Mutual Destruction At Applebee’s: An Uncharitable Pastor and a Vengeful Waitress Do Each Other In


The Combatants!

  • Alois Bell, a pastor at Truth in the World Deliverance Ministries Church. Uncharitable, vengeful, arrogant and cheap, she complained about an autotip of 18% added to her Applebee’s check that was triggered by the size of her group. The bill was small, but the group was large. Crossing out the tip amount and replacing it with nada, she scrawled, insufferably, on the bill, “I give 10% to God, why do you get 18?”, thus stiffing the waiter whom the party later said had rendered impeccable service. She also scrawled “pastor” by the bill amount, thus presuming a clergy discount that didn’t (and shouldn’t) exist. After a waitress colleague of the un-tipped waiter posted the bill on Reddit to inspire some well-earned web-shaming, Bell complained to Applebee’s management, successfully getting the waitress fired.

Verdict: Contemptible jerk. She abused her position to claim a discount that she wasn’t entitled to, and punished an innocent server by withholding a fair tip. [This may not be so; see UPDATE at the end] Then she set out to take vengeance on the young woman for exposing her despicable conduct. So much for showing the other cheek. Bell’s conduct was as far from the teachings of Christianity as one can get, at least at an Applebee’s.

  • Chelsea Welch, the now ex-Applebee’s waitress. She posted the obnoxious bill and scrawled comments online, whereupon the pastor was identified by her handwriting, and perhaps her jerkish personality.

Verdict:  Unethical conduct, though provoked. Her colleague was wronged by the cheap pastor, but she forgot she wasn’t free to do as an Applebee’s employee what she might choose to do as a private individual. Applebee’s can’t have its customers worrying about whether real or perceived slights to restaurant staff will land them on various websites to be mocked and vilified. Her actions were irresponsible and a violation of her duties as an employee, even though her anger was certainly justified. And her method of retribution was excessive and unethical too.

Clearly, the pastor is the villain here, although Applebee’s had no choice other than to fire Welch. What she did can’t be condoned or tolerated. Bell, however, is a disgrace. She told has been quoted as saying, “My heart is really broken, I’ve brought embarrassment to my church and ministry,” and that has been termed “an apology” by the site that broke the story, “The Smoking Gun.” That’s not an apology; she’s regretting the consequences of her actions. She owes a real apology to the original waiter (we don’t know his name) and to Welch, whom she vindictively got fired from her job. Welch, in that case, though she might choke on it, would owe an apology to Bell, who should be able to behave like an ass in Applebees without being made into a web-super villain by a waitress. Welch also ought to apologize to Applebee’s. In fact, there is a lot of repair work needed here:

…If I were Welch, I’d apologize to Applebee’s  now, and Bell if she ever showed any genuine contrition in the matter. I wouldn’t hold my breath.

…If I were Bell, I’d apologize to Welch for getting her fired, and personally ask Applebee’s to give Welch another chance—and pay the original waiter at least the 18% tip he was owed in the first place. [ See UPDATE below]

...I were Applebee’s, I’d ban Bell from the restaurant for life. But I wouldn’t re-hire Welch. I would also spell out in my employees manual why web-shaming customers is a no-no. And it may owe Bell about 7 bucks.

…If I were in charge of the Truth in the World Deliverance Ministries Church, I’d consider getting rid of Bell and find someone who actually practices what she preaches.

And if I were The Smoking Gun, I’d look up what “apology” means.

UPDATE: Now it appears that the pastor left a tip in cash, and only complained about it on the slip. And that Applebee’s charged her credit card with the tip anyway, meaning that it owes her money. If true, this makes Bell far less of a villain, and also makes her complaint to the restaurant more justifiable. It also makes Welch’s conduct look reckless and unfair, further justifying her dismissal.


