Now hiring: New Applebee’s public relations director

Zech Wheeler, Campus Editor

Zech Wheeler, Campus Editor

Zech Wheeler, Campus Editor

There was a point in time that I liked Applebee’s. That was of course before the whole St. Louis debacle.

For those of you who still don’t know, a photograph of a particularly infuriating receipt found its way onto Reddit recently, depicting one of the most thoughtless acts of stingy entitlement that I’ve ever seen play out inside a restaurant.

The culprit in question is one ‘Pastor’ Alois Bell who, after settling a tab for a youth group, decided to flake on her gratuity, writing “I give God 10 percent, why do you get 18?” As if that isn’t enough to get your blood boiling, Applebee’s ended up firing Chelsea Welch, a colleague of the waiter who had the displeasure of serving Bell.

Now I can understand why they fired her. She posted the receipt in question online.  Employees aren’t supposed to post personal information regarding their clients online in respect of their privacy.

The real gaff is how Applebee’s handled it. On Saturday, Feb. 2, the Applebee’s PR staff committed social media suicide, removing a picture similar to Bell’s ticket from their online page.

Apparently, when the criticism is good you can post all the personal information you want about clients.

There was a torrent of backlash against Applebee’s actions, resulting in one of the most poorly executed cover-ups in PR history.

Here’s the play-by-play:

Applebee’s fires Chelsea Welch. A surge of backlash on Twitter can be seen on Applebee’s own homepage where their feed lists tagged tweets directly.

Applebee’s posts a Facebook status update at 3 p.m. They state that they have apologized to Bell and stand firm on their policy. Right around this time, they delete the picture of a positive review made out on a receipt which plainly lists the guest’s full name.

The storm begins.

Around 2 a.m. Applebee’s decides to update their 17,000 response thread with a recap of ‘the facts’ concerning the case. Whoever manages their page fails to realize that no one will be able to find the update among the constantly growing number of comments.

The winds begin to howl.

Shortly after this bungle, Applebee’s PR monkey decides to tag groups of people and copy and paste the same calculated response over and over, filling the page with redundant spam.

Hail and sleet pour down in sheets as people clamor over the mountain of spam to rip Applebee’s a new one.

At 3 a.m. the lobotomite running Applebee’s page does the unthinkable: tagging individuals within the thread and arguing with them. The page is flooded with the frantic screaming of a man who knows he’s as good as lynched, cowering in the basement as the vortex begins swirling overhead.

In a desperate move to sweep this whole mess under the bed, Applebee’s begins deleting posts and blocking people left and right. It’s almost like you can hear their panicked shrieking as the basement door flings open to suck them up into the looming tempest.

Honestly, I can understand why Applebee’s decided to fire the girl. She violated company policy. However, the hypocrisy in Applebee’s actions seems to warrant an appeal to this policy.

I’d love it if Chelsea could get her job back. I know I can hardly stand people who feel entitled to lord themselves over others because of their religious practices. It’s so stupid that I almost feel like going cross-eyed.

I’m not sure how Applebee’s is going to recover from this one, but one thing is for sure: they’ve learned a hard lesson in the power of social media.