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What really happens at a restaurant when the customer can't pay?

I've always heard the make you wash the dishes, but I doubt this is true. The customer would probably just be in everyone's way unless he happen to have kitchen experience. What do they really do? Anyone who has worked in a restaurant who can share stories?

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  1. I imagine the restaurant has the customer arrested.

    6 Replies
    1. re: aelph

      Not if they want the customer to come back! The other customers don't need to see the police come in -- also not good for business. And, why waste everyone's time and resources, including the cops, to arrest a guy for something that is probably less than $100.

      1. re: Bite Me

        It depends.

        If someone goes up to the cashier and realizes that they don't have the money to pay, usually, the person will leave a credit card or their name and phone number. In that case, the restaurant owner will generally ask them to come back and pay for the meal later. The would have that happen about one a week, especially among elderly and younger customer. And they would generally come back (and be embarrassed.

        On the other hand, if the customer runs out without paying, most restaurant owners WILL call the local police. Most police departments (outside of the large cities) will get involved and take the report and generally will talk with the people.

        And then there was my favorite story. I was working as a carhop 20+ years ago at a family restaurant. Someone had a carryout order. As soon as I handed the guy the food, he peeled out and spead out of the parking lot without paying ... and ran right into the local police department cruiser. Guy was charged with reckless driving, resisting arrest, and petty theft. What an expensive dinner!

        1. re: Bite Me

          Once, when my currency was back in my room, I left my watch, until I could return. Luckily, it was returned to me, as soon as I had paid. Maybe a good reason to have a Breitling, and not a diamond and gold Rolex?


          1. re: Bill Hunt

            Mr. Hunt,
            If you have an stories of hostess's that "shook you" I would be much more appreciative than your last story.
            Thank you in advance,


            1. re: jrvedivici

              None. The host took my watch, and then returned it, when I arrived back at the restaurant, with my cash.


      2. i can't speak from a restaurant owner/worker's perspective, but have been on the other end -- as a customer -- twice. the first time was about 15 or so years ago, it was a ridiculously snowy night and the restaurant was in the far far west village in manhattan -- and they accepted cash only, which i didn't realize. they simply took my phone number and information and accepted my promise that i would return with cash -- which i did, the next day.

        about a year ago, i had a similar experience -- but forgot my wallet altogether. the manager of the place (a different place, obviously) took my cell phone number and trusted me to return, which, again, i did the next day.

        not the most scintillating tales, i realize, but it seems like a lot of places are reasonably trusting....

        1. Can't pay or won't pay??

          Can't pay is most likely "I forgot my wallet." So you take down a drivers license and have them return the next day with appropirate payment.

          Won't pay. Cops.


          4 Replies
          1. re: Davwud

            How do you take a license # if they forgot their wallet?

            1. re: Grubbjunkie

              That is one hell of a good question!!!


              1. re: Grubbjunkie

                I certainly know mine by heart, I've had it since 1970.

                1. re: Grubbjunkie

                  Their license plate number and or registration would also suffice.

              2. I sat at the table feeling foolish, while my boyfriend went to a nearby ATM. It was a cash only place, too.

                12 Replies
                1. re: Glencora

                  Same story for me. I sat and waited while hubby ran to the ATM machine. I don't rely on him anymore-I make sure I have my wallet with me.

                  1. re: Velma

                    I think most of us have had that happen.


                    1. re: Davwud

                      When I was six years old, my mother took me to lunch at a local restaurant. After eating she discovered that her wallet was not in the pocketbook she grabbed when leaving the house. The proprietor had mom leave me at the restaurant while she drove home for her wallet. (Never would happen today).

                      Since that experience, I am always checking my wallet to make sure I have money before entering a restaurant. More than 50 years and the trauma remains.

                      1. re: bagelman01

                        Hahahaha........reminds me of a quick story. My father having been in the restaurant business in NJ would routinely take trips into the Bowery Section of NY for restaurant supplies. This being in the late 70's early 80's I was about 10 years old. The Bowery was what would be considered a rather "seedy" part of the City during these years. My father took me on a trip one time, in my mothers new Cadillac, and as he went in the restaurant supply store he told me to stay in the car. So in the car I sat, at one point a bum actually urinated right outside my window.

                        Later that night we are with my mother and she asks what my father and I did for the day.......he responded he went into the Bowery to get some equipment he needed. My Mother in utter disbelief said something to the extent; "Why in the world would you take him into the Bowery with you" to which my father responded "I was worried about your car so I had him sit in it so nobody would take it".

                        Thanks Dad! lol

                        1. re: jrvedivici

                          I grew up in those times too, and believe it made us stronger grown ups after the fact. I could never imagine being so protected as kids now are, poor things. But of course I lived to tell about it!

                          One of my first dates, a guy took me into Times Square to check out the peep shows, and it didn't phase me one bit. But I digress!

                          1. re: coll

                            I was born in 1970, and while it was still somewhat of a no-no it wasn't nearly as taboo as it is today. My favorite maternity photo of my mom, while pregnant with me, is the one of her posing with a cigarette in one hand, and a glass of scotch in the other.

                            I still tease her to this day that she stunted my growth. Although I'm just shy of 6'4", I'm telling you I should have been 6'6" dammit!!

                            1. re: jrvedivici

                              We could do anything we wanted, as long as we came home when the street lights came on!

                              My Mom too smoked while pregnant with me, and knowing her, probably had her share of drinks too; I like to think I came out OK!

                              1. re: jrvedivici

                                Hell in the 50s my mom's OB put her on diet pills so she didn't gain weight when pregnent with me. She was not heavy.

                                Makes me a crack baby

                          2. re: bagelman01

                            Hey, that sounds like better collateral, than my watch!


                            1. re: bagelman01

                              Same thing, pre-ATM. My wife and mother were held 'hostage' until l could drive the 90 minute roundtrip home. The restaurant that l had been going to for decades had stopped using VISA that day. Never returned.

                              1. re: bagelman01

                                They held you hostage for a meal? eek.

                          3. I was surprised by the ammount of people who do not check to see if a restaurant is cash only, or accepts a certain type of credit card before dining. If I am going to a new restaurant, and I am in doubt I either call first and ask the credit cards they accept, look for the sitckers on the door, or ask the waiter before ordering. I do this because not everyone accepts Amex, and I would be pretty embarassed to go to a cash only place without any on me.

                            With the above said I figure a restaurant if they can see the diner without funds is sincere, and has either forgotten a wallet, or has the wrong payment method, they will work with you and get some personal info from you to insure you return to pay the check.

