People who work in the restaurant business have seen it all, but there's nothing like dealing with some memorable customers who tried their best to completely ruining the entire dining experience for everyone. People will try anything to scam restaurants into giving them a free meal.
These Redditors share the tales of the cheapest customers they've ever had to deal with. Have these cheapskates no shame?! Content has been edited for clarity.
"My mother has owned a breakfast restaurant for eight years in Florida. Some of the stuff I've seen needs to be in a book. Somebody brought a dead cockroach in a small bag and decided to put it in their food and make a huge scene in the dining room. Threatening to sue, saying she'll never come back, that sort of thing. I guess she didn't read the signs that are posted all over that tell all of our customers that they are being recorded. We looked at the cameras and quickly told her to leave.
We once had a guy throw his plate down at a floor and scream: 'This isn't fit for pigs,' and told us to comp his meal for him and his friends. Apparently we were being ridiculous when we asked him to leave.
Had a guy in a party of eight complain that our eggs aren't free range and that he never would've eaten here if he would have known and that we should comp the entire meal.
We've had too many attempted dine and dashes to count. We have a balloon artist on the weekends as it is a family place. We had one lady outright yell at this poor guy for trying to make a kid a sword at the table next to her. Then she yelled at me when I told her to please calm down. I'm going to let you guess what she asked me to do: COMP HER MEAL!
Had a guy get mad at us for not having paper bags for his to go order and wanted us to discount it. You know, since plastic bags just can't do the job."
"This woman comes through the drive-thru, orders a meal and two sandwiches. Her total is $8.10. She pulls to the window and hands me $4 in dollar bills. Then she starts rooting through her purse for the rest. She apologizes and says she's sorry; her wallet got stolen. I don't say anything, but internally I sympathize.
Why didn't I let her have it? She said it was stolen from work, meaning she knew what she had before she pulled in my drive-thru. Then she says she hopes she isn't holding up my line because she wasn't going anywhere until she paid it all. She manages to scrape up another dollar bill. Oh, it's going to be like that, eh? Challenge accepted.
Three minutes have gone by at that point. A car comes up behind and orders a drink. No problem. But she's waiting behind this one woman who can't find her money. By this time, she has enough to pay for the meal. I tell her this. No, she insists, she has to have the entire thing. She finds $0.50 and another minute goes by. She asks if there's anything I can do. I tell her no, I offered her a solution and she didn't take it. A quarter, two dimes, and a nickel appear and another minute elapses. Since she won't move and insists on paying for what she ordered, I can see where this is going.
I tell my guy in front who hands out the food to go out the back door and give the second car her drink. He does that and gets her money. I ring that order out, the second car drives off. The lady at my window starts complaining that she spent her day wiping butts and how bad it was she couldn't pay for her food. I say nothing. Seven minutes have elapsed. Now this lady is digging through her console for change and comes out with a dollar in coins. Then she starts asking me how much more she needs. So I tell her. Digging continues. Now she's coming up with pennies. She's coming to her endgame now: now she's asking if I could comp the rest, 'For all the times I ask for extra sauce and it isn't there or when I ask for cheese on my chicken sandwich and it isn't there?' I tell her no. Even if we had that capability of comping for condiments, my drawer would still be short. Most places have a strict limit of how much more or little your drawer can be. This would have put me down a dollar.
Also, employees are NOT supposed to put their own money to pay for customers orders. Some do it anyway. I don't have that kind of walking around money, plus I could tell this woman was going to do everything she could to not pay. I hate people insulting my intelligence, and I was not going to help her monetarily in any way. She asks for the manager. I tell her I'm the manager. She wants my name. I give it to her. There's nothing I can do? I tell her no.
Resignedly, she sighs and reaches to grab an unwrinkled, in plain sight to her, dollar bill. I take the bill and hand her the extra unneeded change after she pulled to my window."
