A waitress who has worked for the American Waffle House chain for the last seven years has been reportedly denied a $1,000 a tip because it wasn’t in cash. The waitress, 26 year-old Shaina Brown who works at a Raleigh branch of the popular breakfast destination, was instructed by her employers to give the tip back to the generous tipper who charged it on his credit card and instructed her to give $500 to a fellow diner as well.
Reports state that Waffle House refused to complete the transaction based on company policy, Kelly Thrasher-Bruner a spokeswoman for Waffle House commented that:
“Generous tippers are asked to tip again by cash or check. The restaurant handles it that way in case the customer decides to dispute the tip later or ask for a refund.”
She also commented that:
“Our intentions were for the associate to receive her tip, in this case, our management contacted the customer within 24 hours, explained the procedure, and then refunded the tip amount to his account. The manager also explained the procedure to the associate who was involved.”
The incident which occurred back in May of this year has ignited a flood of support for the waitress involved and harsh criticisms of Waffle House’s tipping policy. There is strong sense of injustice amongst members of the public and support for the Waffle House as well.
Shaina Brown is reported to have said that she was not aware of this policy, she told the Charlotte Observer:
“I feel like they stole from me. They did exactly what they teach us not to do.”
The tipper, who remains anonymous but is reported to be a businessman told Brown before he tipped her:
“I’m going to bless you tonight.”
Little did the tipper or Brown know that his charitable actions would lead to an outcry of controversy when the waitress came forward with her story, dragging the Waffle House’s tipping policy into the lime light in the most unflattering way imaginable.
This is the kind of press that no company wants, however, every company has a right to exercise and uphold its own policies no matter what the circumstances are. Is this an example of company policy gone mad? - maybe. Is this an example of just an employee failing to understand company policy - perhaps.
Whichever way you look at it, the only lesson that can be learnt here is that employers need to take more responsibility in regards to ensuring that employees fully understand company policy. That being said, it is also the responsibility of employees to understand which policies are in place and how they work in order to avoid unfortunate situations like this one from occurring.
Misinterpretations or no knowledge of policies like this one are clearly very costly. Employee staff relations should never fall under such damaging public opinion. Neither should a company be castrated for its own policies that are simply aimed at protecting its own staff and customers' interests.