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Olive Garden servers have problem with tabletop ordering

An Olive Garden employee in Victor says he’s getting shorted on his tips thanks to a miscalibration of the restaurant’s new order-at-the-table tablets — and company officials acknowledged it’s also happening at hundreds of its restaurants across the country.

Joseph Richardson, 38, of Honeoye Falls said he noticed the problem last week when a customer pointed out that he tried to leave a 20 percent tip on a roughly $40 check (about $8), but the amount that was created by the tablet for the 20 percent tip option was only about $5.77.

On Tuesday, the tablets — called Ziosks — at two of Richardson’s three tables were also ringing up the tips incorrectly, shorting him 50 cents on each check regardless of its amount.

Richardson said he brought his concerns to his general manager before Richardson left for a trip last week, and he was told the issue would be passed on to corporate headquarters. He said his coworkers are experiencing the same problem, but several have told him they either don’t care or don’t want to complain for fear of reprisal.

A manager at the Victor Olive Garden restaurant deferred questions to the corporate office of Darden Restaurants in Orlando, Fla., of which the Olive Garden chain is a division.

Rich Jeffers, a spokesman for Darden, said the company is aware of the “minor” programming issue and the company is working to fix it.

Specifically, he said, any “price modifier” on a person’s bill — an upcharge to a regular menu item, for example — is being calculated into the final bill, but is not being calculated into the tip. If an upcharge is $1, and a person selects the 20 percent tip option on the Ziosk when checking out, for example, the server would be shorted 20 cents.

Put another way, if a $45 bill included $5 in upcharges, the tip would be calculated on $40. On a 20 percent tip, that would short the server $1.

Jeffers said the problem is being addressed across the country at the restaurants that have installed the Ziosks, about half of the chain’s 845 restaurants.

The tabletop mini-kiosks allow customers to pay at the table and order drinks, appetizers and desserts on seven-inch touch screens, and to pay at the table. Servers such as Richardson still take entree orders.

Richardson, who said he has worked at the restaurant about two years, said he worries that he and other servers have been shorted since the restaurant installed the tablets at the tables about five weeks ago and the miscalculations have just gone unnoticed. He estimated he might have lost between $250 and $300 in that time.

“It’s not a lot of money, but for people who make their money from tips, it’s part of our livelihood,” he said. “If Olive Garden was losing money on their bills, they would fix this problem really quick.”

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