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Have you ever had a meal so bad you wanted to walk out without paying?

I recently had a meal at a branch of a local chain Pancake House that was so horrible I actually wanted to walk out without paying.

I went to the weekend breakfast buffet (at the request of my friend, not my choice) and it was horrifying. The place was filthy, food all over the floor and buffet stations. I asked the waitress to please send someone to clean the syrup and goop on one buffet table but it was never done. I asked for a refill on coffee, it never came, I asked to speak to a manager and he/she never came as well. (and I waited for well over 15 minutes, standing there looking like a fool) I was so furious I left the exact amount for the bill on the table and left fuming.

Now I know this is not exactly a 4 star restaurant but still. The entire experience left me with a bad taste in my mouth (no pun intended) Am I alone on this, but are you ever justified in refusing to pay a check? While I did pay this one I really wanted to walk out... out of sheer revulsion.

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  1. I have felt this way, but the truth is it's illegal. If you ordered something for which you're expected to pay, you have to pay for it. Best to take it up with corporate.

    Now what I have wondered about is how long one should wait for one's food with no explanation or attention from the server before you can just get up and walk out, assuming they've forgotten about you completely. Yes, you ordered something, but you never received it.

    1. for the cleanliness, and managerial issues you listed, no. I just make a mental note to never return.

      For poor service issues(disappearing waiter, no waiter assigned to you table, etc). I have either left before the tardy waiter finally shows up from thier smoke break, etc., or for the disappearing waiter, payed for the drinks, & food I had consumed and thats it. Again making a note and never returning.

      2 Replies
      1. re: swsidejim

        I only had an omelet from the station where they make them for you, I was disgusted at the filthy conditions and was afraid of getting il trying anything elsel. I had a cup of coffee, that was never refilled.
        But you re right, I will never eat at another Bickford's.

        1. re: gryphonskeeper

          I can understand your issues with this place. Terrible & unacceptable

      2. So why on earth did you stay there? I know you were with a friend, but if the place was filthy, why would you stay? I'd be too nauseated to even think of eating. If this is the mess you saw, think about what you couldn't see. But once you ordered and ate the food, you hd to pay for it. You didn't complain about the quality of the food, so it must have been edible (keeping in mind that the bar for edible is quite low in some places). You chose to tolerate the conditions. Why would your bad choice justify not paying?

        4 Replies
        1. re: Just Visiting

          That's exactly what I was thinking. I'd walk out of a place like that without sitting down, it'd never get to the point where I'd actually ordered or eaten anything and would need to pay anything.

          I've definitely had experiences where I felt like it wasn't worth a cent much less what I actually paid for it, so I suppose the answer to the question in your title is "yes."

          1. re: ccbweb

            Trust me, I had NO idea when we walked in and were seated what I was in for, it was not until I walked up to the buffet that I saw the horror. We were seated in a front room, not even the same room as the buffet station. That is why I opted to only have an omelet that I could watch being made, and a cup of coffee. If I was not with a dear friend I would have walked out in sheer and utter disgust.

            1. re: gryphonskeeper

              Yes, but you saw the condition of the buffet station and still ate something from it. Therefore, you have to pay. If you had checked out the buffet station and walked out before eating anything then you wouldn't have had to pay.

              1. re: hrhboo

                I did pay... however that is not the question. The question was did you ever not WANT to pay at a restaurant because the food was so lousy.

                Trust me I hated leaving every penny I did, the whole thing cost me $17+! for one lousy omelet and coffee that was not refilled. ($14 buffet and $2 coffee plus tax.)

        2. Considerin' as this is probably not the sort of place where the manager gives a hoot (if he ever did show up), he/she wouldn't be likely to "comp" your meal. That leaves you with one alternative to "I'm not paying for this" ... leave before you take any food. McDonald's still makes pretty good pancakes and you can get there fast.

          Normally it would take a while for me to get my upset up to that level, but then again for $17 I might get upset real fast. That's a lot.