                            43 Replies
                            1. re: swsidejim

                              The key thing there is "in doubt." If its a less expensive restaurant serving burgers, pizza, tacos, curries etc, then I always check. But there are times when I've been totally caught off guard by places that have a wine list and where the meals easily run to $60 or $70 for two people and are cash only. For such a place, even though I've run into them, it never occurs to me to check about whether they accept cash only. I keep an extra check in the car so that I can at least offer that.

                              1. re: swsidejim

                                I'm surprised when I come across restaurants that are cash only. I know many people who carry no cash, or very little, and pay for everything by card. It's one thing if it's a hot dog cart, but any sit down restaurant should accept plastic these days.

                                1. re: ajs228

                                  Usually small ethnic restaurants won't take charge cards or will have a minimum (which I keep thinking is illegal but I can't find the reference to it).

                                  1. re: boltnut55

                                    it isn't illegal. keep in mind that the restaurant needs to pay a monthly processing fee plus a percentage of the tabs-- so a smaller rest may not be able to afford the 2% or 3.5% of its sales that it gives up by processing credit cards-- it needs that cash to stay open, serving food. same goes for the hot dog vendor.

                                    the restaurant gets paid 100% on a tab of $100 when it's covered in cash or check, but when a credit card is used the restaurant may only get paid $95, so there is an incentive for a place to take cash only to avoid charging all its patrons more per entree to cover the loss from credit card transactions.

                                    same concept of the gas station giving you 10 cents off per gallon if you pay in cash or check rather than by credit card.

                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                      Yes, but what those folks fail to understand is that accepting payment by card results in both more business and higher tickets. People buy more and tip more when they use cards, and more people have cards and cash than only cash. While I understand the fear of paying 3% on the card sales, you more than make up for it with the increased business and tickets.

                                    2. re: boltnut55

                                      >>Usually small ethnic restaurants won't take charge cards or will have a minimum (which I keep thinking is illegal but I can't find the reference to it).<<

                                      It is NOT illegal **BUT** it violates the merchant agreement with the bank which processes their VISA/MC cards. All agreements that I have ever seen state that you cannot charge cardholders a higher price to use their card or require a minimum purchase.

                                      In practice, it is rarely enforced ... at this time.

                                      Credit card fees - like utility costs, rent, and food costs - is part of the cost of doing business.

                                      1. re: jlawrence01

                                        yeah- when i was a teenager i worked as a cashier at a dollar store, and i frequently had to deal with customers who would come to pay only to find out (and get angry that) we were "cash only". we would explain than in order to keep merchandise cost so low (everything was $1) we had to cut costs wherever possible. as i remember many of them would stay angry as if that was completely unreasonable and unacceptable.

                                        many restos in my city only take cash or credit- no debit/interac. i found that strange but there really aren't many people requesting to pay by debit- so i suppose it makes sense.

                                        1. re: excuse me miss

                                          processing as debit would be harder--how would you get the PIN, etc. I suppose it's doable with a handheld pin pad (or a few), but... it's not normal.

                                          1. re: xanadude

                                            In Europe you have a pin with your credit card. They don't take signatures anymore.

                                            1. re: Kalivs

                                              Yeah, they do. Although if you don't point out to the cashier that they need to run it through a machine that will print out a credit slip for you to sign, sometimes there's a problem. But I used my card with no PIN in England, Germany and Italy last month.

                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                Can't you get a card with a PIN and a chip? Much easier to use in Europe.

                                                1. re: lagatta

                                                  When you figure out how to, please let me know. Not only Europe but even Canada uses it and no seller other than the $ 500/yr Chase card has it in the states.

                                                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                    I don't know - I live in Montréal and every card I have has a PIN.

                                                    Why are they the (expensive) exception in the US? Bizarre.

                                                    1. re: lagatta

                                                      For some reason, in the US change has become anathema. Amazing that we used to be leaders in technology and now the rest of the world is passing us by while US industry digs its heels in and refuses to invest in newer technology -- presumably because in this short-term-profits driven economy, it won't help the bottom line in the next quarterly report.

                                                      But as I said, I haven't had any problem using the old cards in either Europe or Canada in the last year.

                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                        My new AMEX Platinum has gone with the "chip," and my United VISA Club has gone with similar, plus a metal layer, to stop "drive-by" piracy.


                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                          You're lucky - I nearly missed a train a couple of years ago in Paris for lack of a chip. I went to buy my ticket at Gare du Nord about 7PM the night before. The ticket windows were closed, but there was a long row of ticket vending machines - all of which took ONLY chip cards, no cash or old-style credit cards. I had to get up extra early the next morning to hit a ticket window when they opened, and just barely made the train.

                                                      2. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                        Actually the credit union I work all of our cards with a Visa logo has both a Pin number and a chip in it. It was actually tested in Europe before being released here in NC.

                                                        1. re: vttp926

                                                          SECU (State Employees Credit Union} in NC has chip and pin on my card for several years. When I retired and moved to Iowa to be with my children and went to a local bank to get a secondary local bank acct. you should have seen the look I got from the bank employee who assisted me. Her words to me were: "Ooh! I've never seen one of these!" Still happens occasionally in stores. Guess Southerners aren't really so stupid after all.

                                                          1. re: nodramamama39

                                                            as I say "just 'cause we's hillbillies don't mean we's stupid..."

                                                            and yet very few people will leave a phone msg. still throws them off. easier to leave a note I suppose (and not on the front door, rather the OTHER door)

                                                          2. re: vttp926

                                                            I wonder why our new Visa with a chip in it was so hard to use when we were just in Germany and Prague. Weird.

                                                          3. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                            Not so - I just swapped my existing Citibank Aadvantage M/C for an identical one with a chip. No charge to upgrade, no big annual fee.

                                                            1. re: BobB

                                                              My AMEX just came with the "chip," when it was up for renewal. No charge, nothing, but a new set of cards.


                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                Cards have had chips in mexico for years, nice to see the USA finally getting with the program.

                                                            2. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                              Chase finally out with one now called signature and Capital by end of year or so will replace all cars with chip card

                                                          4. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                            I went through Canada almost weekly until recently and used my credit and debit cards at Point Of Sale and never had a problem, although they could not be used in ATMs.

                                                      3. re: excuse me miss

                                                        I don't have a charge card, only debit backed by visa and I use it everywhere visa is accepted. Restaurants don't ask me for my PIN, they run it just like a charge and I have to sign a slip.

