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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Family Locked in Restaurant For Not Paying Tip

I wrote about this already, but now all of a sudden the story has gone viral. Uh, hello? I wrote about it yesterday, but Huffington Post and Yahoo writes about it and now suddenly it's big news? So, yeah, I am reposting this shit because I broke this news story, bitches.

Almost any restaurant you go into is going to have a policy set up that will automatically include gratuity to a check if the party is over a certain number. This is to protect the server from getting totally stiffed on a huge check because we pay taxes on what the government assumes we will get tipped based on our sales, whether we get the tip or not. A lot of servers look at the automatic gratuity as an excuse to give shitty service because they know the tip is going to get added no matter what. Believe it or not, I am not one of those servers. When I know the gratuity is going to be added, I feel an increased responsibility to do a better job so that the customers have no reason to object to the tip being included. At a restaurant in Houston this week, the tip was added to a check and it did not go over well.

According to reports, La Fisherman, a fancy sounding but probably not fancy at all seafood restaurant, added a 17% gratuity to a party of five. This policy is stated on the menu. A family was not pleased with the service claiming they did not get everything they ordered, no one ever refilled their drinks and the staff was rude. They did not want to pay the 17% tip and asked that it be removed so they could tip what they wanted to tip based on the service they received. So far, I agree. If you didn't get what you ordered and it's still on the bill, that is a problem. Well, the manager was all "Umm, we cain't do that cuz it's policy to add 17% to a party of five or more so umm...yeah. No." The family balked and the next thing they knew, the restaurant doors had been locked with them stuck inside and the police had been called. Okay, even the bitchiest of waiters would think that the restaurant went way past the line.The police showed up and eventually the family decided to pay the 17% tip, get the fuck out of the situation and forget the whole thing. Well, forget the whole thing after they call the local news crew and stir up some trouble. I like that family. Mark this day in Bitchy Waiter history because I am on the customers' side. That restaurant needed to just accept that they gave some crap service and let it go. I did a little research on La Fisherman and there are plenty of other people not happy with the service. From Yelp and Google:
  • The manager was rude and said she was refusing us service because of our seating request. I have never been treated this badly at a restaurant in my entire life,
  • The place is a dump, restrooms are disgusting, staff is appallingly condescending, lazy and slow.
  • Billing for water and sides of mayo, butter, etc.... Greedy!
Yes, they charge twenty-five cents for water. And they charge fifty cents for butter. This restaurant sounds like a real winner. If the manager was smart (we all know she isn't...) she would have let that family pay what they wanted and leave rather than letting the story get to the media. Now, every half-ass news station and food blogger is going to be writing about what it's like when you eat at La Fisherman. In Houston, Texas. On Highway 6. Not good business, La Fisherman.

To be clear, I think a restaurant certainly has a right to add the gratuity to a party, although adding it to five or more seems a bit greedy. However, when the service charge is added, the server must make sure they are earning that tip, Yes, sometimes there will be people who demand the gratuity be removed even when the service was exemplary and there will be servers who take advantage of the added gratuity and do as little as possible. However, in this case, it does seem that the restaurant went too far.

Whose side are you on? The customer or the restaurant?



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34 comments:

Ray Sexauer said...

Ok..Mo offense to anyone..But anybody who's ever been in the hospitality/restaurant business knows blacks are the worst f*cking tippers of all time. A thousand times worse than Europeans.

Tonya said...

Ray Sexauer, how on Earth could broad, sweeping generalizations based only upon the color of one's skin be considered offensive? Thanks for sharing your racism yet bleeping out the U in "fucking" so I wouldn't be offended.

TheRealBarman said...

I'm offended, but it's ok because I have a black friend. I'm also offended because I am of European descent. Neither me nor my black friend would ever be locked in a restaurant for not tipping.

The RB

Estrellita said...

If the restaurant charges for mayo and butter, it is a probably a low rent shithole. It is probably frequented by the type of people who toss condiment in their purses. When condiments are rationed it is because customers have used the place as a food bank. People who do that are not going to tip because they are cheap and trashy. The service may have sucked. No decent server would work in a place that caters to the dregs. Or they may have been looking for a reason to avoid tipping. The manager handled it poorly. If your clientele is tightfisted and trashy, you have to expect them to act like, well, tightfisted trash.

Mary A. said...

Even Robert Irvine wouldn't try to save that restaurant.

