Applebee's wishes they could have Wednesday back after they committed the biggest PR blunder since the implementation of social media. To give a brief overview of everything up to date with this story, here it is. A pastor from St. Louis refused to pay automatic gratuity of her split check as a part of a party with 8 people. After she struck through the 18% gratuity and left a quaint little note stating, "I only give God 10%, why would I give you 18%?" Signing her name and including the professional designation, "Pastor."
After this regrettable note was discovered, the receipt was posted to the popular site, Reddit, for the world to see. It was brought to the author of the note's attention that this was now online for public consumption and spreading like a drought driven wildfire.
She became livid and contacted the Applebee's location demanding that all the servers on shift that night be terminated. Well, Applebee's decided a sacrifice was necessary and threw server, Chelsea Welch, to the sacrificial chopping block to satisfy their angered customer. Claiming it was clearly against company policy for Ms. Welch to reveal inside operation details on a public platform of any kind.
So, since this unfortunate situation's life began, people began expressing displeasure for the actions of Applebee's in their handling of this situation. First, by taking to the Applebee's home page and giving them a piece of their mind. Only to be railroaded and rebutted by the social media manager acting like a juvenile detention center regular with immature replies and deleting comments left and right to save face wherever possible.
Now...to get to the heart of this thing. There's so many reasons this situation escalated as fast as it did. So many people are missing the real point I feel. Most of the aggression is coming from a place of empathy for Chelsea Welch. Though, the real reason lies within an underlying and overdue problem with the entire restaurant industry.
For anyone that has ever worked in a restaurant, you have absolutely no rights as an employee. If you're sick, find someone to cover your shift or you're considered a no-call, no-show and fired. If your guests walk out on their tab, you're liable to cover the expense of the guest's ticket that should of been immediately reported as theft. If you're asked to pick up tables when you're already overextended and aren't able, you're considered not good at your job and written up or terminated.
With that being said, where does it come to a head and these hard working waiters and waitresses have any dog in this perpetual fight of guests being right and managers being completely unreasonable only to later wield their managerial power like a school yard bully?
Applebee's is the worst at this. No regard whatsoever for anything remotely professional or realistic when trying to conduct day to day operations. So many of these instances occur all the time and never get noticed by anyone, but the involved parties. General managers let this happen so many times, with no respect for lower level employees in the workplace.
I personally gave four of my younger years to Applebee's, playing the role of a server/trainer, line/mid/fry cook, expediter, host, bartender, and sometimes coming at 4am to help unload the truck after drinking all night with the General Manager at the time. With promise of management in my future, I enthusiastically went into every requested position with the speculation of it paying off in the very near future. Later, I was given the test for entry-level management training with promise upon passing to be fast tracked towards being an assistant manager within six week. After the written test, I was told I scored a single point lower than the required minimum. Things went downhill and I quickly realized it was time for me to get back in college and rise above what I was striving for. Only almost a year later would I find out, the General Manager of this Applebee's who had treated me like his friend had instructed the assistant manager to intentionally score me a point below because I was "Doing whatever we wanted him to do. Why mess up a good thing." This is 100% true.
After this, blew over and I received my degree, I quickly learned the hard way that a college degree doesn't guarantee you anything other than certificate of completion. Jobs prospects were bleak and I had since relocated from my younger years, so I decided to suck up my pride and go back to the one thing I was certain was always an option. I had frequented the local Applebee's for drinks with friends and asked our server if they were hiring, he stated, "Yes. If you have serving experience, we're hurting for servers right now."
I took an application, filled it out with confidence, arrived the next day at 2pm to meet a manager who immediately looked over my application, smiled, and immediately asked me if I had time to stay and talk. Might I mention the restaurant I was working at 9 months prior had burned down, so I was comfortably drawing unemployment, but needed to get involved and start making some earned money. No matter, I had an on-the-spot interview, the manager had one look at my application, went through some formality questions, informed me I had the job as a server and training was in a few days at 1pm. Little did I know there was a manager now working there who wasn't fond of me and was a server turned manager from the previous restaurant I had worked at. He managed to come across my application when sifting through the pile of new hires set for the following training class.
Upon my arrival, I get recognized and acknowledged by this familiar face only to hear, "Who told you to come to the training class?" I responded with the obvious answer to get the next statement, "Well, we don't even have your application here. This training class is full and you'll have to fill out another application. Sorry for the mix-up." All of this was in the office with the General Manager of this branch. I soon met disgust and anger about the handling of the situation and decided to reach out to corporate headquarters and bring light to the situation. I received a rapid reply from my original e-mail stating, "We are sorry for your grievance, though this isn't store isn't part of our corporate franchise. Best of luck." They did p.s. the restaurant group's info at the bottom instructing "if you want to make some progress with this situation, this is a good place to start."
All in all, nothing happened. No one would respond with anything other than a generic e-mail telling me "they'll look into the matter."
Applebee's must pay the ultimate price and become the example for what happens when a company becomes so cavalier for the regard of respect for their employees. This type of stuff happens everyday in restaurants and it needs to stop. Applebee's is just one of many, but seemingly the worst offender of all.