Olive Garden bends $100 pasta pass rules

In the wake of Olive Garden's highly successful promotion for never-ending pasta, the Italian chain plans to bend the rules of the promotion since it faces what might be called a high-quality problem.

More than 50 of the 1,000 pasta passes are drawing bids on online auction site eBay for multiples of the original $100 purchase price even though the restaurant stipulates on its site that they are "non-transferable and may not be re-sold."

Olive Garden Never Ending Pasta Pass for sale on eBay
Source: eBay

In light of this, the company faces a dilemma: it can either enforce the fine print and risk making some second-hand buyers or sellers mad, or ignore its own rules to avoid alienating customers.

Even though it's clear on Olive Garden's site that the cards aren't allowed to be re-sold, the company plans to flex on this somewhat in the spirit of maintaining good guest relations.

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"The cards are personalized and not transferable; however, hospitality is core to who we are, which is why we'll work with anyone who's purchased a card on eBay to ensure they enjoy Never Ending Pasta Bowl. I'd encourage those guests to reach out to us directly via phone or social media," said Tara Gray, a Darden spokeswoman, by email.

On Monday, the pass promotion drew half a million visitors within the first half hour. At times, the volume was so great, the promotion's site suffered technical glitches.

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For those who failed to snag a pasta pass Monday, Gray mentioned the company will be hosting giveaways during the next couple weeks leading up to the beginning of the promotion.

—By Katie Little