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Nov 19, 2009 01:58 PM

Lehigh Pub Bethlehem news item

Wow talk about some bad publicity? Did anyone see how the couple were arrested for not paying the tip?

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  1. Wow, there's no way that's going to end well for the pub. Technically, the gratuity is part of the bill, so legally the customers were in the wrong, but it is an epic failure of hospitality on the restaurant's part, and the negative press is going to cost them a hell of a lot more than 18% of $72.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JohnnyKBar

      My thoughts exactly. What were the staff thinking?

      1. re: JohnnyKBar

        Just putting something on the bill doesn't obligate anyone to pay for something. There's an implied contact in retail transactions that says the merchant has to provide the goods or services being charged for.

        A restaurant can't legally force you to pay for food they failed to deliver to the table and they can't force you to pay for horrible service. If they're going to charge 18% for service, they have to provide an acceptable level of service. Not bringing the food for over an hour, not delivering the beverages with the patrons having to traipse to the bar to get their own, and not providing silverware and napkins clearly demonstrate the service was horrible. They can't collect a gratuity just because the patrons sat at a table.

      2. What I don't understand is why the police arrested them. They paid the bill for the food, which the manager claims he offered to comp. If the meal was comped, ergo they actually paid a $73 tip for what could arguably be described as the worst service experience you can have in a restaurant. Seriously, you don't even give them silverware and napkins and you expect them to tip you? Please. If I was the owner, I'd go ahead and close and move far, far away from this hot mess the staff created.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Dewgrl

          I was thinking that too Dewgrl. Links to news articles have a way of disappearing fast, yet it is against chowhound policy to cut them and paste them in full. Here is what the police said about the situation though: “Obviously we would have liked for the patron and the establishment to have worked this out without getting the police involved,” said Deputy Police Commissioner Stuart Bedics.

        2. What is interesting in all this is that the tip the Lehigh Pub was trying to charge appears to be 22%, not 18%. Maybe the waitress should have been arrested, too, for attempted theft of monies. Possibly the waitress was trying to have her tip calculated on the total for the meals plus the tax.

          2 Replies
          1. re: jfr

            Very good point & math skills JFR!!! You are 100% correct. Tip amount should be food and drinks only. There is no tip for tax. And if you watch Rachael Ray, she tips food only when at an eating establishment. No tip for drinks.

            1. re: fsguy78

              Rachael Ray is simply wrong. You tip for drinks (including wine) AND for food (would you stiff your bartender? Of course not.). Tipping pre or post-tax is up to the guest but, believe it or not, more people seem to tip post-tax than pre-tax. Most restaurants calculate service charges on pre-tax.

          2. This is in the news all over the USA! I worked once for a jerk who would confront customers over small issues. He's tried to open other restaurants and all have flopped. An arrest record is no small issue. I hope they sue and get a big settlement. The manager needs to get a job in a non-service industry.

            1. I whole heartedly agree with the manager having this couple arrested ! It's high time people realize the customer isn't always right ! They agreed to the party charge by choosing that restaurant and ordering within a party of 8 people. They were required to pay NOT only for the waiters supposed bad service, but the kitchen that served they're food. The bartender who served they're drinks, why should they be jipped out of their tip share? The busboy that set up, maintained and cleaned up after 8 people? Why should his tip share be without? They STOLE from those people essentially by NOT tipping the "supposed" bad server and subsequently were arrested for thus!

              4 Replies
              1. re: brownbabygyrl

                brownbabygyrl, I don't think anyone is disputing the fact that the party entered into a contract of sorts by sitting down and ordering food. The issue is that the response of the manager to have them arrested, whether it has a legal basis or not (I am not a lawyer), is very poor customer service, tarnishes the name of the restaurant, and was all around a foolish move over a small amount of money. If the manager had handled the issue professionally there would be no news story, no bad press, and the customers may have even come back to the restaurant in the future.

                1. re: brownbabygyrl

                  Did you read the story? "The busboy that set up, maintained.." - they had no silverware or napkins, and had to go get them on their own. The manager admitted they had received bad service, so there's no "supposed" about it. "The kitchen that served they're (sic) food" - 1) the kitchen staff doesn't serve it, they cook it, and 2) they did a lousy job of that as well.

                  This couple was failed all around by every part of the establishment - servers, busboys, kitchen staff, and management - and I think they were wholly justified in not paying the tip. I don't have an objection to mandatory service charges per se, but I think it should be on an "all or nothing" basis, and the wait staff should know this. I've seen too many cases, working in the industry, where a "mandatory gratuity" is a license to give the table the worst possible service, knowing the tip is guaranteed.

                  Oh, and do try to learn the difference between "their", "they're", and "there", will you?

                  1. re: brownbabygyrl

                    Couldn't you also say the the restaurant was steeling from the customers by charging them for services that they did not receive?

                    1. re: brownbabygyrl

                      There is definitely an implied contract when ordering food in a restaurant as when transacting any business with a merchant. However, no merchant can legally collect money for goods or services that were not provided. The implied contract here is that for an 18% gratuity, a reasonably acceptable level of service would be provided. That did not happen here.

                      Stealing? Absolutely not. They paid for their food and their beverages and the applicable taxes. Had the service been decent, the restaurant would have a right to collect the 18% gratuity, but they failed to provide acceptable service.

                      If you ordered a $10 hamburger and the restaurant never brought you the hamburger but still charged for it on the bill, not paying for the hamburger would not be stealing.

                      As to "gypping" the bartender, busboy and ktichen staff, no patron is obligated to tip for awful service and the service was awful in this case. I agree that customers are not always right, but in this case they definitely were and the restaurant was beyond wrong.

                      No court of law will side with the restaurant when it comes to charging for service when the service was way below the minimum acceptable level in the mind of a judge or jury.