BTW -- he needs to hire you to train servers on his show.

Wrial Huden said...

I saw the video, and the place looks to be some hole-in-the-wall located in a strip mall. Doesn't exactly attract your more upscale clientele.

Taschima Cullen said...

One time I went to NY with my friends and we went to a Dave and Buster, got the worst waiter on the world and still had to pay the mandatory tip. We were pissed as hell, because as you said because he knew he was going to get a tip anyways he did the worst job possible. You can't expect people to be honest and hard working these days like you Bitchy waiter.

Anonymous said...

I hate to say it but if someone had locked me in the restaurant,they would be going to jail. foget the media.the police would be getting involved. Im all in favor of tipping,and think those who refuse to do so for no good reason are the scum of the earth.But legally it isnt required.And legally you cant hold someone in a restaurant to force them to pay up the tip

Anonymous said...

I actually work right down the road maybe 5-7 min from this place and I am a server as well, and I have had a large party of 30 people who took up half of our restaurant for 4 1/2 hours and we put a 18% gratuity on all of their SPLIT CHECKS and keep in mind they all ordered water with lemon even for their children and they all were making lemonade but anyway it came to time to close checks and the one. Girl was like what's gratuity mean? And I explained it to her and she said Ohhh noo you take that off I can't afford that (in my mind I'm thinking you afforded that $7 bar drink and the most expensive plate on the menu and u Damn sure didn't mind running me back and forth) so I said man was your service good? She said "ya" I said did everything taste great? She said "ya" I said ok then Im not removing the grat she was pist but not anymore pist than we were 3 of us were tied to this annoying ass loud ass party for 4 1/2 hours and barely made $20 each and it was woo draining like we had to walk into the section with all 3 of us bc they would swarm us asking for a million things it was insane.

Noelle said...

Customers hands down. Auto Grat is a slippery slope. Guest absolutely has the prerogative to have it removed.

Servers at were I work. Often times risk it and don't add it. BECAUSE: 20% is often the norm and auto is 18%.
Sales tax has to be charged on Auto not when the guest add it. (yeah goofy law)
Many guests are offended and say "WELL I was going to leave you more but now I'm not. (which they could anyway they are just being persnickety). As a manager I would gladly take off the auto grat then that server would be interrogated. Guests could have been pricks but I start giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Noelle said...

to anon- Can't afford it would not cause me to cave. That is asshole guests.

Thought I had better clarify that the guest right above my last comment would not liked me on there departure.
"What does gratuity mean?"
This manager would gladly school this guest. Geez for Real?

Noelle said...

*their (nothing like trying to be smart and looking illiterate.) committed my own peeve. :-)

Myr said...

I wish we had auto grat @ my restaurant. I always have to give good service, knowing my tip relies on it. Big parties are often a pain in the ass, table hopping, extra needy, and take away my attention from my other tables. That being said...

I rarely dine out, but if I had to pay auto grat and the service was sub par, I would argue the charge. I agree with you, BW. The management should have stepped in and rectified the situation.

Anonymous said...

My manager gave me the option to walk over and tell them about it and if they argued he would have taken it off. About table hopping WOW yes I from the jump asked them if they were doing separate checks like I always do. They said yes and I immediately told them that they would have to stay on their same seats to keep things under control and made a joke by saying I'm sure that when your ready to peace you don't want to wait an hour or so while we sift through and try and straighten checks out. I made it a point to be very thorough on checks because if one person complains about their check they all will. I advised my other servers to keep a tight grip on checks and to be honest that was the only part of that party that was not stressful and went smoothly.

Anonymous said...

Obviously very little have worked in the industry. Servers do not make a straight 20% or 17% in this case. Usually support staff must be tipped as well from their server, whether or not a server got tipped from a table. Theoretically, if a table does not tip, a server is paying for that guest to sit and eat. Mandatory gratuity is protecting everyone on the way down who gets a piece of that tip for their duties. These could include hosts, food runners, bussers, and bartenders. At my restaurant, it is a whopping 4.5% mandatory tip-out of our sales.

Also, stereotyping occurs more common than you think, regardless of what is morally right and said in front of others. I would gladly take a group of white folks over blacks any day. At least the white folks are considerate for others, where as blacks only care about themselves.

