Pastor Refuses To Pay Tip -- And Receipt Goes Viral [UPDATE]
Employees have on occasion been guilty of doctoring receipts to say offensive things. There was the Hooters receipt that referred to two Korean immigrant customers as "Chinx" (they filed suit), the Maryland RadioShack employee who called a customer an "ugly itch" on her receipt, from "ghettohood, usa."
But customers can get creative on receipts too, as with the Applebee's receipt that advised the server to "Stop eating b*tch!" And like the restaurant customer -- purportedly a pastor -- who scratched out the automatic 18 percent gratuity, and scribbled in: "I Give God 10% Why do you get 18," according to a photograph recently posted to the online forum Reddit, and picked up by the Consumerist.
The self-described server who posted the photo said on the Reddit thread that the gratuity was only included because it was a table of 20, and only parties under eight can choose to tip how much they like. "It's in the computer," he writes, "it's not something I do."
UPDATE: After the receipt went viral, Pastor Alois Bell, of the St. Louis-based Truth in the World Deliverance Ministries, reportedly called up the Applebee's and demanded that everyone involved -- from servers to the managers --be fired, reports Gawker. While the entire staff wasn't fired en masse, the waitress who posted the receipt to Reddit was canned.
"I originally posted the note as a lighthearted joke," the woman told The Consumerist. The woman, identified as "Chelsea," said that she wasn't the pastor's server that night -- but she saw the note and took a photo of it. "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," said Chelsea, who earns $3.50 an hour. With tips, she said, she usually earns less than $9 per hour.
For her part, Bell regretted leaving the note on the bill, calling it "a lapse in my character and judgment" that was "blown out of proportion."
Christians are in fact more likely to tip badly than diners with no religious affiliation, according to a study on the subject by Michael Lynn of Cornell University. While Christians gave an average of 17.3 percent for good service, a significant minority -- 13 percent -- left less than 15 percent gratuity for good service, which is double the percentage of unaffiliated diners who tip in that range and six times the percentage of Jewish diners who do the same.
Several servers have reported receiving a $10 bill as a tip, only to find it's phony, with the words "SOME THINGS ARE BETTER THAN MONEY" written on the back, "like your eternal salvation, that was brought and paid for by Jesus going to the cross."
Some Christian leaders have even spoken out on the issue, such as Daniel Readle, a pastor at a Baptist church in Cleveland. As he wrote on his blog: "By leaving tracts and not tips, that person is saying to their waiter or waitress, 'You are not a person, but rather just a notch on my belt of evangelistic pride.' "
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story mistakenly said that a message on an Applebee's receipt was directed at a customer from a server. The message saying "Stop eating b*tch!" was reportedly written by a customer and directed at a server.
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Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.
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