Woman Tracked Down By Sheriff And Fined For Using A Customer-Only Bathroom

Erin, TN – Patricia Barnes visited The Flood Zone restaurant and used the bathroom. A couple of days later, she received a letter in the mail explaining she’d failed to pay a bathroom fee of $5 and was asked to remit payment.

At the time of Barnes’ visit, The Flood Zone restaurant had a patrons-only policy regarding their bathrooms. Non-patrons were expected to pay a fee in order to use the facilities. Patricia Barnes, didn’t dine and ditch, she “went” and left without paying the $5 bathroom fee for urinating in a public bathroom.

The fee had been implemented in response to an inordinate amount of non-customer traffic coming in to use the bathrooms. A neighboring convenience store temporarily had broken toilets, and non-patron visits increased as a result.

Last October Patricia Barnes made a pit stop at the local restaurant in desperate need of the bathroom. She used the facilities and left the establishment without making a purchase. Following her visit to The Flood Zone, Barnes received a handwritten letter from the management requesting payment for $5. It had been mailed to her home.

After several months of investigation, it was revealed a local sheriff, as a favor to the owner of the restaurant, assisted in tracking Barnes down by her license plate information. The owner was displeased over a non-patron using the bathroom and not paying $5 for the privilege.

According to the establishment, a sign had been clearly posted indicating the restrooms were for customers only; otherwise, a fee would be imposed.

Barnes has since expressed feeling violated over the overblown ordeal and claims she asked and was given permission to use the restroom. Barnes is upset over the officer sharing her address information with the owner. Barnes and her husband Randy Edwards are especially sensitive over their privacy, having issued a restraining order against someone in the past.

Letter send demanding payment

Barnes vehemently asserts, “People don’t have the right to just run your tags and give your information out to just anybody.”

The Houston County Sheriff who disclosed Barnes’ address, Darrell Allison, doesn’t seem to see it as a big deal to share personal information. “I would say that happens every day. It’s a very common occurrence.” Yet license plate information is only legally meant to be used for law enforcement purposes, according to other state authorities.

Flood Zone operator Lisa (no last name disclosed) said, according to Yahoo, “She (Barnes) was one of these ‘I’m-going-to-do-this-anyway’ kind of people.” Lisa alleges Barnes feigned menu consideration and said she was going to wash her hands before ordering. Twenty minutes later Barnes emerged from the bathroom and left without paying the non-customer fee.

The Flood Zone has since refused to accept the $5 payment that Barnes says she’s tried to submit multiple times. The establishment no longer charges for bathroom visits and refuses to take the payment because they were only trying to make a point.

Some states do have laws regarding equal access of facilities imposed on businesses open to the public. Do you think it should be against the law to deny or charge a fee for bathroom access?

Do you think officers of the law should provide information to private citizens and or business owners?

[Image via Shutterstock and Letter Barnes Received]