Give a snarky quip (and no tip) and thy receipt shall end up on the internet
January 31st, 2013
10:00 PM ET
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Before making the career jump to journalism, I worked in the service industry for several years as a server - or waitress, depending on what generation you’re from. While I loved my job most of the time (great guests and cheap food whenever I wanted it), I quickly realized that some people didn’t quite understand the difference between server and servant.

Like every server, I had my fair share of horror stories: a 25-cent tip on a $19 bill, men who felt it was socially appropriate to pinch me as I walked past and, of course, the customer who was never wrong (even if they sent their steak back more than twice). So while I adhered to the idea that the customer was always right, that didn’t give the customer free rein to act like a jerk.

It appears that not everyone shares my opinion, though. After dining at an Applebee’s in St. Louis, Missouri, one customer not only left no tip, but also wrote a snarky comment on her bill.

Chelsea Welch, another server in the restaurant, snapped a picture of the receipt and posted it to the social media-sharing website Reddit. The Consumerist later picked up the story, if only for Welch’s equally snarky picture title, “My mistake sir, I’m sure Jesus will pay for my rent and groceries.”

UPDATED February 1, 10:30 a.m.:

The picture shows a $34.93 receipt with an 18% gratuity added to it, which doesn’t seem out of the realm of (sane) reason. In the service industry, adding 18% gratuity to parties larger than six or eight is a common procedure - also known as an "autograt" - to ensure the server is paid his or her fair share. (And despite what you might think, we really do live off your tips.)

Except instead of giving the server the 18% tip, the customer crossed off the tip, wrote “0” in its place, and then had the chutzpah to write on it “I give God 10% why do you get 18[?]”

This sounds odd, until you see that the signature at the bottom is signed by none other than a pastor - later identified as 37-year-old pastor Alois Bell of Word Deliverance Ministries. Unsurprisingly, Bell didn’t find the post as funny as Reddit’s users did; she complained to the Applebee’s manager who ultimately fired Welch.

The Consumerist followed up with the newly-unemployed Welch, who although posted the picture as a joke, expressed her frustration about the incident.

“If this person wrote the note, obviously they wanted it seen by someone,” Welch told The Consumerist. “It’s strange to me that now that the audience is wider than just the server, the person is now ashamed.”

In an email sent to The Huffington Post, though, Applebee's spokesperson Dan Smith said that guests’ personal information is private, and employees do not have the right to share that information publicly.

“We value our Guests’ trust above all else,” Smith said. “Our franchisee has apologized to the Guest and has taken disciplinary action with the Team Member for violating their Guest’s right to privacy. This individual is no longer employed by the franchisee.”

Pastor Bell later responded via The Smoking Gun, saying "My heart is really broken...I’ve brought embarrassment to my church and ministry.”

Bell also claimed that although she crossed off the 18% gratuity, she not only left a $6 cash tip at the table, she was also still charged the 18% gratuity. But I have to wonder - if the 18% gratuity tip (which worked out to $6.29) was too much, why did the pastor leave $6 (28 cents less than the 18%) on the table?

A petition is now circulating on the Internet for Applebee’s to rehire the server. So would you sign it? And if not, why not? Tell us in the comments below.

UPDATE:

Applebee's has posted a note and timeline of the incident on their Facebook page that reads in part:

"Our franchisees are committed to acting in the best interests of guests and team members. This is a regrettable situation and we wish it had never happened. However, the disregard for an important policy left the franchisee no choice but to take the action they did."

Previously - Tipping point – family locked in restaurant for skimping on mandatory gratuity

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Filed under: Applebee's • Chain • News • Restaurant News • Restaurants • Service • Tipping


soundoff (565 Responses)
  1. Private personal training

    Some people are so pathetic. It almost sounds like a joke.

