Skip to comments.Waitress Who Posted No-Tip Receipt From “Pastor” Customer Fired From Job
Posted on 01/31/2013 1:23:42 PM PST by Responsibility2nd
Earlier this week, we posted a story about a restaurant customer who not only chose to deny the waitress a tip, but also wrote “I Give God 10% Why do you Get 18?” on the receipt. Now we’ve learned that the server who posted the receipt online has been fired.
“I originally posted the note as a lighthearted joke,” says Chelsea, who was dismissed from her job at Applebee’s on Wednesday, as the story began to spread across the Internet. “I thought the note was insulting, but it was also comical. I posted it to Reddit because I thought other users would find it entertaining.”
Chelsea tells Consumerist that the receipt was actually not even for her table. Rather, the server on the receiving end of the note showed it to Chelsea, who snapped a photo of it later that night.
As posted originally on Reddit’s Atheist page, the image contained the customer’s full signature. Chelsea says she didn’t think to edit that out because she had assumed the name was illegible.
But the Internet is a remarkably curious place, so sleuths began trying to identify the self-described “pastor” on the receipt.
“All throughout the comment thread on the Reddit post, I withheld any identifying information,” Chelsea explains, adding that she provided an inaccurate physical description of the customer just to throw people off.
She eventually replaced the image with a version that did not contain the signature, but by that point, people were posting their guesses as to the customer’s identity.
“I had already started receiving messages containing Facebook profile links and blogs and websites, asking me to confirm the identity of the customer,” she says. “I refused to confirm any of them, and all of them were incorrect. I worked with the website moderators to remove any personal information. I wanted to protect the identity of both my fellow server and the customer. I had no intention of starting a witch hunt or hurting anyone — I just wanted to share a picture I found interesting.”
Her post immediately became popular on Reddit, and then multiple national news sources began picking up Consumerist’s write-up of the story.
Some time on Wednesday, Chelsea says the customer who had left the receipt contacted her Applebee’s location, demanding that everyone be fired, from the servers involved to the managers.
According to Chelsea, until the receipt story got out there, her time at Applebee’s had been without incident.
“I had been well-liked and respected,” she explains. “My sales were high, my managers had no problems with me, and I was even hoping to move up to management sometime this year.
“When I posted this, I didn’t represent Applebee’s in a bad light,” she continues. “In fact, I didn’t represent them at all. I did my best to protect the identity of all parties involved. I didn’t break any specific guidelines in the company handbook — I checked.
“But because this person got embarrassed that their selfishness was made public, Applebee’s has made it clear that they would rather lose a dedicated employee than lose an angry customer. That’s a policy I can’t understand.”
For someone who makes their living off of tips, it seems like the customer’s note was salt in the wound for Chelsea.
“We make $3.50 an hour. Most of my paychecks are less than pocket change because I have to pay taxes on the tips I make,” she explains. “After sharing my tips with hosts, bussers, and bartenders, I make less than $9/hr on average, before taxes.
In her job, Chelsea says she skipped bathroom breaks when things got busy, went hungry when she had to work several tables at a time, would work until 1:30 a.m. and then come back in at 10:30 a.m.
“I am expected to portray a canned personality that has been found to be least offensive to the greatest amount of people,” she tells Consumerist. “I come home exhausted, sore, burnt, dirty, and blistered on a good day. And after all that, I can be fired for ‘embarrassing’ someone who directly insults their server on religious grounds.”
Chelsea agrees with those who argue in favor of a payment system that doesn’t make restaurant servers reliant on tips.
“But the system being flawed is not an excuse for not paying for services rendered,” she adds. “I posted a picture to make people laugh — but now I want to make a serious point. Things like this happen to servers all the time. I’ve had worse tips just in the last month. People seem to think that the easiest way to save money on a night out is to skip the tip. But when you don’t tip a good server, that means that server might move on to a better job. And a worse server might take their place. When you tip a good server well, you are ensuring good service.”
As for the customer’s claim that they “give God 10%,” Chelsea says she’s “utterly baffled” at why someone would try to make a connection between tithing to one’s church and tipping at a restaurant.
“I’ve been stiffed on tips before,” she says, “but this is the first time I’ve seen the Big Man has been used as reasoning.”
“I can understand why someone could be upset with an automatic gratuity,” she admits. The customer’s bill had included an automatic tip of 18% because, according to Chelsea, it had been part of a table of 20. “It’s a plainly stated Applebee’s policy, and it is company policy for parties over eight. I cannot control the auto-gratuity at all; it’s done by the computer that the orders are put into, and the gratuity is not determined by the bill, but by the size of the party.”
Chelsea says that the customer told her manager that their reputation had been ruined by having the receipt posted on Reddit.
“If this person wrote the note, obviously they wanted it seen by someone,” she points out. “It’s strange to me that now that the audience is wider than just the server, the person is now ashamed.”
Even though she’s now without a job, Chelsea claims she has no agenda, nor does she have any interest in exposing the customer’s identity to the public.
“I was just trying to make a joke, but I came home today unemployed.”
So, for now it’s back to the job market to look for a new gig. Chelsea says she’s been waiting tables to save money so she could pay for college.
“In the meantime, hopefully I can find a job that pays more than $3.50/hr,” she tells Consumerist, “Or where people are willing to tip well.”
We are reaching out to Applebee’s for comment and will update if we receive a reply.
UPDATE: The folks at The Smoking Gun have interviewed the pastor who left the receipt.
“My heart is really broken,” she tells the site. “I’ve brought embarrassment to my church and ministry.”
