Current Events

Applebee’s Tip Fiasco: “I Give God 10%. Why do you get 18%?”

Applebee’s Tip Fiasco: “I Give God 10%. Why do you get 18%?”

A waitress in St. Louis was fired by Applebee’s for posting an image of a receipt on which a customer wrote, “I Give God 10%. Why do you get 18%?” The waitress then wrote an op-ed for the Guardian to tell her story and the franchise posted a lengthy response on Facebook.

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Article updated February 4, 2013

The customer, pastor Alois Bell appears to have been part of a larger group, and Applebee’s requires an 18% tip for the entire bill for such large groups, even if each member of the party pays their own bill. This mandatory tip was apparently a point of contention for the customer.

Waitress Chelsea Welch was not the server for the customer who left the receipt, but she snapped the photo of it and posted it on

Where the “light-hearted joke” went awry is when Welch didn’t crop out the patron’s signature on the image, “assuming it was illegible.” Eventually the customer found out that the image had been posted online and contacted Applebee’s, which resulted in Ms. Welch’s firing. She claims that she broke no rules, but was fired simply because she “embarrassed this person.”

It should be pointed out that embarrassing a customer doesn’t usually sit well with management, even if the customer is rude or wrong. Applebee’s, in their response, pointed out that the person’s name was made public, resulting in a breach of privacy and confidentiality. (One Facebook commenter pointed out that Applebee’s has posted positive comments left by customers, which would presumably also breach their rules of privacy and confidentiality.)

Welch continued to opine about the necessity of tips when working for sub-minimum wages, as allowed in tipping-based jobs.

Bell, for her part, apologized in an interview with The Smoking Gun, in which she characterized the note as, a “lapse in judgment that has been blown out of proportion.” 

The story has sparked debate across a variety of topics, such as tipping in modern America and if it has become an obligation to tip because the establishments don’t pay proper wages in the first place.  And was it fair for the customer to compare tithing to tipping?

Based on comments from the Guardian article and the Applebee’s Facebook response, the reaction appears to be somewhat in favor of the waitress, which is bad PR for the franchise.

What do you think?
Was the waitress wrong to post the photo of the receipt, or was Applebee’s wrong to fire her?


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  • Weirdos

    US Americans have such a weird way of looking at tips.

    I tip when the service is beyond what’s to be expected.
    It’s a way of showing appreciation for going the extra mile and it’s not limited to restaurant personnel. DEMANDING that I liked your service and pay extra for it, is bs.

    It’s not my problem as a customer if your employer doesn’t pay you enough. That’s something that you need to fix in other ways. Demand proper paychecks. Don’t accept salaries you can’t live on.

    “tipping is mandatory because I’m under payed” Country of weirdos.

    • waffles

      It is strange. I’ve not left a tip before because I felt the service wasn’t very good… and those in my party looked at me in horror, as if I had just assaulted someone.

      Another one I’m seeing at some of the buffets here in Las Vegas is if I want to leave a tip as I’m paying – BEFORE I’ve even been seated. That’s like saying “thank you” for something that hasn’t even been done yet.

  • Priss

    First of all, a tithe is 10% of ones TOTAL wages. A tip is a percentage of the dining bill received. It wasn’t a lateral comparison, and it shows how well the “pastor” knows scripture. Does he write notes to the government asking why his congregation pays more to them than to God, or is this one of those, “Government IS God” types?

    I know if it were me in that church… oh, wait. It wouldn’t be me in that church, because I can smell a wolf a mile away. They wouldn’t let me in the front door anyway. I don’t wear the right Sunday uniform.

    Mighty thankful I attend where the pastors speak strongly on taking care of those who serve.

  • OlDood

    Where does God bank? How does this pastor get this money to God? Does God have offshore accounts? Does God pay US taxes?
    This pastor is merely using money she’s fleeced from her “flock” and using it to eat at Applebee’s & pay for her own expenses. And then she got the waitress fired? What a lovely Christian attitude…

  • Francois T

    “I Give God 10%. Why do you get 18%?”

    God doesn’t need to pay groceries, rent, energy, taxes, health care, transportation, insurance, child care, mortgage…shall I continue?

  • random

    More of rude super-religious should be exposed like this. The waitress is a heroine!

    • waffles

      Between Applebee’s, the patron, and the waitress – it’s clear that the waitress has won the PR battle here.

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