Acouple of months ago, a customer walked into a Pizza parlor in Scranton for a meal, and as he paid his bill just below $20, he left an incredulous $3,000 tip for the waitress that served him. At the time, both the waitress and the restaurant owners were left in awe of such generosity. However, the big tipper is now being taken to court over what was once thought to be an act from the mysterious “Tips for Jesus” movement.
When Mariana Lambert served Eric Smith a $13.25 Stromboli meal at Alfredo’s Pizza and Restaurant in Scranton, Pennsylvania, she had no idea that the customer was going to include a whopping $3,000 tip as he paid the bill. In an interview with a local media outlet, Mariana expressed shock and gratitude saying, “It really meant a lot to me because everyone’s going through stuff. It really touched my heart. I still can’t believe it. I’m still in shock.”
According to 6ABC Philadelphia, Mariana and the managers of Alfredo’s had their doubts about the legitimacy of the good samaritan’s gesture, and were deliberate to validate it: “We ran his card, everything went through properly and they took his ID and took pictures of everything. So they waited a little bit to make sure it was legit and went through and it ended up being real.”
The story of Eric’s generosity drew attention locally and on social media, where the majority saw the gesture as another footprint of the ‘Tips for Jesus’ movement. The ‘Tips for Jesus’ movement is quite popular for the act of anonymous customers leaving large tips for the waiters or waitresses that served them. The movement gained popularity on social media around 2013 and 2015 when stories of shocking tips started to pop up. Mariana Lambert was moved by the incident that she said she hoped to be able to do the same for someone else one day. However, things have taken an interesting turn since then.
A couple of months after giving the tip, Alfredo’s Pizza cafe claimed that the customer, Eric Smith, was filing a dispute against the card for the tip on his card. Zachary Jacobson, a manager at Alfredo’s, told local news outlet WNEP that they became aware that Eric was disputing the charge when they “received something in the mail”. Zachary was disappointed with the situation. “We thought somebody was actually trying to do a good thing. And then now we are, what, three months later? Not even, and there’s nothing. There’s nothing to show for it at this point.”
The restaurant responded to the mail received by reaching out to Eric via Facebook. According to them, the generous customer soon stopped replying to their messages before they could resolve the issue: “It’s just a little aggravating right now. It’s been causing a lot of nonsense and drama.”
Speaking further on the situation, the manager explained that the restaurant was in a tight spot because Eric said they could sue the restaurant for the $3,000 ‘Tips for Jesus’ gratuity Mariana received. “Unfortunately, we had to file charges through the magistrate’s office because we’re just out of this money at this point. And he told us to sue him. So that’s what we’re going to end up doing, I guess.”
According to Zachary, Eric didn’t have to go through with the ‘Tips for Jesus’ gesture if he was only going to end up filing a dispute on the charge. The manager also added, “I hope that he owns up to his actions and comes forth and does pay this…”
Since word got out about Eric’s decision to take back the tip, it has sparked mixed reactions across the internet. Especially on YouTube where YouTubers have taken to the comment section of 6ABC Philadelphia’s original post about the kind gesture. One YouTuber commented: “Now 3 months later, the business is out of $3,000 because you’re questioning this through your credit card company? This is fraud if I ever saw it. Not good publicity for anyone.”
Social media is full of posts about ‘Tips for Jesus’ gestures. However, none of the examples like those found on the popular ‘Tips for Jesus’ Instagram account have had a plot twist like Eric Smith’s. This has left people wondering and guessing what could have caused the change of heart.