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Applebee’s Overnight Social Media Meltdown: A Photo Essay

Hell hath no fury like a Facebook scorned. In today’s digital age, most of us assume everyone understands this fact. But every now and again, people surprise us. An ever-increasing element of this reality is that the hounds of Reddit, the Twitter armies, and Facebook vigilantes are more than willing to remind people that we live in a publicized world. You can’t hide behind privacy statements or legal jargon or appeals to company policy to pacify an Internet mob. Once you cross the line of Internet etiquette, the people of the World Wide Web will hunt you down and do their best to ruin you forever.

Applebee’s apparently never took note of this. You’ve most likely heard about their most recent encounter with virality. But in case you’ve been living under a rock, here’s a brief summary:

A waitress at a St. Louis Applebee’s lost her job for posting online the receipt upon which a pastor had declined to leave a tip, with a snarky note saying she gave God 10 percent.

After her dinner on Jan. 25, Pastor Alois Bell crossed out the automatic 18 percent tip charged for parties of more than eight. “I give God 10% why do you get 18,” she wrote above her signature.

Employee Chelsea Welch — a colleague of the stiffed server — took a picture of the receipt and uploaded it to the online site Reddit. She subsequently lost her job, an Applebee’s spokesman confirmed to TheSmokingGun.com, for violating a customer’s privacy.

Yesterday on Fox 2 Now, the pastor issued a (sort of?) apology.

All this information, of course, is so yesterday. “Pastor gets server fired” was Chapter One in this strangely entrancing saga, on par with a slow-motion train wreck from which you cannot tear away your eyes. Chapter Two is where Applebee’s apparently wants to commit suicide in front of our digital eyes.

Applebee’s fired the server in question, named Chelsea Welch. This created a fury of rage on the Internet, with social media users taking to their weapons of choice and lambasting away, thousands at a time, against the restaurant’s decisions. Numerous “Boycott Applebee’s” groups sprung up on Facebook, along with “Rehire Chelsea Welch” and other similar groups. Applebee’s website has a “What’s the Buzz” widget, that shows what people are saying on Twitter about the company. It’s been non-stop attacks, all publicly displayed on Applebee’s own page:

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But it started to get interesting last night. Earlier in the day, around 3 pm, Applebee’s made a status updated about the controversy:

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Applebee’s social media team decided to respond to the growing clamor by saying, “We wish this situation didn’t happen…Our franchisee has apologized to the Guest and has taken disciplinary action with the Team Member for violating their Guest’s right to privacy.” Around midnight last night, the reaction against this status had grown to a frenzy. There were well over 10,000 comments on the post, most of them negative.

There was a repeated theme to the comments, which the media has so far not covered. Applebee’s, just two weeks ago, had — according to comments — violated another Guest’s right to privacy themselves by posting a picture of a note from a guest that clearly featured the guest’s name. Most interestingly, Applebee’s deleted this picture right when the Chelsea Welch issue went viral. Here’s the original picture, captured by If You Can’t Afford to Tip… via screen shot:

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Users of Facebook were sharing this picture left and right, using it to call bull@#$% on Applebee’s reasoning regarding “right to privacy.” Here’s just a small sampling:

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By around 2 am, there were around 17,000 comments on Applebee’s original Facebook status. Then began the most bewildering move in corporate social media/public relations that I have ever witnessed. At 2:53 am, the middle of the night, whoever manages Applebee’s Facebook page started making comments on their status update. In response to the over 17,000 comments, the following statement appeared — not as a new status update, but as a comment on the status update. (Had to break it into two pieces to capture it.)

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I was, to put it plainly, stunned. Surely this was someone using a fake Applebee’s page to make a comment. Commenting on your own status update during the biggest PR disaster in the history of your company at 2:53 am is the exact definition of social media suicide. Assuming this was a fake Applebee’s account, I clicked on the name. It took me right back to the page I was on. This was an official Applebee’s person. Commenting at 2:53 am.

But that, readers, is just the beginning. Oh it gets better. So much better.

The reaction was immediate:

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Legitimate points. I mean, you can’t drop an official response in the middle of post that’s expanding 1K+ posts an hour. It becomes nearly impossible to find after 5 minutes.

