Chelsea Welch, Fired Applebee's Waitress, Talks Unemployment; Applebee's PR Melts Down

Categories: Blowback

It's going to be tough to do a better job than R.L. Stollar, who compiled the entire PR fiasco with screengrabs here, but here's a quick rundown.

This was Applebee's initial statement. They probably should've just cut it off here:

Our Guests' personal information - including their meal check - is private, and neither Applebee's nor its franchisees have a right to share this information publicly. We value our Guests' trust above all else. Our franchisee has apologized to the Guest and has taken disciplinary action with the Team Member for violating their Guest's right to privacy. This individual is no longer employed by the franchisee.

Instead they began responding to everything via Facebook. Reportedly this post appeared at 3 a.m., then disappeared, then reappeared through Facebook magic. It said, in part:

Here is what happened in St. Louis: - A guest questioned the tip automatically attached to her large party's bill by writing: "I give God 10%. Why do you get 18?" on the check.

- A different server, who did not even wait on the group, photographed the receipt, posted the photo online and commented about the incident.

- The guest subsequently heard from friends who identified her from the posting, where her name is clearly visible, and the restaurant was notified. There was no further communication with the guest.

- The team member was asked about posting the receipt and admitted she was responsible.

- When she was hired, the team member was provided the franchisee's employee hand book which includes their social media policy and states:

"Employees must honor the privacy rights of APPLEBEE's and its employees by seeking permission before writing about or displaying internal APPLEBEE'S happenings that might be considered to be a breach of privacy and confidentiality. This shall include, but not be limited to, posting of photographs, video, or audio of APPLEBEE'S employees or its customers, suppliers, agents or competitors, without first obtaining written approval from the Vice President of Operations. The policy goes on to specify: Employees who violate this policy will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

- As a result of her admission to violating a clear company policy intended to safeguard guests, the team member is no longer employed by the franchisee.

That post racked up 20,000 comments, including some claiming that previous comments had been deleted.

"Do you think deleting people's comments is going to make this go away?" wrote one interlocutor. "Only making it worse."

Next, someone at Applebee's dove in and commenced reacting to individual comments, cutting and pasting the same statement over and over until one user gave the sage advice, "Applebee's, just shut up."

No such luck. Instead someone at the company posted this statement:

As a company that relies on literally hundreds of thousands of incredibly hard working Team Members, we can assure you that we and our franchisees value and support them and their efforts. However this unfortunate situation has nothing to do with work. The Team Member involved did not wait on the guest or party. Regrettably, and without the restaurant's knowledge, she took it upon herself to take a Guest's receipt, with the name clearly visible, and posted it online with her own commentary. That is a clear violation of our Guest's privacy and against the franchisee's company policy that the Team Member was provided when hired. We simply cannot accept behavior that compromises the safety and privacy our Guests have every right to expect and deserve. Please note that we are also not excusing the Guest's behavior in this matter and the unacceptable comment she wrote on the receipt, which is offensive to us and all our hard working team members. To be clear, the 18% gratuity added to large party tickets was paid by the Guest's party. This is a regrettable situation, and we wish it had never happened. we hope this provides you with some additional insight. Thanks again for the chance to explain.

Many online commenters are promising an Applebee's boycott over this incident. It should be interesting to see if this affects the Kansas City-based chain in a substantive way -- many claimed over the weekend to have seen a lot of empty Applebee's parking lots. Stay tuned.

Follow Jessica Lussenhop on Twitter at @Lussenpop. E-mail the author at Jessica.Lussenhop@RiverfrontTimes.com.



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31 comments
bigblobber710
bigblobber710

The friend was getting justice for her friend that basically paid for the "privilege" of serving this embarrassment  to Christians. who are taught to be servants. read the policy the receipt was the employees copy. they didn't have to fire her. give her a write up. would have saved everyone a lot of trouble. but now this will be used to focus on the struggles of servers. The people who are good at it take pride in serving others and then get treated like this all the time, and then taxed 8% on all food sales, tip out coworkers. you make 100 dollars 15% to each coworker, your lucky to go home with $5.  Servers of the world unite

superrbody
superrbody

The waitress posted the customer's receipt, with the customer's name on it, on the Internet. I can't imagine any restaurant that would allow that for any reason. How could a restaurant explain, if you sign a credit card receipt, we might post it with your name on the Internet.

Dustin Brown
Dustin Brown

Alois Bell is what you should never raise your kids to be.

Virginia Harold
Virginia Harold

She gives 10% to her own church/business aka to herself.

James Madison
James Madison

James Bragado, you failed reading comprehension of my post. "Demanding" more than 10% is the problem. I've no problem with giving generously to others serving me. But not when it is demand or expected regardless of the service provided. When there is a policy of demanding tips, it needs to be made at the time of the reservations, not at the time of billing. And how does it help the server if those giving less than 18% stay home? Serving an empty table brings in zero tips. Constantly serving empty tables finds you without a job.

James Bragado
James Bragado

"Those demanding, demanding, more than 10% are placing themselves above God." - James Madison. HAHAHAHAH! Oh, how jelous God can be. I think it was the 7th Commandment, right? "Thou shall not give to others more than thou givith to me!" We can assume this god damned pastor doesn't ever tip more than 10% anywhere she goes. What a cheapskate. Stay at home and pray to God for food instead of going out and screwing over your servers!

