If you’ve ever eaten at an Olive Garden, a Red Robin or a Chili’s Restaurant, you may have noticed the menu is on a tablet on the table. Also on that tablet are games for kids to play, for a price.
NBC 5 Responds has learned that in Chicago, signs must be posted so there are no surprises when it comes to extra fees. Elsewhere in the U.S., some parents are complaining they didn’t realize their kids were racking up fees while waiting for food.
“If you take money from me and I have not consented, that’s stealing from me to some extent in my mind,” Dennis Trigueros said.
Trigueros’ accusation came after viewing his bill and seeing a confusing $1.99 entertainment fee. When he asked his server about it, she pointed to the tablet on the table.
“She asked me if I played any games. And I said I did not play any games,” Trigueros recalled.
But his children had. The tablet clearly revealed a fee for playing games but did not require the consent of an adult to access them.
“It simply allows a child of any age to click on the right sequence of buttons and then there’s a fee that appears on somebody’s receipt,” Trigueros said. “I think a lot of people pay that fee and don’t know it.”
As it turns out, in some states you don’t have to.
In California, the law is clear: Parents are not held financially responsible for a minor’s purchase if it was not authorized.
NBC 5 Responds has learned there is no such law in Illinois, which has led some diners to lash out online: “Beware the table game,” a St. Charles customer writes. A Bloomington diner called it a “dishonest practice.” In Wheaton, an angry parent writes “watch out for those stupid tablets they have on the table.”
Trigueros says a verbal warning from staff would go a long way toward helping parents when it comes to the charge that he says just felt wrong.
“The second I asked about it, they immediately refunded my money,” Trigueros said. “My objection is that there is no parental consent and there’s no age verification.”
NBC5 Responds reached out repeatedly to all three restaurants mentioned, but only heard back from Chili’s:
“At Chili’s restaurants nationwide, we offer guests entertainment at the table with premium games for a one-time fee of $1.99, which provides unlimited access to games during the dining experience. This one-time fee is not per person or per game, but actually covers all of the dining entertainment for that visit. To participate in game play at the table, guests have to opt in, then confirm their choice on the Ziosk tabletop tablet. On both prompts, the guest is notified of the charge and the second prompt asks the guest to confirm it is okay to proceed.”