"I had a woman come in with two of her friends. They had this attitude and aura that they all thought they were better than anyone else, despite the gross fake nails, crunchy hair, and few hundred extra pounds between the three of them. They order an appetizer and then each gets some of the more expensive options on the menu, one woman, in particular, getting the 'Shellfish Trio' which has a crab cake, shrimp skewer, and a lobster tail. I deliver their food, do my rounds and return to check on how they're doing. Woman with the trio has woofed down her entire lobster tail and she says she 'didn't care' for it. I apologize, ask her if I can bring her another, she obliges. I bring out the new tail, set it down, do my rounds, and then return to check on the new tail. The woman says: 'To be honest, it wasn't that great.' Meanwhile, the things been practically ripped open so she could get every piece of meat in her mouth before I could get back. I knew off the bat they weren't going to tip me no matter how great a job I did, so I had the charge for her trio and the extra lobster tail on the bill. You eat it, you pay for it."
"McDonald's worker here:
1) 'Plain McDouble. Add Mac Sauce and Lettuce.' Then people get mad when we won't let them do it. Our local franchise (22 stores) isn't like the competing two McDonald's franchises in the area. What's the point of selling a Big Mac for $3.89 when people just choose a ghetto one for $1.
2) Customers eating in ask for 'a cup for water.' Everyone that does this never gets water so we just sell the cup and tell them they can either put water in it or put soda in it since both come from the same machine. We eventually moved the drink station out of the dining room and give out free water, just like through the drive-thru, if someone wants it.
3) Drive-thru customer bringing in a cup of coffee and saying, 'I got the coffee this morning and didn't have time to drink it all so I need a replacement.'
4) A lady came through the McDonald's drive-thru and complained her burger didn't have enough ketchup and she needed a new one. Came through a few minutes later saying it had too much. Came through again and said it had not enough. We had to tell her there's nothing we can do for her.
4) A guy came through and said he came through two days ago and 2 of his meals were the wrong ones. The manager said that we would honor it because he didn't want a complaint on his shift. Okay so which 2 meals were you missing? 'Uhh hold on... (calls someone)...Hey what you want to eat I'm at McDonald's and it's free.'
When I worked for a steakhouse restaurant as a busboy, I watched a guy call the waitress over with a complaint of, 'This steak doesn't taste like it's cooked long enough.' She grabs the plate and before she takes it away, the guy says he needs to double check and cuts off a HUGE piece and shoves it in his mouth and eats it and says, 'Yeah it definitely needs to be cooked more, I need a new one.'"
"I work at a family owned Japanese hibachi restaurant. The meals are a bit pricey, but they have a deal for your birthday to get a discount. This older couple comes in with their son and who I was assuming to be his girlfriend and her daughter. We had another 'kids eat free' promo that day. It was one of their birthdays, so I told them if they had separate checks, I could do both promos; they were fine with that. The kid's meal was covered all but $2 (there's a limit to the free) and gratuity was added due to promos used (house policy, on coupon they brought in).
When they get the bills, they were very confused. The kids meal wasn't 'free,' and why did it cost more than the other times they came in? They were mad. We comped the $2 for the kids meal and I went through and explained every single charge and how it added up - there was nothing wrong with it but they couldn't accept that answer. They said they came in all the time and got the same thing and they pay less that. Every time they are given a valid answer, they make up something else to be mad at until finally they tell me they want the gratuity taken off because 'they already tipped the chef' although, I still have to tip him out of that %, so I would be paying to have waited on them.
I was more than nice to these people and so was my manager. They told me, 'If you don't remove the tip, we are never coming back again.' I got my manager, assuming he would remove it, and he went out there and told them they had to pay it! I was so glad he stood up to them instead of giving in."
"Both these stories happened when I was managing a high-end seafood restaurant.
Story One: Long story short, a guy picked up the bill for his table of eight people which I believe amounted to close to $900, which also included a lot of adult beverages. He calls us the next morning in an angry fit claiming that his credit card was charged for two different amounts - the $900, and another $200, add to that he and another guest of his got very sick last night and he demanded all his money back. I tell him that I need to look through the records, find the transactions, and go from there. I find the two credit card slips, both with his signature.
I call him back and ask if he remembers going to the bar in the restaurant after his dinner, and he says, 'No.' I then offer to scan and email him said signed slips, I tell him that I am not refunding him and that perhaps the reason him and another guest were sick was because of the amount they had to drink. I told him that not only do I have him on video drinking at least a bottle and a half at his table, but best I could figure, he had three other drinks at dinner too. Add to that the mixed drinks he had at the bar. (I called and asked the bartender about this party, and she remembered them). He was mad, he started yelling and cursing at me, I told him that perhaps when he goes out, he needs to control how much he consumes and that his inability to control himself was not the restaurant's problem. He tells me to go eff myself and hangs up.
