Pope and John Wagner were stopped by police and charged with theft for not paying the mandatory 18% gratuity of $16 (£9.64) after eating at the Lehigh Pub in Bethlehem, PA with six friends.
However, the group claimed that service at the eatery was so bad, they were forced to fetch their own napkins and silverware.
"At this point I became very annoyed because I had already gone up to the bar myself to have my soda refilled because the waitress never came back," Pope said.
After the $73 (£44) bill arrived at the end of their meal, the party paid for their food, drinks and tax, but declined to pay the tip. Once Pope explained to the bartender that bad service was to blame, he took their money and called the authorities. When the police arrived, the pair were arrested.
"Obviously we would have liked for the patron and the establishment to have worked this out without getting the police involved," said deputy police commissioner Stuart Bedics.
Officials charged the couple with theft, as the gratuity was part of the actual bill.
The Wagners are scheduled to appear in court next month.