How to Get Thrown in Jail…for Not Tipping?

by Sean on November 30, 2009


When you hear the word “gratuity”, you probably think of tipping a waiter or waitress for good service.  The standard is 15% for acceptable service, with 20%+ for outstanding service, and nothing if the service stinks.  Some restaurants even automatically add a percentage to your bill if your group is larger than 6 or 8, making it easier to calculate your bill.

Most people think of the gratuity as being optional.  I mean, if the service stinks, you shouldn’t have to pay for it, right?

Wrong.

As reported on NBC, Leslie Pope and John Wagner in Bethlehem, PA were recently thrown in jail for refusing to pay the gratuity that the restaurant automatically tacked on to their bill. According  to the article:

Pope and John Wagner were hauled away by police and charged with theft for not paying the mandatory 18 percent gratuity totaling $16 after eating at the Lehigh Pub in Bethlehem, Pa. with six friends.

Pope claimed that they had to wait nearly an hour for their order and that she had to get napkins and silverware for the table herself.

“At this point I became very annoyed because I had already gone up to the bar myself to have my soda refilled because the waitress never came back,” Pope said.

After the $73 bill came, the group paid for food, drinks, and tax but refused to pay the tip. After explaining the bad service to the bartender in charge, Pope claimed he took their money and called police. The couple was handcuffed and placed in the back of a police car.

Not only has service gotten worse at restaurants, you now have to tip for it?  Ridiculous!

Fortunately for the couple, the charges have been dropped.  I’m betting that the bad publicity for the restaurant ended up costing them more than the amount of the “gratuity”.

The original news story, with video:

http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local-beat/Time-In-Prison–70426052.html

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Justin November 30, 2009 at 2:04 pm

Well, unless they weren’t aware that the place had a mandatory gratuity for their party size, most menus state this fact, then it’s more than fair for them to be arrested for not paying the entire bill.

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Sean November 30, 2009 at 7:46 pm

I can see your point of view, but the menu doesn’t always specify that it’s a “mandatory” gratuity. In the cases that I remember (not saying it’s always this way, just what I remember), the menu states that an XX% gratuity will be added to the bill. Yes, that could be considered mandatory, but it should be open to negotiation…in a perfect world.

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