Dine and dash incidents are a serious problem in the food service industry. Furthermore, they result in sizable losses for restaurants and other establishments whose customers commit this act.
So, what can you do to prevent dine and dash at your restaurant? Read on to find out.
Dine and Dash Meaning: What Is Dine and Dash?
Dine and dash is a form of theft by fraud. It occurs when a customer enters a restaurant, orders food and drinks, and then leaves without paying the bill. This type of theft can be costly for businesses, as they lose not only the food and drink cost but also the revenue from those items.
Dine and dash can also cause disruptions to restaurant operations, as staff must deal with the aftermath of the theft. In some cases, dine and dash can lead to physical altercations or even violence.
While dine and dash is technically a form of theft, it is often considered a lesser offense than other types of theft. This is because dine and dash usually only result in the loss of food or money for the restaurant, while other forms of theft can result in property damage or even personal injury.
What Happens If You Dine and Dash?
If customers dine and dash, they may be subject to civil or criminal penalties. If the restaurant presses charges, the customer may have to pay restitution to the restaurant for the cost of the food and any damages they caused.
In some states, dine and dash is considered theft, and the customer could face jail time. Restaurants may also ban customers who have a history of dining and dashing.
For businesses, dine-and-dash incidents can be costly. Not only do you lose out on the revenue from the meal, but you may also have to pay for damages if the customer caused any (for example, if they left without paying a tab and then knocked over a vase on their way out). In addition, dine-and-dash incidents can be time-consuming to deal with – you may have to file a police report or spend time tracking the offender.
Is Dine and Dash Illegal?
Dine and dash is indeed illegal. If you walk out on a bill at a restaurant, you are committing theft and can be charged with a crime. Dine and dash carries penalties of up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine up to $5,000 in some states.
While dine and dash may seem like a victimless crime, it costs restaurants thousands of dollars yearly in lost revenue. Not only do they have to write off the cost of the food that was never paid for, but they also lose out on potential future business from the diners who skipped out on their bill. In addition, restaurants have to take extra precautions to prevent dine and dash from happening, which can raise their operating costs.
If you are caught dining and dashing, the best thing to do is to cooperate with the police and restaurant staff. If you can pay your bill, do so as soon as possible. If you cannot pay, be honest about your financial situation and work out a payment plan with the restaurant. Resisting arrest or giving false information to the police will only worsen your situation.
While dine and dash may seem like a harmless prank, it is a serious crime with significant consequences. If you consider doing it, think twice – it’s not worth the risk.
Do Servers Have to Pay for Dine and Dash?
Under federal wage-and-hour law, restaurants can require an employee to cover the cost of a dine-and-dash if it does not cause that worker’s pay rate to dip below the federal minimum wage—$7.25 per hour for non–exempt employees.
However, this doesn’t mean that restaurants can charge servers for every dine and dash. They must take into account the amount of the bill, as well as the server’s hourly wage. For example, if a server makes $10 per hour and is stuck with a $50 bill, the restaurant couldn’t legally deduct that from their paycheck – doing so would bring their hourly wage below minimum wage.
How Common Is Dine and Dash?
Dine-and-dash is more common than you might think. In fact, according to a study, one in every 20 restaurant diners have walked out without paying. The reasons for this vary, but often it’s simply because the bill is too high or the food didn’t meet expectations. Whatever the reason, it’s important to know that dine-and-dash can happen to even the most well-meaning people.
How to Prevent Dine and Dash
Here are a few things you can do to help prevent dine and dash at your restaurant:
- Re-Evaluate Your Floor Plan Strategy
When it comes to dine and dash, one of the best ways to prevent it is by re-evaluating your floor plan strategy. If you have a lot of small tables or booths near the exit, this can create opportunities for people to leave without paying. Instead, try to arrange your tables in a way that makes it more difficult for people to make a quick getaway.
For example, you could put larger tables in the middle of the room and place smaller ones near the walls. This will force people to walk past other diners if they want to leave, making it more likely that someone will notice if they try to sneak out without paying.
- Add a Security System
Adding a security system to your restaurant can be a great way to deter dine and dash. If people know that cameras are around the premises, they may think twice about leaving without paying.
You could also consider hiring security guards to patrol the area. This will make it more difficult for people to leave without being noticed.
- Focus On Restaurant Reservations
If you require reservations for all parties, this can help prevent dine and dash. People who have made a reservation are less likely to try to leave without paying, as they know their name is on the list and will be expected to pay when they arrive. This also allows you to track how many people are in your restaurant at any time, so you can be sure that everyone has paid before they leave.
- Change Your Payment Service
There are a few different ways you can change your payment service to help prevent dine and dash. One option is to add counter service. This will make it more difficult for people to leave without paying, as they must go through a line to get their bill.
Another option is to open a tab. This way, people will have to give their credit card information when they arrive and be expected to pay their bills when they leave.
You could also consider requiring card pre-authorization for large parties. This way, you can be sure that everyone has the means to pay their bill before they sit down.