Now, before I continue with the train wreck that follows, I’d like to sidetrack for a quick moment and reveal something else: the entire night, Applebee’s is allegedly deleting negative comments left and right, as well as blocking people from its Facebook page. People at this point are getting furious at being censored (again, a small sampling):

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So people are getting furious at being censored. Then Applebee’s social media makes a comment on a status update at 2:53 am. Next up: Applebee’s starts repeatedly tagging people in the middle of the night and repeating their same comment over and over… and over. It’s now about 3 am in the morning:

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This should come as no surprise, but — people don’t really like this repetition. It kinda gets under their skin. And they don’t hesitate to let Applebee’s know:

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You’d think at this point in time someone in Applebee’s social media team would advise whoever is posting on behalf of Applebee’s to just lay low for a while. But no — the unthinkable happens. At 3:06 am, Applebee’s starts tagging people and arguing with them:

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Naturally, people don’t take kindly to this:

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Around 4:20 am, Applebee’s finally and brilliantly decides to take its comment on its status update and make it an actual status update so it doesn’t have to keep repeating itself via comments:

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This now prompts people to comment on both the original status update as well as the new status update. I went to bed at 5 am. As of 5 am, the original status update had 19,027 comments. As of 5 am, the new status update had 2,111 comments.

I check back into Applebee’s Facebook page today at 2 pm. And guess what? That original status update, with almost 20,000 comments that featured Applebee’s complete social media meltdown? It is deleted, along with all those comments. But the problem is, the Internet doesn’t forget things like that. Which Applebee’s should have learned by this point in this controversy. People take it upon themselves to remind Applebee’s about that (now deleted) post:

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Applebee’s now makes its most brilliant move, posting, “No posts have been deleted.”

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There were many and numerous responses to this, but I think the shortest was the best:

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Denial is apparently the company’s PR weapon of choice. But as my saved screenshots show, their original status update is gone. There is still the one posted at 4:20 am, which now — at 2 pm — has gone from 2,111 comments at 5 am to 9,679. And there is a new status update from Applebee’s posted at around 10 am this morning that has 7,292 comments. The status update is as follows:

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As of 5:15 pm, Applebee’s social media was continuing to argue with people in the comments section, provoking one person to say, “Applebees, just shut up”:

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As of 8 pm when I write this, the tallies for comments are as follows: the original post, now deleted, was at 19,027 when I last saw it; the second post is at 11,216; the third post is at 11,035. That’s 41,278 mostly negative comments — and who knows how many more there were before Applebee’s started deleting comments, not just posts. I wonder why Applebee’s just doesn’t disable comments at this point.

The upshot of this is, the Internet is laughing. And Applebee’s is losing a lot of customers. After personally reading thousands and thousands of comments, I have seen businesses and non-profits and families and individuals all say they are boycotting or even canceling reservations or changing locations for regular business lunches and dinners. Surely there was a better way to handle this that wouldn’t have led to comments such as:

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Amidst all the rubble, though, there was one comment that stood out. Because it was a moment of kind-heartedness, which I appreciate after swimming through the filth and sarcasm and anger of the Internet:

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***

Updates, 02/02/2013

1. Readers have pointed out to me that Applebee’s did not delete the original post. Allegedly Applebee’s “hid” the post here.

2. If You Can’t Afford to Tip… informed me that they took the original screen shot of the other receipt that allegedly Applebee’s had posted and then deleted. You can view it on their Facebook page here. I changed the original post to reflect that, and am restating it as an update as well.

3. Did Applebee’s block me?

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4. I must be unblocked, because now — as of 8 pm tonight — I can see Applebee’s still going back and forth with people. But on Twitter this time. *sigh*

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***

Updates, 02/04-9/2013

1. As of 4:45 pm today (02/04), I was told (and verified) that Applebee’s has made public the previously hidden post.

2. This story now has over 1,400,000 views.

3. The following is a list of notable places this photo essay has been referenced:

1,220 thoughts on “Applebee’s Overnight Social Media Meltdown: A Photo Essay”

  1. To the tip issue: tips are not gratuities, they are there because it allows restaurants to under pay waitstaff and have cheaper food. That means if tips are not left, the waitstaff is underpaid. The US should include service like the Europeans do, and then a tip would become a gratuity. Anyone who doesn’t tip is the equivalent of a thief. I tip 20-25%, but even if service is paid I leave 15%. On the issue: she claims it wasn’t forbidden in the handbook. She should have been punished, but not fired. They fired her not because of what she did, but the uproar. On Applebees, regardless of what’s “right,” they hurt themselves big time by their reaction. That’s the beauty of our new age – people can communicate and act on their opinions! Also, note how the big corporations and the people with money can do what they want, but the worker is easy to fire and get rid of.

