Paying for a Meal

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Is it Ever OK to Leave a Restaurant Without Paying?

Editor
Not unless you plan on getting arrested

Over the course of a particularly awful meal at a restaurant, we’ve all been tempted to grab our coats and simply walk out without paying. “That’ll teach ‘em!” you might have thought to yourself. But is there ever any circumstance where doing the old “dine and dash” is warranted?

Yes, in exactly one situation: If you’ve sat down and haven’t been acknowledged by anyone in more than 15 minutes. As soon as you place your order, as terrible as the meal may be, you’re on the hook to pay for it. Tough noogies.

Here’s the deal: Once your order is sent through to the kitchen, the restaurant spends money and resources out of its own pocket in order to prepare your meal. It’s an exchange of goods and services, and if you don’t pay for what you’ve ordered, then you’ve officially stolen from the restaurant, and the restaurant had the right to press charges against you.

Legal matters aside, when you skip out on your tab, it’s not like the manager just shrugs it off. Someone has to pay for that meal, and one of the dirty secrets of the restaurant industry is the fact that it’s the servers who are generally on the hook for meals when a customer dines and dashes.

If you have a problem with some aspect of your meal, politely address the issue with a manager. If the food is legitimately gross, bring it up before you’ve eaten half of it and more often than not you’ll be allowed to swap it out for something else, or it’ll be removed from your bill. Act like an adult and you’ll be treated like one. Act like a criminal and, well, you might find yourself paying a hefty fine. 

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