Tip-shaming over social media is despicable. This example is unusual, as for once it is the owner, not a waiter, doing the deed.
It’s still wrong.
PYT is a hamburger restaurant in Philadelphia. The owner apparently decided to take a stand for a poorly tipped server, because the customer was Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy. According to the receipt, McCoy left a twenty cents gratuity on a bill of $61.56.
Usually the public will side with the tip-shamer even when they shouldn’t, but McCoy is a local sports hero, so the restaurant is getting its buns flame-broiled on the net. (Though actor Charlie Sheen, who apparently has nothing better to do and wouldn’t know an ethic if it took up lodging in his nose, “pledged” $1000 to the supposedly abused waiter. File this one under “PR Grandstanding” …this like John D. Rockefeller handing out dimes to street urchins.) Thus the joint’s owner, Tommy Up, took to Facebook to explain why he set out to embarrass McCoy, writing in part…
…I take total and complete responsibility for sharing this receipt. It was not our server’s decision, it was mine. I am to blame…. I stand by my actions one hundred percent.
…Mr McCoy and his friend sat inside at a booth next to my management and next to me. They were given excellent service. Impeccable service. If anything, our server was a little nervous as was our food runner, because they are big, big fans. He and his group, from the moment they sat down, were verbally abusive to our staff in the most insulting ways. The derogatory statements about women and their sheer contempt for the staff serving them wasn’t the end, however. After Mr McCoy and his group left I looked over and saw their server, my friend, with his head bowed down and with a very confused look on his face. I took the receipt out of his hand and I couldn’t believe that anyone could be so callous. Mr McCoy had left a .03% tip for our staff. Our staff that was beyond excited to see him walk into our burger joint and was excited to serve him. That’s twenty cents on a tab of over $60. Twenty cents that our server has to split with the food runner and the bartender. Two dimes from an insulting multimillionaire.
I bet Mr McCoy is usually an awesome dude. And everyone has their bad days. But I’m from Philly and have had the pleasure of meeting many of our bad ass sports heroes. Ron Jaworski I met as a kid and I love. Iverson I loved. Mike Schmidt! You name ’em. I love all of our athletes past and present. Hometown heroes who treat those below them with some respect. And maybe Mr McCoy was having a “bad day” after his big victory all that, but the reports of him receiving “bad service” is a complete slanderous lie, and my crew here is better than that and deserves better than that.
At the end of the day, I did what I felt my heart told me to do. And I don’t want anything from Mr McCoy, but…maybe an apology to his server who gave him excellent service would be cool.Again, I am the owner and I take full responsibility for my actions. Eagles fans, I feel ya. Id be pissed too. But a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do and stick up for his friends….
Tommy did one thing right: he accepted full responsibility, and didn’t pass it off on his staff. Having noted that, I have given him credit for the only ethical aspect of his conduct or explanation. The rest:
1. It doesn’t matter what Tommy thought about his employee’s service. The served gets to make that call, fair or unfair, reasonable or unreasonable. The waiter admitted that he forgot an appetizer, and McCoy has indicated that he didn’t like the service. He needn’t justify his assessment, nor should he have been placed in a situation where he felt he had to do so.
2. Regarding the ambiguous “derogatory statements about women”: If McCoy and his companion were abusing Tommy’s female employees, they should have been asked to leave. If the conversation at the table was misogynist, that was none of the restaurant’s business, and is irrelevant to the incident. How dare an eating establishment try to justify embarrassing a patron over what he says in private conversation while eating there?
3. Yes, it was a lousy tip. Nobody is obligated to give a fair tip, a generous tip, or any tip at all. The statement being made by the posting of the receipt with the name of the diner included is a threat: tip generously, or the restaurant will get even. At that point, the tip is no longer voluntary. Fine: if you want to make a tip mandatory, add a service charge. Otherwise, live with your customer’s judgement of what is fair. There is no ethical third option…well, I’ll take that back in a second.
4. How much of a fan the waiter is, and how excited he may have been to bring burgers to a hungry NFL player, could not be more irrelevant. Imagine a system where a food server can insist on a tip based on how jazzed he is about each diner. Tommy didn’t think this through very well, though he claims (in a section omitted) that he has.
5. Nor does it matter how wealthy McCoy is. Most of the time, a restaurant has no idea how much money a customer has at his disposal, nor is that information it has any reason or right to have. Here in the U.S.A., much as some anti-capitalist wealth re-distributors would have it, everyone pays the same amount for goods and services. Tommy is saying that McCoy must give a good tip, not because he was necessarily the recipient of outstanding service (again, that assessment is his call, and his alone), but because he’s a wealthy local sports star. Tommy is confused. Charity isn’t dictated; if it is, it isn’t charity. He has no right to punish McCoy with public humiliation because in Tommy’s view, he should be more generous.
6. “That’s twenty cents on a tab of over $60. Twenty cents that our server has to split with the food runner and the bartender.” If that matters so much to their welfare, Tommy, you aren’t paying your staff enough. Make up the tip deficit yourself. They work for you.
7. Tommy is sure McCoy is an “awesome” dude and was just having a bad day, but never mind: he decided to humiliate him anyway. This is pure hypocrisy. He’s saying that despite the fact that he believes this was not typical or intentional, his rare un-awesome conduct requires an extraordinary public rebuke.
8. Oh, well as long as you really like Ron Jaworski and Mike Schmidt, Tommy, that completely justifies your treating a customer like crap. This is known as incompetent ethical reasoning. Also smarmy, pandering gibberish. I agree in principle that celebrities should model exemplary, rather than minimally acceptable behavior. They must not, however, be abused when they choose to avail themselves of the same options available to those who are not famous or influential. A celebrity’s tipping decisions are not public information, and neither are mine.
9. It bears repeating, since the owner repeated it: if “the crew here is better than that and deserves better than that,” PYT should pay them more.
10. Tommy needs to start making decisions with his brain rather than his heart. Ethical decisions require thought. “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do” has all the logical and ethical incisiveness of “it is what it is” and “Rama-lama-ding-dong.”
Pointer: King Kool