One last thing, servers have to please two crowds to stay employed, the manager and guest. If tip was already included and they gave bad service, they would get fired or wrote up. Simple as that. It shouldn't be the guest decision to pay you or not, rather the employers. Based on guest satisfaction would the server keep their job.

Anonymous said...

"Also, stereotyping occurs more common than you think, regardless of what is morally right and said in front of others. I would gladly take a group of white folks over blacks any day. At least the white folks are considerate for others, where as blacks only care about themselves."

I'd like to see you go up to a black person's face and say that. Don't worry, according to the first poster, if you just say "no offense" your racism will be excused!

Frank Giannantonio said...

Cool post. Nice how you called the restaurant out. Any place I've worked with an auto-grat policy would take it right off if the guest wasn't cool with being told how much to tip. Unbelievable that the manager didn't just remove it, and completely insane that they pulled a Chaz Palmienteri and locked the frikkin' doors! What about the other guests in the restaurant? Could they leave? Crazy. Cheers!

Mac said...

Many people choose great dining restaurants for a special occasion, so the food must not disappoint- in either selection or quality. You don’t need to feature a huge menu, but it should be interesting, offering unique items that patrons wouldn’t find at any other restaurant.

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Anonymous said...

I'm on the restaurant's side. If they put that on the menu then the customers should be prepared to pay for it before they eat their food.

Anonymous said...

What is with all the racists in this site? I mean...I get it....the people commenting on how "trashy" and "cheap" blacks are, are probably waaaaaaay high up on the social scale...I mean, they are WAITERS for goodness sake. Probably have their MBAs. *sarcasm*

Jason Heredia said...

To answer the question: Locking someone in who won't pay a grat is completely ridiculous, and that manager is a moron. Remove the grat, get the riff-raff out of your store, comp some sodas so your server doesn't have an aneurism, and call it a night. I remember one night a few years ago, I've come in on my day off to do my manager a solid after a couple servers called off, and not 10 seconds after I finish my sidework, I'm double-sat with 7 tops (we grat at 8). Weird. 2 separate checks, even though 1 guy payed for all of it, and it was a nightmare navigating my station due to all the plates being passed back and forth between tables. Needy, 1 at a timing, and with the most unruly kids I've ever encountered. They sat down about 10 minutes before we went on a wait. They left 10 minutes after we went off one. At the end, their tab was $213.64. I remember because the jackass made me stand in front of him with my hand out, surveying the damage, while he quite loudly counted $214 into my hand, then walked straight out of the restaurant without saying another word. It took me over an hour to clean my station. they had TAKEN APART the wooden table tents, whose pieces were strewn about the room, emptied not only the salt and pepper in the center under each table, but also EVERY SUGAR, SPLENDA, EQUAL, AND SWEET N LOW in a neat little pile, which was then played in. When I left, I was exhausted from being run incessantly for 3 1/2 hours, and after tipshare I had paid the restaurant $7 for my time. People suck sometimes.

As for the racism, is it really racist if a stereotype plays itself out time and time again? At the last store I worked at, low tips from black people for the same service that earned 20% from the Asian family in the next booth were so common that they became known as STD's (Standard Three Dollars). At my new spot, it's a little better. Blacks, most country folk, and Hispanics tend to leave 10%, while whites, indians, and asians leave 15%+. I hate racism as much as any of you, but stereotypes exist for a reason.

Anonymous said...

I'm black, and I tip 20-25% across the board, and these are higher end restaurants.

Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate, your experience with a few has soured you to many. You are truly ignorant.

Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate, your experience with a few has soured you to many. You are truly ignorant.

Anonymous said...

Your stereotypes don't apply to this black person. My family full of doctors and lawyers, we tip well. I've worked in restaurants before, thank you.

Anonymous said...

It's true. Blacks and Spanish people are the worst tippers. Russians are bad to.

Anonymous said...

I am a server and make over 800 dollars a week after taxes.

Anonymous said...

Blacks or "Canadians" as we called them, in my experience, almost never tipped, and when they did, it was a paltry dollar or two in a restaurant where the average bill for 2 people was about $80. This was not an exception - every single table of black people I have served fit that description. Every last one of them. It's not racist - it's sad.

I eventually realized they'd give you at least a few dollars if you took drinks off their checks or gave them free dessert (of course, this was done at risk of management finding out). THAT'S racist! You'll pay for services rendered if you get extras for free, while the white/yellow/purple/whatever couple in the booth next to you paid the full price for the same thing AND actually left a decent tip?!

