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Why Was a Family Locked in a Restaurant Because of a Tip?

David McNew, Getty Images

Here’s a cautionary tale for diners regarding autograts — aka “autogratuity.” A family from Houston, Texas claims it was locked inside a La Fisherman restaurant and threatened with police action when it refused to adhere to the restaurants policy of adding an automatic 17 percent tip to the bills for a party of five and beyond.

But the family insists it wasn’t refusing to pay 17 percent because it’s cheap. Rather, customer Jasmine Marks insists that such a high tip was undeserved, saying the staff was rude and service was poor.

Marks asked the manager to amend the automatic gratuity policy and instead of adopting a “the customer is always right” stance, the staff locked the doors and ordered the party to pay up or face the cops who were outside.

The authorities were actually not sure about whether or not the establishment could legally lock the family inside to force the tip. The eatery’s drastic action isn’t really the best way to increase customers’ happiness with the service, either.

The family gave in to the strong arm tactics and paid the tip in order to move on. Autograt tips are often posted in the menus and the wait staff attending to large parties are often relieved of other tables in order to focus on the needs of the bigger group. Thus, the automatic tip ensures the waiter or waitress doesn’t lose out on tips due to a lesser volume of tables.


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