Last week, a reader wrote in with a harrowing tale of a trip to LEs institution Katz's Delicatessen, where his girlfriend accidentally lost her ticket, and the two were pressed by the management to pay the $50 "lost ticket fee" on top of their bill, something they refused to do. The story ignited a small war in the comments about the nature of the policy, so we decided to contact the restaurant's management about why it exists, and how it is enforced.
The lost ticket fee is actually relatively new to Katz's — it's only been in effect for the last 10 or so years of the restaurant's 122 year history — and it was put in place to deal with the high volume of customers, which is somewhere around a "thousand or two" a day. In regards to why there is a fine for a lost "blank ticket" even when another member of the party both has the "bill ticket" and the money to pay for it, management had this to offer: "We need it because if someone finds that lost ticket, they have an easy way of making purchases that they’re not really entitled to, without paying." Fair enough, but why the steep charge for the lost ticket?
"It’s our way of trying to protect ourselves and trying to enforce the system?.We really use it as a tool to try and make people go back and look for that ticket." And if $50 seems like a lot, it's because it's easy to spend well over $50 when you take into account the prices of the sandwiches and even the piles of merch and take home salamis.
But here's another twist in the tale. Here's an excerpt from NYC Consumer Protection Law, mentioned by a commenter and explored earlier here: "Restaurants are prohibited from adding a surcharge to the cost of items listed on the menu,i.e., if they want to raise prices, they must change the individual prices on the menu, not just add a surcharge. EXEMPT: Bona-fide service charges for persons sharing one meal, a personal minimum conspicuously posted, and businesses that are solely 'take-out.'" Somehow, we don't think the DCA is going to crack down on venerable Katz's.
· What Happens if You Actually Lose Your Ticket at Katz's? [~ENY~]
· All Katz's Coverage [~ENY~]