The pastor claims that though she scratched out the automatic gratuity on the bill, she left a $6 cash tip at the table. She also alleges that the restaurant charged her the 18% tip anyway.
In response, Chelsea tells Consumerist:
“Whether or not she left a tip, the note was still offensive. It wasn’t my table, it wasn’t my tip. I’m not sure who ended up with what money at the end of the night. But you can’t really argue with what’s plainly written, and what was written was insulting. Insulted or not, I’ve lost my job over this mess, and that’s what I’m concerned with now. The six dollars one way or another wouldn’t really affect that situation.”
UPDATE PART TWO: Applebee’s provided the following statement on the matter —
Our Guests’ personal information – including their meal check – is private, and neither Applebee’s nor its franchisees have a right to share this information publicly. We value our Guests’ trust above all else. 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.
Apologies to all for just skimming the story.
OK the “pastor” was a “she” - immediate deal breaker for me.
Also she apparently says she left a tip.
It is terrible that this server got fired.
“We make $3.50 an hour. Most of my paychecks are less than pocket change because I have to pay taxes on the tips I make, she explains. After sharing my tips with hosts, bussers, and bartenders, I make less than $9/hr on average, before taxes.”
In the Commonwealth of Kentucky she would not have to do this!! It is illegal for employers to force this kind of employee to “share” their tips. It should be so in all states. Most of the people she would have to “share” her tips with are on salary making more money than her. She is more or less having to “bribe” them to do their job so she can make tips.
This wasn’t even her table, or her tip...she’s a smart a** posting on an athiest site trying to get a gotcha on a pastor who left what they deemed an appropriate tip for the service rendered as a note to the management. “Chelsea’ left herself wide open by leaving private information on a public website. She deserved to be fired.
Would knowing that she's not a real pastor make you happier?
I've walked out of places because "people" that were seated after me would be served first and I could not even get a glass of water because of " the game".
“If youre going to use Christs name, leave a tip.”
Or at least a kind word and a blessing, no?
Not only a bad tipper, a bad tipper with attitude.
I believe women are naturally cheap tippers.
Some men do not tip good when they have male waiters.
I always tip good for good service.I don’t care about what the waiter looks like or their gender as long as they are clean, and do their job.
This woman pastor needs to be known to her parisioners as a cheap tipper. Maybe they will convince her to respect the wait help.
“If youre going to use Christs name, leave a tip.”
My mother used to say that denying a worker his wages is a sin that cries to heaven.
Rude and cheap and shown to be so, too bad Ms. Minister.
The girl was foolish to put this on the internet, certainly. You know with those corporate chains you can’t fool around. But the minister really looks the worse of the pair.
Haha, yeah, you pay taxes on your tips.
The Egyptian is alive and kicking! It’s the coolest theater in town, no doubt.
A fascinating story.
The waitress deserved to be fired.
And note how she keeps changing her story. It wasn’t HER tip, but then she says the words were a slap in her face.
The customer wrote something that would be a message to APPLEBEES, about automatic tips. But a $6 tip was a good tip — and in cash, so maybe the waitress would sneak it and not have to share.
This OTHER waitress, who had no business with that customer, mocked the customer by posting a private business transaction on the internet.
People are so stupid about what they do on the internet. If more people got fired for their stupidity, maybe people would get some sense.
Sorry, I don’t really buy that. How can that be harder than 5 tables of 4? If everybody got a separate check, that would be harder.
But Applebees is mid-priced — you don’t spend $34 on your own meal; there’s a 2 for $20 deal that gives you two entrees and an appitizer, and they have desserts for between $1 and $3 for individual portions.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the customer could have sued the company for breach of privacy.
And I imagine that Applebee’s isn’t all that concerned with a high quality of server, given the low salary. Especially when the waitress shows no sense.
There is a lot we don’t know, like how exactly the conversation went down before she was fired. If she had the attitude she is showing here, doing a public interview attacking her former employee, that shows she’s not a very loyal or dedicated employee.
She took the effort to make that receipt popular enough that the customer LEARNED about it.
If a waitress ever thinks it would be funny to take a picture of my signed credit card payment, and photograph it, and put it on the web, I would expect them to be fired immediately.
If they do it while disparaging me, I’d expect the store who she worked for to compensate me for her actions.
I go to a store to give them money for a service, not to be mocked by employees, or have my privacy invaded because some kid has no concept of civility.
Everyone looking to be offended, get compensated for it and have the offender burned at the stake! Especially the eternally oppressed classes!
“I dont see how any one can really make any money being a server at Applebees and any other restaurant other than Hooters.”
Waitresses at high end restrauants make big money.
I had an aunt that would consistantly get $100 tips waiting tables in Palm Springs in the Winter and Las Vegas in the Summer in the late 1940s and 50s.
My uncle was a chef and they mnade big big money!!!
Just another Obama N..... voter.
Think of the group dynamic.
five separate tables of four each are well contained and easy to manage. For the most part they are also easy to manage and are peaceful.
Twenty people at one table is mayhem. Try to remember who ordered what, everyone is talking at once, ten different “ hey, I also need this “ and only two arms to work with.
Your bringing things out as fast as you can but for everything to magically appear in front of everyone at the same time is impossible. But try having people understand that.
If the twenty top is all your tables, your entire section, bunched together and they leave a crap tip a good part of your earnings for the night are screwed. If they linger all damned night long and leave a crap tip your really screwed. If one or two of the five four tops leave a bad tip, not a big deal.
If my a real bad stroke of luck you have other tables including the twenty top those other tables will likely suffer.
A twenty top is not an easy task. And sadly, many people think waiters have a sign around their neck that says ‘ please abuse me. ‘
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