Shoreline couple forced to tip for meal



Posted on August 15, 2009 at 1:43 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 28 at 1:01 PM

Video: Shoreline couple forced to tip for meal

A Shoreline couple notice the tip they left at a restaurant seemed to get bigger after they left. When things didn't add up, it was time to get Jesse.

Tips are used to reward good service, but what happens when you leave one and then it's changed? Here's why you hold on to that receipt.

Something didn't add with Jackie Phung's bank account. Recently he took his family out for dim sum at a restaurant in Kirkland called Sentosa. Including tip, he was charged $67. Afterwards he checked his bank account to make sure it was all good, but it wasn't. It was off by $10.

"Maybe it's a computer error or processing error," said Phung.

But both Jackie and his wife Jacqueline figure the issue had to do with the tip. They only left $2 and they say they were confronted by the manager about it.

"Service was terrible and the food was cold," said Phung.

"What? If terrible, how come you enjoy a couple of hours here?" said Juliana Lai, former manager of Sentosa, which has since closed.

Lai said Phung and his family had a party of eight at the time. On their bill, the restaurant asked they add 15 percent for a tip because they had a large party, but they refused. After they left, Lai said a waiter took matters into his own hands and added a little bit for himself.

"I talked to them. They got very upset that day and they just put 20 percent," said Lai.

"I'm angry. Actually I can say I'm angry because I think this is illegal," said Jacqueline Cheung, Phung's wife.

According to Kirkland Police it's considered forgery under Washington state law, a class C felony. State law also says whenever a restaurant adds a service charge like a gratuity they must disclosed it both on a menu and on an itemized receipt.

Lai says her staff didn't mean to cross the line when they adjusted the tip higher. She's willing to give some of that money back, but only the difference between 15 and 20 percent, which is only about $2. Phung and his wife are now disputing the extra tip with their bank and think what they left was fair enough.

"The tips depend on the service, right?" said Cheung.

Before you throw that restaurant receipt away, the attorney general's office says check it with your bank first. If it doesn't match, call the restaurant. Next, file a police report - you may not be the only one taken for a few bucks extra.