Story Two: Lady and her family sit down for dinner and tell us that it is her adult son's birthday. They have a nice meal, dessert, the works. As far as I know, they had a nice meal. We even included a candle on the dessert. The waiter drops the check and she is LIVID! I get called over and she starts shouting at me because we did not comp her son's meal and dessert, nor did we sing 'Happy birthday' to her son. I ask her why she was under the impression that her son's meal was on the house, and she yelled to the point that the restaurant went silent - 'BECAUSE IT IS HIS BIRTHDAY, AND RESTAURANTS ARE SUPPOSED TO TAKE CARE OF PEOPLE ON THEIR BIRTHDAY!'
I just stood there in shock for a second and thought, 'Well, this is a new one for me.'
Calmly, I attempted to explain that dozens and dozens of people who come into our restaurant do so to celebrate something, typically a birthday, we are kind of a destination for special events/occasions, and her son's birthday is not unique, nor is it something worth us losing money over. While flattered, honored, and appreciative that they chose our restaurant for this special occasion, there was no need to comp or discount anything.
Her: 'Well, this is unacceptable. I am just not going to pay.'
Me: 'That's fine.' (Pulling out my cell phone) 'I am going to call the police and you can sort this out with them when they arrive.'
She hastily grabs her credit card from her purse, slams it on the table, and yells: 'FINE!!! I WILL PAY, BUT I AM NEVER COMING BACK HERE AND I AM NOT LEAVING A TIP!!!'
She leaves no tip on a $300 bill.
Obviously, the waiter is upset. The other tables in his section tip him, and random guests not in his section stop him, hand him a $20 here and there. He made more money in 'sympathy tips' than he would have from a regular 20% off that $300 bill. I hated when rich, entitled white women would come in and make a stink over the most minor, trivial stuff. I do not remember the comedian's name, but he says this about rich white women: 'I married someone who accomplished something! I demand respect!'"
"I waited tables for five years in family-style neighborhood restaurants. It's amazing how many people try to get free stuff. Once, a woman with long wiry black hair claimed that one of my hairs (short and red) was in her food. The hair was like a foot long and clearly came from her. She got her free food.
Another one that stands out was a woman who flagged me down to complain about the price ($5) of her bowl of soup. It was a huge bowl, filled 3/4 of the way. I even remember the soup, it was a really hearty made-from-scratch clam chowder. After telling her that I don't have the power to change the price of her food (I did have the power to comp it, but I didn't want her to get her way), I told her I'd be happy to get my manager for her. She insisted that I didn't get the manager, and instead ripped me apart because she felt like we were charging too much for soup. I have no idea why she didn't want to speak to a manager. Maybe she thought her lies would be obvious to someone other than a server. For some reason, a lot of customers would order things that were not anywhere on the menu. For example, we did not have waffles. We had French toast, pancakes, a lot of bread and stuff but not waffles.
This guy comes in, doesn't look at the menu, and orders waffles. I tell him to take a look at the menu and I'd be back to help him. I guess that made him mad because after he ordered pancakes, he demanded that they be comped because we didn't have what he originally wanted. Luckily, my manager was near and heard the conversation, and he dealt with the prick. He did not get his free pancakes.
One more! Since we were a neighborhood restaurant, sometimes regulars would bring in their own mugs for coffee. I would just fill their mugs, which often times were larger than ours, and charge them the regular price. There was this one particular woman who I did not know that brought her own mug in. I filled it as normal and charged her the normal price ($2.50). She was LIVID when she got the bill and realized that she had been charged for coffee. For some reason, she thought she would get free coffee if she brought her own mug. I explained to her that this was not the case and she reluctantly paid the bill, leaving the tip field blank. Here's the best part; she left the mug behind! I kept it and still have it. I call it the revenge mug."