Jeff Siler
Jeff Siler

I understand why Applebees fired the employee. My big issue here is the lady paying the bill, who has put GOD above someone who works for well below minimum wage and relies on her tips to make ends meet. If she cared so much for GOD then you would think she would have some sort of sympathy for the waiter involved with the whole situation.

Deanna Marie
Deanna Marie

I am SO sick of hearing about this, especially this stupid waitress! tips I've thought were based on good service and this wasn't even the waitress for the table!

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

I believe Applebee's did the right thing in firing her, but screwed up by deleting comments and trying to address every issue. I want my visit to a restaurant kept private. Whether I leave 5% or 35% tip is no one's business. Let's say I tossed a $100 bill - I definitely do not want my name showing up on the internet for it! The same goes if I think the service only deserved a nickel. Ms. Welch violated the trust every customer has in the establishment when she decided to make the matter public.

James Madison
James Madison

Those demanding, demanding, more than 10% are placing themselves above God. Tips should be based on the goodwill and generosity of those being served. Besides which, if you are requiring a 18% tip, you should state so when the large party makes the reservation, not when presenting the bill. Posting signs or fine print on menus is meaningless. Whenever the first contact that the restaurant knows the party is large, that is the time to state clearly the policy. This is about the foolish young woman who took a private correspondence and made it public. It lead to her revealing a private matter of a customer to the world. I applaud Applebee's for making sure their customers can visit there without the world knowing about, or about the tipping habits.

Timothy Colmey
Timothy Colmey

To the minister who started all of this: You give 10% of your SALARY to the church. Giving 18% of your bill after receiving satisfactory service from your server when dining out is standard policy for large parties at most restaurants and is hardly comparable to the amount you tithe at church. If you don't like it, entertain your guests at home- or better yet, at your church. See what kind of service God gives you for your 10% tip.

Chris Ferguson
Chris Ferguson

She made a YouTube video, I don't think she cares. Probably likes the exposure.

Christopher Schmidt
Christopher Schmidt

Yep, media forgets that important part of posting name and face. They just want to get the story out and boost their ratings, who cares if they hurt other people in the process.

Uyen Nguyen
Uyen Nguyen

It's probably not a good idea to post pictures of her face in the article. Poor girl might get blacklisted from potential interviews.

Chris McDaniel
Chris McDaniel

Fuck Applebee's and that self-important, pompous-assed minister too.

ksloyd
ksloyd

What maturity this young woman is displaying in this article. MUST READ!! ~Sharon


"As a broke kid trying to get into college it's certainly appealing," she said. "But I would much rather people hold on to that money for the next time they eat out." She says the outpouring of support has been "astounding" but emphasizes that this Applebee's is not the only restaurant where servers are getting stiffed. "I do want people to know my situation is not that uncommon and while it's garnered a lot of media attention, this happens to service workers everyday. Harsh notes, bad tips, getting fired to keep a customer happy. This happen to all of us, all the time, everywhere," she says. 

http://blogs.riverfronttimes.com/gutcheck/2013/02/chelsea_welch_fired_applebees_waitress_pr_meltdown.php

announcerguydrew84
announcerguydrew84

Chelsea Welch, We have your back and Applebee's will pay for this lapse in judgement.

bigblobber710
bigblobber710

@James Madison  menu says 18%  on groups. forewarned and traditionally 15% is the bare minimum for adequate service cheapskate, though most people now tip a min. of 20% whither you tip or not server is taxed on 8% of all food sales then they have to tip the bussers, dishwashers, bartender, host, cooks, and that's if they are not forced to pool there tips with other servers. and before you  start yammering about go to school and get a real job I have worked w/ people serving with degrees in engineering, medicine, teachers. 

Kenzington
Kenzington

@JamesMadison I agree. Yes, leaving a snarky comment on a bill to emphasize the fact that you're a cheapskate is deplorable behavior, but it doesn't justify having your actions aired in public. Posting the bill online was a dumb, immature thing to do, and Chelsea rightly lost her job for it. I've worked in customer service for sixteen years, and I've dealt with more than my share of assholes. The key is to maintain a professional code of ethics throughout, lest you be reduced to their level.

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

@Jillybean10 , I'll remember not to visit you place if you feel violating the trust of your customer is the type of employee you wish. However, if you are simply trying to give this lady a second chance, make certain she is well aware you do not approve of her previous actions and you will not tolerate it at your place.

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

@ksloyd , I agree, the girl has an amazing attitude in light of the recent events. I do hope she can grow from the experience and learn. Learn that when she has the good faith and trust of others, she should protect it like her own.

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

@announcerguydrew84 , so you are ready to penalize all the other waiters and waitresses working at AppleBee's. For what? hurting the local restaurants? The franchise will survive in so many other cities. You are cutting local throats for you own lapse in judgement.

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

and the waitress who got the 0% tip will get fewer customers and fewer tips. well done. Hurt the innocent in the name of social justice!

JusticeforChelsea
JusticeforChelsea

@JamesMadison @Jillybean10 I have a feeling James you wouldnt fit in at Nick's Pub anyway.  So be sure not to leave your house ever because someone might see you or read your snarky notes you would leave for the employees.

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

cannot reply below.... who does any boycott hurt the most? The waitress who got the 0% tip, not the manager. It is not over the top to realize the consequences of silly actions.

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

wrong. for good service, I'm a generous tipper. I know giving a good tip today will mean even better service on my next visit. What you failed to read was I asked what was their motive in hiring her? If a second chance, great. If to encourage the same behavior, I'll not stop there on my next visit to the tool and die shop.

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