If you’re frustrated by poor service at a restaurant, think twice before you decide to not tip.
You may be in for a bit more than just a dirty look from the waiter.
“Nobody, nobody wants to be forced to pay a tip or be arrested for terrible service,” Leslie Pope said when her happy hour ended in handcuffs.
Pope and John Wagner were hauled away by police and charged with theft for not paying the mandatory 18 percent gratuity totaling $16 after eating at the Lehigh Pub in Bethlehem, Pa. with six friends.
The charges were dropped shortly after this article was posted.
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When did it say they were jailed?
I think there is a semantic blurring here of a legal distinction between an optional gratuity and a non-optional “service charge.”
Obviously though a restaurant can waive any charge or cost that a customer has incurred, and should have here, but it’s the restaurant’s choice not the diner’s prerogative. That place sounds and looks gross, even if they didn’t hate their customers.
“I think there is a semantic blurring here of a legal distinction between an optional gratuity and a non-optional “service charge.’
Well put. And if “service charge” were plainly stated in the restaurant, they should have been jailed. If not, not.
sounds like they had plenty of time to leave before they got their “chicken fingers”.
Poor cheapskates, who would have thunk they would get poor service at the corner Irish pub during happy hour. I would kill myself if I owned a restaurant and had their demographic as customers. (I want my high corn fructose syrup containing drink refilled for free NOW!!)
$16 is not worth the cost to jail someone and i dont think that it happens too often. I think it is pretty ridiculous actually, that in fact they were jailed for not paying for a service that was not received! seems like the business was trying to steal from them!
pollo elastico says
Here’s what I do when I have an encounter at an establishment that leads to heated moments of disfavor. Pay the bill, then simply take a dump and creatively find a way to work it into your “pièce de résistance” quick exit. Sometimes, you don’t even have to by coy about it, simply leap on top of the Arby’s counter and squat some retribution.
and they have since taken to yelp. while I think bombarding a place on yelp is pretty low, the pictures they added are too funny.
Wow. I’m glad everyone’s on the side of people in groups not tipping. Sure, jail is kinda extreme, but nonetheless, included gratuities are there to keep the service side from murdering y’all when you cannot take a moment to take care of the people who just took care of you and your six obnoxious friends.
Hey servers deserve a tip worthy of their service. If you dont give someone the time of day and expect a good tip you are in the wrong business! Why do servers think they are so entitled anyways?! also, why do the servers make more than the kitchen? id like to see a server come back in a fine dining restaurant and cook what we cooks do! not saying that a cook can give as good of service but i sure as hell can write down an order and put it on a table! id like to see one of them work a 12+ hour day of actual hard labor!
I’ll tell you why we make more. We are the face of the restaurant. We shave, we press our shirts, we smile, we schmooze, we create a comfortable and professional atmosphere, we welcome in, we say goodbye, we learn every single product on the menu, and our guests preferences, just to name a few. Entitled? Are you any more important than the bartender? How about the floor manager or the host who keeps the flow of the floor?
Do you really think we are just order takers? In fine dining, and in this town especially, I and any other server had better know their stuff or else the place gets reamed. We are the ones who hold guests hands and help with pairing. We are the ones who up sell and suggest alternatives when allergies are an issue. Try managing a floor when the place is completely packed. It would be one thing if you were not just a cook, but rather a chef creating his/her own recipes. But alas, you are simply recreating someone else s work. I bet you have no more than 6 different dishes to prepare in your station.
Yes, you may work harder and put in more hours. But we build relationships, and drive revenue. This is a business. Sales people and excellent service are critical. Manual labor can be done by anyone. Representing a business while creating comfort for a highly discerning clientele is not the same. I assure I can do your job. I doubt you could handle mine.
Food Dude says
(looking for flak jacket)
Oh goody, an anonymous pissing contest on an internet message board! I’ve missed you, 1996.
I hadn’t realized this was a junior high school forum.
This discussion is relevant to this thread.
Is it really relevant? How is a pissing match between a server and a cook about who has a more important job relevant to the fact that these people got jailed for not paying a forced gratuity? Seriously? An argument over whose job is more important? No offense to you two since I do have respect for your professions, but it’s not like you guys are EMTs or ER doctors or firemen or soldiers on the front line or something. You’re both important within a degree of magnitude of each other. Arguing over which one of you is more important is like arguing over which cheese is better on a burger, Jack or Cheddar. They’re both good, though there are many cheeses much much better. (Sorry for the half-ass analogy, it was the best I could do on short notice.)
Admittedly I do not work in a setting where the kitchen sits with its guests. I can’t help but envision old Autzen stadium. As Peyton Manning would say, “Cook that meat, Cook that meat!” Instead, I work in a traditional setting where the dining room and bar are separate from the line.
With that said, I assure you there are many more reasons guests dine out other than just for the food. Portland, and thank goodness for it, is a thriving food and beverage community. Wine programs are a big deal. Cocktail menus are a huge focus. Ambiance is painstakingly considered. Yes, food is very important, but really, it’s only a portion of the overall puzzle.
I suspect you do know every ingredient of each dish you prepare. As you should. And so do I. In addition, I also have a firm grasp of wines in our cellar. I know the recipes for all of our house specific cocktails. I know after dinner drinks, cheese selections, and dessert items.
But really, knowledge of one’s product is not what this is all about. It’s about creating an environment that people want to continue to return to. If I hate the person making my cocktail or cant stand a server’s attitude, I won’t go back. If I don’t feel welcomed, forget it. There are plenty of places.
