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.
A party of 20 ran up a bill for only $34.93?
However, the same man paid for all of the checks, so the waitress ran his credit card separately through the machine for each of the checks.
Like all of it, as "pastor and sole proprietor"
Well suprise, suprise.
I work in retail sales. Automobiles actually. Pastors are notoriously cheap. Not cheap, stingy. And as for her skin color. Let’s just say that in the dealership I work in my ex general manager was a real bear about numbers and logging customers. I knew I was having problems with selling black customers so I ran the numbers. 33% of the people I talked to were black. 2% of the people I sold were black. So, I figured I had a problem and made the decison not to wait on any more blacks if I could help it. Racist? Just look at the numbers. I’m sure I was doing something wrong but the black customers really do seem to prefer that our black salespeople wait on them. So, it’s kinda a win/win
Yeah, me too. 1) I don't trust the management to give it to her and 2) I don't want to leave a trail for the IRS. Oh, I usually start at 20% for my base tip. I've given 30% tips or more for really good service. I frequent the same places often, and they know me. We're good friends.
No. The party of 20+ ran up a bill of over $200. They asked for separate checks, crossed off the gratuity from most of the checks, and left the waitress with the equivalent of a 6% tip on the entire table. Then they asked her to run each check separately but using the same man’s credit card.
Did you read the article? It says the pastor left a $6.00 cash tip on the table.
If that is true, I approve of her scratching out the 18% but not her “I give God 10%” comment.
Jerk customers come in all shapes, sizes and colors.
I once had a group of notoriously bad tipping regulars (with a standing weekly reservation) demand that I wait on them on my scheduled day off (and my birthday, to boot).
Good little soldier, I came in. My boss had somehow let them know I wasn’t supposed to work that night, but came in anyway because they were such loyal customers.
That night, the group gave me $200 tip, two dozen roses, a cake & and bought me a steak dinner. And every week after that, my tips from them were 25% or higher.
You just never know.
“I felt awful and reached into my own pocket to try to make up at least some of the difference.”
I used to do that when my BIL would buy dinner as he would leave a buck or something for an entire meal. After he became a cab driver he is a big tipper now!
Well that explains everything. We have a few restaurants that have closed down because these people have over taken the place. Then the restaurants can’t keep waiter/waitress’s because they are the worlds worst tippers.
Yeah, I noticed afterwards. That means she goves God 10%, but she’s okay giving the government 75% to bomb innocent families and abort babies.
Then the computor totalled the number of swipes, and automatically added 18% on top of the 6%.
Computer Karma ran over the Pastor's Dogma. Sweet.
I’m with you - by the way, if that pastor is giving her 10% to God, why does it end up back in her own pocket? She’s not God!
For groups of over 8 (depending on the restaurant) many places charge an automatic 18% gratuity. If this is Applebee’s policy it should be stated somewhere (usually the menu) at the restaurant in writing. But whether or not that was the policy I can’t think of any pastor that I know that would act in such a manner. How is this loving your neighbor as yourself? Clearly the “pastor” was offended at this amount. Fine, then don’t eat there and tell management - not a waitress - why. Spend God’s money somewhere else. The waitress is in error posting the signature or private information online - but for me, her sin is easier to forgive that this pastor’s who’s supposed to be setting an example. A pastor’s salary can come from several different sources depending on denomination. I wonder what the percentage is of her salary from the money given at her church. Who thinks it’s 10%?
That was entirely true for me too. No tip, bossy and snide as all get-out. They had a system of asking for one thing after another each time you came back with what they just asked for. “We need straws.” “Oh I need more Sprite now.” “Extra napkins?” “Gimme a side of Ranch dressing” etc., etc, instead of letting me know up front while I was taking the order. One day I got fed up and came prepared. Walked up with a tray full of Sprites and a scowl and went from there.
“We need straws.”
“I want extra napkins.”
BAM. Extra napkins.
(Getting annoyed that I didn’t have to keep running) “We want a side of Ranch dressing.” (They hadn’t even ordered yet)
BAM. Ranch dressing.
Wouldn’t you know it they actually left a tip!
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