    1. There is not a chain out there that would not fire or punish you for posting a Guests tab or any personal info. Reddit even expressed concern and she then edited out more later in the pic.

      1. And wouldn’t you know that this comment came from a REV. Go figure! You think just because your a pastor that you don’t have to tip…and does that also include your church? After all your the pastor, so do you put 20 of your pay into the collection plate????

      2. I understand the cosequences of the information that was publized but at the same time Apple Bee’s goes against their own policy and post a good comment with a customer’s information. Not to smart. I guess some hire up people should be fired for posting that person’s information also. Even though it was a great comment from a nice person. Rules are rules.

      3. Sandy, you assume that Rev Jynxx is a pastor just because of that quite obvious psuedonym (Like mine, see?), and you also assume they are defending the pastor (They aren’t, they’re just stating the obvious). What the pastor dd was highly rude and inappropriate, but by attacking someone just because of a fake name they chose on the internet you are being worse.

  2. Not a huge surprise that a major north american restaurant chain is a terrible place to work, considering they likely pay close to minimum wage. Justified in firing her? Perhaps. Whether or not employees were informed beforehand about corporate policies regarding facebook pictures / customer privacy is an important question to ask.

    How about their internal social networking policies? Are employees required to “friend” their workplace and give them access to their facebook accounts? Can they use any excuse to terminate someone, for example, pictures of drinking and partying (off the job)?

    1. She would be a waitress meaning she probably doesn’t EVEN make minimum wage as her base pay. On top of that, when you have people who refuse to tip, they REALLY don’t make minimum wage.

      1. Exactly and apparently the minimum wage for wait staff hasn’t gone up at all since I waitressed on weekends for extra money in the 1980’s!!!!!!

    2. Heck if it were in Wichita they would make below min. wage and the tips would make it up, there was a company here that added to the claimed tips so that they wouldn’t have to pay the waitresses min. wage to make up the differance.

      1. Yes, they all are suppose to do that. Sad. Company’s make out paying the server’s such little pay. They make up the majority of the company’s staff. If they paid minimum wage people’s tips would not send server’s in such a frenzie mode. And customers could tip according to what they thought was appropriate.

      2. That’s how it was in Reno when I lived there about 3 years ago. Average wage for a waitress in one of the casinos was $4-5 an hour, they just expected you to make up the extra in tips.

    3. I’m a waitress on the south side of Chicago and I make $4.00 and if I don’t get tipped I still have to tip out on that sale, so when I don’t get tipped I pay for those people to eat at my table. It’s nice to see that people are being made aware that waitresses survive on their tips, and it’s even nicer to see all the people jumping to defend this poor waitress. I sympathize with her, and hope she gets a way better job than Applebee’s because let’s be honest they microwave their food and obviously have zero respect for their employees.

      1. I live in Indiana, & worked in the restaurant business through college. On average, you get paid $3.00 an hour. Which means your check goes to taxes. So yes, your source of income is strictly from tips. And you’re right, you still have to pay a percentage of your tips to the bartenders, bus boys, runners, etc.. So many people do not realize this.

      1. In California, minimum wage for wait staff is the same as for everyone else….$8.00.an hour. But the “everyone else” do not receive tips at thier jobs at McDonald’s, Lowe’s, Safeway, etc. It seems antiquated to pay servers less than anyone else would get at any job. Too bad other states cannot apply the same minimum wage to all people and let tips be what tips are meant to be….a little something extra for great servcie…

        I always tip when I go out…usually 15% for average service and as much as 20% for exceptional service. I know how hard servers work and have seen some of the crap they have to deal with, I also know that sometimes they are just having a bad day, but if there is clear neglect, like not attending to patrons who are clearly trying to get your attention, not refilling drinks because you are too busy telling your co-workers about your plans for the weekend; simply disappearing fromt the floor for 10 minutes at a time without having someone cover your tables or being rude, then I have been known to tip low, but it has to be pretty bad. I also know that working large groups is harder work than a table of 2-4, but there is also potential for larger tips at those groups too. I do resent those automatic gratuities, too. They need to rename them. They are NOT gratutuities when you are forced to pay it.

