Creative bill collection (humiliation) on Facebook

Here’s a new twist on an old business problem:

Restaurant Shamed a Family on Facebook Who ‘Forgot’ to Pay the Bill

“A UK restaurant chain ‘Burger & Lobster’ posted a photo of four customers it claimed left without paying the bill at its Cardiff, Wales, location to its Facebook page.”

According to the article in the Daily Mall, ‘The public shaming of the unidentified family attracted 600 comments before [the post] was pulled, representing a spectrum of trollish opinions. Some of the comments, however, pointed out that the timing of the post left the family very little time to correct what could have easily been an error by returning to the restaurant to pay.”

This is similar to our earlier post about the artist Svenson publishing photos of families at home without their permission, claiming it was art. The burger place did the same thing, but on their property, to solve a cash flow problem.

Several questions arise:

1)  Do you think it is OK for a restaurant to publish a photo without a family’s permission, potentially shaming or slandering an honest family’s reputation.?

2) Assuming there was no other way to contact the family, were there any other ways the company could have handled this to avoid negative repercussions?

3) If there was a camera in the restaurant that took this photo, why weren’t there other cameras or video surveillance equipment monitoring in the parking lot to read the family’s license plate?

4) Should this be more of a police report than a Facebook page?

11 Replies to “Creative bill collection (humiliation) on Facebook”

  1. I agree with most of the posts. Hard to believe a family can walk out without paying “by mistake”. If I was the restaurant owner (or the waiter), I wouldn’t have been so forgiving online.

  2. These folks are lucky that this restaurant was giving them the benefit of the doubt. Seems pretty clear to me they tried to get away without paying. Scam artists.

  3. Title of the post says “shamed…”, but I don’t see where anyone is shamed. You can’t see their faces, and the restaurant gave them a way out, saying it was probably a mistake. They were being very cool about the whole thing. If someone went to a supermarket and walked out with $50+ of merchandise, the police would be called.

    1. MarkL, Agree with you.There is no shame in the way the restaurant posted the photo, especially hiding their faces. The customers might be embarrassed, but there is no shame in the way it was posted.

  4. These people left without paying (supposedly). Assuming they didn’t leave cash on the table and it was taken by another patron, then what they did was a crime. I am curious out of the 600 comments that the FB post generated, how many were mad at the restaurant?

    1. We don’t know the facts, so it’s a moot point to pass judgement. The only worthwhile discussion here is whether facebook is a better way to do business than calling the police.

      1. Maybe the restaurant was thinking of long term customer retention. Try the nice route first and current or future customers would be grateful.

  5. They don’t look like the type to eat and run. Nicely dressed, walking slowly. I think it would be premature to call the police. I think Burger & Lobster handled it really well. They don’t deserve any criticism.

  6. To answer your questions: Maybe there were more photos taken of the family and their car, and maybe there was a police report filed. It is basically a burglarly in my opinion. I think the restaurant had all the right in the world to publish their photo, even showing their faces, as this was a public place.

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