Certain customers are always finding ways to squeeze a free meal out of a restaurant establishment, and the more extreme of these guests will find reasons to complain about their food that are downright bizarre.
Below, servers share the absolute weirdest reasons someone has tried to get a free meal from them.
(Content has been edited for clarity.)
Too Easy To Push Around
“My significant other is a waitress and she tells me something ridiculous nightly. One time, a customer came in and complained before she ordered that the food was too expensive and wanted to know what the restaurant was going to do about it.
She then proceeded to demand the manager because my significant other refused her request to give the customer her employee discount, and the staff had to accommodate her. The worst part is the management reprimanded her for saying no to the customer’s request and comped the meal.”
Around And Around We Go
“In high school, I worked at a regional Texmex franchise and the guy who trained me on drive-thru was the owner of the store. While he was taking someone’s order, he missed an item, so when they came back through, he offered the woman the item he missed for free. She wanted the whole meal refunded. He refused and she demanded to see the manager. His said, ‘Sure! Let me get him for you,’ and turned in a full circle before saying, ‘Hi! I’m the manager.’
She flipped and demanded to see the store manager, so he repeated his little circle-turn schpeel, and when she went nuts demanding to speak to someone above him, he replied, ‘Well, the owner is here, I can get him.’ Turned one last circle, leaned out the window and said ‘Hi, I’m the owner. Get out of my drive-thru.'”
Don’t Mess With Keith
“My buddy works with a server named Keith.
In his free time, Keith enjoys bodybuilding, steroids, and going on dates with women. He’s also hilarious and was on a dating show once.
An older gentleman once came into the restaurant and ordered a margarita. ‘Right away sir,’ Keith replies as a good server should, and fetches the margarita.
‘What? I didn’t want salt on this!’
‘No problem sir, let me take care of that for you sir,’ Keith responds and goes back into the kitchen for a new margarita.
He comes back and places it on the table when the man blurts out, ‘That’s not a new margarita!’
‘Why yes, it is sir, a new margarita with no salt.’
‘No!’ The man persists. ‘You’re a liar! You just wiped the salt off the rim!’
Keith’s smile drops from his face, and in an instant, he SWATS the margarita off the table, sending it shattering onto the dining room floor.
‘Nobody calls me a liar, do you understand that? Now you’re paying for that one,’ he yells, pointing at the pile of broken glass. ‘Would you like another one, sir?’
The man nearly crapped himself. Trembling, he meekly asks for another margarita, agrees to pay for the original, and even leaves a nice tip on top of it.
Nobody calls Keith a liar.”
Cool And Collected Wins You The Battle
“Once, when eating in a nicer restaurant, I couldn’t help overhearing what went down when the neighboring table got their check. The guy called the server back over and pointed to the dessert item they’d had (which was fresh berries with minimal preparation, maybe some cream poured over, but dead simple). He told the waiter, ‘It was just berries. I can go to the farmer’s market and pay $2 for what you served me. That price is unreasonable, and I won’t pay it.’
The waiter demurred with something like ‘well, we have other costs too sir’ but the guy was having none of that. He said, ‘I come in here all the time; the lunch was fine, but I won’t pay what you are charging for the fresh berries’ like he knew he’d get his way. And the waiter, sure enough, comped it.
The thing was, I’ve seen people complain about their food or the prices in an angry, seething way that is disproportionate to the harm done. It’s like they want the waiter to think that things will escalate alarmingly if they don’t get their way. But this guy was just calm and assertive like he knew this would be resolved in his favor.”
Welcome To The Secret Club
“They said to me, ‘I’m a Best Buy manager now, so you have to give me the manager discount.’
It took five minutes of reassuring her that manager discounts only apply at places where you work. She thought it was a secret club discount for upper division employees all over the country.
Someone About To Get Slapped
“I once worked as a host in an Italian restaurant. I was the only male host there, with four other beautiful girls as my coworkers/hostesses.
One woman wanted her entire meal comped because she claimed her husband wouldn’t stop staring at a hostess throughout their entire meal.”
Being A Regular Has Its Benefits
“My husband and I go to this one local hole-in-the-wall once a month. We always sit in the same area with the same waitress and order the same thing.
One time, the waitress forgot to leave the pickles off my burger, and I didn’t think about it; just pulled ’em off and enjoyed. She saw them sitting there and almost panicked. The manager came over, and I kept saying, ‘It’s not a big deal. I probably forgot to mention it,’ but he didn’t care and comped the burger.
The poor waitress looked like she was going to have a meltdown.
We paid for what became a $12-bill with a $50; told her to keep the change.”
That Is Disgusting, But Just In Case
“When I worked at Chili’s, I was serving a four-top and got their order in and brought out their food. They called me back a minute later and told me there was a roach on the plate and demanded to talk the manager because they were not paying for food that was unsanitary.