        From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online:

        “Definition of GRATUITY: something given voluntarily or beyond obligation usually for some service; especially: tip “.

        They need to call it what it is …a service fee.

    4. Depending on the state, minimum wage for servers is remarkably LESS than the standard minimum wage. In New Jersey, for example, server pay from the company is a whopping $2.15 an hour. If the restaurant offers health care, your check is nul and void.

  3. Wow, does Applebee’s PR subscribe to the L. Ron Hubbard philosophy of public communication? Never defend, always attack? Seems to me they’re going to need a really good Social Media Marketing person to pull their crap out of the fire after this debacle.

  4. What are the BIG corporate executive with brains smaller than their $$N$$ think they are doing?? In an age of instant worldwide communications with people who PAY YOUR SALARIES, see what your doing. You have really got to be kidding!! All those years spent educating your selves obviously did NO GOOD!!. No school in the world can teach COMMON SENSE!! It’s time for these Pbrains to go back to the drawing board and rewrite their rules. As much as I loved the food and fun at Applebee’s I QUIT and your not getting my $$$ until you become human again.

  5. America’s LEAST favourite neighbour. That’s really all I can think on the subject of their company. As for the pastor, I’m sure God face palmed so hard He needed a new face after seeing someone who claims to represent Him be such an ass to another one of His children.

  6. Great story!!! I should have stayed up and watched it longer last night. Looks like I missed some fun! Hahahaaa! Applebees have really slit their own throat. I’ll bet there have been well more than 75K posts on their sites alone! (Including deleted)

  7. …my last experience at Applebee’s found that three different food items (between two people) were sprinkled with some sort of orange-colored cajun-like spicy and overly-salty powdery stuff… yuck!…

  8. The pastor is a cheap ass POS …. Guess what, I read bible and donated to churches and got nothing in return. So 10% is over paid. However when I go out to eat which anymore is hard to afford I do tip and I don’t waste time with percentage like some rich cheap ass I just pick what I thought service was worth and round up.. because the meal I asked for I actually get so server and cooks and dishwashers are all worth every penny. And yes your waitress has to split tips with all of them in many places as well because they are all paid less than minimum wage.. yet our government takes close to 30% of my money and nothing I can do about it and they pass laws taking more of my rights away and punish the just and honest on every turn … So throw that 10% to god and get nothing, give that 30% to government and they will take more, or give your waitress 18% so maybe she can afford to have a life. Oh tip in cash cuz government and business lower wages and take taxes out on your credit/debit card tips.

  9. The girl violated her contract, plain and simple. She should have been fired. The would be no case if it were taken to court. This whole viral uproar demonstrates how eager we as a nation are to attack en mas if given the opportunity. I think this whole viral display is ugly and embarrassing

    1. The pastor should have paid the tip. There were 7 or 8 in the party, I believe. And the tab was $35. Not exactly steak and lobster – just pay the bloody tip and don;t be SO CHEAP

    2. Except as posted in the article, Applebees did the exact same thing themselves, they posted a pic of a reciept with the name clearly out in the open and then they deleted it when this happened to hide that they broke their own damn rule. Why the hell aren’t they being fired for that?

    3. Employees at Applebee’s are not under contract. They are at-will employees with no representation. You should get the facts straight before posting. Also, if you had read the article before posting, you would have seen that Applebee’s itself was posting screenshots of receipts without the customer’s permission, but took them down (knowing that it would come to light) after firing Ms. Welch for doing exactly the same thing management was doing. I guess you didn’t catch that flagrant bit of hypocrisy in your hurry to come down and make ridiculous comments like this. Also, the term you were looking for is “en masse,” meaning “all-together; as a group.” As your name implies, “US CITIZEN” you have the same reading skills and comprehension as the most average of us. Nothing special, and your legal analysis is suspect.