Pointer: Lianne Best

Sources: The Smoking Gun 1,Yahoo! 1, Yahoo 2

Graphic: The Smoking Gun 2,

353 thoughts on “Mutual Destruction At Applebee’s: An Uncharitable Pastor and a Vengeful Waitress Do Each Other In

  1. I honestly don’t think an organization will “back down” if they’re confident of their position in the first place. If they are willing to reconsider their position based upon this kind of public pressure, perhaps it should be rethought. Not to say that it is impossible for an organization to simply be bullied by an angry mob — after all, I’ve seen large numbers of our elected represented representatives (local, state and national) “sell out” (change previous publicly held positions) when confronted with offers of support or threats of opposition from well-endowed interests.

    • Oops — didn’t reply correctly. The above is in response to crella: “If only it were as noble…I have no objection to that. What I do object to is the lack of a factual perspective of most (if not all) FB campaigns. Rarely are the facts correct, and rarely are they reasoned… That is blackmail. I do not think they should knuckle under, I do not think the general public has the right to try and destroy them on social media for decisions about where to spend their own money. Shaming and blackmail are wrong.”

  2. Pingback: Applebee fumble « Fast Workouts at Home

  3. People need to consider what the waitresses intentions were. We keep putting this “web shaming” label on her to simplify the topic and our arguments.

    What was her intentions?

    Was it to nationally embarrass the pastor and destroy her life?

    or more likely did she just think a couple hundred random people might find this amusing and never predicted all the craziness that turned out.

    If its the former, lets not call her a web-shamer with all the connotations of that label when that was not her intention just what resulted in the outcome due to carelessness and someone not thinking anything they do is national media worthy.

    I can picture, her being excited about putting a comment that ridiculous on Redditt, without even noticing how easily readable the pastors signature was. I mean most people dont have a signature that legible.

    Before we cast her as a web shamer. Its very important to find out if this web shaming was done on purpose or if it was one big oopsie

  4. For all you literal types that are just going to go to a definition of web shaming. I wanted to make the distinction because the reason why we care about web shaming is because of all the damage it causes to the victim personal life. Therefor in my opinion, there should be inconsequential webshaming and significant web shaming (two COMPLETELY different things, in my opinion). I believe the waitresses goal was not significant web shaming and destroying someone’s life but thats what she is being found guilty for.

    • Well, I suppose an arson could also say “I didn’t mean to burn down the whole neighborhood, just this one bedroom!”

      When a person utilizes a tool that can rapidly get out of control, they have little excuse. She can’t say “I didn’t know the internet was world-wide when I posted that to shame her”

  5. Can we please take down that update about the pastor leaving the cash tip. Like I’ve said before, thinking money has anything to do with this topic just solidifies that we dont understand the root issue. The money is at most 1% what this topic is about and I believe giving the money after the comment on the receipt just belittle’s the waiter even more, saying you’re not worthy but here is your petty money. Also, that story sounds made up just for the pastor and/or applebees to cover themselves.

    • Why would I take it down? It is part of the story. Stiffing the waiter made the conduct of the pastor much worse, and material. It’s still unclear what happened, but it is significant in assessing how unethical the pastor was. My post was not about the waitress alone.

      • Do what you want, but to me its an insignificant part of the story that just confuses what this is about, which is the unbelievably disrespectful comment. Thats the story, not how much she paid, if she paid or what she wore that day

        • It only confuses it in your mind, because you don’t want to see a potential mitigating factor in the Pastor’s behavior.

          Granted, it isn’t much of a mitigating factor in light of the written note and in light of it being difficult to believe.

          But if it is true, it certainly leads one to wonder if the message was poorly aimed and meant for Applebee’s automatically charging her card the tip after she put cash on the table for the waiter.

          This story is about 2 spiteful people (doesn’t even involve the *actually* maligned waiter) and a company trying to run interference and still provide its service to everyone else.

          What I find remarkable, is everyone here knows the waitress who posted this isn’t even the one who was stiffed. Yet they are still acting like she was the ‘victim’ of the customer. Then there are those who claim she is the ‘victim’ of a corporation who was punishing an employee for violating customer trust.

