"Was on a double-date. Not a first date, so none of that stress. The bread was terrible, the drinks were flat with barely any ice, and when the food came out, all four of us agreed it was inedible. We asked to talk to the manager. The owner came out and literally grabbed a fork and took a bite of our food and declared it 'perfect' and said they'd call the cops if we didn't pay for it... yeah, we just walked out. Still felt like the cops were on my tail for hours, but nothing came of it."
"The only time I didn't pay (didn't walk out initially, but complained and got a full comp), the waiter asked me to speak Japanese to him (I'm Korean), asked me if all Asians were good break dancers, and sang Ching Chong to me in the tune of happy birthday. Then wrote on the check that they needed an exceptionally good tip because they were late on rent. Yeah...no.
"I took my daughter for a celebratory meal after she had excelled at one of her sports events, it was supposed to be a fun time for both of us, but from the onset, we received terrible service from our waitress. When the below par food arrived, I complained to the manager who dismissed our issue siding with the staff. I was so irked and upset, we left without eating. I threw the 'bill' at the manager and stormed out. In the parking lot, I calmed down a bit and thought this was not a good example to set for my child and went back and to pay the bill. The manager then apologized and said she found out after we left that her staff was having a bad day and we should never have been treated that way, canceled our bill and offered me a voucher for another visit. When I told my daughter of the outcome, she was visibly relieved and our evening was saved, we went elsewhere and had a fantastic time, a potential bad memory averted and changed into a pleasant time."
"I had an extended business lunch with an important client. We talked and talked until the restaurant was empty and staff was cleaning up. We got up and left - still talking. On the way home I realized that I hadn't paid. I called my client and asked if he had paid. He said 'Why would I pay? You invited me...' In our meager defense, we were never presented with a bill. I called the restaurant and said I'd be back tomorrow to fix up the account - they hadn't even noticed that we'd done a runner!"
"There was a small bar in the swamps off a lake in Florida, called the Pirate Bar. A little hard to get to. With a pirate theme. Locals. And sort of a biker bar. A real dive. Newly opened on the site of a previous restaurant we wanted to check out. I brought my whole adult family and some friends. We had a great time. Everyone was so friendly (in spite of looking a little rough). About 2 weeks later I went again, with some friends 'hey let me show you this great little hole in the wall bar.' I'm sitting outside on the patio (waiting to be brought a beer by a friend) and said friend tells me there's a paper tacked up on the wall behind the bar called a 'Walk The Plank' list with a description of a guy that looks like it describes me and my home town mentioned. It says they don't know the guy's name, but he's wanted as a thief for running out on a large bar tab. I go inside and the barkeep yells 'there he is!' Seems like the last time we were there I thought one of my friends had paid the tab and he thought I had and we had left without paying! Nobody looked very friendly now! I quickly paid the past due tab, profusely apologized, bought everyone at the bar a round of drinks, and got the heck out of there."
"A couple years ago, my fella and I went out to dinner at a nice-ish chain restaurant before going to run a couple of errands. For some reason that day we had a hard time calculating the tip. Usually, this is no problem--I quickly figure out what 20% is, and my guy then rounds up a little or a lot, depending on the service and the bill. That fateful day we really struggled with it, and when we finally settled on a number he counted that out and left it in the bill folder thingy, and we left. Like clockwork, he almost always has to poop within half an hour of eating, so when we got to Target he went to the bathroom and I went to pick up whatever it was that I needed. I was on my way to pay and I saw him approaching me with his purposeful walk--shoulders forward, fists clenched, eyebrows knitted. He asked if I was ready to go and I said I just had to pay and he said good because he had accidentally only left a tip and we had to go back. He drove back to the restaurant with a sense of urgency and half jogged inside while I waited in the car--he was mortified and had asked me not to go in with him. He told the hostess what happened and she got our waitress's attention, my guy explained himself, and gave her the cash for our bill. When he got back to the car he told me that she looked like she had won the lottery. It must have been pretty weird for her to find we had paid roughly 20% of the bill rather than skipping out entirely. I can only imagine her relief when she saw my guy return to actually pay and she learned that it was a mistake and we aren't really bad people."
"Went to a place that had $0.50 tacos and had about ten of them. I paid with a $10 bill. The waiter gave me change for a $20. I didn't notice until he left. I waited around at the table for about fifteen minutes but didn't see ANY staff in the entire place. Got up and left. I've never not had terrible service at this place, but they used to have taco deals on Sundays, so.."
