Waffle House Waitress Gets Insanely Generous Tip But Doesn’t Get to Keep It

restaurant billWe love all the happy stories about servers getting ginormous tips from kind strangers. The bigger, the better! However you feel about tipping in general, it's so heartwarming when people take care of each other like that. Crazy over-tipping seems to be contagious, too, because diners keep doing it. But every once in a while, the super-generous tip kind of backfires, though through no fault of the tipper. Did you hear about this incident in Raleigh, North Carolina? A Waffle House waitress had to give back her $1,000 tip! What the heck?


Shania Brown was working the late shift, 3 a.m. on Mother's Day, when a diner told her, "I'm going to bless you today." He added an extra $1,500 to his credit card bill in the tip line, asking Shania to share $500 of that amount with a tired-looking diner nearby. "You have a good spirit," he told Shania as he rode away into the early morning.

Happy Mother's Day to this hard-working mother of three with a broken transmission in her car! But the joy didn't last long. Shania's manager wouldn't let her keep the money.

"I feel like they stole from me. They did exactly what they teach us not to do," Shania later told the News Observer. We tried to talk with Shania about the incident, but she was unavailable, perhaps overwhelmed by the flood of calls she's gotten since the story broke.

Fortunately the reporter who broke the story, Josh Shaffer, got involved. He tracked down the customer, a local businessman who says he'll write Shania a personal check.

We asked Waffle House's corporate office if this is company policy. Here's what they told us.

Our intentions were for the associate to receive her tip all along. Our management contacted the customer within 24 hours, said we would refund the tip amount, and asked him to give the tip in either cash or check. The reason for this was to ensure this unusually high tip amount was intended for the associate, and so the credit card charge would not be disputed at a later date. We regret we did not explain the process fully to our associate, and this caused a misunderstanding. We have apologized to the associate for not communicating the process better and not having a better solution.

This has given us cause to review our procedures so we can get tips to our associates quicker in these unusual situation. It says a lot about this customer that he was willing to tip our associate this generous amount. We are sorry that our associate and the customer are having to go through this and are working on a solution to better serve our customers and associates.

I think it says a lot about the waitress, Shania, too, that the customer wanted to bless her with such a generous tip. But I'm glad Waffle House is working on a different way to get big tips to servers without so much hassle. We definitely want to encourage more kindness, not make kindness more inconvenient.

Do you think it's a good idea to have policies like this for the rare super-generous customer?


Image via Robert S. Donovan/Flickr

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