Woman at computer

The social media mistake that can cost you dearly

Elizabeth Bromstein|

One Ohio waitress’s unfortunate story is a cautionary tale for the rest of us.

Kirsten Kelly was fired from her job at the Texas Roadhouse after she posted a complaint on Facebook about some customers’ less than generous tipping practices.

“I just said, ‘If you come into a restaurant and spend $50 or more, you should be able to tip appropriately for that,’” Kelly said, according to WTOL.

“I was mad,” the mother of one child explained. “It was a Friday night and I made $60 because I had several people that night who weren’t tipping appropriately. More than one time, people spent $50 or more and they tipped five or six (dollars). That’s not OK!” (She’s right. It’s not.)

It turns out one of Kelly’s Facebook “friends,” an old schoolmate, was one of the bad tippers in question. That person turned out to be not just cheap, but also vindictive, and she printed a screenshot of the post and took it to the restaurant to complain.

Kelly did not mention a specific customer or the name of the establishment but she was given the old heave ho nonetheless.

“They told me that I knew what I was doing when I posted that, and they would have to let me go because a customer came in [who had] printed off a screen shot of it,” Kelly said. “And they were really upset.”

The Texas Roadhouse Corporate Office told WTOL Kelly was fired for using a derogatory name to refer to the customer in her Facebook post. It is apparently corporate policy that employees are not allowed to make any mention of the restaurant on social media.

The company said, “Texas Roadhouse does not tolerate offensive language towards guests, whether it occurs online, offline or even in the parking lot.”

But Kelly’s real error isn’t calling customers names. After a night of running back and forth for a measly 60 bucks, the mother of a young son no doubt was feeling some well-directed animosity towards bad tippers. Her error is thinking social media is a safe place to vent that frustration.

Her error is mistaking her “friends” for her friends.

People on Facebook are not your friends, unless you keep it very, very limited. You probably don’t know a lot of them particularly well and you should never assume that they have your best interest at heart. People can be nasty.

A friend of mine once posted online that she was ready to pretend to be enthusiastic during an interview for a job she needed but didn’t really want. When I messaged her to say she shouldn’t be posting that on social media, she replied that her privacy settings were so high it didn’t matter. What she didn’t understand is that your privacy settings only protect you from strangers. You never know who knows who and that out of her 300 friends, there might be someone who could and would rat her out, particularly since she lives in a small town. I don’t know if any of her “friends” would do that. But why take the chance? (She didn’t get the job. Maybe because someone ratted her out!)

Never share anything online that you don’t want the whole world to know. And — since in this case Kelly probably wants the whole world to know that, provided with good service, you should tip at least 15% — never share anything that you wouldn’t want your employer, or a potential employer, to see.

Vent in the privacy of your own home, or on the phone to your actual friends – not your virtual ones.


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  • Sari Boudreau

    Her error is to expect a tip in the first place. It is not required by law that people tip. Originally, tip meant “to insure prompt service”. It was something that was not expected, and appreciated if gotten.

    • Neosis

      Actually, it is expected that customers leave a 20% tip in most of the United States for adequate service. It’s not just an “optional” part of the bill, but part of the basic compensation that most of the restaurant staff depend on. In some jurisdictions the restaurant is allowed to pay employees at rates below the minimum wage because the rest of their salary is supposed to come from tips. That includes not just the waiter or waitress, but a portion of the tip may also go to the bus boy, the hostess, and the kitchen staff.

      • WalkerBob

        Adequate service will get an adequate tip from me…. certainly not 20%.

      • never you mind

        au contraire, Mon frere! For decades the commonly accepted tippage has been 10-15%! Contrary to the above article even! This isn’t to say that you may not give more when warrented, by all means do so. But if tippage were to be bell-curved etc. Then restaraunts would be closing as no one would eat where tippage was higher than the meal costs.

      • Jack Wagner

        But how would you take “Service Charges” on the bill? This is insane, paying 10 to 15% service charges and still pay 15 to 20% tip.