    January 28, 2014 at 9:52 pm | Reply
  2. Grace Me

    Please forgive me if I do not have the correct information, I am "pulling this out of my back pocket".
    Was it in the Bible where the 10% is asked of Jesus's followers? I know it states "to give to God what is God's."
    There is every possibility I am wrong . . .Please don't nail me up. But where ever the 10% is mentioned – surely they've heard of INFLATION? So if this PASTOR only gives to God what is God's – that's between the individual and their maker. All the Pastor needs to do is PAY JESUS MORE!!!!
    Why lower someone's income – just raise your "Gratuity to God".
    My daughter currently works as a 'server'; and she LOVES it!

    July 1, 2013 at 1:38 am | Reply
    • Logical1125

      It only takes a quick google search but the bible wording is ten fold. Inflation doesn't come into play when you are talking %. If I get paid a dollar and give a dime or get paid a thousand and give a hundred my same share has been given up. That being said, your comment makes sense. If he doesn't want to tip more than ten percent leave God out of it. Just admit your a cheapo and duck out of the restaurant like almost everyone I know.

      November 6, 2013 at 3:59 pm | Reply
  3. Former Server

    The restaurant is the real villain here. I resent paying the salary of these company's employees. Servers should be paid a fair wage—at the very least, minimum wage. Tips should be given for service above and beyond the server's regular job duties. Because I am a former server and know how difficult the job is, I normally tip 20% to 30%. I reluctantly tip 10% to the incompetent server in case the tips are shared. To the rude server who hates his or her job and his or her customers, my tip is: get a different job.

    June 28, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Reply
    • Logical1125

      The restaurant? Don't you mean the entire restaurant industry? Like as in the WHOLE world's restaurant industry? I just got back from Paris where tipping while pre-added to your bill is still the practice. I had just returned from a humanitarian aide trip to Honduras and guess what, servers there live off their tips too. It's called motivation. When it comes to food you want a representative back there with a fear of not getting paid if they do you a disservice and/or a respect for the patron for being the ones paying them directly. It's not the restaurants fault for following what the franchise set them up to do. And it's not the franchise's fault for following restaurant practices employed all over the entire Earth. It's the moron customers who were looking for a reason to be vindictive.

      November 6, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Reply
  4. BMC

    The customer was wrong and hurtful. If you do not want to leave a tip then do not go to a restaurant. These people depend on tips for their income. If service is poor, then send the message via the tip, if it is average leave an average tip, if it is great leave a great tip. What is truly appalling is that a Pastor decided their need to feel powerful overcame their need to generous and help their fellow human being survive. As a former deacon in my church I doubt that Jesus would approve of the Pastor's actions.

    June 21, 2013 at 2:00 pm | Reply
  5. Ian

    People should be aware that Applebee's is a wholly-owned subsidiary of DineEquity, which is a public company listed on the NYSE. According to filings for 2012, their CEO, Julia Stewart, earned a rather handsome $3 million salary with a further $3.39 million in exercised options.

    I would argue that if the rank-and-file workers at Applebee's are dissatisfied with their compensation, they should raise the matter with senior management rather than lambasting customers.

    June 19, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Reply
    • BMC

      The customer was wrong and hurtful. If you do not want to leave a tip then do not go to a restaurant. These people depend on tips for their income. If service is poor, then send the message via the tip, if it is average leave an average tip, if it is great leave a great tip. What is truly appalling is that a Pastor decided their need to feel powerful overcame their need to generous and help their fellow human being survive. As a former deacon in my church I doubt that Jesus would approve of the Pastor's actions.

      June 21, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Reply
    • Logical1125

      This server was not dissatisfied with her compensation, she was dissatisfied by the break in societal norm of being grossly under tipped. I'm sure it wasn't the difference between paying or not paying her water bill, it was more the salt in the wound that comes with getting some snarky comment that tries to justify their cheapness. I agree, if she can't pay her water bill though she should take it to higher management but would have probably winded up in the same boat she's in now, fired.

      November 6, 2013 at 5:52 pm | Reply
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