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Waffle House waitress denied $1,000 tip; customer finds way around company rule

When a Raleigh waitress received a mega tip, she was forced to return the money, but the customer found a way around the company rule.
Monday, June 09, 2014
A $1,000 tip given to a local Waffle House waitress should be a heartwarming story, but the restaurant wouldn't let her keep the money.

Shaina Brown was working the night shift on May 11, Mother's Day, at the Waffle House on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh. By all accounts, she was doing what she normally does -- connecting with customers. However, that night, one patron was extremely impressed with her kindness and affable personality.

When it came time to pay the check, he left Brown a $1,000 tip and another $500 for a nearby customer who was kind as well. Yet, at the end of her shift, Brown found out she couldn't keep the money.

Her manager said Waffle House policy is that unless a customer pays in cash or check, extremely large tips have to be refunded in case the customer decides later to dispute the charge or ask for a refund.

Needless to say, this did not go over well with Brown, a single mom with a car that needs a new transmission. The $1,000 would've been a blessing.

"It wouldn't be different if the man landed cash on the table, and the manager had snatched it away and said, 'You can't have it!' It was very humiliating," said Brown, a loyal Waffle House waitress for seven years. "I've never heard of this. Whether it is $5 or $100, I would've gotten that tip, but because it was that substantial amount, I don't know what the reason is but it's a just a lot of run around."

Waffle House says generous tippers can pay with cash or check directly to their server, and that's exactly what happened last week. After weeks of wrangling with company managers, Brown got a call from her anonymous benefactor. He'd heard about the trouble over the tip and got out his checkbook.

ABC11 did speak with the mysterious generous tipper Monday. He's a local businessman who doesn't want his name in the news, but Brown knows who he is and says she is extremely grateful.

"He's like a hero to me, and I thank him for that," she said.

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