Waffle House Policy Keeps Waitress From Keeping $1,000 Tip

If you’re looking to leave a very special tip for your Waffle House server, do it with cash. That’s the lesson learned from the story of one WH waitress in North Carolina who couldn’t keep the 4-digit tip left by a generous customer.

The server, a seven-year veteran of a Raleigh Waffle House, was working the overnight shift on Mother’s Day weekend when a local businessman wrote in a $1,500 tip on his credit receipt with the instruction that $500 of that be given to a needy-looking fellow diner in the adjoining booth.

But that tip just went back into the customer’s account instead of into the pockets of the server and the other diner.

“I feel like they stole from me,” the waitress tells the News and Observer. “They did exactly what they teach us not to do.”

A rep for the restaurant chain explained that, in order to preempt possible disputes from customers, company policy is to refund oversize credit card tips to customers and that big tippers should be asked to show their generosity via cash or check.

“It sounds weak to me,” writes the News and Observer’s Josh Shaffer. “You’re denying your workers a benefit based on a worst-case scenario. Nobody carries $1,000 in cash to a Waffle House, and plenty of people leave the checkbook at home.”

My college years in Virginia are full of late-night outings to Waffle House, which was often packed with revelers packing on the carbs, proteins, and starches in an effort to prevent hangovers. My guess is that Waffle House has probably has had to deal with its fair share of morning-after disputes from customers who, no longer intoxicated, regretted leaving substantial tips on their middle-of-the-night meals.

So a policy presumably intended to prevent the headache of fighting chargebacks appears to have turned into a bit of a PR headache for the restaurant chain.

Shaffer was able to provide the waitress’s contact info to the tipper, who says he is sending the server a personal check to make sure she gets the tip he’d wanted to leave.

[via Eater]

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  1. SingleMaltGeek says:

    Disputes…yeah, right. More like the company doesn’t want to pay the 3% credit card fee on a tip that they get no part of.

  2. CzarChasm says:

    I don’t know, sounds kind of reasonable to me. Being burned by a couple of chargebacks would certainly change my policy.

  3. careycat says:

    I deal in merchant accounts. I totally get Waffle House’s stance, however one call to confirm the transaction w/the consumer prior to settlement would probably have been enough to set everyone’s mind at ease. One call to the issuing bank which can be determined by the first 4 of the card or to Merchant Services could have resolved this and actually improved Waffle House’s risk score. But it was a knee-jerk and probably not a wise one.