude’ . We have come a long way, since the Declaration of Independence and now we’re back again. Next (Again) comes Debtor’s jail for failing to pay the ‘kings relatives’, aka Senators, Congressional Members, their families and of course the rest of corrupt America. Texas think tanks leading the way to America’s destruction…

  58. Lyn Torden says:

    Violation of fire code!

  59. Mrs. w/1 child says:

    The upside? Jasmine’s family will not eat at establishments that have mandatory service charges ever again.

    IF the service was “less than steller” and they didn’t get everything they ordered, then they should have approached the manager and had the items they didn’t receive removed from their bill. If the service was poor and staff rude – they should have requested a different server.

    Don’t go out to eat if you can’t afford to tip properly.

    That all being said, the restaurant CANNOT lock them inside.

    • D007H says:

      “Don’t go out to eat if you can’t afford to tip properly”

      Lol. You just summed up what’s wrong with the whole tipping system today. When did eating out become so elitist?

  60. mcgyver210 says:

    They would have had a problem with me because I would have defended myself against be false imprisoned. No law was broken so I wouldn’t have paid the undeserved, unearned tip period. Next call would be my attorney for a lawsuit against everyone involved including the restaurant.

    I am so sick of this attitude that a tip is just part of everything now days.

  61. SunsetKid says:

    I hate the automatic gratuity and I hate even more when the tip amount is based on the entire bill including tax.

    • mcgyver210 says:

      I never tip on KGB charges & I don’t particularly care what managements policy is on this.

      If a restaurant ever tries to detain me over a tip their will be self defense injuries on all I have any physical contact with.

  62. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    “Officer, I’m glad you are here. We have been kidnapped and want to file false imprisonment charges.”

  63. osiris73 says:

    I’m all for tipping, if the tip I give goes ONLY to the server(s) who served me. Cooks, busboys, etc. should be straight wage.

    • mcgyver210 says:

      Trust me the servers in most places have to fund many more which could also be why some servers give lousy service which still is no excuse & wont make me tip more.

  64. dourdan says:

    really? just pay the tip and never come back again.

    I was once with my sister and her friend (age 20, 17, and 17) and when we got our bill there was a 18% gratuity. when we asked why, the manager said (I’m not even kidding) “that is what’s known as a tip- a tip is what you give your server for the work they have done.”

    WTF?
    It has been 10 years and i have never set foot in that place again.

  65. donovanr says:

    They may have made a few bucks that night but I would love the total amount lost when the story of their lousy service broke.

  66. loueloui says:

    Wow, this IS a toughie. It’s way too common in Florida, especially in the tourist areas, to get suprisingly bad service. The whole thought process behind this is that ‘You’ll be gone in a week, so we’ll never see you again. Pay your customary gratuity and get out.’ I had extremely bad service at the Gaylord Palms- a $350 a night hotel- in Orlando for just this reason.

    On the other hand hand I can see people being stingy and not paying just because they can. Having been a server this happens a lot. If Mr. and Mrs. Cheapo bring the whole family for Nanna’s birthday and they leave you $4.00, it can ruin your whole night or even week. Yes this has happened to me. Too many times to count. Occasionally, our manager would go to bat for us, and discount the meal after the fact and give us the difference to make sure we got something.

    If the service WAS bad, and they insisted I pay a gratuity, I would have had them split the check, which would have made them no longer a party of six, and voila.

    Not paying for your meal is called ‘Defrauding an Innkeeper’ for some strange reason. Maybe goes back to way old statutes. In Florida at least, the gratuity is always optional. You can add a ‘mandatory’ gratuity, but you can’t enforce it if someone refuses to pay. You can refuse service to someone who does this though.

  67. VHSer says:

    These “people” are worthless cowards for caving in and paying.

  68. shufflemoomin says:

    I’d have stayed around and filed my own charge for false imprisonment. This tipping culture has to stop. Breaking a policy is not breaking a law and holding someone against their will to a charge you have no legal way of proving they were aware of or agreed to, IS against the law. I rarely say it, but I hope these people sue this restaurant and win.

  69. Alarmpro says:

    100% agreed. I would consider that a threat and demand them to open the door with threat of violence/death to my captors. A 9mm drawn on your captors would make all the difference. I would have swept the whole place and gathered all the employees in the walk-in refrigerator under citizens arrest. Kidnapping is a threat to your life, you have the right to defend yourself against attackers kidnapping you.

  70. jiubreyn says:

    I’ve never heard of a restaurant that isn’t able to remove gratuity from a bill — the fact that it’s stated on the menu means nothing. The manager has the ability to remove the gratuity if they feel inclined to do so.

  71. SlowRider says:

    I am assuming that this restaurant had windows. if the facts of this story are true, and I were to be locked in a restaurant by an overzealous waitstaff, I would ask a friend to start taping with their cell phone.

    My next step on camera would have been to offer to pay the bill sans the gratuity. If rebuffed, and I were still being detained at that point, I would have hoisted a chair and told them I intended to leave this restaurant through the window or the door. Then I would have followed through.

    Probably would have meant a stay in jail for the weekend, but I think I could make the follow-up court case worth every bit of the inconvenience. I’m fairly tolerant, but being illegally detained is one of my pet peeves.

  72. DragonThermo says:

    I wonder why they didn’t want to pay a gratuity? Then I watched the video. Now I see why they didn’t want to pay gratuity.

    Stereotypes continue to exist for a reason!

  73. Jennlee says:

    I’m tired of tipping high for really lousy service. For good service, no problem. But it seems like 20% is expected even for lousy service. Had dinner last Sat at a place- waiter forgot our orders, had to come back 10 mins later and have us re-order. Very slow with our drinks. Delivered entrees in cold state. Never checked back even once during our meal! No refills for drinks even though they sat empty. Slow with bill. Plates left lying around. Just overall bad. I did tip decently, but it wasn’t 20%. That wasn’t good enough for the waiter, though. He gave himself a 25% tip on the credit card after I left (per the manager later he had crossed out my tip and written in the new amount) . So not only bad service but outright theft/fraud!

  74. Martha Gail says:

    Y’all. You all. Not yau all. Y’all.

  75. impatientgirl says:

    That was kidnapping and possibly extortion. I would get an attorney. Thank you Consumerist for printing the name of the restaurant. I’ll make sure my Houston family does NOT go there.

  76. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I try to avoid these places that add on the automatic gratuity. It’s not like a delivery charge for pizza. Although if I want to avoid that, I get carry-out. I would definitely avoid this place, since it seems the service isn’t great anyway. Also, locking them in? Sheesh.

  77. Broke_Daddy says:

    Best bet would have been to tell them you wanted separate checks. Then there is not party of more than 5 or whatever.

  78. jacobs cows says:

    The lockdown seems so extreme on the part of the restaurant.If the customer has valid complaints the why reward the restaurant help? I smell lawsuit.