A pastor made headlines last week when she left a note on her Applebee’s receipt claiming that she gives God 10%, why does her Applebee’s waitress deserve a 18% tip?
“I give God 10%, why do you get 18[%],” her handwritten note scribbled across the top of her receipt asked.
News of the comment spread quickly after fellow waitress Chelsea Welch snapped a photo of the receipt and posted it online at Reddit, so much so that the since, the identified St. Louis pastor, Alois Bell was shamed into offering an apology:
“My heart is really broken. I’ve brought embarrassment to my church and ministry,” Pastor Bell told the Smoking Gun website.
But the feelings of embarrassment apparently didn’t stop the pastor from calling Applebee’s and complaining about the posted receipt. As a result, Ms. Welch was fired by the restaurant chain for violating Bell’s “right to privacy.”
“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,” Applebee’s said in a released statement.
Tips are vital to a waiter’s or waitress’s financial well-being. A good motto to follow is that if you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to eat out. While consumers might be frustrated with higher food bills, they should realize that a waitperson could earn as little as $3.00 an hour. The rest of their income comes from tips (If the waitperson’s hourly salary plus tips is less than minimum wage, the restaurant is required to make up the difference).
“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. After sharing my tips with hosts, bussers, and bartenders, I make less than $9/hr on average, before taxes,” Ms. Welch explained to the Consumerist website.
The question that should be asked is why are consumers, in fact, subsidizing the restaurant’s bottom line, in essence paying a large percentage of the establishment’s labor costs? The added pressure to leave a significant tip can be an annoyance for some. And when restaurants add a “mandatory” gratuity for parties over a certain size, it may be enough to push some patrons over the edge.
Perhaps this was the case with Pastor Bell. Her large party ran up more than $200 worth of food and was subjected to the restaurant chain’s 18% mandatory gratuity fee. Even so, one has to think that there are more polite ways to voice your objection than leaving a sarcastic comment to the person who works so hard to serve you.
BMWK — What do you think? Do you feel pressured to leave a good tip when you eat out? Should you have to subsidize a restaurant’s labor costs with your tips? How do you feel about those mandatory gratuity charges for large dining parties?