The pastor responsible for the now-viral "God receipt" succeeded in getting a St. Louis Applebee's waitress fired Wednesday after she complained to management about the server posting a photo of the bill online.
Applebee's server Chelsea Welch uploaded a photo of a receipt Tuesday to Reddit, showing a bill for $34.93 with an automatic gratuity of 18 percent ($6.29) included because the customer was part of a 20-plus person party. The diner, later identified as Alois Bell, scratched out the gratuity, scribbled, "I give God 10%.Why do you get 18?" and then wrote "Pastor" above the signature, with an emphatic "0" where the additional tip would be.
Welch was fired Wednesday after the offended diner saw the story online and complained to the Applebee's manager.
Here's a guide to the major players in the "God receipt" saga:
The role played by…
Chelsea Welch – The Waitress
Welch didn’t even wait on the table in question, she told Consumerist.com. It was a fellow server's and Welch simply snapped a photo of the "comical" receipt.
"I originally posted the note as a lighthearted joke," Welch said. "I thought the note was insulting, but it was also comical. I posted it to Reddit because I thought other users would find it entertaining."
Welch didn’t edit the customer's signature on the photo because she thought it was illegible, but once the photo went viral, Welch said she made an attempt to throw people off the identity of the diner.
"I had already started receiving messages containing Facebook profile links and blogs and websites, asking me to confirm the identity of the customer," she told Consumerist.com. "I refused to confirm any of them, and all of them were incorrect. I worked with the website moderators to remove any personal information. I wanted to protect the identity of both my fellow server and the customer. I had no intention of starting a witch hunt or hurting anyone — I just wanted to share a picture I found interesting."
Welch believes her firing was unwarranted.
"When I posted this, I didn’t represent Applebee’s in a bad light," she said. "In fact, I didn’t represent them at all. I did my best to protect the identity of all parties involved. I didn’t break any specific guidelines in the company handbook—I checked."
Alois Bell – The Pastor
The pastor who wrote the note on the receipt has been identified as Alois Bell, a 37-year-old St. Louis woman who heads the Truth in the World Deliverance Ministries Church. Bell apologized for her note, calling her actions a "lapse in my character and judgment."
"My heart is really broken," Bell told the Smoking Gun. "I’ve brought embarrassment to my church and ministry."
Bell said she learned Wednesday that a copy of the receipt was online when a friend called to say she was "all over Yahoo. You went viral!" Bell immediately called the Applebee's to complain about the dissemination of her receipt, which includes her easy-to-read signature. She was told that the employee responsible for the Reddit post had been fired.
A mother of three, Bell heads a 15-member church that rents a storefront space in St. Louis. Bell told the Smoking Gun that she has a separate full-time job—which she declined to describe—and contributes 10 percent of her earnings to the church.
Applebee's – The Employer
A spokesman for Applebee’s said in a statement to the Smoking Gun that the restaurant had apologized to Bell for violating her "right to privacy" and informed her that Welch was "no longer employed by the franchise."
"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," the statement said. "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."
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