- Leverage Restaurant Technology
Restaurant owners can do a few things to prevent diners from dashing. One is to leverage technology, such as online ordering apps, restaurant online ordering systems, tableside ordering, and restaurant payment technology. This streamlines the order and payment process, making diners less likely to walk out without paying.
Another option is to use QR code menus, which diners can scan and then pay for via contactless payments such as QR codes and mobile payments. This makes it easier for customers to pay without worrying about carrying cash or cards and also helps make the process more efficient and reduces the chances of diners dashing.
Finally, make sure that you have a way to track all of your customers’ information. This could be through a POS system with CRM integration. This way, you can quickly and easily identify any repeat offenders.
- Properly Train Your Staff
One of the best ways to prevent dine and dash is to train your restaurant staff properly. In your restaurant training manual, make sure to include policies and procedures on how to handle payments and dine and dash properly.
Be sure to emphasize that dine and dash is not tolerated and explain the consequences for employees who fail to stop it from happening. Ensure your staff is friendly and attentive so they are more likely to notice if someone tries to leave without paying.
- Use Signs to Deter Theft
Using signs to deter theft is a great way to discourage people from trying to dine and dash. You could put up signs that say “No Dine and Dash” or “All Bills Must Be Paid Before Leaving.”
You could also put your contact information on the signs, so people know how to reach you if someone tries to leave without paying.
- Have a Staff Around At All Times
Making sure there is always someone at the front of house can help to prevent dine and dash. You could also consider hiring a bouncer or security guard to help deter people from trying to leave without paying. This way, if someone does try to leave without paying, they will be more likely to be stopped.
- Give Diners One Way Out
If you design your restaurant with only one way out, this can help prevent dine and dash. People will be less likely to try to leave without paying if they know they will have to go past the front desk or cash register.
Consider also designating a special exit for customers who have already paid their bill. This way, people trying to leave without paying will be more likely to be caught.
These are just a few ideas on how to prevent dine and dash. Implementing some of these strategies can help deter people from trying to leave without paying.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dine and Dash
Dine-and-dash incidents have been on the rise in recent years, with restaurant owners struggling to find a way to prevent them. In this section, we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about dine-and-dash incidents.
What to Do When a Customer Walks Out Without Paying?
When a customer walks out without paying, it can be a frustrating and stressful experience. However, you can do a few things to help resolve the situation.
- Collecting as much information about the person as possible is important. This may include their reservation information, footage from security cameras, or any description from witnesses or your staff may have of them. This will help you identify the individual and aid in any potential legal action you may need to take.
- Contact other restaurant owners in your area. They may have experienced similar situations and will be able to offer advice on how to handle the situation best. Additionally, they may be able to provide information on the individual if they are a known serial dine-and-dasher.
- Review your policies and procedures to see if any changes could help prevent this from happening again. This may include requiring payment upfront for large parties or increasing security measures in areas where customers typically leave without paying.
- File a police report if you cannot resolve the issue alone. This will document the incident and may help lead to the individual being apprehended.
Can a Restaurant Make Servers Pay for Mistakes?
Yes, a restaurant can make servers pay for mistakes. According to federal law, restaurant owners are allowed to charge employees for any losses that are incurred due to their mistakes. However, it is important to note that state laws might have certain restrictions or alterations to the rules governing these situations. Therefore, it is always best to check with your state’s labor laws before taking any disciplinary action against an employee.
What to Say to a Customer Who Refuses to Pay?
It can be frustrating and stressful if a customer refuses to pay for their meal. However, you can say a few things to try and resolve the issue.
First, remain calm and polite. This is likely a very tense situation for the customer, and speaking calmly will help diffuse the tension. You can try saying something like, “I’m sorry to hear you’re unhappy with your meal. Can you tell me what the problem is?”
If they have a valid reason (e.g., the food was not up to par), you may offer them restaurant discounts or a complimentary item. However, if the customer does not have a good reason for refusing to pay, you can politely explain that they are obligated to do so.
If the customer continues to refuse to pay, you can explain that if they do not settle their bill, you will have no choice but to call security or the police. This is usually enough to get the customer to change their mind and pay up.
How Do Restaurants Deal With Customers Who Can’t Pay?
If you’re a restaurant manager, you know that dealing with customers who can’t pay can be a real headache. There are a few different ways you can deal with this situation, depending on the circumstances. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common scenarios.
Scenario 1: The customer doesn’t have enough cash to pay the bill.
In this case, you can either ask the customer to go to an ATM to get more cash or offer to put the bill on their credit card. If the customer doesn’t have a credit card, then you may be able to work out some other arrangement, such as letting them leave their driver’s license or some other form of collateral until they can come back and pay the bill.
Scenario 2: The customer refuses to pay the bill.
If a customer refuses to pay their bill, you may have to call the police. Of course, this is the last resort and should only be done if the customer is belligerent or otherwise causing a disturbance.
Of course, these are just a few of the most common scenarios when dealing with customers who can’t pay. Every situation is different, so it’s important to use your best judgment in each case.