What makes a person hide and run away from a restaurant before paying their bill? Is it a split-second decision? Do they not have even to pay, or do they just like making a chaotic mess for the poor wait staff? It turns out the reasons behind this dastardly deed run the gamut, from malicious intent to frustrated rebellion. No one knows who ultimately paid for all of this, but the people who committed this act have no regrets. This content has been edited for clarity.
"Okay, I’ll admit it. I did this twice at the same restaurant. Both of these times were after a concert at the same venue, and I even ordered the same meal. I tried my hardest to pay though. I literally jumped up and down with the bill in my hand, but no one would even look my way.
The first time was on my way home from a concert with a guy I worked with. We were both completely trashed and decided on one of their gross, greasy burgers would be delicious. I got a triple with fries. While we were eating, a bunch of high-schoolers dressed for prom bombarded the place. I devoured my burger and asked for the check. My friend gave me money for his food and went outside to smoke while I paid.
I waited for 10 minutes at the table with money in my hand, but never saw our waitress again. Finally, I walked up to the counter, which had a mob of kids waiting for seats in front of it. I fought my way to the front but only saw one burger cook way back in the kitchen. I wasn’t about to walk back there, so after a few minutes, I started jumping up and down saying 'I’m trying to pay my bill. Please let me pay you for my food!'
The kids were all looking at me like I was crazy, so I got embarrassed and left. I never told my friend I didn’t pay.
The second time was pretty much the same, only with my dad. After waiting in a line of 10 people, all waiting for someone to take our money, I left. My dad was waiting in the car and got all paranoid when I told him I didn’t pay. He drove crazy fast the whole way home and told me how stupid that was the whole way home.
I promise I tried everything I could to pay these bills. I’d never order a meal with the intention of not paying, but I’m not going to hunt someone down to give them their money either. If I ever somehow get confronted about this, I’ll gladly pay the $15 that I owe. It’s their turn to try to find me this time though."
"I was treating a friend to lunch after he took the day off to take me to a doctor appointment, where I wouldn’t be allowed to drive home. We went to a place owned by a famous local chef with amazing reviews. It has the best burgers I’ve ever had in a long time. It wasn’t extremely busy, so maybe 3 other tables occupied, So we had our waitress's full attention. She was talkative, making jokes quick with our drinks and taking our order and bringing our order as soon as it was sent out, all around the PERFECT waitress.
We happily chowed down. She came around a few times to check on us, but then all of a sudden, just stopped coming by our section. This group of young college guys walked in 15 minutes before, and I don’t know if she knew them or what, but she never left their side, laughing and carrying on with them.
After waiting for her to bring our bill, we asked another employee to get it, but since she wasn’t our waitress, she couldn’t. She promised she would tell our waitress, but another 10 minute passed by and still no waitress. It was now getting close to 2:30pm and I needed to be home by 3:00 to greet my daughters after they got off the school bus. My friend needed to pick up his wife from work at 4.
I just said let's just leave the money on the table and go. We looked up the menu online and totaled up our order, including drinks, taxes, and even a tip. We even left a little extra to cover anything we forgot. We left the money on the table, with a note showing our tally and the total, tax and tip all written out and my Official LEO Business Card, which had a badge on it with my dept name, my full name, and my badge number.
As we were walking out the door, the waitress and the manager come running out the door yelling, 'STOP! WE’VE CALLED THE POLICE ON YOU, STAY HERE UNTIL THEY GET HERE!'
When we asked what the issue was, we found our the waitress was accusing us of dining and dashing. Apparently, she saw us walking out the door and ran to get her manager, who got the bartender to call the police. I said we left payment on the table and walked back inside to the still cluttered table, to show him the $60 cash with the note showing our tally and then what we left.
He said, 'Why didn’t you wait for your waitress to bring you an official bill?!'