I’ll tell you why we make for money. It’s because, and I think it may be unique to fine dining establishments, we build relationships. I have guests who regularly come in and ask to be sat with me. With that comes extra gratuity. It’s kinda like having a barber that you go to, or your favorite bartender, or a dentist or who ever it may be. People come in, who like to spend money, and expect me to create an experience for them and their guests. We personalize the experience. I am building a book of business. For that, I get paid more.
You and I both know how transient this business is. I have literally worked with 50 plus cooks at the place I work. People come and go constantly. Servers stay put and understand what it means to build a book of business. Ever wonder why servers stay so long? It’s because return business keeps us here.
Up selling is a big part of how I make my money. If everyone orders glass pours, I’m suggesting a bottle. Every table gets offered coffee and tea. Every table is offered an after dinner drink. I create prosperity. You only hope I do.
Good servers increase their income every year. If a cook would stay put for more than a year, he/she would too. Until that happens, you’re just cheap labor that’s allowed to learn someone else s recipe book.
Now get back to work!
haha touche! see but now we are just sterio typing… ive seen more servers/front of house go than I have seen in the back of the house in the year and a half at where i have worked(and that is not many, 4 FOH and 2 BOH). I am not planning on going anywhere, nor are any of the other cooks. so I suppose it depends on the situation where you work.
maybe you are better than most servers(there are plenty of you good servers out there in this town!) but a lot of them are not up to that level(or they are and just whine too much) and the problem is, the ones who do a terrible job still think they are deserving of what they recieve. That takes away from the people who are there for the long-long haul.
Food Dude says
Ok, I don’t want this to turn into a pissing match anymore than it has. Let’s get back on topic please.
A tricky little problem, this. On one hand, as Microfoam correctly points out, it is a well-known tendency of large groups collectively to skimp on the tip. Economists call this the free-rider problem: you don’t tip because you figure that others will do it for you. Plus unlike an individual tab your failure to tip is disguised in the crowd and you won’t come in for any social shaming (or so you’re counting on). The problem is how to deal with this while still providing an incentive to the server to give decent service (or as good as to a two-top). Economists would be equally quick to point out a guaranteed tip tends to remove an incentive for good service (please understand this is not an indictment of any one person’s work ethic any more than the former was an accusation that readers of this post skimp on tips when out with friends; it’s merely a plausible description of collective human behavior). So how to reconcile these two tendencies? [Cue pet rant] Have everyone cash out individually. Yep, that means a group of twelve may have twelve transactions. Restaurants who routinely have large parties and want to take credit cards will no doubt need to adapt their cashiering processes. Alternatively they could stop taking credit cards and go cash only. Both ways servers will need to track who has ordered what. After all, it is in their financial interests to do so. I know much ink has been spilled on this very topic, some of it quite heated, but I have to say as someone who has lived and worked in other countries (and yes, worked the front and back of the house in this country), the insistence of most American establishments on one check for an entire bunch of folks is simply strange and archaic (kind of like our health care system). It should surprise no one then that it creates free riding patrons as well as establishments that serve them (as well as their ethical friends) equally poorly.
They say that any publicity is good publicity. I think this proves that saying wrong. Jeez, this place is going to tank, and hard. “Come for the chicken fingers, stay for the handcuffs.”
Humble Pie says
I can’t believe they waited around for the cops to come. But then, they waited an hour for their chicken fingers.
These customers were in the right. The bar admits the service was bad/non-existent, and insists on the gratuity? Hard times indeed.
In one place I worked a waiter was left a tip of 25 cents as a message. He picked up the quarter, went out on the sidewalk and said to the party “Hey, you left something on the table,” and gave it back to them as if it was a hat or glove. When he walked back in the door the manager fired him on the spot.
As a lawyer, I am surprised that this could amount to a criminal matter. It should be a civil breach of contract dispute. Did the diners get the service they bargained for? If not, then there was a material breach on the part of the restaurant, excusing the diners from paying for what they did not receive, namely proper service. The diners’ could sue for breach of contract, and there might also be tort claims if the service was outrageously and insultingly poor, or if they were held at the restaurant against their will or if they were falsely arrested (I did not watch the video and am not sure what transpired at the restaurant).
mandatory gratuity? jumbo shrimp? civil war? gratuity=gift. mandatory=tax.
give the tip you want to go to the chef, to the chef.
i’m not sure about the “oxy”, but the moron is the restuarant mgmnt.
now, back to the pissing contest! i hope that’s not where the “house water”
comes from. probably better than todays westside water, though?
please wash your hands after the contest.
Michael Smith says
The couple should not have been arrested, this was a civil dispute and they did not runoff without paying thier bill. If someone has a grievance and refuses to pay for the portion of service they do not feel they recieved and identfies themselves it should be non-criminal and handled in civil courts. The DA later dropped the charges in harmony with this line of thought.
Logan Kotter says
I was an American, but I moved to Australia this year because of how bad the economy is, and because of what all of the socialists are dong to it. The service here may be bad sometimes (at one restaurant we had to wait an hour and a half for some salad and chicken snitzel while people that came after us were being served first!) but tipping is not expected because employers in the food industry here pay their employees better.
hence why the service is terrible. It’s also endlessly intriguing to me that you moved from the U.S. to Australia b/c the former was too liberal!? did you also switch from Charmin to Kirkland Signature b/c you were tired of your toilet paper being too soft? SMH…..