                                                        I also just noticed that the two restaurants in my town that only take cash now have small ATMS near the cash register. I assume this way the restos avoid all fees and the customer can pay directly for the convenience of using plastic

                                                      4. re: jlawrence01

                                                        i agree that min purchase rules are pretty dumb-- the restaurant pays the same percentage anyway, but if they also have a min/max transaction fee, the restaurant gets hosed when a customer puts a cup of coffee on a credit card, so the restaurant jacks up the prices on everything as a result and has the min purchase policy to discourage this. i blame the credit card company fees, not the independent small business.

                                                        i was talking about small restaurants choosing not to accept charge cards AT ALL, which is within the business owner's rights, since credit cards are private, not legal tender. yes some places may lose those corporate lunchers, or the big wedding party, because they don't take visa, but there are all sorts of small restaurants that aren't going for that type of business anyway, & you can't dictate that they *must* take credit cards.

                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                          The min purchase rules aren't just dumb, they're not even allowed to have them. You can report places that do this to VISA/MC (depending on which you're trying to use).

                                                          In practice, not much (if anything) will likely happen, but you never know.

                                                        2. re: jlawrence01

                                                          Credit card fees are an avoidable cost of doing business though. Many merchant agreements have stepped fee schedules so smaller transactions can be a net loss.

                                                          While all agreements you have seen may not allow a minimum, I'd like to see a bank go after some mom & pop who doesn' t go along.

                                                          1. re: jlawrence01

                                                            there is a small, ethnic, restaurant, Hide Sushi in Los Angeles that requires cash. It provides it's customers great value for the price.
                                                            it is PACKED most of the time.
                                                            i have been going there for about the last 25 years.
                                                            they have a dry-erase board set up so that customers can log in themselves when they enter the restaurant and start waiting for a seat.

                                                            apparently, it is NOT always the "cost of doing business."
                                                            (p.s. they installed an ATM machine near the front door for those people who need it)

                                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                                              i go to a few places that are cash-only too. they all have signs on the entrance door, so you'd have to be blind to miss them.

                                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                                Quite a few such places here in Montréal, or at least that don't take credit cards.

                                                            2. re: boltnut55

                                                              In the eyes of the law it isn't illegal. But most credit card agreements with the merchant clearly state that you may not set a minimum price for the use of the card. While it is ok to offer a cash discount.

                                                              1. re: Barbecue Joe

                                                                A lot of cut-rate gas stations charge a different price for credit or ATM than they do for cash. It's certainly not a secret, as the price differential is posted on a sign visible on the street.

                                                            3. re: ajs228

                                                              A friend of mine is one of those people and it is *very* annoying as he never has enough cash when we go places. There are a lot of hole in the walls (at least around these parts) that are cash only.

                                                              1. re: jgg13

                                                                I have the same situation with cashless friends. I just interfere with "I need to stop by the ATM, do you?" And that usually takes care of itself.

                                                                1. re: stellamystar

                                                                  Except wtih this particular guy, cajoling never helped. I'd even say, "I don't know that XYZ takes plastic" and he'd say "of course they do!" and sure enough, I was right.

                                                                  I never understood why keeping a couple of $20s in one's pocket was suc ha huge burden, but he always talked about not wanting to be weighed down.

                                                                  1. re: jgg13

                                                                    Jgg13 - Me thinks your friend is enjoying the bail outs. ? Just possible. It is beyond annoying to me - especially in the ATM age where getting cash is so simple.

                                                                    1. re: stellamystar

                                                                      but conversely if it's a place that does accept plastic and you're going dutch treat and they have cash and you have plastic, it's a fee-free cash advance for you...

                                                                      (knew someone in grad school who played that game so well that out of a table of 10 for drinks, the last 3 or 4 usu. ended up drinking for free)

                                                                    2. re: jgg13

                                                                      Anytime I've carried a lot of cash, I've used it much quicker, so I always carry just a few dollars. I don't have my friends bail me out though. I just don't buy on impulse.

                                                                2. re: ajs228

                                                                  Yup. I will avoid otherwise-lovely restaurants and businesses that are cash only. I rarely carry cash. I hate having to lug it around (my wallet it tiny and optimized for plastic). But more importantly, credit cards offer so many benefits.

                                                                  You can't get mugged with credit cards, you can do chargebacks with credit cards, you can earn rewards/cashback with credit cards. I have software that automatically downloads my credit card transactions and puts them into my budgets so I can easily track my spending. If I lose a credit card it doesn't matter much (just a hassle), but if I lose a wallet or pocket full of cash, it's just gone forever. I can't stand cash.

                                                                  Businesses need to recognize that if they don't accept credit, a certain amount of customers will simply not consider going there (or be hesitant). But it bothers me most with restaurants and bars. With restaurants, you often don't find out they are cash-only till you've already received the food, which leaves you in a bind. With bars, the whole idea of lugging a wallet stuffed with cash around town while you get increasingly intoxicated just seems like an atrocious idea (SF is notorious for the cash-only bars. Plus tons of the bars are in seedy parts of the city, and now you're drunk and carrying a ton of cash).

                                                                  1. re: zscrabo

                                                                    you make it sound like money is heavy, lol. while i appreciate the fear of getting mugged, a little reasonable risk assessment is in order.

                                                                    further, i have NEVER been to a cash-only place that did not have their policy prominently posted.

                                                                    1. re: zscrabo

                                                                      For me, since I had a stroke a few years ago,losing cash is my biggest problem. Since then, I have lost wallets and even purses several times.

                                                                      The worst problem with cash-only I've had lately has been the parking lot at the clinic I go to frequently, which doesn't' let you know until you're leaving. They have made me leave my driver and car license a couple of times that it was too late to go into the pharmacy and do a cash back purchase.

                                                                      I also currently have to depend on a caregiver to drive me around, so I'm nervous even about keeping a lot of cash at home.

                                                                      There's one benefit of having a caregiver take me, most of whom are from African countries, that the parking lot attendant there now (also African--Ethiopian) is a big flirt and is suddenly very casual about letting me pay "the next time"!

                                                                3. When I was a server I have had to deny patrons credit cards and sometimes that is all they had to pay. Generally, one member of their party will go run to a bank or a different member of the party will pay It really doesn't happen that often. The times when I did see it were usually when people were traveling and the credit card company put a hold on their account due to the "strange" charges.

                                                                  This has happened to me but not in a restaurant per se...Maybe at a certain large coffee chain. A few times early in the morning on a weekend I have grabbed the wrong purse, the one without the wallet, and since they often take your order before you pay gotten to the front of the line only to realize, oops no wallet. Generally, they just waive me off or I promise to return later that day or the next to pay. I think that because it is a sincere mistake and I want to return later with the money. Although, this same coffee shop is also not allowed to take $100 dollar bills and will waive you off if you try to pay with one and just give you your coffee.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: jturtle

                                                                    Regarding the tourists, what sometimes happens is that the hotel puts a hold on the credit card, and if the customer is close to the limit, then it becomes a problem.

