TippingRecently an Applebee’s waitress in St. Louis named Chelsea Welch lost her job after she posted online the receipt left by a customer who refused to leave her a tip.  The note on the receipt, which was left by Pastor Alois Bell, said “I give God 10% Why do you get 18?″  Welch, who told Consumerist that she originally posted the receipt as a “lighthearted joke,” was fired after Pastor Bell complained to Applebee’s about the humiliation she was facing in front of her congregation and peers.

Despite losing her job, Chelsea remains unapologetic for outing the pastor and says:

“Because this person got embarrassed that their selfishness was made public,” she said, “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.”

Now I’ve never worked in food service, but I imagine that it is harder than it may seem, and after serving a customer I’m sure it is a welcome relief to see a few bills on the table for your hard work.  But as many of us also know, not every waiter and waitress is deserving of that extra change in their pocket.

While we may never know whether Pastor Bell was being a cheapskate or if Chelsea Welch was just a bad server, the situation does raise the question on whether or not tip should be mandatory.  While there are places like Applebee’s that add a mandatory gratuity to every receipt or to parties of a certain size, there are many that don’t, leaving the decision on whether to tip on not in the diner’s hands.

Countries like Japan actually frown upon tipping and many servers will out right refuse the gesture despite you’re wanting to thank them for a job well done.  If they can survive without getting tipped every night at work, why do American waiters and waitresses feel that tipping is a right as opposed to what it really is, a voluntary gesture of thanks.

Personally, I see nothing wrong with tipping a server for their great service, especially if they go above and beyond for me.  Everyone likes to be recognized for a job well done and servers are no exception.  However, it might be a bit much to basically force patrons to tip whether or not they feel the service deserved it or not.  Some might even go so far as to say that mandatory tipping causes service workers to do half-ass jobs because they know they are getting money whether they do a good job or not.  As the debate over mandatory tips wages on I choose to stick with what has always worked well for me, good service gets tipped, bad service gets reported to management, who mandatory tip rule or not, will usually side with the customer if warranted.

And as for Pastor Bell, she may not have given Chelsea a tip, but I have one for her, practice what you preach to your followers and you won’t have to deal with the humiliation of karma.

Do you think tipping should be mandatory?  How to do you handle bad service?

  • http://gravatar.com/ambrexcape Meme

    I lived in Tokyo, the reason why costumers are not allowed to tip is because waiters are paid properly so there’s no need to feel you have to serve well, actually Japanese customs on service is so impecable, they don’t do it for the extra tip, it’s just the way they are. If Americans can learn that it’d be a good thing. I personally don’t like tipping, not because I’m selfish but as I’ve said, I lived in Japan and I didn’t live in America long enough to understand this. Just pay your people a proper salary and it’d spare us the annoyance.

    • https://twitter.com/DeviousDaniD deviousdanid

      I kinda understand your argument but this isn’t Japan. Its so selfish of you to refuse to tip because you don’t like to even thought you know that your server is getting paid less than minimum wage to give you a pleasant dining experience. Do you know whats annoying for your your server? Doing all the work and getting no reward or gratitude. Did you cook the food? Pour your own water? How did the food appear on your table? Yeah thats what I thought! Its one thing if the service is bad but if you have a good server, and you enjoyed the food then tip accordingly. Or just stay home and cook for yourself.

  • Jessi Jess

    My belief is that tipping is MANDATORY at all restaurants where you are served. As an easy-going patron, if you bring my food and drink in a timely manner, you will receive 15%. Sub-par service, rude attitude will dictate a 10% tip and outstanding, helpful service where a person goes above and beyond deserves at least 20%. The thing that I don’t understand (as in the case of the Pastor) is that we are talking about less than $10 most of the time. Most Americans frequent chain restaurants where the tip due from each person is not expensive. The Pastor denied this server $6. SIX DOLLARS! If the pastor could not afford, like those who left comments previously, they should eat at home or restaurants where tip is not due.

  • Becky

    Take your cheap ass home and cook your own food. Get the waitress her job back or suffer not having any peace. I call on all people living in her town to picket her church until she is fired as pastor as justice for her making a horses ass of herself then blaming the waitress for calling her on it. Picket Picket Picket her until she has no choice but to ask Applebee’s to offer her ….her job back.

  • Jenn

    I think we should do away with the practice of tipping and pay people a LIVING WAGE! Why should you have to kiss ass above and beyond just to make 7.50 an hour? And I promise you, to some customers, being nice just isnt enough.

  • Ellie S.

    I enjoy the pastors humor and find it fitting. The receipt dictated Tip18% and then wrote additional tip. This is poor administration of the restaurant. If it’s gratuity that is mandated, then add it to the total bill like the tax, don’t make it an option for the patron to fill out. Or call it a service fee and ADD It to the total bill. The waitress took this personally; she should have taken it to her manager and told the manager this is a inefficient and confusing way to pay for the customer. Why she should be concerned? Because she is an employee. I work in customer service and I live by “customer is always right” EVEN if we know that is not correct. If they merit this reaction, we internally have to figure out how to design it better so they have a better experience and we get the money owed to us. WHICH IS NOT A TIP. Tip is VOLUNTARY.
    Also, don’t make a living off tip. That’s an inefficient system. There needs to be more accountability in business owners to make sure each sever is making minimum wage. This should be mandated by law and governed more closely. The reason why government is taxes service employers on an assumption of tip is because servers weren’t reporting taxes on their tips. Accountability people! Patrons should not be responsible for a server’s livelihood. Everyone is responsible for their own. Tip is a VOLUNTARY addition. If you feel you have to make it up after wages, the business owners should call it a service fee and make it mandatory of customers. Don’t call it a tip. The term mandatory tip or obligatory tip is contradictory and what makes people so angry. No one wants to be forced to something voluntary or optional, that makes no sense. If you get angry for not getting something voluntary, you need to realize you are relying on an unreliable income and you are just doing this to yourself. Service oriented jobs are about customer service. If you did a good job, you the job you were paid for. If you did great job, we hope to get rewarded but doesn’t mean you always will. To think that every time you did a good job you should get rewarded with money is a fantasy not a reality. So stop thinking you deserve it and appreciate you got the tip. If you don’t get a tip, you never lost anything because that money was never yours to begin with. If you get a tip; you gained it. Live off a sure thing, wages;thrive off the tip. You want to help a real “livelihood” – donate to a nonprofit or charity that is give to a community vs one individual. Personally I would rather my tips go to a donation that helps someone who really needs it. I do need my wages for living expenses, I try really hard to see my tips as extras/rewards because that is what is it. and yes, I do donate a portion of my tips that is tax deductible so win win.
    Also, calling people cheap or cheapskate is bullying. You don’t know a person’s situation or experience. Especially to the Pastor. Talk about karma.