PETALING JAYA: Restaurants who have had to deal with the foreign worker issue now bear another crisis – “eat-and-run” patrons.
To counter the problem, some of the mainly Indian Muslim restaurants have found ways to deal with the issue, such as placing mugshots of such customers at their cashiers.
But one restaurant owner in Subang Jaya who showd CCTV images of these offenders eventually removed it as he felt bad about it.
“Some patrons thought these people were missing or wanted by police,” he said.
While some operators back the “name and shame” approach, others are apprehensive, saying this could be a breach of privacy.
However, they have acknowledged the increasing number of such offenders.
Abdul Mukhthahir Ibrahim, manager of the Salam Sentosa chain restaurants, observed the modus operandi of diners who wanted to avoid paying.
“They will sometimes come in big groups, consisting of five or more people, and sit down for a long time.
“In the end, only one customer will pay his own bill at the cashier while the rest leave the restaurant one by one,” he added.
There were also diners, he said, who would turn up at peak hours when staff were busy.
Another type would ask for takeaway and then make an excuse about having left their money in their vehicle, he said.
“But they would take off on their motorcycle without paying.”
He said there were also those who would leave behind their belongings as a sign that they would return to settle the bill.
“However, some of them never turn up to even collect their IC,” he added.
Mukhthahir said his staff resorted to taking photos of customers who claimed they wanted to retrieve their wallet from their car.
These photos were taken with the customers’ consent, he added.
Original Penang Kayu Nasi Kandar managing director Burhan Mohamed said eat-and-run cases were common in his restaurants.
“Someone ordered four packs of fried rice, four fried noodles and three cigarettes packs.
We usually ask for cash first but the customer said he had left his wallet in his car. He never came back,” he said.
However, he ruled out the idea of publicly displaying the photos of such culprits.
“If they want to cheat, it’s hard for us to stop them,” he said.
Malaysian Indian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association president Ayoob Khan Muhamad Yakub said operators were facing more patrons fleeing without paying.
“It usually involves large groups that sit outside the restaurant premises to watch live football matches,” he said.
“They usually won’t patronise the restaurant once they know they can be recognised.”
Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners Association president T. Muthusamy, however, said some diners were merely forgetful.
“It even happened to myself days ago. So I returned to the shop to pay,” he added.
Muthusamy suggested that restaurants upgrade their table billing system.
Some businesses are known to display photographs only of shoplifters.
A pharmacy placed the images of shoplifters along the walkway inside a shopping mall in Petaling Jaya.
One fruit wholesaler in Subang Jaya put up images of those accused at the entrance of the shop.