                                                                  2. There was a thread on this topic a few months ago.


                                                                    1. When I was a rest owner this happened every once in awhile. I always trusted the person to come back and in thirteen years was only burnt once.
                                                                      As far as getting some kind of information/positive ID - it depended on the vibes I got from the customer.

                                                                      My favorite came back later incident didn't involve paying for a meal though - I received a letter from a lady who had eaten at my rest over a year earlier, apologizing for not leaving a tip. Also in the envelope was eleven one dollar bills, a ten dollar tip with one dollar interest.

                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                      1. re: hannaone

                                                                        how sweet.

                                                                        I had a an couple in who ate lunch, the woman told the server she was going to the bathroom, then the husband went too, neither of them returned and they hadn't paid. We never knew if this was a ploy or they were too old to remember if they had paid yet.

                                                                        1. re: smartie

                                                                          that sounds like a ploy. i've seen it done many times.

                                                                          1. re: excuse me miss

                                                                            Yup sounds like a classic "dine and dash" scam.

                                                                            1. re: julesrules

                                                                              saw a couple try that in whole foods the other day-- probably $250 in groceries in the cart. . .

                                                                          2. re: hannaone

                                                                            I'm one of those who went to the breakfast taco place up the street and ordered one. I whipped out my credit card and the woman said five dollar minimum. I didn't have cash, so she said come back later. But then again, she'd seen me a few times. I paid the next day. But the taco was only about two dollars.

                                                                            1. re: diva360

                                                                              I've found that given a chance most people are honest. Unfortunately the few who aren't make it tough on the rest.

                                                                          3. I've been caught without enough cash at a cash-only neighborhood place. I wrote down my name and the amount for them, which they put next to the cash register; I brought it the next day, plus the tip.

                                                                            1. the phrase "dine and dash" is for people who actually run out on the bill. different restaurants have different policies- some restaurants will make the server pay for the bill. (there are also cases where the person doesn't sign their credit card slip, then they dispute the charge, and the server ends up having to pay for it!)

                                                                              if someone is caught trying to dine and dash- sometimes the restaurant will call the police- but sometimes not. what are the police going to do? the restaurant looses the money anyway- and the trouble of waiting for the police and holding the person isn't really worth it.

                                                                              if it's really a mistake- forgot your wallet- and you promise to return- they'd probably let you go. if it is a place where i'd have to pay for your bill if you don't come back i'd probably ask you to leave something as a "deposit".

                                                                              10 Replies
                                                                              1. re: excuse me miss

                                                                                It's happened to me at neighborhood restaurants before, because that's when I'm most likely to forget my wallet at home or not carry cash. In places where I'm a regular, they've trusted me to come back. Otherwise, I leave my cell phone or another possession as collateral while I go fetch money.

                                                                                1. re: excuse me miss

                                                                                  i've always heard it called "chew and screw"...

                                                                                  1. re: excuse me miss

                                                                                    I waited tables in college and the way the restaurant handled "cash-out" at the end of the shift for each server resulted in us covering any bills that weren't paid - it basically came out of our tips. If the unpaid check was paid at a later date the money wasn't necessarily given to the server - only if they happened to be there when the payment came in. It never happened to me, fortunately, but I did have friends who were burned in this way.

                                                                                    1. re: heathermb

                                                                                      I hate to hear that servers are penalized when people don't pay.

                                                                                      1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                                                        I believe it's also illegal to take it out of the server's pay.

                                                                                        Okay, not specifically illegal, but probably illegal in practice since (a) "tips are to be fully retained by the employee" and (b) the wages (not including tips/tip credit) paid to the employee cannot fall below minimum wage, which deducting a bill of any size would do.


                                                                                        1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                                                          I don't know about your state, but in my state it's not legal to take it out of employees' pay--unfortunately, many employees don't know it--every state is different regarding this and many other issues where there isn't federal law. I only found out when I worked in a law office that helped employees with workplace issues.

                                                                                          Previously, before I returned to college, I worked in several restaurants, and saw many small restaurants screw their employees (E.g. making us work off the clock on a regular basis, taking it out of people check when someone didn't pay eveything.) I was even let go when I was injured on the job carrying heavy ice buckets--when my shift had ended, btw. I didn't know about workplace injury laws and in our state, the employer is required to inform an injured employee that he/she needs to go to the doctor and fill out a claim with the state--instead, the owner told me that if I couldn-t work at 2PM that day, not to bother coming back!

                                                                                          I heard many much worse horror stories in my job at the law office. (However, it wasn't always the employer's fault--there are some employees who feel very entitled

                                                                                        2. re: excuse me miss

                                                                                          The restaurant will trust you if they know it's an honest mistake. It happens.
                                                                                          But we had a couple that came in three times and gave us bad checks each time. The cashier recognized them and ran outside to get their license plate. I went to the police station the next day, and afterwards the detective who investigated came in to thank me, as the couple were already wanted for welfare fraud, so he decided to stake them out: while covertly following them, he also got them on about 15 traffic violations (speeding, running stop signs, etc) and finally arrested them at the mall. He said he was ready to retire but this was one of the arrests he would remember, it was very satisfying. Some people you just don't want to return!

                                                                                          1. re: excuse me miss

                                                                                            This actually happened to me, a "friend" who left a café without paying, and was actually waiting around the corner. I was mightily peeved, to put it politely, and went back to pay her order (this was just something like coffee and a sandwich). She actually thought she was being "bad" in a cute way. She was at least 30 at the time, not a feral teen...


                                                                                            1. re: lagatta

                                                                                              I almost made that mistake (not saying that your instance WAS a "mistake). I had my usual at a great little deli in the French Quarter. I talked with the proprietor, his wife, his children and his M-I-L. I wrapped up, and was starting to walk out. The proprietor asked kindly, "Should I put that on you tab?" Of course not, I just forgot, and instantly paid, but "stuff" can happen, especially with great conversation.

                                                                                              Even at a local, casual bistro, I make sure that the check is paid early on, rather than worry about it, after two more glasses of wine!


                                                                                          2. Back around 1982, my SO and I went to a recently opened restaurant, and among the reasons why we wanted to go there was the reality that I was almost out of cash (both in hand and in my local account) and because this restaurant's ad in the newspaper stated that they took Visa credit cards.

