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Houston Diners Locked Up For Not Paying Tip!

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Tip 1Would you like to tip a restaurant after a shoddy service? Of course not. Well, when Houston resident, Jasmine Marks, did that, she was kept locked inside the restaurant and had to pay the whole bill after which she and her family and friends were allowed to walk away. Isn't that simply horrible? Wait till you read the complete story.


1) The Dinner


Marks, along with friends and family, went to the La Fisherman, a restaurant located at 1935 Highway 6 South for dinner. After they ordered the dinner and settled down in anticipation of a nice evening, it all started going downhill from there. The restaurant staff was rude, their orders were messed up, and their drinks were repeatedly not refilled. To top that, when the bill was presented, Marks saw that the restaurant had added an automatic 17% gratuity to it. This was because of the restaurant policy, which says that a 17% gratuity is added to the bill for a party of more than five people, which was true in case of Marks too. However, that is where the whole problem started.


2) The 17% Gratuity


When Marks saw that the bill had an additional tip included, she sought the manager to tell her that she didn’t think the restaurant staff was entitled to so much tip after such inadequate service. She says, “We asked her (the manager), 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’ argument is, “If you’re not satisfied with the service, you shouldn’t have to pay gratuity.” Unfortunately, the restaurant didn’t agree.


3) The Stalemate


The restaurant manager would not hear any of the arguments presented by Marks and her companions. Marks says, “She was like, ‘You have an unsettled bill and ya’ll can’t leave until you pay it.” While Marks was ready to pay the bill for what they ate, she had reservations about paying the 17% tip. Finally, the manager told them, “If you don’t want to pay the gratuity, we have HPD outside.” By HPD, the manager meant the Houston Police Department (HPD). Unfortunately, the police also played the role of a near-accomplice in this whole incident. Marks claims, “I asked the police officer twice, maybe thrice, is it against the law if we don’t pay the gratuity? He never gave me a straight answer.”


4) The Aftermath Tip 2


For now, apart from the extensive public reaction invited by this incident on social networks, the authorities are also looking into it to see if they can prevent such issue from happening in the future. Dan Parson, president of Houston’s Better Business Bureau (BBB), said, “Consumers need to understand the policy going in. I mean every sign walking in the door. What credit cards do you accept, not accept? What are your hours? Seventeen percent gratuity for the six of you? If you don’t like it, leave.” However, Parson also has a word of advice for the restaurant-owners, “They call it the hospitality business. I know you love food, but you got to love the people who eat the food.”


5) The Reactions


The Internet-users didn’t take much time coming back with their comments and opinions on the incident. Some were in favor of Marks while others backed the restaurant. Here is a look at some of them:

  1. “The restaurant should have just voided the gratuity. They get the 17% from this family but then lose tons of business once this story makes the rounds. Basically, the whole town has just found out their food and service sucks.”
  2. “It was on the menu that a party that size would have the gratuity included in the bill. I will agree that 17% is a bit much, but they really have no right to complain.”
  3. “Seriously – how can the law be asked to enforce a company policy? Like, they paid for the food. They’re not stealing.”
  4. “Considering that Houston has some of the best restaurants in Texas and there’s TONS of options for seafood that close to the coast, they’ve probably screwed themselves.”


While Marks ended up paying the complete bill, some commentators even said that she should be grateful for not having been arrested. Well, being arrested for refusing to pay a tip would be harsh, whatever the tipping etiquette in any situation. What do you think? Did Marks do the right thing by refusing to pay the tip? What would you do given the situation or should tipping be banned altogether in the restaurants? Write in with your comments.


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Houston Diners Locked Up For Not Paying Tip!