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?

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