                                                                                            We had a decent meal, and were presented with the check. I proferred my credit card, only to be greeted with the words, "Sorry, we don't accept credit cards". My response was something along the lines of, "Well, then YOU have a problem because your ad in the newspaper states that you accept Visa, Mastercard, and Amex, and I don't have the cash".

                                                                                            The waiter disappeared for perhaps 15 minutes, and I observed him conferring with the manager. Upon his return, he accepted my credit card, processed the transaction, and we were on our way. I never did figure out exactly what was going on in that restaurant, and I never did return to that place.

                                                                                            1. Unless decades of TV sitcoms have led me astray, you are forced to wash dishes, with hilarious results. And you learn a valuable lesson.

                                                                                              And WHOOPS, my witty reply would have been wittier is you hadn't already mentioned this urban legend in your OP, sorry about that!

                                                                                              1. I remember seeing a t.v. program in the 80s about a restaurant that had a box full of watches that people had left behind from as far back as the 60s and 70s as collateral for a meal they couldn't pay for.

                                                                                                1. About 35 years ago: all night diner, wallet was in the car. Standard college attire was golf shirt, faded jeans, nicely polished Bass Weejuns, no socks. Portly, affable balding guy at register evaluating my risk of flight. "Leave one of your shoes here."

                                                                                                  1. about to pay my check one night, i realized my wallet had been stolen. in the restaurant. the owner comped our bill.

                                                                                                    one new year's eve, two girls early 20s, had a very expensive dinner and were pretty tipsy. both of their credit cards were declined. they both attempted to go to an atm, but we made one of them stay put. back and forth, call their banks, neither could get any cash. it took 2 hours and she finally called her father from out of state (at 2:30 in the morning) and he gave me his cc# over the phone. i was furious these girls were so clueless.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                      This reminds me of something I once saw. Was at a restaurant in Denver, eating on a fenced in patio. There was a group who had their bill come, and they had the money (which had to have been a good amount, it was a sizeable group) in the little folder thing. Well, there was a commotion - some guy who was walking by (they were on the edge of the patio) reached over and grabbed the money and took off.

                                                                                                      After the commotion died down, it turned out they were *still* being held responsible for paying the bill. At the end of the day, that seems "fair" as it isn't the restaurant's fault that their money was stolen, but OTOH, security of the patrons *does* seem to be the responsibility of the owners, so who knows.

                                                                                                    2. Happened years ago: On the road, stopped for dinner, get bill, search handbag for wallet, find checkbook. OOPS! Restaurants do not take checks. Explain to waiter, plead with manager....who graciously accepts check. Can you spell embarrassed?

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                                                        This has happened to me twice. The first time, when I was in college, was particularly bad because I didn't know they didn't take credit cards. Very much surprised because it was a fairly nice Chinese restaurant and I was on a date. The bill with wine was proably $65.00. The woman in charge that night was the owner's wife (who was likely in her 70s) was amused by and very kind about the situation. She teasingly made me "cross my heart" that I would come back. She didn't ask for anything else other than that and helped me make sure my date (now wife) didn't have any idea there was a problem. Relieved, I made sure I was there the following morning before lunch with the money. She said she knew I would be back.

                                                                                                        The other time was a few years ago. I forgot my wallet at my office and went to lunch at a sandwich shop. Total order was probably $14.00 or so. Didn't realize I had only $2.00 in cash and no credit cards until I was rung up. Sheepishly explained the situation and before the woman at the counter could say anything, the guy behind me in line paid, telling me to leave my two bucks in the tip jar. I offered to send him the money and he said no, just do something nice for someone else. I'll never forget that.

                                                                                                      2. This is interesting.

                                                                                                        When someone forgets their money or their credit card is declined and offers up another solution it is taken. A personal check, come back later and pay (leave a drivers license or cell phone) usually works without hard feelings. And it is usually pretty embarrassing for everyone.

                                                                                                        Intentionally skipping out or dining and dashing, is treated as "theft" and they are arrested if they walk out and are caught.

                                                                                                        A few weeks ago I helped a friend by serving dinners at her restaurant. She has a great little Mexican restaurant with good food at reasonable prices. She has a huge lease payment $7500 a month. Now try to make some money with the average dinner at $12.

                                                                                                        So when a guy I served did walk out without paying, I followed him out the door. He had obviously been drinking somewhere else prior and I noticed it when I served him.
                                                                                                        While he walked, I walked behind him and said "Sir you owe for the meal please come back" I repeated that several times and he refused me. I then said "If you get in a car, I guarantee, you will get a DUI." Several attempts to get him back, he finally turned around and apologized to me. I said fine but lets go back and look at your bill so you know exactly your charges. Yes and I know all the bad things that could of happened.

                                                                                                        At the door of the restaurant the police were waiting for him. He got lucky that time, my friend the owner only wanted him to lpay the bill, leave her restaurant and never come back. It is theft and you can go to jail.
                                                                                                        As far as the other patrons were concerned, they were told there was no charge for the entertainment.

                                                                                                        All kidding aside, why should we be ok with allowing them to walk out, and we as a customer or an employee shrug and say "oh well."
                                                                                                        I am loyal to my friend, and I promised to help her that night. And it is my belief that if you allow people to steal you are as wrong as they are. And what does it teach the others who are watching?
                                                                                                        It says, it's ok to steal.

                                                                                                        I feel for the restaurant owners and the servers that are made to pay for the meal that was stolen.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                          WHAT if the guy beat the shit out of you? Not worth it

                                                                                                        2. Public flogging. That normally takes care of any similar problems in the future.

                                                                                                          1. My first date with my now-husband was at a pizza place and he forgot his wallet..... luckily I could pay (unlike later dates at more expensive establishments!).

                                                                                                            And luckily I continued to date him!

                                                                                                            1. When I was much younger, my parents had a Chinese restaurants in Fisherman's Wharf. I think we only have one incident when a party of four (two younger men with two ladies who might have been their dates) ate, left a few dollars, and quickly walked out.

                                                                                                              Forgeting our wallets... the first time was at Mel's Diner because it was cash only, so my husband walked to the B of A and used the ATM. The second time was at the House of Prime Rib! We get the check (our waiter was pretty green, BTW), my husband reaches for his wallet, and he realizes that he forgot it. I hardly ever bring my purse, so I had nothing to offer. The waiter said, "I'll speak with the manager. I've never had this happen before." The manager comes by and says that we can send him a check. We leave our home address, and two days later, we get a bill (like a statement), which we quickly paid!