I told my manager that there was no roach on the plate when I gave them their food but he said that the customer’s come first and he’ll comp their meals. They were telling me how disgusting it is, and they’ll never come back, but asked me for a to-go box.
I asked them why they would want food if it had a roach on it and is disgusting? They did not respond and I took their plates and trashed it.”
Time To Switch Industries
“I managed a restaurant in a now-failing family dining chain.
One guy wanted his food for free because his tooth broke when he bit into his dinner roll. His soft, freshly baked dinner roll. The tooth was 12 shades from green to black. I was instructed to keep it by corporate for legal purposes.
Another customer demanded a refund after he had already paid for his food and left. While leaving, he reversed into one of our parking lot lights.
Customer: ‘In California, light posts are supposed to be 20 feet away from the handicapped parking spot.’
Me: ‘Were you parked in the handicapped spot, Sir?’
Customer: ‘No, but I wouldn’t have backed my truck into the pole if it was further away from the parking spot. That’s why it’s a law in California.’
Me: ‘Sir, I’m sure there are plenty of laws that are different between California and Utah.’
Customer: ‘If this was your truck, wouldn’t you want something done about it? Do I need to call the police?’
Me: ‘If I was the driver of the truck, I would have watched where I was going, Sir. If you plan on calling the police, you should know I’ll be filing a claim for property damage.’
And so I went back into the kitchen to help our swamped cook.
Another customer wanted a discount, or he would refuse to tip his waitress. We had a breakfast bar that cost $2 more on weekends and holidays, and since he didn’t read this, his waitress was apparently responsible for not informing him of his negligence. I caved for this guy for the sake of the waitress.
I’m so glad I’m in IT now.”
All Pig Everything
“My dad owns a traditional German restaurant where I was a server in school. We had several regulars, the most memorable was German couple in their mid-30s. One day, the man called my father and asked for a table for the next day. No problem. He asked if he could prepare ‘head cheese.’ No problem. Then he asked if he could put a pig’s eye on the plate when serving with a tiny pink flag in it that said, ‘Will you marry me, my piggy?’
My dad laughed and wanted to know whether he was kidding or not, to which he replied that he wasn’t and that he would give him some extra cash if my dad helped him since it would be kind of weird, but a personal thing he wanted to do. My dad agreed.
The funny thing is that I had the honor of serving them and as soon as I came back to the kitchen I cried and laughed so hard you can’t imagine. And so did the to-be bride. She hugged him and cried tears of joy telling him how cute he was and all that.
I’ve never seen a thing that weird ever after. An, in fact, I’ve never seen them either ever after.”
The Old Penny On The Dish Trick
“I was managing a fast-casual restaurant while I was in school. We had one lady who would always have problems with her food and would want her money back. She comes in one day with her whole family and my server says he isn’t going to deal with her. No problem. I take her order and repeat everything back. Then I go to the kitchen and cook every item myself to make sure there are no problems. I bring everything out to them and make sure everything is okay, then I leave them with their meal.
After they have finished almost everything, I go back to do clear some plates, guess what, there is a penny sitting right on top of an untouched dish that was apparently for nobody. She wants a full refund for the entire meal. Sorry, I cooked your entire order myself, and no there was not a penny there. There is nothing I can do for you. I got yelled at, but whatever, it was the last time we saw her.”
I’m Here For That Gooey Melted Cheese
“I went around and topped off their drinks. I usually only top you off if you have visibly drink some. No need to top off a drink that’s already full, right? This man wanted a free meal because I didn’t top his drink off along with everyone else. When I told him I wasn’t giving it to him, he yelled at my manager and me. He tried to claim racial discrimination. It was an uncomfortable day for me.
Another time, someone called to have a pizza delivered, and she spoke of how she loved the cheese when it ‘is all melty and gooey and perfect.’ She asked if I could make sure her pizza turned out like that. I was creeped out by this point, but I told her I would let the cook know, and I wrote her request on the ticket. After her pizza was delivered, she called to yell at me because the cheese wasn’t perfect. She wanted a promise of a free pizza next time with the gooey melty perfect cheese.”
Thought You Could Pull That One Off, Eh?
“While working the drive-thru window at a fast food joint in high school. I had a verbally abusive mini-van mom scream at me because we weren’t serving breakfast. While trying my best to calm her down, she demanded that I comp her entire order.
I said what any rational 17-year-old would say: ‘No? We can’t do that, just because we aren’t serving breakfast.’
To which she proceeded to throw her entire tray of drinks at me while screaming from the top of lungs that I was a jerk as she peeled out of the parking lot.
She later tried to file a complaint against me with the company. She exaggerated the details and quoted me as saying ‘I ain’t gonna help you, idiot’ (she also left out the part about throwing a tray of drinks at me).
I could have lost my job, but luckily I had multiple witnesses who backed up my story.
