Why You Should Be Careful With Those Table Tablets At Olive Garden

Ziosk tablets are a relatively recent addition to Olive Garden and other dining establishments — the unlimited breadsticks purveyors only started using them in 2015. Along with allowing customers to order food and drinks and pay their bills, these devices also feature games to provide a bit of entertainment to diners. However, one person learned the hard way that there's a fee associated with Ziosk tablets, one that's not readily disclosed to Olive Garden customers. As outlined in a post on Reddit, a diner was flummoxed to find an additional $2.99 added to the bill after dining at the Italian-style restaurant chain.

According to the original poster, the Ziosk does list a fee for playing games on the device, but it's presented "in a very inconspicuous way." The diner then requested that the charge be removed from the bill, a request that Olive Garden readily complied with, but the manager had some challenges determining how exactly to remove the charge. While the fee was eventually eliminated, the diner was left with a bad taste in their mouth. It turns out that they're not alone: On Twitter, numerous people have posted warnings about accidental game purchases — and that's apparently just the beginning of the issues with these tablets.

Other complaints about Ziosk tablets

Hidden fees aren't the only downside to Ziosk devices at Olive Garden. On Reddit, one person found fault with the quality of the games, describing them as "useless and annoying," while another wondered why you can't search the menu to facilitate easier ordering of dessert and other items. Yet another commenter provided a professional perspective, claiming they worked at one of the first establishments to use the machines and had experienced many technical faults. Speaking of tech problems, one Twitter user took to the site to allege that a software glitch caused them to mistakenly give a nearly 200% tip.

Ziosk tablets are apparently bad news for Olive Garden employees, too. A 2018 BuzzFeed News investigation found that servers who received low customer ratings were more likely to be penalized, often financially.

Then there's the matter of cleanliness, a significant factor in any pleasant dining experience. A Redditor describing themselves as a server claimed that Ziosks are only cleaned after the restaurant closes or "if they're absolutely disgusting" in their experience, meaning that everyone who touches them could potentially encounter germs from multiple individuals. Based on the multitude of complaints, one wonders why Olive Garden and other chains use these devices at all.

Who makes money on Ziosk tablets?

Many people on Reddit posit that Olive Garden must be earning a pretty penny from the fees associated with games on Ziosk. Others dispute that claim, stating that all revenue goes straight to Ziosk. One person even claims that Olive Garden may need to pay to have Ziosks in their restaurant, albeit at a very low cost (the person also states that the restaurant may get to use the devices for free).

According to Forbes, none of these claims are entirely accurate, as Ziosk apparently "shares revenue with its restaurant partners" while also charging a monthly fee for subscriptions. How much the company shares with Olive Garden is not fully evident. However, the Ziosk website features revenue growth as one of the benefits dining establishments can enjoy by using its devices. According to Ziosk, establishments can "unlock passive income potential by combining paid premium content and entertainment with strategic upselling at the point of purchase." The logic goes that if customers can easily order menu items from their table, Olive Garden is more likely to experience a boost in revenue. Whether that supposed boost is worth frustrating loyal diners remains to be seen.