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Starbucks Tip Jar Case Brings These Tipping Horror Stories to Mind

By Alexandra Ward   |   Wednesday, 29 May 2013 08:12 AM

A New York court is weighing whether Starbucks higher ups are entitled to dip into baristas' tips from the community tip jar, but that dispute seems trite in comparison to some of the most recent tipping horror stories.

In the Starbucks case, assistant managers and shift supervisors are arguing that they're entitled to the daily tips that accumulate in the tip jars near the registers. But hourly-wage baristas are claiming those gratuities are theirs to share amongst themselves. A federal appeals court has asked the New York state Court of Appeals to examine the issue.

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But the tipping horror stories don't just affect Starbucks employees. From being stiffed to being insulted, the waiters and waitresses in the following incidents have seen it all. Here are five of the worst tipping stories:

1. God Receipt

In January, a photo of one restaurant receipt went viral on Reddit. The server in that case had followed policy and included an additional 18 percent gratuity on a check that was part of a larger bill for a party of 20.

But a customer who claimed to be a pastor wasn’t happy about it and scribbled, "I give God 10%. Why do you get 18?" The patron then wrote "Pastor" above her signature with an emphatic "0" where the additional gratuity would be.

2. Single Mom Sorry

Last year, another receipt went viral online that showed a bill for $138.35 with "single mom sorry" written in on the tip line, implying that whoever it was didn’t have enough money for a tip because of the expenses of raising kids alone. The customer also wrote "Thank you it was great" beneath her signature.

Redditors criticized the customer for stiffing the server.

"I'm sure $140 could have gotten you and your kids a week worth of groceries, but instead you spend it on one meal?!" one user posted. "For shame!"

3. "You Could Stand To Lose A Few Pounds"

Sometimes, the comments left on receipts are personal. In 2011, a bartender at Bimbo's Cantina in Seattle was shocked when she went to retrieve a customer's receipt. Not only was there no gratuity on the nearly $30 bill, but on the bottom of the check, the customer wrote, "P.S. You could stand to loose (sic) a few pounds."

4. Stiffed Because of T-shirt

Other times, it could be a server's political beliefs that cause a customer to stiff them. That's what happened to a coffee shop waitress in Washington, D.C., earlier this year. The waitress was wearing a shirt that read "Occupation Isn't Pretty" in reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

When she collected the receipt from a customer, she found the following rude note on the back along with a very small gratuity: "Displaying your political beliefs on your shirt cost you a % of your tip."

5. "Stop Eating B—!"

Last year, an Applebee's waitress in New Jersey was practically verbally assaulted in a mean-spirited receipt message that also went viral. The customer in this case didn’t leave a monetary tip but a tip of a different kind: "STOP EATING B—!" 

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Related stories:

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Applebee's Waitress Fired For Posting "God Receipt" Of Pastor Who Didn't Tip 

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