Before I could say anything, my friend spoke up, as he is usually quiet and doesn’t like confrontation, but he had enough with being made to wait and then being accused of theft. He shouted, 'We waited for over 20 minutes for her to bring our bill. Instead of bringing us our bill, your waitress decided she would continue to flirt with that group (points to group of six guys at a table nearby) and refill their drinks TWICE! Ever since they walked in, she ignored us. My friend needs to get home to his daughters, and I need to pick up my wife. We don't have all day to just sit around waiting for her to decide which guy she wanted to sleep with, so we paid our bill and left. Apparently without even checking first, she decided we were stealing and my friend is even a police officer!'
The manager was speechless and then turned to the waitress and said, 'This is the third time you’ve been accused of ignoring customers to hang out with guys from your school. Then you took it a step further and accused them of stealing without even checking the table first. Now, the police are coming to investigate a theft, so I’m sorry but you’re fired."
The manager apologized and offered to refund our money, We told him no, we ordered and ate the food and it was great, so we’ll pay for it, but we did accept a $20 gift card each. I don’t fault the restaurant and will go back, it was just the waitress."
"I am on the cast of a theater group, and after the last showing of our play, Pride and Prejudice, we went to an IHOP for an after party. I knew this was not going to work out because my parents enforce a strict 12:00 curfew. Unfortunately, this was the last time I would be seeing many of the people in our cast, so I went along with 2 siblings (one older, one younger).
When we got to IHOP, our cast filled the building. Because of the way they seated everyone, my siblings and I got seated on completely different tables. The sheer amount of people who showed up and the way we were seated caused the whole thing to be chaotic and worthless. They finally took our orders at around 10:45, and I made sure they were aware of our curfew. Fast-forward to 11:45– my little brother gets his food, but none of us get ours. We realize that we're out of time and have to rush out before our parents ground us for missing curfew so badly. We tried to pay for the bill at the check in, but they couldn't find our bill for some reason. We tried to walk out at that point, but the staff got in our face and blocked our exit. We ended up giving the bill to a friend and paying her back later.
I believe when you need to get somewhere fast, but the staff of the restaurant is too slow, you just have to walk out."
"The first incident happened many years ago, when my friend and I went out drinking. Later on in the evening, we decided we would go to a very nice restaurant for something to eat. It was an Indian restaurant, the nicest one we could find. I ordered appetizers and a main dish, and we had some delicious little cakes as well. My friend wasn't shy either and ordered several dishes. Eventually, the table was filled with wonderful tasty dishes. We tucked in, washing them down with many, many drinks. My friend and I chatted for a while, and in the conversation, we decided we didn't really fancy parting with our cash.
So, as planned, we simply got up and ran away. It was surprisingly difficult to run, having eaten and drank vast quantities. By far, the laughter was the biggest hurdle to overcome. If you have never tried running whilst laughing uncontrollably. You'll never understand just how difficult it actually is. It actually became a hobby of ours after this incident. We compete to see how much we can avoid paying. It is a strange hobby, but it brings us much excitement and enjoyment.
The number of restaurants we have done this to must easily be in the hundreds, perhaps even more. So far, we have played this game in 7 countries! Many will judge me for this, but really I don't care, life is too short to worry about things. Just enjoy life and do what you like."
"For six weeks straight I visited a local bar every Thursday, started a tab, ran up at least a $200 bill, and left without paying.
Back when I had my development company, it became a regular thing to take the team out to a local spot once a week. We would start at the bar, then move outside to the patio when the band showed up, so we could hear each other over the band.
At the end of the night, the girl working the patio would bring us our bill, and I would pay it and leave. I never really paid attention to the amounts or how much everyone had. What I didn't realize was that the girl was starting a new tab when we came outside, which was completely separate from the tab at the bar - which was still open. Unbeknownst to me, we were stiffing the bartender and walking out on our tab every week, and we only ever paid for the drinks we had outside.
This went on for about six weeks before anyone told me. Of course, by that time we were regulars and everyone who worked there knew us, they laughed it off and refused to accept payment for all the unpaid bar tabs. I still felt pretty bad about it though, and made sure to tip the bartender the equivalent of what we would have tipped over all those visits."
"It was in Tijuana, Mexico. I was travelling with a tour group. We’d chosen a restaurant next to a public bar. About the time we were done eating, we heard loud shots fired from the public bar. There was some commotion outside, and the manager rapidly locked the doors to our restaurant.
