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Family held "hostage" over refusal to pay mandatory 17 percent tip!

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  1. Wow - that's a scary precedent set. While I can understand restaurants requiring gratuities for parties over a certain number due to what can easily be a pain in the a** for servers (general confusion, seperate checks, yadayadayada), the issue here was that the service was horrible.

    A tip isn't supposed to be "required". It's supposed to be an "extra" for good - or at least decent - service. It doesn't sound like the folks in question felt they received that.

    If I were in their shoes, frankly, I'd be on my way to small claims court. I know they didn't want the publicity, but bad publicity runs both ways, & I'd certainly want my day in court after something like this.

    1. This is a crazy case.

      Shouldn't a gratuity be up to the customer? Even if it's listed on the menu? It's a gratuity not a service charge.

      Also, the restaurant screwed up by locking the doors and holding the group against their will.
      Not paying a bill is a civil matter, but holding someone against their will can be criminal.

      The restaurant has created a negative press for themselves over a few dollars.

      1. Glad to see this story is going national. Just saw a story in NE

        1. Once you look at the menu and the tip is specified it is legally part of the price and is a tip in name only. They should be required to pay for services rendered. If they dispute the services, then they should take the restaurant to small claims court - but would likely not win. The restaurant lost anyways since they have had some very bad press :p

          If the service is that poor, the manager should have at least waived "gratuity". I have had restaurants deduct stuff from the final price and given me a discount for future use (which serves the purpose of trying to pull you back in to demonstrate that it was just an off day - and repair relations). This restaurant probably deserves to go out of business.

          1. BTW, legally it is not "hostage" but "Shopkeeper's privilege" in which they can detain people while the police are in route.

            1. According to the story, the manager admitted the restaurant had called the police previously about the same issue.

              If the restaurant needs the police to enforce its mandatory "service charge", perhaps some staff training is in order.

              Just sayin...

              3 Replies
              1. re: BrookBoy

                Yeah that's what I thought. Or at least be willing to adjust the mandatory tip so that's you don't have to call the cops. Wouldn't want to be known as the "Restaurant who calls wolf".

                I would have just paid and immediately called my cc company to dispute the charge. Let Amex deal with it.

                1. re: viperlush

                  The manager might not want to remove the auto-grat because he would then have to pay the difference to bring the server's wage up to minimum wage. From the comments on the news article, is sounds like this particular restaurant has chronically bad service. Would surprise me at all if the management is just really bad, which could include being so cheap as to not want to pay minimum wage.

                  1. re: mpjmph

                    Yeah. It was obviously a dumb move. I'm sure that the national attention and possible legal issues will do wonders for their reputation and business.

              2. Food quality and service quality are both subjective. If you don't like your food, do you have the right to dine and dash? Of course not. You would become at that moment a criminal. Why would it be different for service? Both are part of one contract to which the diners were a party.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Veggo

                  The contract sounds one sided. If a restaurant fails to provide good service, you're still stuck with the gratuity charge. Shouldn't a contract have a "performance clause"?

                  1. re: dave_c

                    There is no SLA ("Service Level Agreement") - if the customer wants one - then negotiate it.... the customer can always walk with their feet and not agree to the terms offered.... by staying and ordering they have agreed to the contract as is, and that agreement is that there is a 17% surcharge as part of the contract (ignore what it is called, it is just a surcharge). If you don't like the terms, go to another restaurant.

                  2. re: Veggo

                    If you don't like your food, you send it back to the kitchen after one bite. If you don't like the service, you suffer thru hoping it will get better and then tell the manager it was not. Then the manager apologizes and adjusts the bill accordingly.

                    1. re: Bellachefa

                      Again - no SLA. There are no rules for a manger - only expectations if the manager is good. Free Markets depend on free people to make decisions - if they did not like the terms - leave. If you don't like your first experience there - never come back. Restaurant closes - no more problems.

                  3. I live about 15 minutes from that place. Have not been there yet, and after seeing that story, never will. I'll let you know when I see that they have gone out of business.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: absurdnerdbird

                      Excellent! Thank you. I look forward to hearing of their demise. Just way to many ways they mishandled their business, their staff, and their customers.

                      1. re: absurdnerdbird

                        Any idea if the manager is the owner or is the owner yet to be heard from. If the owner does not like this he could always fire the manager for stupidity :p