        • You’re hopeless David. You have as much business rendering an opinion in an ethics problem as I would have entering the Miss USA pageant. And you’re not even interested in learning or listening.

  6. The register adds it on! Not the server. Anytime a added gratuity is on, the policies state on menu “parties of 6 or more an 18% gratuity will be added” Why do places do this? Most of the time party wants seperate checks,u run ur butt off and servers only make $2.83 an hour which is taxed. If servers were paid more, then ur meals would be at least double the price. Ever notice when u go out how many servers are on the floor ? Cheap labor!
    U shoukd educate urself before leaving an update saying the server added it. U can see on the slip the tip was added, then it gives u a space to leave more if u choose.

  7. Jack,
    From my earlier comments you may remember that we are in agreement that the waitress and pastor have no ethical defense for their action. I believe we are in a state of disagreement about the extent to which Applebee’s actions were pure. I think I can fairly characterize your position as the actions Applebee’s took were consistent with ethical standards and perhaps go so far as to say they were required by ethical standards. My interpretation is different, but I don’t want to focus on bashing Applebee’s since I believe there is a much more interesting conversation to be had.

    Now that the ranting and raving has died down a bit, I have a serious question about the ethical construct an employer must use to guide their dealings with an employee after a breech such as the one which occurred.

    What is the ethical construct that determines which of the menu of employee discipline options Applebee’s should have taken? What factors should an ethical employer take in correcting an unethical employee.

    In the discussion that started these comments it says “Applebee’s had no choice other than to fire Welch.” This appears to be a statement of fact.

    What are the universal ethical principles which would have made Applebee’s wrong had they chosen to take a lesser action?

    What criterion must be included in their decision making about what sanction to impose? Is it ethical to consider aggravating and mitigating circumstances in determination of punishment, or perhaps unethical, or not germane to the ethics of the discipline decision at all? When a similar situation arise, shall and employer necessarily be compelled to fire any employee who engaged in a similar breach of ethical behavior?

    I think all agree that the restaurant has certain duties to protect the privacy of their patrons. Does an employer have any ethical duty to their employee beyond payment for hours worked and respect of civil rights which may temper their ability to exercise the at will nature of the employer / employee relationship? If so, what ethical construct drives that responsibility?

    I read the comments of a human resources expert which asserted certain states legislative and case law requirements compel a system of progressive discipline. I believe, even in those places, a decision tree can, and perhaps must, result in immediate termination for certain infractions. If the employer fails to follow law or their approved decision tree in making a termination decision they have likely acted unethically by ignoring existing duties committed to in policy. If we assume there are no complicating legal wrinkles to dictate the content of that decision tree, what decision making criteria must be considered, purely in the interest of a wholly ethical relationship of the employer toward an employee who has admitted to a breech?

    One I can think of is equal application of policy so that favoritism will not allow one employee to engage in unethical behavior with relative immunity while a peer is terminated for equivalent conduct.

    Another might be prevention of harm that might be caused to others from inaction.

    Are there other broadly accepted standards an employer must consider? Are their narrowly accepted constructs that you are aware of that certain subgroups might demand, perhaps from an ethicist inclined toward the world view of organized labor, conservative interpretations of various religious traditions, or secular humanist constructs?

    If we can get to a set of ethical criteria that many agree should be used by an employer to determine severity of sanction, and a few that certain sub groups would also demand, it would provide a base for a rational discussion that might defuse some of the emotion and vitriol.

    • Great question and issue, Matt.
      That Applebee’s had no choice but to fire the Chelsea is my opinion, and I’d be willing to temper it now, especially after the posts from our helpful HR officer. I would still argue that firing was the right course.

      The factors, in order of importance by my lights, would be…
      –Seriousness of the offense
      –Prior record of the employee
      –Justice, fairness, and proportion
      –Mitigating factors
      –Policy and employment condition violations
      –Symbolic impact of punishment or non-punishment on staff
      –Best interests of the company
      –Ultimate effect on the company
      –PR impact, if any
      –Contrition by the employee, and trust that the incident would not be repeated.

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