      1. THAT WAS NOT A RECEIPT!!! It was a note on the back of a piece of paper for the server! WOULD people quit comparing the two? IT IS NOT THE SAME! A note with no personal banking information is different from a CC receipt.

  10. Instead of “wish it never happened, but she’s fired,” all they had to do was quickly deal with the 2 central issues outraging everyone who wasn’t just into name-calling: (1) The hypocrisy — breaching their own privacy rules earlier when it was a positive comment, and (2) The discipline – why, especially in light of that hypocrisy, it couldn’t have been just a warning. Discuss those 2 things candidly and immediately and save 30,000+ negative posts and who knows how much market share!

  11. I’m sorry but doesn’t anyone believe Chelsea acted irresponsibly? She doesn’t have a RIGHT to post a photo sharing the patron’s name. If she wanted to share, couldn’t she have blacked out the name to keep it private?

    Just because social media allows irresponsible, immature people to post things they disagree with doesn’t mean they should. Chelsea should grow up.

    1. Unless it is specifically stated in the employee handbook (which I have read, it is not), posting a name in no way, shape or form is violating anyones privacy – a name in itself – is not subject to privacy controls and everyone’s name is public information. Hell, even my name and the name of every hand gun permit holders in TN is posted in our city rag sheet

      1. Thank you. I read it, too. I starts out that it is in order to protect “Applebee’s and its employees'” privacy. Says nothing about guests’ privacy. Which, really makes me think.

    2. But it IS OK for Applebees to post something of a positive nature? Doesn’t this seem like a double standard? Posting something positive (with the customer’s name on it) is NOT a violation of that customer’s privacy?

    3. I work in a place where celebrities come in often… I actually waited on the Kardashians a couple of times and thought that was cool, and posted that I had waited on them on Facebook… should I have been fired for such? Doubt it, going to a restaurant does not give you some kind of privacy like a doctor’s office or something. In fact, in that case I’m sure my bosses were happy cause it was good publicity. However Applebees is killing themselves trying to hide behind legal mumbo jumbo which doesn’t matter with the public – there are so many other options to eat at.

    4. Obviously the pastor wanted her name out there. Don’t put anything on paper and leave it on the table if you don’t want others to see it. Applebees is garbage and so is the pastor. Go Chelsea!

  12. I am not an Applebee’s customer myself, I think I have been there one time, but I don’t see anything wrong with their actions. They have every right to fire the waitress, and every right to defend themselves on their Facebook page. Why should they succumb to the vitriolic mobs? The Internet is full of people just looking for a fight. Everyone wants their opinion & voice heard, and it’s easy to get all fired up about something as stupid as this. I doubt highly that any of those people who left negative comments, if they even are Applebee’s customers, will use this as a reason to not go to Applebee’s. I think that Applebee’s policy is a good one, and it was right in defending it and taking action on it. And using their FB page to individually address each negative comment is a good thing. People don’t like it because it was consistent and true. Furthermore, it is important to note that despite the apparent hypocrisy regarding the FB post of another customer’s note is really meaningless. So what? They noticed they made a mistake and deleted it. They corrected their mistake, as we are all allowed to do, given the opportunity.

    1. Hey, they totally have the *right* to do these things. I have the right to smack myself in the face with a brick, too. Doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. If you don’t see why Applebee’s’ handling of this situation is horrific and unbecoming of a supposedly professional organization, then I can only conclude that you don’t understand much of how the world works in 2013. Bless your heart.

    2. They only took it down AFTER the Chelsea Welch situation blew up in their face and they realized they were being hippocrits. If none of this had happened, that positive post would have still been on their page.

    3. You’re right! Why should Applebee’s succumb to “vitriolic mobs?” (Except for when they succumbed to a vitriolic pastor who called them for the express purpose of getting a girl fired, right?)

  13. I have been following this. The pastor needs to learn to teach, not just preach. If she could just officially “Forgive” the woman who posted/was fired, and ask the company to re-hire, it would allow Applebee’s a graceful way out. They have to back the Franchisee as it was in the rule books, but in the mean time, a lot of other waiters/waitresses will lose THEIR jobs through no fault of their own if Applebee’s loses so many customers, and that is not fair to them. There really was no good way to handle this, I’m afraid. Let’s face it.. No matter what they had said/done, we would have been pissed. I wonder how that pastor feels, knowing her being embarrassed and getting huffy has caused so much chaos..