                                                                                                              1. This is actually kinda sad. . .A town near me has a large homeless problem, and one thing people will often do is go out for a big meal, order as much as possible (including alcohol) and then freely admit they have no means to pay.
                                                                                                                They are prosecuted (I find out about this by reading the police reports) but their rationale is a) they're going to jail, so they have somewhere to sleep tonight, and b) they are going there on a full stomach after a wonderful meal.

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: Covert Ops

                                                                                                                  When I was in grad school, I remember two occasions when the power went out (weather-related) and most of my fellow patrons ran out without paying the tab. The one place was a pizza joint and the other a bar with typical bar food and a cover charge for the band. Both places must have lost big that night. I remember asking later if anyone came back to settle. Apparently, no one had. Maybe they weren't all rich kids, but this was like looting.

                                                                                                                2. Back in the 80's I took two very good friends to a very expensive dinner at Box Tree in NY as a 'hostess gift' for staying in their guest room. I brought my wallet, but not my checkbook and not nearly enough cash to cover the almost $200 tab. I wish I had thought to ask the restaurant to trust me to come back, but my friend pulled out his checkbook and paid the bill and I reimbursed him later...of course, when you are treating you try NOT to let the guest know the total....so embarrassing. Who would expect such an expensive place to not take credit!? (I still think they should have mentioned it when taking the reservation!)

                                                                                                                  1. I have always had a mortal fear of going to a restaurant and when the check is proffered, realizing I don't have the means to pay. I mean I always check my wallet before I go into a restaurant. The mere thought of facing a wait person and telling them I can't pay and being looked at as a deadbeat, strikes fear in my heart.

                                                                                                                    1. It happened to us at a little "all you can eat" place. They cheerfully accepted our personal check. Months later while making our way up front to pay we noticed they'd started accepting credit/debit cards. I know it greatly increased their business-most folks I know use their debit cards for everything these days.

                                                                                                                      1. I know that this is an old thread, but as a chef from New York and now in Florida, I have a certain group of people who try to scam all the restaurants in an area for free food by complaining about the food. Once they have been discovered we post their picture in all the good restaurants around and throw them out before they order.I have dine and shined more than once, but making a living at scamming a restaurant or restaurants is a crime punishable by a severe tongue lashing and a swift kick in the backside and told never to come back. They move on to the next town very fast.

                                                                                                                        1. I once purchased something at a restaurant for take-out. When I got around to paying, I realized that I left my wallet at work. They told me no problem and gave me the food and told me to pay another time.

                                                                                                                          1. this has happened to me a couple of times, once way too close to payday which meant a teeny tiny balance in my bank account....and the restaurant didn't take my type of credit card. I had also been "treating" several members of my family this night. Even the kids were emptying out their pockets, lol........oh boy. I always check ahead now.

                                                                                                                            Several years ago, my family and I were eating at one of those department store restaurants....cheap, but not so bad food... Another family of about 7-8 were seated nearby and once finished and the waitress asked them how their meal was, they immediatly launched into how it "wasn't fit to eat" etc, basically kicked up a big stink until the bill was comped. They literally had left like one or two fries on the plates, it really was ridiculous.......... Now it's a running joke in my family after we clean a plate..."that wasn't fit to eat" lol.

                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                            1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                                                              Surprised that the dept store didn't call the cops.

                                                                                                                            2. 1983 or there about, I found myself with a long time friend at Chez Panisse. We had an incredible meal and a bottle of wine and the bill for the two of us was about $100. Not bad really. Well the meal came to an end and the waiter brought the check, and I pulled out my credit card. "I'm sorry sir, but we don't accept credit cards, but you can pay by check". "That's okay" says I, "I'll pay with cash". "If you don't have a check with you, you can send us one when you get home". "No really, that's okay, I've got enough cash with me and I won't be back in N.Y. for another week". "No problem, send us a check when you get home". Well, you've got the idea, I had to fight to pay them. When I asked why they were so trusting, the waiter said, wow, you are a New Yorker, he also said that people who come to a restaurant like this don't stiff them. I paid cash.

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: jnk

                                                                                                                                huh, I know Chez Panisse has it's own ways, but I find it astonishing that a restaurant would not want cash. But then, I'm a small business tax lawyer, and I often have to explain to my clients on the wrong side of the IRS that they cannot get a "cash discount" from their tax lawyer. Ahem.

                                                                                                                              2. My husband and I once were at a very casual place where you paid at the bar on your way out. It was a slow night there and on our way out we stopped for a game of air hockey. We got really into our competition, so when the game was over, we just walked on out.

                                                                                                                                About halfway home husband slams on the brakes and does a U-turn - "We didn't pay for dinner!". We went straight back and ran in with our wallets out. The bartender just laughed at us and said "We knew you guys would come back."

                                                                                                                                1. As has been previously stated there is a big difference between "can't pay" and "won't pay".

                                                                                                                                  If you refuse to pay, "won't pay" and it's for a completely unjustified reason, the establishment will call the police.

                                                                                                                                  If you "can't pay" forgot your money, your dog ate your credit card, and you can't provide ID to establish who you are, and you were in fact there, the establishment will most likely also call the police. In this scenario the establishment has to call the police to identify who this person is, and establish he owe's this debt. If you are able to get his drivers license number and his signature on the check that would constitute an "IOU" and if the debt goes unpaid you can take them to court. Without any form of ID then you need the police to establish his ID and write a report.

                                                                                                                                  Most places are not going to let you just "leave" without producing some from of ID, because once you do, next week there will be two more tables with no money and no ID. Then the following week 4 tables, then the following week........I think you get my point.

                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                                                    Gotta strongly disagree on this one. In all of my 15 years working in the front of the house, I cannot think of a single instance where somebody did not come back and pay. Sometimes it took a few weeks, but people who genuinely intended to pay their check but discovered they couldn't, (expired credit card, wrong credit card, less cash than expected in the wallet, etc) always come back to pay. Never would I think to call the police after they're already embarrassed as it is. Now, someone who never intended to pay the check - that's a different story, though that has never happened to me, either.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: hilltowner

                                                                                                                                      Hmmmm your going to strongly disagree with me regarding my personal experiences? Interesting to say the least.

                                                                                                                                      The only thing I forgot to mention would be their license plate number in lieu of their drivers license number.

                                                                                                                                      I never said there was a problem with people coming back to pay, I said the reason to collect some form of ID from them is to help insure they do come back. Without any form of ID there is no way for the house to protect itself from the customer not coming back to pay.

                                                                                                                                      This has been my policy in the many establishments I have managed and owned over the past 30 years. Never having had a complaint lodged by any of the customers who faced this unfortunate scenario.

                                                                                                                                      Again, not sure what you have to "strongly disagree" with, two different policies each works.

