Diners Allegedly Held Hostage in Restaurant for Refusing to Pay Tip

Stiff a server, get held hostage

By Sam Schulz
|  Thursday, May 3, 2012  |  Updated 11:24 AM EDT
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A group of diners in Houston say a restaurant's staff held them hostage when they refused to pay the tip that was automatically included on the bill.

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Think twice next time you quibble with a restaurant's tip-included policy — lest you be held hostage.

A Houston woman told NBC affiliate KPRC Local 2 that's what happened when she and her five friends resisted paying the 17 percent gratuity that La Fisherman restaurant tacked onto their bill — a customary practice in restaurants for large parties.

Jasmine Marks admitted that the policy was stated clearly on the menu but said she asked a manager to let her leave a tip of her own choosing. She said the wait staff treated her party rudely, didn't refill their drinks and didn't bring them everything they ordered.

The manager's response was to lock them inside the restaurant and call the police, she said.

"I asked the police officer twice, maybe three times, 'Is it against the law if we don't pay the gratuity?' and he never gave me a straight answer," Marks said. "We paid our bill for what we ate, we paid the bill."

The on-duty manager at the restaurant told KPRC that they have called the cops over similar issues before.

Marks and her companions wound up paying the automatically included 17 percent tip just to avoid more trouble, KPRC reported.

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