Olive Garden Suggested A Deceptively High Tip On My Receipt…Or Did It?

Raphael recently went out to eat at Olive Garden, the food and service were, he says, “fine.” He was less delighted when he looked at the receipt, though. It provided useful suggested tips for 15%, 18%, and 20%. Only these suggestions weren’t actually 15-20% of his before-tax dinner tab, which is what you’re supposed to base tips on. Or are things different on Planet Darden?

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Raphael snapped a picture of his receipt and sent it to Consumerist. “Tips are supposed to be based on the total amount before taxes, to which a 15% tip on $39.21 is $5.88,” he wrote to us. “Even if I were to tip on the total plus tax of $41.95, it’s still under the suggested 15% tip amount at $6.29.” Did someone make a mistake while setting up the systems, or is Olive Garden out to scam higher tips for its servers?

Before we contacted Darden, Olive Garden’s parent company, we checked their receipt math. Something wasn’t adding up: $6.61 isn’t 15% of $41.95, either. So we wrote back to Raphael. “Did you use any coupons, gift cards, or vouchers?” we asked. “Either they calculated the suggested tip based on your before-coupon total, which would be correct, or these numbers have no basis in reality.” It’s certainly possible to have numbers and prices with no basis in reality: the continuing existence of Target proves that.

That wasn’t the case here, though. Raphael went back to his itemized receipt and noticed that, oh yeah, they had received a free dessert. One of your food items might be comped, but that doesn’t mean that your server didn’t bring it to you and you shouldn’t account for it in your tips. That’s why Olive Garden included it in the tip.

Take it from us: not everyone is out to screw you over. It’s good to be watchful and catch errors or miscalculations when they happen, but also to think critically and figure out and check things out before declaring consumer war.

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  1. Seli says:

    Honestly we usually tip 20% on the overall total, not the pre-tax amount. The less thinking the better, and sometimes they don’t bring back the itemized receipt after running your credit card. I guess this is one reason why we get good service from servers/bartenders that remember us.

  2. SingleMaltGeek says:

    That’s pretty cool of them. You definitely should tip on the full menu price, no matter what kind of comps, coupons, or discounts apply. I don’t usually include tax, but then I start at 20% and round up, and if I get comped something I usually put in an extra dollar or two just as a thank-you.