                                                                                                                                      To each their own.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                                                        You appeared to be stating your opinion on what would happen if someone couldn't pay at a restaurant. That was what I was disagreeing with. Nowhere in your post was it made at all clear that this was your policy at your restaurant.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                                                          How the restaurant responds to such a situation really depends on their relationship with their customers; plus I think the amount of money involved would usually affect it.

                                                                                                                                          I have never heard of the police being involved unless it was very apparent that the partie(s) were trying to run out on the bill (like the bathroom dash referenced above.
                                                                                                                                          Additionally, the police don't have to be involved to ask for ID, and I think they have a lot more important things to deal with. I
                                                                                                                                          know in this area I've actually be told (on a different sort of problem) we don't send a car for that".

                                                                                                                                          In the long run, I think the rest believing the customer it's good p.r., even if they do have to swallow small amounts once in a while.

                                                                                                                                    2. This happened to me once a few years ago. I am a woman of, um, many handbags, and just didn't put my wallet into the one I was carrying. I treated myself to a nice lunch out, and then was mortified when I realized I didn't have my wallet. Luckily, I did have my passport in my handbag because I'd misplaced my driver's license, so I was allowed to leave that until I came back. I was going to return right away, but the manager noted that I would get all tangled up in traffic, and said it was fine if I came in the next day.
                                                                                                                                      I paid the next day, added a generous tip, got my passport and continued to visit that place quite a bit afterwards.

                                                                                                                                      1. Usually, they unleash the "Hounds of Hell," and the offending patrons are eaten on the spot.


                                                                                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                          Those are some extremely hellish hounds!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                            And the major reason that I always bring my credit cards, or big cash, now!

                                                                                                                                            Do not want to be Hell Hound food - no way - no how.


                                                                                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                              These hounds might be the reason my husband thinks he has a fine idea in having a credit card number tattooed to the bottom of my foot.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                                I don't know about anyone else, but I'd love to see you checking out at Target!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                                                                  It's a regular occurrence and very blasé, I promise you that.
                                                                                                                                                  But with Creditfoot, anything could happen. Anything...
                                                                                                                                                  In fact, I need to head over to deposit a few paper checks at the bank this week, maybe I should pitch the idea of Creditfoot.


                                                                                                                                          2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                            Who took the picture of me and MGZ when we were out last week?

                                                                                                                                            1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                                                              It just appeared on the Internet - no attribution.


                                                                                                                                            2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                              Odd that you mention eating. back in "olden times", customers might wind up getting transformed into filling for the next day's steamed buns.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: wattacetti

                                                                                                                                                That COULD be a possibility.

                                                                                                                                                Perhaps that is what happened to Jimmy Hoffa?

                                                                                                                                                I will pay closer attention to my "steamed buns!"


                                                                                                                                            3. I've noticed that many of the small mom and pop style diners or pizza places that did accept checks would start displaying the bad checks of their repeat offenders at the register. Public shaming.
                                                                                                                                              When I worked downtown in a decent sized city with a pretty large homeless population because of the bus terminal a block or two away the Subway restaurant in my office building would often do free sandwiches for the homeless if they came in and asked. I don't know that it was a "Subway" thing or just that particular owner.

                                                                                                                                              1. I was at a nice restaurant in San Francisco, eating alone at the bar. Only after I finished eating did I realize that I forgot to put my wallet in my purse.

                                                                                                                                                I was so embarrassed, and asked if I could go home to get my wallet, and they said "no problem!" I actually left my purse with them as "collateral", although they thought it was a little odd I wanted to do this.

                                                                                                                                                The most embarrassing part was the other people at the bar looking at me while I was trying to figure out what to do etc..

                                                                                                                                                1. Depends on WHERE the restaurant is.

                                                                                                                                                  In New Orleans, they just put the "gris-gris" on the non-paying customer. http://www.voodoomuseum.com/index.php...


                                                                                                                                                  1. We got takeout from an Afghani restaurant a few years ago, and it was all boxed up before we found out they didn't take credit cards. We said we'd find a bank and come right back for our food, but they said that we should go eat while it was hot and come back later. We came back right away instead, but it was nice that they were so trusting. Didn't even ask for any info. We still made it to the park with hot, fabulous food.

                                                                                                                                                    Recently, I was shy a dollar at a pizza place. I was going to remove something from my order, but the sweet 15-year-old cashier gave me a dollar. It took me a couple months to finally pay attention to the sticky note on my door, but he remembered me and was appreciative when I returned his dollar. Not a huge deal, but it surprised me from a teenager. (I am not implying that teenagers are bad or ungenerous.)

                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: juster

                                                                                                                                                      I have been "behind" a few folk, who were very slightly short. I usually just contribute, and ask them to "pay it forward," at some later point. A US $1.00 here, or there, will never be an issue. I loose that much, though the holes in the pockets in my trousers. [Almost sounds like a line from Bob Dylan's "Walking Down the Line... "]


                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                        Nice. I do that with elderly folks at pharmacies that fumble with a pile of wadded up singles and come up short. Maybe the 11 or so bucks I paid will get them the meal they need to cushion the stomach from the blow of those pills.

                                                                                                                                                    2. We've done this several times... because I generally don't carry a purse/wallet when I go out w/my husband, and these are occasions in which he left his wallet at home. I won't name the restaurants, but at a nice steakhouse, they sent us a bill the next day, which we promptly paid w/a personal check (this was over 17 years ago). At another restaurant, it was a diner that we frequented, so we called and gave her the credit card number over the phone.

                                                                                                                                                      1. Really old forum, but I once was at a Chinese restaurant and the left my debit card on the table while I got my food, having everyone watch it. I came back and my credit card was stolen. Nobody knew where it was. I went to the front right before leaving as I still had not payed, and the women, who barely spoke english, said they didn't have it. I then asked another waiter if he may have picked it up, the two people started talking to each other fast, and then finally said they had it. They said I needed to show my ID, at the time I was 15 and I had none, so I said I don't have one. Ended up having to call my dad to show his ID, and got it back. They were trying to steal my debit card -.-

                                                                                                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: hploviedovie

                                                                                                                                                          There's another thread here about restaurants who only take cash. They'll tell you it's to help keep costs down and they are right.
                                                                                                                                                          It keeps them from having to pay income tax on 'cash only' sales.
                                                                                                                                                          The 'cash' goes directly into the restaurant owner's pocket. Then when his seafood purveyor calls and say's "I've got four boxes of live lobsters in my delivery truck two miles away from you b/c the dude who ordered them couldn't pay me. Do you want then for 30% off if you pay cash up-front?".