      • Bob

        The fact that the customer is expected to spend an extra 20% to top up the wages of the employees, is an issue with the pay practices of the restaurants involved. A tip is a gratuity, and in some cases receiving gratuities (or even offering them) is illegal, as they may be regarded as bribery. Any business that relies on bribery as means of ensuring good service is doomed to failure.
        Pay the employees enough, and if they receive a tip then it is all good, but if they must rely on the tips just to survive, you as an employer are promoting a form of slavery. Barely enough money to feed yourself or your family, so there is no money to spare on trying to improve your situation either, the dead end job or wage slave but not even that because you must rely on the good will of your masters just to feed yourself.

    • John D Adams

      By that reply, it sounds like you either don’t tip(terrible) or are a bad tipper (just as terrible) in this society if you go to a nice restaraunt it is pretty much expected( unless you receive bad service) to tip at least 15%

    • Opinyun8ed

      Restaurants get away with keeping server wages low on the EXPECTATION that you, the customer will top it up with tips. In Canada, there is even a special minimum wage category for restaurant servers that is below the minimum wage for other kinds of work. Yes, she should definitely expect a tip.

  • WalkerBob

    I would submit that if she is consistently getting poor or inappropriate tips that the issue is with her level of service and not the quality of her customers. When you say it is inappropriate to tip $5 or $6 on a $50 check, I would suggest that tipping is never, nor should it be, automatic. A tip is a thank you for good service and honest efforts. If you are consistently not getting tips, the fault is 100% yours.

    • John D Adams

      She was complaining about that night moron…. Not about all her shifts! Sounds like you should be eating at McDonalds or Burger King where tips are not expected or needed just to make a proper wage!!!

      • Ed

        What we need to realize is that someone woking 40 hours at a good restaurant can make 40 – 50,000.00 clear on tips. This job does not even require a grade 12. These resturants in the US are pulling in massive amounts of revenue and paying 2.75 an hour. It is slave labour.
        I suggest 12.00 an hour. Restaurant can up their prices and I don’t have to evaluate my service. Many times I have left after receiving bad service but I still tip out of obligation.

  • Jim

    In Most provinces in Canada waiters/waitresses earn a minimum wage far in excess of that in most states. I think in PA it is only about $2.75 so they live off their tips, and the normal tip in a lot of states is 25% not the 15% in Canada. I can truly understand why she was so upset. If I was her I would put the cheapskates pictures on facebook and call them out.

    • Opinyun8ed

      to be fair Jim, US minimum wages in general are lower than Canadian rates. PA server rate is $2.83 while the regular min wage rate is $7.25. BUT the employer must top up the servers wages to $7.25 if tips are insufficient to cover the difference. Comparitively, Ontario Minumums are $9.55 for servers and $11.00 for other workers.

  • Damir Poljak

    Tipping is a reward for a good service! Unfortunately employers created
    trend where waiters have low salary as it is expected for them to be
    tipped. If you are happy with service, please tip at least 10%. I used
    to work in this industry and my tips were averaging 15-25% as I busted
    my behind to make people comfortable and have the best experience
    possible. I also tip accordingly: decent service 15%, when you show effort 20+% no matter what amount is the bill. However, if a waiter/waitress are being rude, they get nothing. If they wanna know why they can call the manager to inquire… or I can do that for them :)

  • yury

    25% tip??? OMG i hope those US waitresses didnt get upset when i tipped only 15%

  • Opinyun8ed

    So let’s give this some numerical perspective: the minimum wage for regular work in Ohio is $7.95, the minimum wage for tipped work is a measley $3.98. Tipped rate represents only 50% of the regular minimum wage. So yes, there is an expectation by the Government of Ohio, that customers will tip generously enough raise the actual earnings to equal or exceed minimum wage. Oh, and many establishments insist that their wait staff share 10-25% of of their tips with kitchen staff. So unless you’ve received horrible or disrespectful treatment that’s the waitress’ own fault (not a kitchen screw up) you owe a decent tip.

  • Richard Derek

    My default is to tip 10-15%, but will tip more if the service justifies the extra money. If a person spends $50 on a meal, the minimum tip – if service is acceptable – would be $5-$7.50. I really don’t see her issue if people give at least 10%. I know 15% is the average, but if it’s at least 10% then there is not much to complain about.

  • Jukbo

    The best advice is: STOP using Facebook. Believe me. That’s for teenagers.