  14. 6 months from now no one will even remember this waitress’ name and 90% of the people will all be back eating at Applebee’s (if they ever ate there before). This is the “Flavor of the Month” and they will all soon move on the next thing they can be angry about.

    1. I’m sure that’s what Applebee’s hopes. But frankly, when the Exxon Valdez spilled oil in Prince William Sound I swore I’d never go to another Exxon station. It’s been, gosh, 20 years? A few times in recent years I’ve forgotten, and sometimes Exxon was the only option, but it’s surprising how powerful and lasting moral outrage can be. If Applebee’s is the only restaurant in town then maybe people can’t vote with their feet.

      1. The 2 events are hardly on the same scale. And I don’t doubt this is true “moral outrage” …more like “mob outrage”. They see a group of others with torches and a rope headed for the hangin’ tree and they are more than happy to join the crowd. The world is getting more and more willing to string people (or businesses) up without waiting for the facts.

  15. Give me a break. Do you really believe that all (or even any) of these people posting these outraged comments on Applebee’s facebook page are actually Applebee’s customers? How can you boycott a place you don’t patronize? Let’s check the bottom line in a few months and see if any of these “protests” made a bit of difference. And, for what it’s worth, the Pastor is a jerk, but that doesn’t make what the waitress did right.

    1. You know, I’ve worked at 4 different Applebees. The customer base, for the most part, is shit. The last location I worked at, I made LITERALLY between $100-150 a week…that included the $2.13/hour I made as regular pay. If the people making complaints about this story are actual customers, then god help us all.

  16. I think the Pastor should lose her status as a pastor. She sounds more like a selfish twat than someone who serves god. just sayin..

  17. Applebees is completely right to fire the employee. When I go out to eat I do not want my receipt posted on the internet. I find it hypocritical that this site removes the names from comments posted on Facebook, when those posts were clearly made in public, but then continues to spread the name of the person who paid the bill.

  18. Aside from this it is my understanding that a Pastor does not PAY 10% to the church…they COLLECT it from the congregation….Yeah POS!!

  19. Reblogged this on Mark Edwards Rants and commented:
    social media can be a huge asset to your company in times of a PR crisis. It can also be your own companies worst enemy, by making the wound even deeper. Here is an examination of how Applebee’s social media efforts made a bad situation much much worse.

      1. I worked for Applebees in VA, They do not care one iota for staff, There they had the day servers, washing dishes with out being paid for it, This one was in a rural area,and jobs were hard to come by, so they knew that most would put up with it ,to keep a job to feed their families.I have seen such servers treated rudely by the management , Told that if you dont like it leave, which is very hard to do when you have a family to feed,I have seen to much to even tell here, just know that Applebees is not server friendly, never has been,never will be.

      2. I am a former Applebee`s employee. While I did not join the suit, I have many friends who did. One of them recently received a check for roughly $12,000 – the amount she was owed for working about 2-3 hours per shift for the last 9 years at $2.13 per hour rather than minimum wage while doing excessive amounts of sidework. It is my understanding that this was part of a settlement agreement.

    1. I don’t think anybody comes out looking good here.

      “Pastor”: Royal ***hole. Not worthy of her role.

      Chelsea Welch: Should have cropped or obscured the customer’s signature before posting the photo; posting the image with signature included exposes the “pastor” to the risk of identity theft. Also, a credit card receipt is essentially a private contract, not part of public records.

      Applebee’s: Given that Ms. Welch posted a customer’s *signature* online, they were right to fire her. Beyond that, they’ve really handled the whole thing poorly.

  20. I think it was in poor taste for the pastor to leave no tip, but the server from Applebee’s that posted the pic of the receipt, knew the rules of employment. From the companies standpoint, they were right to fire her. An employee can’t run around posting pics of something as private as a credit card receipt.

    1. It says *disiplinary action UP TO and including* termination of employment……nowhere does it say AUTOMATIC termination. IF and ONLY IF she was an employee in good standing – why not just a warning? Because some religious “leader” raised a stink. :-/

  21. Sorry, but this wouldn’t stop me from eating at Applebee’s… I think the server was in the wrong. They were right to fire her.

