According to Houston’s NBC affiliate KPRC, Marks and her family were locked inside La Fisherman restaurant after they refused to pay the 17 percent tip that was automatically added to their bill.
The reason, Marks told the news station, was because the service was slow, she and her party did not get everything they paid for and the staff was rude. The restaurant claims, however, that the mandatory gratuity is customary for parties of five or more, like Marks’. It’s a rule that they’ve even printed on the bottom of every menu, KPRC reports.
“We asked her, could the gratuity be removed? Could we give our own tip?” Marks said. The response she got was to speak with a restaurant manager, but when that didn’t work, a staffer called the police to intervene.
“I asked the police officer twice, maybe three times, is it against the law if we don’t pay the gratuity and he never gave me a straight answer,” Marks went on to say. The family conceded to paying the 17 percent tip in an effort to avoid further trouble.
In a study published last month in the Journal of Black Studies, 40 percent of waiters admit they discriminate against black customers because of a perception they don’t tip as much as white patrons.
The survey found that blacks were typically described as “picky,” “demanding,” and “rude,” according to the Washington Examiner.
Dan Parson, president of Houston’s Better Business Bureau, who received a complaint about Marks’ experience, told KPRC that consumers need to understand the restaurant’s policy before they even sit down.
“I mean every sign walking in the door. What credit cards do you accept, not accept? What are your hours? Seventeen percent gratuity for the six of you? If you don’t like it, go,” he said