This is one crazy story which recently received national attention. John Wagner, 24 and Leslie Pope, 22, were charged with theft after they refused to pay a $16.35 gratuity automatically added to the bill by the Lehigh Pub in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
The couple, dining with a group of friends, claimed they waited more than an hour for their meal, and had to go to the bar to get drinks refilled and pick up their own silverware. When they left without paying the tip, the restaurant manager called the police who arrested the couple. The Northampton County District Attorney later dropped the charges.
There are many lessons here. First, terrible marketing on behalf of the restaurant. That’s a given. Who would ever want to go to that restaurant?
Having said that, it can be tough as a waiter or waitress. Having waited tables in college, I know that sometimes bad service is a direct result of what’s going on in the kitchen. Nevertheless, the waiter or waitress is the one that is penalized if a meal comes out slow from the kitchen. It sounds like there was more than that going on in this story however.
All I know is that as a personal injury attorney, I don’t get paid in gratuities. In fact, I don’t get paid unless I obtain a successful settlement for my client, or try the case to verdict and win. That is the nature of the contingency fee relationship I have with my clients. In addition, I have to pay all of the costs to finance to prosecution of the case!
I wonder how the restaurant industry would do if customers decided at the end of each meal whether to pay for the meal itself, let alone the tip?