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N.Y. restaurant patron in jail for not tipping enough!

N.Y. restaurant patron in jail for not tipping enough!

Old Sep 14th, 2004, 10:14 AM
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bonniebroad
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N.Y. restaurant patron in jail for not tipping enough!

When I was just in my doctor's office, listening to the radio/news as my BP was taken, the nurse and I were astounded to hear that a guy in New York had been put in jail because he refused to tip more than 10 percent because, he said, the service was horrible. He was with a party of eight, and there was an automatic tip for 15 or 20 percent added to his bill, and he flatly refused to pay it. Has anyone heard of this happening before? (I tried to google more details on the story but came up empty-handed.)
 
Old Sep 14th, 2004, 10:16 AM
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http://www.kron4.com/Global/story.asp?S=2299465
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Old Sep 14th, 2004, 10:18 AM
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He must have gotten nasty with the staff or something because I don't think you can put someone in jail for being cheap.

If that were the case.....
 
Old Sep 14th, 2004, 10:23 AM
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From A.P.
LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. - A New York City man accused of leaving an inadequate tip at a restaurant was arrested, fingerprinted and photographed for a mug shot.

Humberto A. Taveras, 41, faces a misdemeanor charge of theft of services after he and his fellow diners argued with Soprano's Italian and American Grill managers over the legality of requiring an 18 percent tip for large parties.

"They chased us down like a bunch of criminals," Taveras said. "It killed our weekend."

Taveras and eight others had pizza at the restaurant Sunday night. He told the Glens Falls Post-Star they weren't completely satisfied with the food and left a tip of under 10 percent. Taveras said they also were not told of a mandatory 18 percent gratuity for parties of six or more and did not see notice of it on their menus...

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Old Sep 14th, 2004, 10:24 AM
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sorry, hit post too fast...
I think this is ridiculous. If they were behaving in an obnoxious way, they should have refused them service or told them to leave, but to have them arrested for not tipping enough, is just ridic!
I do hope that a judge throws this out. Seems like someone has forgotten the actual purpose of a TIP. It is not part of the cost of your food. It is a GRATUITY. Sheesh!
Anyone seen my cell phone?
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Old Sep 14th, 2004, 10:27 AM
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Thanks, kikahead, for posting that link! Interesting.........
 
Old Sep 14th, 2004, 10:42 AM
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I think it is interesting that many people think that tips should be included in the bill. Yet when a restaurant does so and clearly states it on the menu (very common for large groups), these same people sometimes throw a fit. In other words the restaurant is damned if they do, and damned if they don't.

I can't speak for what happened here, but if the menu clearly states that a service of a certain percent will be included, then yes, the person has no right to refuse. If the menu said "the price stated for each item includes service" and the person thought the service was terrible, do you honestly think he could get away with saying, "I'll only pay $30 for the steak and $5 for the dessert, not the $35 and $7 listed, since I don't think the service was worth it"? What's the difference if they include the service in each item, or add it on at the end of the bill?

In other words, in Europe service is included in the price. Does that mean if you didn't like the service you can deduct whatever you think appropriate from the listed prices? I don't think so!
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Old Sep 14th, 2004, 10:51 AM
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"He told the Glens Falls Post-Star they weren't completely satisfied with the food and left a tip of under 10 percent." This shows that people like this should stay at home. Since when does the quality of the food have anything to do with the service and what you tip? You're not tipping the chef, you're tipping the waiter.

And sorry, I didn't realize the first time that Scarlett's post was the specific case mentioned in bonniebroad's original post.

A service charge for groups printed on the menu is a charge not to be determined by the customer. It is just as set in stone as the price of the items on the menus. Again, it isn't up to the customer to decide how much he wants to pay for something, when it is listed on the menu.
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Old Sep 14th, 2004, 10:54 AM
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Patrick, at some places, the waiters must split the tips. I always hand a good server the tip on the aside and leave the minimum on the tray.
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Old Sep 14th, 2004, 10:56 AM
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Scarlett, have you tried calling your cell phone? ;-)

Sorry, didn't mean to hijack this thread...
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Old Sep 14th, 2004, 11:00 AM
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I've never seen my husband so mad (he has 15% on parties of six or more) as the night this drunk butthead refused to pay the gratuity for no other reason than he was a drunk butthead.

My husband explained that his waitstaff were single parents, heads of households, students, etc trying to pay their way through life and since he had no service issues he WOULD pay the 15%.

Drunk guy said, "Nope".

Husband said "sir, you are very intoxicated and you have a choice. After you pay your bill which will include the 15% gratuity, I can either call you a taxi or the local law enforcement. Which would you like?".

Paid the gratuity and he and his group all went back to their hotel in taxis.
 
Old Sep 14th, 2004, 11:06 AM
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Patrick, I guess this boils down to whether or not this restaurant STATED ON THE MENU that this 18 percent charge would be added for parties six or larger. If the patron was in no way informed of this "mandatory" charge, he shouldn't have to pay it, IMO. But if it was clearly stated on the menu that this charge would be added, that's different. Now, if the food was truly horrible, restaurants that I go to would find a way to satisfy the customer (no charge for the dinner, i.e.) I posted about this because I had never heard of someone being arrested for such...... and wondered if anyone else had.
 
Old Sep 14th, 2004, 11:10 AM
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bonnie,
They said that this arrest raises the issue of whether gratuities that restaurants automatically tack on for serving large groups are legally enforceable debts.

The Sheriff said he did not believe the issue has ever been litigated before in New York.
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Old Sep 14th, 2004, 11:15 AM
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So apparently restuarant owners even recognizing that wait staff need every penny, would rather upset customers than pay a decent wage.

Patrick beings up an interesting point, but if the amount of the gratuity for large paties is clearly stated is it always justified?

We had an occasion where the waiter forgot to place our order, later they had the nerve to put the 18% on our bill because we were a group of 8. Is this justified - we refused and the manager after some argument agreed to take it off our bill.

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Old Sep 14th, 2004, 11:15 AM
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I wouldn't have thought it was particularly good publicity for the restaurant!
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Old Sep 14th, 2004, 11:20 AM
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In an article on this, the owner said the menu clearly states the policy.

If so, then this becomes an issue of the legality of the practice. Let's see if this guy decides to fight the arrest, which will cost him time and money, or if he simply pays up.

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Old Sep 14th, 2004, 11:26 AM
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Scarlett, I find it all interesting because restaurant situations can be perplexing at times. You can have excellent food with terrible service, and vice versa! In either case, you're not real happy.........and don't feel like leaving a big tip. In restaurants around Raleigh, we rarely have much to complain about because of the competition. If you're ever displeased, managers are very quick to keep the customer happy!

Thanks, everybody, for your replies!
 
Old Sep 14th, 2004, 11:30 AM
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indie, restaurants operate on such small profit margins that it would be near impossible to pay waitstaff minimum wage and keep prices the same.

If someone has a legitimate gripe, you cannot make them pay the gratuity.

It would be a BIG integrity issue with me if the added gratuity charge is not clearly posted on the menu.
 
Old Sep 14th, 2004, 11:30 AM
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The majority of posters on this thread have obviously not read the link http://www.kron4.com/Global/story.asp?S=2299465
originally posted by kikahead.
If they had read the link, they'd know that the guy is already off the hook as local prosecuters refuse to charge him with anything. The prosecutors said that restaurants have to call the extra 18% a service charge, not a tip in order to make it mandatory to pay.
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Old Sep 14th, 2004, 11:31 AM
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The judge ruled that the restaurant could not force anyone to pay a gratuity. The restaurant would have to call it a "cover charge." The customer was let go.
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