"I used to work at a Chili's. If you sat in the bar area, you got 'free' chips and salsa. Technically, they weren't free, you got one bowl with each entree purchased. But typically the bar had parties of two or four, and most people don't out eat their entrees, so it was never an issue. This lady comes in one day with her four children. She had to have been 250 pounds. She orders water for everyone and chips. They devour the first plate, I bring a second, they devour that, I bring a third. I ask if I can take an order, and she tells me they're waiting for some more people. At this point, I know something's up, and while I'm in the back, I see her kids stuffing chips into Ziplock bags. I had to have brought out 10 refills on the chips before they tried to leave. My manager intercepted them before they got up and dropped a bill for $50 on their table. She starting complaining that chips and salsa were free. He called her out on the ziplock bags. Long story short, she had no money on her, cops got called, she got arrested (or at the very least, kicked out of the restaurant). Didn't honor her lies, never saw her again."
"I worked in a pizza place for a bit after school in high school. One woman called to complain about a long blonde hair in her pizza. I informed her it was only me, with short black hair and the bald delivery guy working at the time. She told me she deserves her next order free because 'it was between the layers of cheese.' What? If you've ever made a pizza in your life then you know it is either on top of the cheese, or underneath. Not woven between.
I told her that unfortunately I wasn't able to help. That was when the delivery driver walked through the back door, grabbed the phone from my hand, shouted 'IF YOU WANTED TO SCAM A FREE PIZZA FROM US YOU SHOULD HAVE LEFT ME WITH MORE THAN A $0.05 TIP, HAG!!' and hung the phone up. He showed me the nickel. Apparently she had exact change for the pizza, counted it out in front of him, and handed him the nickel and said, 'This is for your trouble.'
No, she wasn't an elderly lady. She was a mid 30's woman who seemed to be hosting a dinner party and got a party size pizza with a huge side order of wings. I think it came to like $70 all together."
"I had an upper class, elderly woman who'd come in every so often with other upper class, elderly women. She'd always order one french press and they'd share it. I was working alone one day when she brought her friend over and said, 'Tommy (the owner) told me that because I bring so much business and new customers to the shop that I could start coming here for free.' She gets free food this time.
I had a shift with Tommy two days later and mentioned it to him. He had not, in fact, given this woman free reign to order. I don't know if she was feeling especially dishonest that day or if the woman she brought was her rival sister and she wanted to look impressive. Do you know what impress me? People who pay for their freaking food.
I didn't get in trouble or anything. Tommy was a good mix of disgusted and impressed with her balls and said he'd handle it the next time she came in."
"Some people ask for a second helping (which we will gladly provide free of charge if you're still hungry), then ask for a to-go box ten seconds later.
Our policy is that you can't have a to-go box if you order a second helping. We don't offer refills for you to take home and eat later.
When told this, they'll grab boxes left on tables that haven't been cleaned yet, ask every employee that walks by until they get some new kid who doesn't know any better, or simply shove everything they can into someone else's box.
I don't do anything to stop them anymore. I just stand back and watch them behave like pigs at a trough.
Then I go wait on my other customers who still have an ounce of dignity left."
"After years in the service industry, I've got some good ones.
Party of twenty people who all demanded separate checks after the dinner service. They claimed that they didn't drink the second or third rounds of drinks and shots that they definitely did consume, and made me take them off their tabs. I hadn't learned how to say no yet.
Once served a blind lady and her daughter. They sat for over three hours and only had tea and one appetizer. When I delivered the check, they asked to see the manager and complained that I had been giving the 'blind' woman dirty looks all night. They got ten percent off.
We had this regular who would come in after church every Sunday and eat lunch with her family. She always tipped $2 no matter what her bill was, and it was usually over $45. One day she came at 11 am, and while her food was being prepared, I was finishing my breakfast at our small service station. After coming back from washing my hands, the other server told me this lady had complained that she could see me eating, and it wasn't fair that I should get to eat before her. We bought her an entree for the 'inconvenience.'
Some people would call and complain about their meal having a hair in it/missing an ingredient/containing an unwanted ingredient and demand a refund. Our policy was to ask the customer to bring the dish back in and show us what was wrong. Sometimes they would show up multiple days later with a refrigerated container of old noodles and I would still have to comp them.
I also worked at a campus Asian noodle joint for a while. We gave police officers ten percent off. One lady cop would come in once a week, demand a very specific stir fry with only certain types of veggies and her chicken cut into small pieces, then also ask for a discount. Most of the time she would pretend like we got her order wrong and demand the meal for free."