31 Shadiest Scams Restaurants Thought They Could Get Away With

April 04, 2019

We don’t know what we ever did to deserve being scammed, but some us have fallen into some pretty hilarious restaurant traps. Whether you’ve been underserved, overcharged, or left feeling downright duped, we feel your pain. We scoured Reddit looking for the shadiest of restaurant scams, and honestly, we don’t know how some institutions have gotten away with this stuff.

From poor signage to incredibly questionable house rules, some of these restaurant scams are so bad they’re actually funny. In fact, we have to give credit to some of these places for even thinking of these bizarre rules and regulations in the first place.

Luckily, many who have been blinded with restaurant scam rage took a minute out of their tirade to snap and pic and post the absurdity to Reddit. The restaurant trap rabbit hole is a deep one, so if you have the time, definitely scroll through some of the comments left on these posts. The entire story will get funnier and even more aggravating.

Keep your eyes peeled for scammers, people. They’re everywhere.

1. If you like your fries with a side of disappointment.

Oh wow, a huge bucket of French fries!… Nevermind, there’s a huge paper ball inside taking up the entire space. Tastes like sweet, sweet disappointment from assholedesign

Pardon, but there seems to be a balled up piece of paper underneath my six French fries? Oh, that’s supposed to be there? Oh…um…

2. Something isn’t adding up.

Restaurant almost got me with their Suggestive Gratuity. from assholedesign

We were never the brightest in our math class.

However, we sense something is amiss with the suggestive tips.

3. It finally sucks to be a man!

Restaurant I ate at in Kansas City, Missouri charged more on the buffet if just all men were ordering from assholedesign

Okay, ladies. New rule: all men must pay an additional $2.00 to do anything.

4. When you definitely don’t get what you pay for.

Salt and Pepper mills, made to look like they’re full. Tablespoon for comparison. from assholedesign

Wouldn’t it make more sense to put the salt and pepper in smaller containers?

Why go through the extra effort to pull the wool over our eyes?

5. This fine print is soooo shady.

This sign at a restaurant in Martha’s Vineyard that I just saw. from assholedesign

Do our eyes deceive us? Or is this restaurant deceiving us?

6. What is this, a hotel mini bar?

My local restaurant places 2 water bottles on the table without saying anything. In case you drink, you pay for it, even though you have not ask for it. from assholedesign

No. Just tap water. No, please — just tap water.

7. Is that…is that guilt floating in our soda cup?

Only in America would a restaurant display on the wall that they don’t pay their staff enough to live on from pics

The use of “survive” here is wigging us out.

If it wasn’t for us…we don’t even want to know what would happen.

8. Um, we are not blind.

Just flipping the seafood pancake photo instead of taking a photo of the vegetable pancake from assholedesign

Plus, they’re both called Ji Ji Mi. We have a strange feeling there is actually no difference between the pancakes in the picture nor in real life.

9. Sir, this is just a head of lettuce. Sir? Sir!

A "Caesar salad" at Red Robin from mildlyinfuriating

Do they expect us to just pick those things up and dip them into that dressing?

Because that’s exactly how we would eat this, just to spite them.

10. This is either evil or genius. We’re not yet sure.

Deliberately hiding your restaurants B health rating with your brunch ad. from assholedesign

Honestly, kudos. This B-rated restaurant deserves an A for effort.

11. There are only three tipping options in this world: 20%, 25%, or 99%.

Not against tipping, but option 3 is aggresive. from assholedesign

No offense, but we feel…attacked.

12. Straws bad. Plastic cutlery good.

“Straw Free” but overloading on plastic cutlery. from mildlyinteresting

The people in charge *must* see the irony in this sign.

They must!

13. Why? Just…why?

This caused a lot of confusion at the restaurant I was in last week. from assholedesign

At the monthly staff meeting:

“Hey gang, I have an idea. Let’s make life harder for our customers.”

14. The old same size, different plate trick.

Side salad vs full sized salad from assholedesign

It wasn’t love, it wasn’t love. It was a perfect illusion (perfect illusion).

15. And the old same size, different glass trick.

Difference between a small and a large beer from assholedesign

It was a perfect illusion. Somewhere in all the confusion.

16. Trippy, dude.

This restaurant’s water is kept in a foggy glass bottle to make it look like condensation from the cold, but the water is actually lukewarm. from assholedesign

Our senses would be boggled.

And then we would be mad.

17. No, no, no, no!

This tablet at Olive Garden prompts you with this if you hit Play on one of the games. The purchase price is listed smaller the big Let’s Play button. All a kid has to do is press and you’re charged. from assholedesign

That feeling of panic is so tangible.

It’s sadly something we’ve all experienced.

18. Now, wait a minute —

TIL after complaints that their "footlong" sub was 11 inches long, Subway said, "With regards to the size of the bread and calling it a footlong, ‘Subway Footlong’ is a registered trademark as a descriptive name for the sub sold in Subway Restaurants and not intended to be a measurement of length." from todayilearned

Okay, we agree that this is frustrating.

However, on the flip side, who brings a measuring utensil with them to a Subway?

19. When they give you the calorie count but not the price.

This restaurant leaves out the price of the desert, and you have to ask a server for the price of each individual item from assholedesign

What is the price of this one? And also this one? And also this one?