  22. Applebee’s, no more business from me and I would never go to what I loosely call the church of that so called Pastor.

  23. Nice capture. At the end of the day, Applebee’s did have a policy stated, the employee signed off on it, they had to fire her if that was the stated repercussion. While I think their online pr handling was a mess, the basic HR process seems sound. Companies are struggling with education of employees and use of social on their own personal time. Individuals sense or knowledge of ethics, truth , transparency, rules etc is pretty different. If Applebee’s had a solid training program and clear social media policy perhaps they wouldn’t be in this mess. But even if they did, it seems the mob wants to dictate the action.

    1. nowhere is that the stated repercussion. even if you credit applebee’s interpretation of their handbook, which they seem to enforce selectively, it says their response is discipline which COULD include termination. COULD, not MUST.

      1. EXACTLY!! The handbook says “discipline up to and including termination”. They didn’t HAVE to fire her. They could have disciplined her, but they chose the harshest penalty. They were reacting to the “pastor” calling and demanding that everyone involved be fired. They were cowering to a customer instead of backing their own employee. THAT is the crux of this whole debackle

  24. Reblogged this on Cheshire Anthropology and commented:
    So I am thinking that Applebee’s is going to take one hell of a hit in revenue and I’m expecting their stocks to suddenly plummet. I don’t keep an eye on stocks, so let me know if they do whomever out there it is that does keep track.
    Also I seriously believe that the waitress that was fired is so better off! And I am still holding out hope that the stunning cunt of a “pastor” also gets fired. Read this very carefully as you will see how Applebee’s slowly but surely have committed suicide in the eyes and hearts of BILLIONS.

  25. The sad thing about the whole situation, is if Applebee’s ends up losing business over this, most Applebee’s are franchises (I think) and those are small businesses with a big name behind them, and a lot of waitresses, cooks, dishwashers, etc that are going to be unemployed in this economy.

    1. Excellent point, Tracy. Whether your ‘team pastor’ or ‘team waitress,’ as it were, the corporation has handled the public perception of the event(s) terribly. It would be tragic if so many innocent people and business owners were effected because of corporate incompetence.

  26. That minister is the living definition of why I will never be a tipped employee, ever. I refuse to work at a loss. A tip is a gamble, and therefor has no place in my estimation of my wages. “Why should I tip you 18%?”
    How about “Because if you don’t, I don’t make rent or tuition,” or maybe “Because I make half of minimum wage”? or maybe “If you don’t like it, don’t eat out – no one marched you in here at gunpoint”. Idiot. Maybe if the cost of eating out went up significantly, we wouldn’t be an overweight country, and cooking our meals at home with our families. I have 0 (zero) empathy for this farce.

  27. While I don’t necessarily agree with Applebee’s, the person I have the biggest problem with is that pastor. This is why people don’t go to church…because people like this “pastor” use God as an excuse to do something really shi;;y. we recently celebrated my daughter’s first birthday at a restaurant. The two waitresses who served our party automatically got the 18% of the rather large bill. And I still made my husband leave a tip on top of that. God had nothing to do with this “pastor” going to applebee’s. How very very shameful.

    1. Very nice of you. Thank you for appreciating good service. And well said. That is the same way I feel. God does not need money. You give to your church to aid less fortunate and spread the word of God. Comments like that make it seem she resents having to give to the church. Has nothing to do with getting service.

  28. Head, meet desk. I can side with Applebee’s in terms of disciplinary action towards the server who posted the pastor’s note on the internet, but ONLY because the pastor’s name (signature) was on the note, and thus she was easily identified by anyone who came across the internet posting.

    But two things have me pretty peeved with Applebee’s over this whole situation, and very much in favor of no longer eating at their restaurants:
    1. Applebee’s, you can’t pick and choose when to apply your own supposed rule of protecting your guests’ privacy. How is it perfectly acceptable for YOU to post a note from a guest that has their signature on it (on your Facebook page, no less, which currently has 3.8 MILLION fans), but completely UNACCEPTABLE for a server to do the same? The only difference here is WHO posted information (a lowly little server instead of the great Applebee’s CEOs), and what kind of FEEDBACK was in the note (your note: positive; the note the server posted: negative).
    2. The utter trainwreck that is Applebee’s current social media situation.