A Mexican police officer then demanded the doors be opened. He then yelled at us to leave through the rear doors. Police were waiting at the rear, and those police directed us to a much safer area. My two companions and I turned our backs and headed towards our group pickup point. We did not look back. Naturally, we did not return to pay the bill."
"I went to TGI Friday's a couple of months ago with my family, and from the second we got in the door, it was just a really bad experience. We waited over 30 minutes before a server even came over to take a drinks order, and then we waited another hour to get our starters. When our main came, 3 out of 5 meals were wrong, and all of them were stone-cold.
I’m not usually one to complain and, being a restaurant server myself, I often give the benefit of the doubt, but it was my brother’s birthday and we just didn't think that it was acceptable service really.
When we told our waitress that the experience was disappointing, she offered to bring the manager over. We spoke to her. She also agreed that it was unacceptable. She would 'sort out the bill.'
Assuming this meant that she would take our bill off, we sat at the table for another 5-10 minutes while we chatted and finished our drinks and then walked out, even saying goodbye to the manager on our way out. It was only after we got into our separate cars and drove out of the car park that I saw her running into the street with a receipt and a card machine looking furious."
"Well me and my best friend, both of us 16 at that time, were in a middle Eastern country where we were in high school. I told my friend let's have Kabsa, an Arabic meat dish, and he said he just recently discovered the awesomest Kabsa place in town and it's apparently a must-have. So we got to the place, and it was basically a run down old Arabic styled house converted into a restaurant. We dug into the food, and it was awesome.
We both washed our hands before we walked out, and we started talking of how awesome the food was. As the restaurant faded behind us, I asked the question I regret asking this day, how much did it cost?
He snapped back, 'You paid right?'
I was like, 'No, you did when I went to wash.'
We both stopped, looked back at the restaurant, and we both just ran. I don't know why we ran to this day. I don't know why we ever did that and not just go back and pay up. I have paid for far worse meals through the years and I always feel karma biting me hard when I get ripped off with bad food.
That friend and I haven't been in touch for a long while, but I hope one day I go by that place when I visit and I get to pay, but I doubt if they would keep that restaurant open now because the health inspectors are much more strict now."
"I stopped at a 24-hour restaurant (at which I was a fairly regular customer) for breakfast after a night shift. The waitress/counter girl/miscellaneous employee was clearly having some sort of a bad night, and apparently she decided to make it my fault.
My order took its sweet time coming, and I eventually noticed it sitting in the window from the kitchen, under the heat lamps. And it sat there and sat there, while the employee sat there, sullenly wrapping silverware in napkins. When I went up to the counter to (politely) ask about my order, she got up and walked away from me.
Finally (maybe 10 minutes later), she takes my order out from under the heat lamps and plunked it on the table in front of me. 'I’ve been waiting for this for-' but I couldn't even finish my exclamation, as she walked away again. I took one bite. It was cold. Cold eggs and toast. Well, I can see where there are some circumstances in which I’d be glad to have it, but this wasn’t one of them.
I got up and left, without paying. The cop in the next booth gave me nothing, but an approving nod. The restaurant was out of business a month later."
"I used to frequent this small restaurant for lunch. It wasn’t anything special, but the prices and food were good and the service was always commendable. Except for this one time. This one time, I was there after work, and the place was pretty much empty, save for maybe 2–4 people. You’d think this would mean I’d get speedy service, but you’d be wrong. It took 15 minutes for someone to come to me with a menu, not for a lack of trying on my side. I specifically waved someone over after 5 minutes to ask for a menu, but they just took another 10 minutes to bring it.
I ordered my food, and thankfully, it was brought out fast. It was delicious as always, which was good because I had a long day and I needed some fuel. I finished my food, and looking at the time, I thought, 'Well, still have plenty of time to get home and relax with a book or a movie.'
It took them 20 minutes to take my plates away and for me to ask for the bill. I have no idea what was going on that evening, but the waiters just disappeared. I had to shout for one as soon as I spotted him, otherwise, I’d have been there even longer. Now, just to wait for the bill, pay it, and leave. At this point, no tip is expected. But then it came to the point where I just decided to leave without paying.
