I think we’ve all been to a restaurant with a group before and felt some kind of way about the idea of automatic tips being added to our bills, but Pastor Alois Bell’s complaint of the 18 percent policy for her party took things to a whole new level of rude. And the end results of it all have her feeling regretful and sad, and has left a waitress too eager to entertain, without a job.
When dining at Applebees in St. Louis recently with members from her church, Truth in the Word Deliverance Ministries, Bell’s party included five adults and five children. Because their group was very big, an automatic gratuity of 18 percent for having to take care of such a large party was added to the adults’ tabs. However, Bell wasn’t feeling it, and decided to use her love of the Lord and the idea of tithing to contest the 18 percent, saying, “I give God 10% why do you get 18?” While Bell claims that she realized later that she was automatically charged the 18 percent, and that she willingly also left $6 on the table that evening, the receipt does have a 0 with a slash through it for the tip. She just so happened to sign her name as Pastor Alois Bell–much emphasis on “Pastor.”
But Bell wasn’t banking on the fact that her remarks were going to get blasted on the Internet and put a dent in her reputation really fast. After the original jilted server showed a co-worker, Chelsea Welch, the receipt, Welch went online and posted the receipt photo to Reddit.com. And once people saw the receipt, all hell broke loose. Bell said in an interview with KTVI-TV in St. Louis that people were so disgusted with her perceived slight of the waitress that they were not only calling her a hypocrite, but they claimed they weren’t going to church because of people like her. (Please…THIS is why you don’t go to church? Really? Riiiiiight.)
Bell wound up contacting the Applebee’s about the fact that her receipt had been posted, and to her surprise, according to The Smoking Gun, in a follow-up interview with the manager, Welch was fired for violating the right to privacy of Pastor Bell. Welch was of course upset about this, and thought that she did nothing wrong, telling The Consumerist that Bell’s name was covered on the receipt when she posted it online:
“When I posted this, I didn’t represent Applebee’s in a bad light. 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.”
Sad about the firing, Pastor Bell has called her actions a “lapse in judgement” and says, “My heart is really broken. I’ve brought embarrassment to my church and ministry.” And Welch is still without a job (though a Facebook page to help get her re-hired has popped up). But I think what we can all learn from this is that if you’re not feeling an automatic tip because of a lack of service, you might want to complain to a manager. And if you don’t want to tip at all, you might want to stay at home and cook and serve yourself, but whatever you do, don’t drag God into your reasoning. C’mon sistas, we have to do better with this tipping thing because this type of story is getting old…