          1. Yes

            See my post on Hero Certified Burger.


            1. I completely sympathize. There are those bills that just hurt to pay. I recently heard a rave review of a certain hard-to find place's low country boil. Very excited - we went inside, thinking I has just discovered a hidden gem. What we got was terrible and overpriced. $17 for 3 shrimp, some crab, a little sausage, corn and potatoes. Also had the chicken tenders which were the exact sysco frozen tenders we hated in grade school, the burgers, bubba. Both over $10. Parked outside was a permanently stationed sysco freezer truck that answered all my questions. Also, we got sick afterward.

              1. There was a time about 10 years ago when the restaurant in Quechee VT which was the place we stopped at before we headed home was our favorite Mexican place to eat. Rosalita's was the name, I think. Folks who live there or are familiar with that area right on Rte.4 west might recall/correct me. I ordered a Bloody Mary and a roast beef sandwich. I usually forego the celery sticking up in the drink.... but didn't this time. Celery was dirty. Roast beef was grey around the gills, and brittle. Called the waitress over and pointed out the problem. She walked away. So did I. Out the door. She followed me into the parking lot. With the dish in her hand. The restaurant is no longer. Too bad - it was great when they knew what they were doing.

                1. I dislike having to say it because I was once in the very same position as you. The very fact that I was with a 'dear' friend (one with whom I can and do share confidences) allowed me to say what I would not have said to a 'friend' of lesser importance. That is, I said; "this place is filthy - certainly not what it ever used to be - let's get the heck out of here before we get ptomaine poisoning". My friend, in responding said; "you first!" I really think that the subject of paying or not paying would quickly have become a non-issue.

                  1. In reading these posts, I guess I'd have to say I've been fortunate insofar as not having experienced food that has made me feel like walking out w/o paying. That's not to say I haven't experienced the occasional very uninspired/cold/boring/overly seasoned, etc food. Unfortunately, I've had service (or lack thereof) that has made me either want to, or actually walk out of a few places. Apparently, I'm a lot more tolerant of disappointing food than I am of inept, rude, inappropriate or just plain unacceptable, service.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Tay

                      Apparently, I'm a lot more tolerant of disappointing food than I am of inept, rude, inappropriate or just plain unacceptable, service.<<<

                      Very true, Tay.

                      I'm not sure how paying for unacceptable food is even an issue. That can be reflected in the tip and talking to the manager/owner.

                      Not paying for food eaten, no matter how horrid, is stealing. Heck, where would I draw the line? If I'm overcharged for pretty food piled vertically on the plate, do I negotiate a fair price? No. Same deal. Horrid food? Report it to the owners, pay for it, don't go back, and write about it wherever available.

                      1. re: dolores

                        Ahhhhhhh......in my case: the food was dirty, stale and obviously old. I didn't eat a bite because of the condition. Not paying for that anywhere.

                        1. re: Gio

                          I wonder what the law would say if the restaurant prosecuted?

                          While I appreciate your horror at the food, I would have thought you would have worked it out with the manager/owner, rather than walked out.

                          1. re: dolores

                            I understand you point of view, Dolores. However, since the plate of food presented to me was inedible, I certainly did not want to try another dish. Frankly, there was nothing to work out. Additionally, I doubt very much the restaurant would prosecute for a $9.00 order.

                            1. re: Gio

                              And I very much understand yours, Gio.

                              I am just curious whose side the law would be on in a case like this.

                              IF the food was disgusting, and the charge was, say, $46.00, would it still be acceptable to walk out?

                              1. re: dolores

                                Dolores, you forget that I spoke to the waitress who, when she left my table, I thought was going to get the manager. After waiting some time, I left. To continue this unnecessarily long tale, my DCs paid their bill, left a small tip and later told me my meal had not been charged.
                                IF the meal was $46.00 and disgusting, after speaking to the manager, I would have left.

                    2. I don't know that I could walk out because of poor food, but service is another thing. My dad is a firm believer in walking out if he's ignored or treated poorly.