When, you ask?
I waited another 30 (yes, thirty) minutes and didn’t get the bill. I had to repeat myself three times to three separate waiters. I think, by that point, I was just shell-shocked by the horrible service. How hard is it to bring out the bill? It’s a piece of paper, you don’t need the whole team to carry it.
So, having wasted tons of time, I stand up and start putting my coat on. Maybe someone will notice and run over to stop me? Nope, not a soul in sight, except for other diners, who are looking just as displeased as I am. In the end, I really tried to pay, I did. I took another 10 minutes to walk out the door because my mind kept telling me, 'Come on, this is not the right thing to do!'
But this was, without question, the worst service I’ve ever had. There was zero chance it could be remedied. So I left and I don’t regret it."
"A few years ago now, my wife and I were out with her parents. Our starters arrived and were eaten, uneventfully. Then, we waited. And waited some more. Then we did a bit more waiting before our main courses arrived. Mine was wrong, but I wasn’t keen on another interminable wait, so I just ate it anyway.
We came on to the subject of dessert. We did the little dessert conversation. 'Are you having dessert? I’ll have dessert if you are. I’ll go with the crowd. Me too.'
We flagged down a passing staff member and asked for the dessert menu. They responded that the member of staff looking after our table was on break, but they’d see if they could get something sorted. Okay, is nobody covering for them while they’re on their break? Apparently not. We waited for the dessert menus. And waited a bit longer. Eventually, we got fed up and just decided that we’d rather have the bill.
More waiting. Eventually someone deigned to bring us the bill. Now onto paying. We tried to flag someone down to bring us the card machine. No luck. I moved to stand in front of the deserted counter in the hope that I’d suddenly become less invisible. Still no luck, even after several minutes. And that’s when we left, leaving a bill for two courses plus drinks for four unpaid. I was expecting someone to follow me, and I was fully ready for an argument about the lack of service. To my disappointment, nobody did."
"Oh boy, here we go! My husband and I had friends visiting us. The four of us went out to dinner at a nice Japanese restaurant. During the dinner, the wife of the other couple took a liking to a water jug on the table. So naturally, she stole it, and she hid it under her shawl. I was quite shocked by her behavior (we didn't know that couple particularly well at the time). That was pretty bad, but it quickly got worse!
After dinner, the wife said she was feeling ill, so her husband offered to pay while the three of us went outside to get her some fresh air. Ten minutes or so passed, and suddenly the husband was there screaming, 'Let's go, let's go!'
We started to move off to the car, but we weren't going fast enough for him and he yells, 'We need to go NOW!'
Once we're in the car, he tells us how the line to pay was too long because there were so many people waiting to pay in front of him, so he decided to leave and skip out on the bill. The rest of the night seemed much more calm. The next day, after the couple gone home, the restaurant rang my husband. The wife had been so preoccupied with stealing the jug under her shawl, she'd left her handbag behind in the restaurant, so could he please go and get it back?
My husband had to go back and retrieve the handbag, and he also paid the bill for this stingy couple. The staff were shockingly polite. 'Yes, we have the handbag, and your friends forgot to pay their bills!'
Very poor behavior on their part. We are no longer friends with them."
"My stepdad was on a business trip with a number of colleagues. They were engaged with an especially important client. There was a two-hour gap in between all of their meetings, so they headed out to lunch. They went to a Perkins or a Denny’s, someplace like that. They sat down, ordered, were served, and finished lunch. They got the check during about a forty-minute dining period, and then waited. And waited. The waitress appeared to have been captured.
With about 10 minutes left to go before their next presentation, they stood up, formed an actual conga line, and moved slowly through the restaurant. All of them singing loudly and off-key. The guy in the front of the line was waving the bill like a flag. I'd imagine they did all of this to the amusement of the other disgruntled patrons.
They wove through the restaurant, all the way to the exit, out the door, and into their cars. Staff did not stop them. The staff apparently didn't even see them. Too bad. It sounds like it was quite a sight."