    1. I am a bartender at Logans Roadhouse, i can certainly relate to Ms. Welchs’ friends circumstances. Not only do some not tip, but there are those that go out to “get their wallet” and leave. That happens more than you think. There was a time that the server would have to pay a portion of that, however, that has changed at least at our restaurant. As a bartender, i make 4.35 per hour+tips. After i claim my tips (i’m one of the rare that claims ALL tips), pay my taxes, pay health insurance…my check is usually $18.00ish or so. Certainly not enough to survive on….BUT, with my tips i’m able to have a home, pay my bills, buy a car, take care of my kids needs and SOME of their wants… YOU KNOW….LIVE!!
      When someone like me takes care of you and makes your visit enjoyable then…why wouldn’t you tip me? This goes to the pastor…. aren’t you compensated for your time in the pulpit? Aren’t you also compensated with MANY perks and amenities for being a member of the clergy? I’m wondering how your “sheep” are feeling about you right about now? And, i wonder how many are servers?
      I am a huge applebees salad bar fan…i can find another one!!

    2. I have one more item that no one seems to mention but is essential to this entire arguement. The Pastor obviously WANTED someone (and we assume that to be the waitress) to read/see her note. She wrote it legibly and with purpose. Even if it had never been posted on any internet site anywhere it was still meant to be seen, Did Pastor Bell honestly think that this waitress would NOT show this to her fellow waitresses or other friends? Or for that matter even to the management! I don’t know the population of the city/town where this happened but I am certain that this would have spread quite a distance all on it’s own simply by word of mouth! Who knows, it is very possible that someone within days rather than hours would have known who pastor Bell was and then it would have hit the media regardless. Pastor Bell says she had a lapse in judgement, made a poor choice but that didn’t stop her from insisting that the waitress and EVERYONE employed at that restaurant be FIRED! If Chelsea had not posted this and it simply got out by word of mouth who would she have spewed her venom at then? Applebee’s mistake was in choosing to fire Chelsea Welch instead of some other disciplinary action. In believing that the actions of Pastor Bell were more excusable than Ms. Welch’s. I disagree. It is even possible ( in fact likely) that Ms. Welch had seen Applebee’s posting of their “complimentary” receipt on Facebook and assumed that is was acceptable. No matter how you look at it, Applebee’s was wrong.

    1. Just checked up on this. R.L., you live in Oregon. The big App has HQ in Kansas City. Two hour time difference. So instead of burning the midnight oil, the social media person was really just getting an early start. It doesn’t make too much of a difference in terms of how poorly they handled this situation, but it does make a big difference in terms of understanding this story. Entertain the notion that somebody was freaking out and had to wake up early to do damage control?

  29. One thing they never learned is you can’t please Internet mobs. The best thing they should have done was be clear about the facts and let the wildfire happen and burnout. In a month, or when another company commits a social media faux pas, no one will remember this taking place. Regardless, it was spectacular.

  30. OK – at some point in Applebee’s late-night postfest, they claimed that the waitress was not stiffed. Looking at the check seems to make it clear that she WAS stiffed – the amount on the check was $34.93. 18% of 34.93 is $6.29, which is the amount printed beneath the total, and scratched out by Pastor Bell. On the next line (additional tip) the pastor wrote the sign for “empty set” – a zero with a line through it. The bottom line on that receipt reads $34.93. No tip was issued.

      1. The pastor admitted to her party leaving NO tip. Nothing, no cash, no change, just a snide hateful comment. Which of course now she “regrets” but only because it was exposed. The could have suspended the girl who posted the receipt. They didn’t have to fire her. Applebee’s did that because the pastor called up having a screaming hissy fit. Shame on the “good god-fearing” woman. I’m sure her Jesus is real proud.

  31. why are you really mad? It wasn’t that the waitress was fired for posting the receipt on FB. No, the anger is because the ‘offense’ was started by a ‘pastor’ who was a jerk. there it is. who CARES?!! there is so much GOOD being done around us – focus on that! Alaska

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