"Went to a Starbucks and it was set up backwards but I didn't notice. By backwards, I mean the place where the baristas give you your completed order was right by the entrance and you had to walk around it to get to the register and get in line. So I went in and was standing by the service bit at the end of the line and one of the baristas asked me what I had wanted, so I ordered with him and he made the drink and handed it to me right then and I walked out and got into my car and realized what had happened. I contemplated what to do about this but I enjoyed my free mocha and then realized I was late for work. I went back the next day to rectify the situation and do the right thing but the same thing happened again. I felt a little guilty but hey free coffee, right? That became my regular Starbucks and I kept doing this as a game. I wanted to see how long it would be until someone caught on but no one did. It became routine. I wanted to leave a big tip to pay for everything or just be nice or maybe soothe my guilty conscience but I figured that would draw attention and be the end of my coffee swindling. Whenever I go back to that town I still stop in there. It still works. I probably owe Starbucks like an entire Starbucks by now. I don't even like Starbucks coffee."
"Early in my college career, I fell in with a ring of Catholic schoolboys. They were, well, not fully sociopathic, but they did a good approximation. Five of us ate at a favorite pizza place where we were regular enough to be recognizable. One of us was in a knee-length cast with crutches. As we approached the cashier to pay with the guy on crutches bringing up the rear, somebody yelled 'Blitz,' and the three Catholic boys not on crutches ran to and out the front door, weaving their way around their friend on crutches. Having barely enough in my pocket to pay for myself, after a second's hesitation, I ran for the front door too. I could hear the guy on crutches right behind me. I soon caught up with the first three at the corner, doubled up in laughter. I turned to see why, and two burly waiters had caught up to and collared their friend on crutches. They turned him around and marched him back to the restaurant. This was the source of continuing merriment for some time, and I realized this had been the plot all along... to stick the guy on crutches with paying for them. I later slipped him my share, but he was not very pleased with any of us. We went back to the place repeatedly, and the waiters joked with us about that prank. They'd even station one of them by the door as we finished up."
"We were in an Oakland restaurant shortly after Samantha was born. My wife was exhausted. My father-in-law was in town just for a few days from Arizona and he had kindly offered to treat us to a meal. The place was crowded and noisy, but our luck in having our baby stay asleep was holding. So far. But we waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, the waitress came and apologetically took our order. Then we waited some more. Whole tables had come in, been served, and gone home before our appetizers arrived, stone cold and congealed. Enough time passed that evolution must have occurred and only geologists had the tools to measure that much time. By some foul witchery, the waitress managed to never let her eye be caught or, if she did, 'Any minute now!' fell easily her lying lips, but not even beverage refills were actually forthcoming. But we could see what looked suspiciously like our orders up under the heat lamps slowly moving from cuisine to forensic evidence. And now the baby started to stir. 'Hippie Jesus, no! Just let us have a meal before the-Infant-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed rises from the deep.' Pop and I hit our limits at just the same time. 'Done waitin'?' he grumbled. 'Yep,' I nodded and just like that, we rose and headed for the door. Once outside in the cool night air, we realized that over an hour had passed. The streets were not clogged with robot servants, while flying cars jetted overhead. for example. Somehow, it was still only 1999. But it sure seemed like forever. The kicker? The waitress who couldn't manage to get our orders out somehow found the time to chase us down the street. 'My boss wants you to pay for the appetizers! If not, I have to pay for them myself!' 'Nope!' Pops growled and pivoted on his heel, marching off to find us another restaurant. Am I a bad person because an explosive nervous chortle burst past my lips? (I'll just plead diminished capacity if so.) But yes. I've worked in food service and know the poor server was probably just overwhelmed. And I'm sorry if she got a harsh lesson. Civilizations rose and fell while an exhausted new mother languished. I don't feel bad that we dashed when we hadn't even dined."