20. Did the fortune come true, or…?

Why I don’t eat fortune cookies… from assholedesign

Sad. Just…sad.

21. A good case of false advertising.

I thought this was a gordon ramsey restaurant (read again, fool) from assholedesign

This week on Kitchen Nightmares…

22. Now you see it, now you don’t: Reversed

Restaurant leaves 2 water which they put in bamboo holders which hide the price of a 6 dollar water from assholedesign

Shady AF.

And also, where do you get off charging $6 for water?

23. You thought you were smart, huh?

Customers who request less ice get less soda, even though it costs the company more money to supply the ice than the soda (and the ice machine is cleaned far less frequently) from assholedesign

We see what you’re trying to do there by ordering “no ice.” We won’t stand for it.

24. Enjoy your “garden salad.”

The salad this restaurant gave me. from mildlyinfuriating

It’s made with the best iceberg lettuce.

And the finest of shredded carrots. So…enjoy!

25. How to properly upset the entire internet.

Local Chinese restaurant has a candy machine with M&M’s and Skittles mixed. I feel betrayed by humanity. from mildlyinfuriating

Sure, they look the same. But they are definitely not of the same candy species. And don’t think you can hide, jelly beans. We see you.

26. How do you install AdBlocker on a fortune cookie?

This ad for gum in my fortune cookie from assholedesign

If you’re going to do someone dirty like that, at least give them a coupon. Agreed?

27. When you’re better off staying home…

Ordered the Brisket Nachos. Got a pound of Kraft Singles. from mildlyinfuriating

Kraft Singles should *never* be melted onto tortilla chips, especially in a restaurant setting. Did they even bother taking the plastic off?

28. Is there cheese, or not?

The name and tagline of this restaurant from mildlyinfuriating

We guess the only way to find out is to send your lactose intolerant friend in there and see what happens.

Sorry, pal.

29. When the restaurant wants you to “chew and screw.”

Server came and took his plate…..while he was still eating from mildlyinfuriating

Looks like you’re kind of done. Want the check? Here, take the check.

Please, take the check!

30. The lowest of all lows.

Restaurants that serve cold butter, causing the bread to break when you spread it from mildlyinfuriating

Are you trying to make us cry?

What’s your end game, restaurant?

31. You…want me to pay money for this?

I ordered the salad at the fanciest restaurant in town from mildlyinfuriating

This is a joke, right? It’s not funny, but this has to be a joke. Right?!

32. This was $11.

$11 meal artificially inflated by a small box under the food from NonFunctionSlackFill

When you get cheesy bacon tots that cost $11, you expect $11 worth of cheesy bacon tots.

That’s not what this guy got.

To make his basket appear fuller, the restaurant placed an upside down food basket in the center of his tots. What initially looked like a mound of potatoey, cheesy goodness was all a lie.

33. Where’s the water?

Making you buy a Coca-Cola product by hiding the water from assholedesign

Have you ever gone to a soda dispenser, looked for the water button, and then given up because you couldn’t find it?

It’s hidden.

Not all touchscreen machines are like this — whatever restaurant this Redditor visited though thought they were being sneaky.

34. Fast isn’t always better.

You would think that quick service in a sit-down restaurant means that they have an efficient kitchen. But you’d be wrong.

It could mean everything is pre-made.

“Cook at a fancy casual fine dining restaurant here,” started Redditor CrossFox42. “If your food is out impossibly fast, it’s probably something to be concerned about. I’m talking ordering an entree and it’s out in like 10 minutes.”

“This usually means it’s already been cooked and they just have to reheat it.”

There are times when fast shouldn’t be scary though, like with salads, which don’t take as much time to make. Still, they warn patrons to look out for wilted lettuce or greens, which means its been sitting out for quite some time before it got to you.

35. They hide the price on menus.

This one is downright evil. According to Ryan Gromfin, founder of The Restaurant Boss, menus shouldn’t be drawing any attention to the price. Talk about reading the small print.

“Bury the price in the text.”

Gromfin explains, “Put the price in the description, not in the header of each menu item.” The argument is that numbers often look larger than letters, so making the font size of the price smaller evens it out. Okay.

“We’re not trying to deceive anyone.”

“We’re not trying to make them solve riddles to figure out the price,” Gromfin continued. “I just don’t want it to be the first thing they see. I want them to read a description and fall in love with an item and then see the price.”

Some menus don’t even include the dollar sign.

A 2009 Cornell study determined that diners actually spend more money when the menus don’t use dollar signs.

36. Or they don’t show the price at all.

Movie theater playing ads so you can’t see the pricing on concessions! from assholedesign

Both restaurants with menu screens and movie theaters use this tactic. You’re already in line and likely know what you want, and they don’t want to give you time to reconsider purchasing something based on price.

Plus, don’t those pretzel bites look good?

On top of getting you to purchase whatever you initially intended to, the board is trying to upsell you products. And it works.

37. When in doubt, bust out the duct tape.

You’d think if a restaurant owner would put as much thought and effort into drawing attention away from their poor health rating, they’d direct that effort into making sure their kitchen was clean.

They for sure get an A for effort here.

You can’t be mad at the ingenuity, but it’s clear their priorities lie elsewhere.

If you have evidence of a restaurant scam you’ve witnessed, please share.

They’re so bad, yet so good.

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