person speaking with singer pointing up (l) bar tender using tablet (c) person speaking with shocked expression (r)

Drazen Zigic/Shutterstock @viviansmalls.mp3/TikTok (Licensed)

‘They never ask for confirmation’: Woman shares ‘hack’ for getting free drinks at bars—putting drinks on random people’s tabs

'Pls don’t do this to us bartenders, makes it real awkward at the end of the night.'


Jack Alban


Posted on Mar 4, 2023   Updated on Mar 5, 2023, 9:14 am CST

A TikToker went viral after expressing her shock at just finding out how easy it is to scam the “tab” system at bars.

Vivian Smalls (@viviansmalls.mp3) relayed a story about how she went on a date with someone she met on Tinder, and how easy it was for her to put her drink on a random person’s tab after the individual left the bar area to go and get the two of them a table.

Although at the end of her video, she seemed to disapprove of this honor system of sorts, there were some TikTokers who expressed their displeasure with what they thought was the woman’s plans in gaming the system.

@viviansmalls.mp3 this is now a #lifehacks account // #bumble #datingapp #datingappsbelike #bumblefail #datingappfail #greenscreen #tinder #hinge #tinderfail #hingefail #hingedate #tinderdate #freedrinks ♬ original sound – vivian smalls

“So apparently you can go to the bar and just put your drink on anybody’s tab,” she starts in the video. “Or at least this one bar by my apartment, let me explain.”

She shares how she was there to meet a Tinder date, and since the bar was so crowded, her date invited her to “put a drink on his tab” while he went to look for somewhere for them to sit. Smalls shares that after she orders her drink, she decides to put it on her date’s tab.

“So they ask me, ‘do you want to start a tab?’ and I was like, ‘can you actually put this on… John, can you put this on John’s tab?’ And the guy just scrolls through his little thing and is like, ‘John Smith?’ And I said ‘yeah.’ I did not know this guy’s last name,” she says. “And he goes, ‘OK’ and just puts it on there.”

Smalls shares her disbelief, concluding, “And I thought to myself, OK, put the next one on Tom’s tab, and then the next one on Sam’s, like, what? What are we doing?”

The Daily Dot has reached out to Smalls via email for further comment.

Viewers also expressed their own confusion at the way in which the bar tab system operates, with one user writing, “I dont get tabs. what if u leave without paying? how does it even work?”

Another said, “Ngl the tab system in the US is so confusing to me bc of this. You can guess or just over hear someone’s name.”

It seems that there were other individuals who participated in this bar tab scheme, with a user sharing, “I once charged probably $50 to a random man’s tab instead of my friend who I was going to Venmo.”

However, a bartender in the comments section urged users not to engage in this type of activity stating that it makes their jobs unnecessarily difficult.

“Okay ugh as a bar employee though that’s like 15 people we have yelling at us at some point that we put extra drinks on their tab that we didn’t order,” they wrote.

One user who thought it was a bit irresponsible for Smalls to start spreading this message wrote that she’s “the reason people have so many rules to protect decency.”

Smalls replied to the comment via a follow-up TikTok video, emphasizing that the video was in jest and that she makes sure she always pays for her own drinks. She says she ended up telling her date she placed her drink on his tab.

@viviansmalls.mp3 Replying to @userdt2an7ed1k #bumble #datingapp #datingappsbelike #bumblefail #datingappfail #tinder #hinge #tinderfail #hingefail #hingedate #tinderdate #freedrinks #lifehack #controversy ♬ original sound – vivian smalls

“I just wanna go on record to say: be nice to service workers, don’t put your drinks on strangers’ tabs, always tip 20%, be nice to service workers,” Smalls says, reiterating twice more for users to always be nice to service workers.

Update 9:11am CT, Mar. 5, 2023: In an email to the Daily Dot, Smalls says she was not surprised by the negative comments.

“I had hoped that my tone made it clear that I was just expressing my surprise over the tab system, and would never try to put my drinks on a stranger’s tab, but there’s always a potential for a misunderstanding when you post something like that,” she says.

Smalls believes viewers may have misinterpreted her tone, but she says she ultimately laughed it off.

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*First Published: Mar 4, 2023, 3:11 pm CST