"We were in the area for a field trip to a French movie festival. After the movie, we had some time to eat but had to be back at a certain time for the bus. It was a group of 7 plus the only teacher so we definitely had to be back in time. 2 of us were there just to be there so it was 6 people ordering. We were seated outside and ordered our food. After 20 minutes we asked our waitress about our food while explaining we had to leave at a certain time. She apologized for the wait and gave us free French fries. At the 40 minute mark we all started to get antsy and then we suddenly saw our bus driving to the pickup spot. We all panicked. We found our waitress and explained to her the bus was here and we had to go soon but she told us our food wasn't ready yet. We lasted 5 minutes before one of us, Jose, saw a bag of food inside on a counter. 'Is that our food?' 'I don't know go check' It was our food but we did wait. 10 minutes later and we're at the 55-minute mark. Jose disappeared and came back with our bag of food. 'Let's go!' 'Are you crazy?' 'We have to go!' After a short argument, the majority of us decided to just leave without paying. We rushed out of the restaurant and ran to the pickup spot. Everyone was waiting on us and couldn't believe our story of waiting for our food then just leaving. We were told over and over that the waitress was going to pay for our meal. We felt horrible but didn't regret it."
"Wife and I were on a road trip, and we stopped at a Green Mill. It was 8:15. We were done driving for the day and wanted some food and drinks. We mentioned it to the young (clearly new) waiter. It took us 20 minutes to get a menu, and another 10 to find out what beer was on tap. The waiter said if we wait until 9 that the drinks got significantly cheaper. We weren't in a hurry (but were tired), so we said we would just order the food and drinks at 9 and would just take some sodas for now. It was 8:45. The waiter returned at 9:05 with the sodas. It was an empty restaurant, and the menus and sodas should not have taken 50 minutes to begin with. We tried to order dinner, and he told us the kitchen was now closed. We sat there for 50 minutes waiting to order (at the recommendation of the waiter who knew we wanted food) only to learn he had us wait until the exact time the kitchen closed. We left without paying for the sodas and went to Wendy's."
"This was when I was probably 18 when a friend and I had a big day out shooting pool, winning money and drinking far too much. We went to a Chinese restaurant nearby half to sober up and half to have a good hot meal. When it came time to pay, my friend said he thought I had money and I told him I thought he had money. We stupidly decided to make a run for it. Now here is where the story got interesting. My friend had just got his license and a car and my father had given him what at the time was a pretty sophisticated cut off switch that meant no one could steal your car. It was mounted in the grill of your car and you just switched it on or off as needed. Now when we ran from the restaurant we had a good 3-4 minutes before the owner knew we had bolted. But you probably have guessed, my friend had put that cut-off switch on and here we were in a car going nowhere. By the time we realized what was wrong, the owner had a license plate number so we knew we were in trouble. So we decided next morning to borrow some cash and go and see the owner to pay our bill. He didn't take our money but he made us work for three hours cleaning up the backyard and his gutters. I think we both decided never to do that again. We went back many times and he always introduced us a 'they naughty boys, try run away, not pay, now good friend.' You could say we learned a lot - don't mess with new tech for one!!"
"When I did my military service as conscript in 1964 we were paid very little. One evening a friend said let's go to the steakhouse for supper, I'll pay. We went and had a great meal. Towards the end he took a cockroach out of his pocket and slipped it under the last bit of steak on his plate. He called the owner of the restaurant and used his fork to lift the edge of the small piece of steak left so that the owner could see the cockroach. He faked a throw-up suppression. The owner apologized profusely and declared the meal 'on the house.' Many years later, when I could afford it, I took my wife and son to have a meal at that steak house. I told the owner of our fraud from before and even offered to pay for the meal. He had a good laugh, gave us a free brandy snifter with our coffee and refused my offer with a handshake."
"My oldest just turned 16. He has alopecia and autism, so not only is he entirely hairless, but his behavior is a bit unusual. About once a year someone will pick up our entire dinner check, and always anonymously. About half the time we can figure out who it was, but they see what looks like a very sick kid and just cover our tab. It's awkward, but hey man, free food."
"We visited a newly opened restaurant in Bangalore called Smokehouse Deli in its first month. The husband and I ordered individual starters and mains, and a glass of wine each. We got the complimentary bread basket, but neither the food nor the wine made its way to us for over nearly 45 mins. Realizing that the restaurant was probably having issues for being so new, I called the manager to check on our food. The chef must have forgotten our order because in the next 5 mins we received a complimentary' dish that we never ordered. Our wine and 4 dishes came by in the next 15 mins and later, a complimentary dessert appeared. We tried to decline, but the manager insisted we have it, so we did. Pleasantly surprised and stuffed, when we asked the for the bill, he said the meal was on the house. We felt quite awkward because we knew the amount wasn't cheap, but he wouldn't budge from his decision so we left a nice tip and left. We've gone back several times since and received our food on time."
