A young couple in Bethelehem, Pa., was arrested on theft charges recently when they refused to pay an 18% tip that had been rolled into their restaurant tab, 'cause they insisted service was so bad their waiter didn't deserve a tip.
Pope and John Wagner had a meal with friends at Lehigh Pub in Bethelehem and waited for about an hour for their food. They also had to fetch their own napkins and silverware.
When they got their $73 tab, they noticed the 18% gratuity had been rolled into the bill. So they told the head bartender that service was whack, paid him for the food and tax, and prepared to leave.
The bartender, most certainly a weasel considering his next move, called the police and reported the Wagners had stiffed the restaurant.
Charges probably won't stick. So this was all a big fat waste of tax $$$.
So I'm clear, if service is good you must tip. If you don't you suck and will suffer bad karma. There are few less rewarding jobs than waiter/waitress, save eye booger cleaner in a room full of allergy sufferers, or toilet-paper-roll-replacer in a busy nightclub or airport bathroom.
And if you have a really high tab, I don't have a problem with a restaurant adding an 18% or 20% tip to your bill and marking it clearly as such.
That's sometimes necessary to combat the tiny-minded person who thinks it's a sin to tip more than $5 or $10, even when their total bill is several hundred dollars.
But if service is bad, I don't have a problem with you tipping accordingly.
I've made exceptions. Mrs. B and I have been out to eat and gotten lousy service, and just as I prepared to teach the waiter/waitress a lesson for not being nicer, one or both of us noticed a tear in their eye or a miserable look on their face. And it struck us that they were having a bad day and that a bad tip would teach them nothing. It would just make them bitter and add to their bad day.
Still, a theft charge for not tipping? Harsh. Nothing gratuitous about that.
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