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                            or they really are a shoe-string mom and pop saving money by not paying cc processing fees. or perhaps immigrants that are un-banked and only got a micro-loan from their community.

                                                                                                                                                            why does everybody think all restaurant people are cheaters and scofflaws?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                                                              In my experience most restaurants here are all run by teenagers or middle aged people or too old to function people, many times I've eaten out or ordered they try over charging me OR when I order pizza they claim they don't know where I am and then don't call me to verify address and just send the delivery man home even though I paid already. I've always had to call them and have them(this has happened with different pizza places too)come back and deliver the ice cold pizza and they refuse to give me a refund or make a new pizza.

                                                                                                                                                              I remember I ordered from the chinese restaurant in my area and I paid over the phone and they called me back saying my card was being declined so I said 'okay just forget the order then thankyou' and called my bank, my order was or at least what the women on the phone had told me was 18.36 total and the bank teller told me they were trying to take out 78.34.

                                                                                                                                                              So I called them and asked for an explanation and they said 'you must leave very good tip fo us to bring hot food yes?' I said, 'no that's not how it works- and they hung up.

                                                                                                                                                              It's happened to my dad as well when it comes to paying with card or buying from our local chinese restaurants they always charge you more (my dad notices but doesn't care) once they have your card # OR they charge you more with cash.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: FoodLover3663

                                                                                                                                                                It is clear that you've had some ordering hassles.

                                                                                                                                                                Your math confuses me. You would prefer places be run only by people who are 20 to ~35?
                                                                                                                                                                Or, if "middle age" doesn't morph directly into "old," then either 20-35 or 50-60?

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                                                                                                  I think the poster has covered the spectrum. Perhaps a place run by robots?

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                    don't blink, it's coming, there is a prototype self-serve McD's coming around the bend (automat anybody?)

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: FoodLover3663

                                                                                                                                                                  i have never had to pay over the phone for food being delivered to my house and i have refused pizza that took waaaaaaay too long.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                                                                    You only "have" to pay in advance if you are using a credit/debt card, most places don't enable their delivery people with remote credit card acceptors. You most likely always pay cash!

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                                                                                      i do pay in cash, but i don't remember ever even being asked about form of payment.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                                                                        Well there ya' go, mystery solved! Most people if paying by debit or credit will have them run their card during the ordering process, if not when the driver arrives you aren't getting your food till you call back and have them run your card. So in those cases the orders are paid in advance.

                                                                                                                                                          2. Well, always be sure to have a way to pay when you patronise a restaurant that makes their own sausage!

                                                                                                                                                            1. Hi lucybobo, Sean from Angry Lemon (www.angrylemonapp.com) here. When I worked as a manager in a restaurant, believe or not, I dealt with number of customers who couldn't pay the bill either because they simply forgot to bring their wallets or they just wanted to have free meals and run away. In the later case, to be honest with you, I couldn't really do anything but to make a police report and tell the boss to keep the receipt so he could write off the non-paid bill as a business loss when reporting tax. Calling police is usually pointless action because by the time they show up( usually 10 to 20 mins in NYC metro area ), the non-paying person usually runs away. Sad reality lol --

                                                                                                                                                              1. This brought back a memory for me: my first time traveling by myself, during grad school, to Paris. It was on the heels of a devastating breakup and I felt very brave spending a weekend alone in a foreign country, using my rusty French. I wanted to eat duck and wandered around one night til I found a place, sat down with my book and enjoyed a three course meal. When the check came I reached into my bag and panicked - my wallet wasnt there, I had left it a the hotel. I explained that I was going back to get it to a dubious waiter (and I suspect the panic diminished my language skills). I rushed back, grabbed it, went back and paid, then slinked off into thenight. Only later did I realize that in my panic I had left no tip, and I was mortified. I imagined them cursing La Stupide Americaine in my wake. I still think about thatight, wishing I could go back and pay the tip, but knowing I have no idea whatsoever where the restaurant was. But I do remember that the duck was delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: edub

                                                                                                                                                                  will it help you to know in paris the service is included?

                                                                                                                                                                2. That's why they invented tasers

                                                                                                                                                                  1. Stopped at a cute breakfast spot on a roadtrip. Order at the counter and they bring the food sort of place. We put in the order, he stands waiting for his coffee while I grab a table. We are halfway back to the car when I say, "did you tip on the credit card or should we have left cash on the table?" He stops. Long silence. "I thought YOU paid."
                                                                                                                                                                    We were, apparently, not the first people not to realize they sometimes keep an open tab but don't actually bring you a check, either. They told us they'd gotten paid the next visit from locals and money in the mail from out of towners, but had never been permanently stiffed.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. It's called Defrauding an innkeeper. It's a term used to refer to a crime committed against the proprietor or manager of a restaurant or motel. A person is guilty of this crime when he or she gets food or lodging at any motel, hotel and lodging abode without paying.

                                                                                                                                                                      Unless I know you or see that you come often. I will ask you to leave me something as collateral for you to return and pay at a later date. If you CHOOSE not to leave me anything, I will call the Police to take all your info and file a report. If you still CHOOSE not to make arrangements to pay at a later date I will file charges.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. Well maybe the Restaurant will cut the customer a break

                                                                                                                                                                        by holding their drivers License until they come back with

                                                                                                                                                                        the mula.

                                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Smiley881

                                                                                                                                                                          So how will the customer(legally) get home or wherever to pick up the money then? I can see LOOKING at the license, or making a copy of it, to give the police if they don't return, but I doubt they're allowed to confiscate it. I sure never did.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                            Well maybe the Customer could call a friend or a relative

                                                                                                                                                                            to bail them out of the jam.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                              A restaurant isn't allowed to hold anyone's anything hostage.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. You have to return the eaten portion of your food.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. There was a story a few years ago here in L.A. A girl went into a very fancy Malibu restaurant in the late afternoon, ordered a steak and cocktail, and then had no money to pay her bill. The restaurant called the cops and had her arrested. The girl was held at the jail until around 2 AM, when she was let out (have no idea if she made bail, or just wasn't charged). That was the last anyone had ever seen of her. They found her remains much later in a canyon.

                                                                                                                                                                              Moral of the story--you don't pay your bill, you end up dead.

                                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: schrutefarms

                                                                                                                                                                                Did that restaurant make their own sausage?

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                                                                                                                  As a matter of fact, they butcher their own meat right in the back of the kitchen…why do you ask? :)

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: schrutefarms

                                                                                                                                                                                    Confirming my theory on customers who can't pay and places that make sausage...