"I was working in Mammoth Lakes building the new hospital. We hit the bars most nights. One night my two buddies left me at the first bar of the night and headed two doors down to the next stop. Well, this was the day President Reagan died and we were playing a drinking game where every time they said his name we did a shot so we ran up a big bill quickly. So they bounced without paying and I'm just sitting there really drunk and I kid you not about 10 cops roll in and start grilling me about where they went and threatened to arrest me if I didn't 'give em up.' I told em to get lost. Fast forward 20 unfun minutes and they walk back in and the first thing out of my bros mouth is 'Bro, I forgot to settle up, my bad.' Cops handcuff the two of them until the bartender says it's all good. Cool town, horrible cops. We got stopped driving with the same guy in the back of a truck heading to work like two days later by one of the cops from the bar. He gave us some resort town bull about us being 'undesirables.' Sorry we came to improve your infrastructure and support the local economy. 6/10 would still go back."
"It was back in Russia, in my small hometown with a not-so-diverse food scene. There was a restaurant I'd go to after school or while meeting hungry friends. Waiters got to know me after a while, and despite certain oddities, we had quite good relationships. Once I and a friend of mine were having lunch there. There was a new member of staff - a fairly good-looking, if a little shy, young man, - and he happened to serve us that day. We picked the meals and were ready going to order. At that point I was busy calculating if he was a local and could possibly have a girlfriend. The guy approached us and we even started a sort of small talk when a manager walked to our table, looking unusually embarrassed. 'Excuse me,' she said, looking as though she indeed was apologizing for something, 'I just wanted to say you didn't pay last time.' I blushed. My friend gave me a surprised look and immediately started giggling. I apologized and promised to pay for both meals once we're done, and the girl, more than understanding, disappeared. In about a minute the nice guy came back to take our orders. I glanced at his now very cold face - he didn't even come close to our table, keeping a considerable distance. When we were done, we paid for the previous time before leaving, and the guy's 'goodbye' sounded pretty much like 'I hope you won't be back.' All in all, it gave me an opportunity to feel like a criminal, and this doesn't happen that often."
"The only time I've done it intentionally was at a restaurant I'd been to many times. A breakfast place. It had just been sold to new owners. Everything took forever. Everything was bad. I asked to speak to the manager or owner. And waited. And waited. Finally, I scrawled on the bill: If you'd like to get paid, call me at xxx-xxxx. A few hours later I received an angry, furious call. I told him that I would give him a credit card # but only after I explained why I wanted to talk to him. I started to explain the situation calmly and in detail. After the second or third thing that was wrong, he interrupted me and yelled, 'If it was that bad, don't pay for it!' and hung up. Okay. I'm fine with that too. I also did it two or three times on accident. We had friends who owned a restaurant. It was very successful, served very good food at a reasonable price, and had an awesome waterfront view. Thing is, if we wanted to hang out with our friends, we had to visit them at the restaurant. So, many a Friday or Saturday night, a variety of friends would descend on the restaurant. Sometimes we'd eat dinner. Or sometimes arrive later. Invariably, we'd all end up hanging out on the patio playing cards until closing time, and of course eating and drinking various things. And, at least three times I can remember one of the couple who owned the restaurant would call us up the next day, 'You forgot to pay . . . again.' It got to the point where they would tell the waiter to be glad because we always tipped especially well after this. And yes, it was truly unintentional."
"There's this restaurant in my town which I liked. My friend and I went there to have lunch during our internship days. Both of us were short on cash and had not visited the ATM, so both of us thought that the other person was going to pay. We sat exactly opposite to the counter where the owner was collecting cash from other customers. We ordered our food and went to the bathroom one after the other and after that walked out thinking that the other person had paid. We only realized this when we were on our way home. We thought we would look really stupid going back and paying the bill and also afraid that owner might think we did this purposely. But we kept on visiting the place regularly and had no issues."
"Visiting a friend and I drove us to a local pizza place he suggested. Pizza was good. Service was god awful the whole night. Specifically the end when we were waiting to pay for 20 minutes and there was no one to be found. Casually walked out and went about our way."