All the other customers tipped well, or at the very least tipped 15%. Also, we had a 17% gratuity on 5 or more people, and after 9pm, which I kept for all my tables, to ensure I got 15%. All of the customers EXCEPT the blacks paid without incident, and some even threw in a few dollars more. I dreaded bringing out the check for a black table because I knew they'd throw a fit about it. EVERY TIME they walked their fucking asses outside after arguing with the GM and throwing money in their face - no tip! It is what it is.

We had an even mix of white and black waitresses, and even the black waitresses didn't want to serve them because of the crappy tipping! When we saw a group of blacks, we'd all run into the back and argue about who had to take them. The smart ones would lock themselves into the bathroom for the next 5 minutes so they wouldn't be around when the GM would come out of the office and finally have to assign a waitress to the table. EVERY TIME the poor girl would get run around and be stuck with the same table the entire night and make no money.

I don't know how it is anywhere else, but in Baltimore, it's widely known that black people don't fucking tip! Of course I've had bad experiences with every kind of person, but nothing else was as constant as that.

Anonymous said...

Locking the doors seems illegal to me, kind of like kidnapping. However, after 24 years waiting tables, ALL servers know that blacks, in general, are extremely poor tippers. While the more professional blacks are fine, the "Thug Life" wannabes are just way too much trouble to deal with, I don't care if they tip, as long as they leave QUICKLY !!!!!

Anonymous said...

No offense to you but for you to say blacks are the worst tippers makes you an idiot. I'm black and my starting tip is at least $15 and goes up from there based on service. Why does it start at $15 no matter what? Well because I've been a server/bartender for 12 yrs and have two small children and I know waiting on a family can be a handful. Next time try treating your table of "blacks" nicely without the attitude i've noticed a,lot of servers e tend to give them,and see if your tip doesn't increase.

Anonymous said...

OMG, I'm SOOOO sick of the "you give blacks an attitude, so that's why they don't tip" excuse - BULLSHIT. I was a sweet, naive, trusting fresh-faced server, 18 years of age, and went into my new waitressing job with hope of continual cash flow and a smile. I was pretty good at it; they used to give me and the other top waitress all 20 tables in the smoking section on Saturdays and Sundays (AKA the rush) and we'd both take care of all 20 tables. I was training girls after 3 months being there. Every time I got a black table, I'd get really upset, because I was sensitive and spineless back then, when I'd bust my ass serving them and they'd give me $.75 or $1 on a $50 check. I was genuinely hurt and confused, and I mentioned to my coworker that that table over there left without tipping, and they've done it before! They must hate me or something! She just smirked and said, "No, they're black. Blacks are shitty tippers." THEN I started noticing it. I'd triple bust my ass to try to please them, thinking if I just made them happy, they'd tip - nope. Sure, there's the occasional tip when you don't expect it, but for the most part, you know what you're getting. Why is it so hard to admit that there's cultural differences and different expectations for different races? Sometimes stereotypes are true. I'm Jewish; I have a big nose and I'm a cheap bitch. My boyfriend makes fun of me all the time for that. So fucking what. Everyone in my family is cheap as hell except my sister, who is a shopping whore. So 99% of the time, stereotypes are right. But I guess that's a whole other article, though ....

Charles "Alpha Lackey" Mousseau said...

Tonya: a statistical extrapolation is not racism. Correlation is not causation, and claims of "racism" would imply the latter.

Let's play a game: My score is equal to the percentage tip of a randomly selected patron from the general restaurant-going population. Your score is equal to the percentage tip of a randomly selected patron from the African-American going population. Highest score wins. Do you really assert that you have an equal long-term statistical chance in this game?

Of course, this is a specific case. In reality, there are very few cases outside of the actuary or insurance fields where one would think in such a way. However, in and of itself, the statement "there is a statistically significant correlation between race and average gratuity" is just not racism.

I'm not telling you that you can't be offended. Be as offended as you want; it doesn't make you correct.

Believing that this correlation is caused by a biological disposition to be cheap? That's racism. Believing that no African-American knows how to tip by virtue of extending this correlation to an absolute statement? That's prejudice.

Using basic math and Stats 201 to back a claim that I have a statistical advantage in our game? Nothing of the sort.

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Chris Clayton said...

That's so bad about that. Sorry to hear.

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