After about a week, she came through the drive-thru a second time. She even had the nerve to complain as she was ordering that she came through last week, was treated poorly, was refused breakfast and that this meal should be comped. My manager asked them to drive around, she then confronted her at the window, stating that she not only assaulted one of her employees but also attempted to have him fired under false pretenses and that we would not serve her.
Needless to say, she filed a complaint against my manager as well, which unfortunately didn’t get as easily dismissed. She was suspended for a week without pay.”
No Tomato, But With Tomato
“My family owns a small diner, so we have had many odd incidents over the years. The one that sticks out in my mind was a lady who came in for breakfast and ordered a Texas omelette without tomato. She got her omelette, and ate it all, along with the toast and home fries that came with it.
My sister was the server, I was the cook, and my father was at the cash register. She was served promptly, and the food was made to order, so we were all surprised when she said she wouldn’t be paying for the food when she got to the register because there was no tomato in her omelette. We went through the typical we will offer you a discount stuff, but she wouldn’t let up, even though she ordered no tomato.
As the conversation went on, she kept getting louder, thinking that if she made a scene she would get her way. My father, at this point, was angry and he wasn’t going to let her get the best of him. He went back to the kitchen grabbed an empty pickle bucket and said, ‘If you’re not going to pay for the food we made you, we want it back.’ At this point, she had the attention of the whole place, many of whom are regulars, she got pretty embarrassed because no one had ever asked her to puke in a bucket. The girl finally paid, and I haven’t seen her since.”
Don’t Try To Buddy With Me
“I had a customer one time come in and ordered 50 wings, in various sauces. Well, I messed it up and rang in boneless. Not a big deal, they just had to wait a bit longer, so we give them the boneless wings FOR FREE to eat while they waited. Their order came out, everyone was happy, and they ended up with a huge pile of wings to take home.
Fast forward a week, the same person calls and complains, demanding free food, and the district manager comes in. The computer records showed where my mistake was fixed and my manager’s account of it matched with mine. I got to sit in the room when the district manager called them back and informed that they would not be getting any free food.
A couple months later, I was taking a leak and the jerk comes into the bathroom; he’s all friendly with me, ‘Oh, hey buddy! You remember me?’ I stared at him for a second ‘Oh yeah, I remember now. You’re the guy that called and complained after getting $30 of free food!’
You would have thought he was a ghost.”
No Respect, No Respect At All!
“I had a regular who was known as a huge jerk that would not tip. She would complain about every meal, hair in her food, wasn’t cooked right, and anything else under the Sun. After wasting my breath the first couple of times explaining it was her hair, that is how the dish had to be prepared, etc., I gave up.
This particular time she kept spouting all the same reasons and asked for the check. She left most of the money but was about $8 short and didn’t tip. The next time she came in, she was all smiles and I was not. She kept spouting these same reasons again and said she went to our place all the time and asked what the manager would say to me not giving her a discount. Luckily the manager on duty was also the owner of the restaurant. I asked him what he would say and he smiled and said, ‘come with me, I’ll tell her what I have to say.’
He told her to get out and never come back. She asked what the owner would say to that. He stated he is the owner and has the right to refuse service, and once again said to get out and never come back.
The Levels Of Selfishness
“I was working as the duty manager in a steakhouse back in around 1995. We had a packed house and were running around like crazy when one of the waitresses called me over to her table.
It was a table of four: old mom and dad and their two adult kids. The old guy was having a heart attack. When I got there I checked his pulse which was faint and erratic so I put him flat on the floor. I kept checking for a pulse and felt it fade away then stop so I started CPR and heart massage while telling the waitress to call an ambulance. Obviously, everyone was looking as people do.
I continued trying to revive him and was joined by an off-duty paramedic and between us, we gave him chest compressions and blew into his mouth to keep oxygen circulating. It took about 20 minutes for the ambulance to arrive, and during this time, we were unable to get his heart going. I knew he was dead but could not bring myself to tell his wife and kids so just kept going with the CPR.
When the ambulance arrived, they took over and decided to get him on board and take him to the hospital. His wife and kids got in the ambulance. I was totally shaken up after having this guy die in my arms.
As I walked to the kitchen to take a timeout, a lady from one of the tables nearby stopped me and started complaining that it put her off her meal and ruined her night out. I was seething as she said we should have had some form of portable walls so diners would not have to watch ‘that sort of thing.’ I could tell she had just thought it would be a good opportunity to get a discount on her bill.
I was livid and nearly punched her when my boss pulled me away and made me sit outside. I think my parting words were something along the lines of ‘Your night was ruined, think about that poor family who has just lost a father.’ That was the day I realized some people are just messed in the head and lack any compassion or empathy.
A couple of days later, the daughter came in to tell me her father had passed away and to thank me for my efforts.”