Applebee's was under intense national scrutiny in February, 2013, when it fired an employee who received no tip after waiting on restaurant guests. The guest was a St. Louis pastor whose bill came to $34.93 and had an 18% tip of $6.29 included on the bill. Pastor Alois Bell crossed out the $6.29 total and wrote the note, "I give God 10%. Why do you get 18%?" Applebee's got a lot of heat from thousands of social media users who felt it was not fair for the employee to be fired as a result of sharing information on the tip. The national restaurant chain attempted to cover up the fiasco by erasing Facebook posts that were critical of Applebee's. NBCNews did a fine job summarizing the story, here.
In the Applebee's social media implosion, social media users learned many lessons:
- Social media administrators should not be quick to censor comments. Gracefully addressing concerns while offering apologies where appropriate go a long way in calming tensions.
- Employees saw the importance of understanding their companies' social media policies. This event illustrates the importance of being in compliance with policies while protecting the privacy of an organization's customers and guests.
- Restaurant guests learned that critical guest behavior could potentially be brought to light whether or not such an occurrence is appropriate. Where this behavior may have been spoken about among colleagues in the kitchen in a pre-social media world, critical behavior that is documentable has the rare potential to go viral as Pastor Bell quickly found out.
A restaurant guest is exposed
An NFL running back is getting national attention after an image of a receipt highlighting his $0.20, 0.3% tip was shared on Facebook by a restaurant owner, only this time, many people on social media are directing their anger toward the sharer of information while defending the tipper.
The image was shared by PYT's owner on Facebook. PTY, a Philadelphia hamburger restaurant, is receiving online scrutiny with commenters expressing concerns over guest privacy and the poor quality service the restaurant is known for among other points.
- As a restaurant guest, it is highly unlikely that your server will share an image of your tip, receipt online. It's safe to assume that you will have privacy in this regard. However, there is a small chance that an anomalous tip or note may make it online. Tip wisely, my friends.
- Restaurant owners would be wise to have training and policies in place that employees are aware of regarding customer privacy and the importance of maintaining that privacy. As we've seen in both of these cases, the restaurant tends to lose when receipts are shared.