If a party of 6 came to eat at my restaurant and 2 people left without paying, am I allowed to charge their cards?

The other 4 paid but from the way they responded it seems liked they’ve repeated this process before. We called the cops but he wasn’t able to do anything about it. He only asked for the description of what they looked like and left. Is there anything that we can do?

Asked on July 27, 2015 under Business Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, you may not simply charge their cards without their agreement to pay, such as is typically indicated when they sign the invoice/bill/receipt. Without such consent, charging their cards could be considered theft.

Your recourse is to sue them, such as in small claims court, for the money they owe you--only if a court rules you are entitled to the money can you get it from them if they will not pay voluntarily.

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