When we go to a restaurant and pay for our meal with a credit or debit card, the routine is pretty fixed: the server takes the card, carries it over to the nearest Point of Sale machine, slides it to apply authorization to our specific check, and brings the card back to the table with a slip that we can use to write in the amount that we wish to tip. From there, the server collects the slip after we’ve left, and then manually inputs it into the computer either immediately or at the end of their shift.
In some restaurants, however, that routine is changing, according to an article written by Harley Peterson from the Business Insider. That change is coming with some important challenges, as we saw recently in an Olive Garden restaurant in New York Small computers or tablets are popping up at tables to do anything from allowing the guest to peruse the menu, to order, or even to pay and tip the server.
A guest did just that while dining at the Olive Garden in Victor, New York. The guest input into the tablet that he wished to leave the server a 20% tip on a $40 check. That would be about an $8 tip, possibly a little less depending on tax (the percentage amount is typically calculated using the pre-tax total). In this particular case, the tablet computed the tip to be $5.77, well below what it should have been, even with a variation for tax.
The server has said that the issue has been ongoing, affecting him to his coworkers since the tablets were installed five weeks ago. Olive Garden, and its parent company, Orlando-based Darden Restaurants, claim that the error was caused by a glitch in the tablet software. The chain also claims that it is only affecting about half of Olive Garden restaurants, and even then, only about one percent of transactions are affected.
We cannot assume what is at play here, it is entirely possible that the recurring error is a glitch in an otherwise easily programmed software. However, when dining in a restaurant with this technology, it is important to review all the information of your transaction and make sure that the tip that is being logged is the tip that we input into the tablet.
Servers and bartenders that have encountered this problem may have a different take on the cause. Tip-skimming is not a new technique used by employers to pocket more money than they should, often at the expense of the servers and bartenders whose tipped wage is already below the state minimum. Tip-skimming is just another reason to keep a watchful eye out on the technology we use to pay our servers.
If you are a Florida server or bartender, and you’ve had an experience similar to what happened in the New York Olive Garden, and you suspect it might not have simply been “a glitch,” we encourage you to give us a call.
This blog was inspired by the article "Olive Garden Servers are getting shorted on tips- and it's the restauran's fault" written by Hayley Peterson on August 31, 2015. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/olive-garden-servers-getting-shorted-162716202.html