Family Locked in Restaurant for Refusing to Pay Tip

After receiving bad service at La Fisherman restaurant in West Houston, Texas, a family refused to pay the tip.

So what did the restaurant do? They locked the door ... and called the cops!

When the bill came, Marks said there was a problem. The restaurant added an automatic 17 percent gratuity because their party had more than five people in it, but Marks didn't feel like the staff earned the full tip so she asked to speak to a manager.

"We asked her, could the gratuity be removed? Could we give our own tip? She said it was part of their policy and there was nothing she could do about," Marks said. "If you're not satisfied with the service, you shouldn't have to pay gratuity."

The gratuity policy was clearly marked on the restaurant's menus. But Marks said when they questioned it the workers wouldn't let her or her friends leave; she claims they locked the door and called the police.


Is it fair to enforce an automatic tip policy (on large parties) if the service is less than stellar?

Previously on Neatorama: One Third of Waiters Consciously Provide Poor Service to Black Customers

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If they had a legitimate problem with the level of service they were receiving, they should have talked to the manager long before the check arrived. Waiting till time to pay sounds to me a lot like the scammers who wait until after they've already eaten their meal to say that the steak was overcooked and they'd like a comp.
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I always tip. Even with bad service. However, I hate having a tip automatically added for large tables. I get why it's done, but still feel like it is making me do it.
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Having waited tables for years at a couple of different restaurants years ago, I worked at places that had automatic gratuities and ones that didn't. I didn't apply the gratuity to parties that were likely to be good tippers. Families, adults, business dinners, etc. I would seldom ever add the gratuity. I fared better just providing them my usual good service and letting them know that I did not add the gratuity for big parties already and relying on them to tip as they saw fit. They seldom ever tipped badly and often tipped more than the automatic gratuity would have been. I did appreciate the restaurants that offered the automatic gratuity option,though, for some groups. Because a server still has to pay taxes and tip out bartenders, busers, etc. based on a percentage of the whole bill regardless of what tip they received, it's nice to have that insurance for groups that are likely to stiff you entirely or leave you way too little to cover you tax and tip out expenses. Big groups of teenagers were one of the main times I had to thank my lucky stars that I had a gratuity to fall back on. They'll all too often run a server to death and take up their whole section for the whole evening and not leave any tip or leave a few cents in change on a several hundred dollar tab.
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