Olive Garden Receipt Sparks Debate on Reddit: Good Deed or Marketing Hoax?

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A photo of an Olive Garden receipt - for a free meal given to a family shaken up by a house fire - was shared on Reddit as a simple act of human kindness.

Now it's been picked apart and accused of being a sham.

Olive Garden Receipt

"My brother, wife, 3-year-old daughter and I went to Olive Garden after a recent house fire at my parents," Reddit user Tanek42 wrote on the site Tuesday.

"When the manager asked how everything was, my daughter said, 'Grandpa's house burned down.' We talked for a bit. Here's how we received the bill."

Total balance due: $0.00.

While a few people responded with kudos for the OG manager, many more were skeptical, alleging that this was actually some viral marketing effort.

"Why does it say "Duplicate Receipt - Stored Order"? Is this an indication that this is a copy of the receipt, and it may be the manager posting this?" asked one user.

Others pointed out that the OG logo was a little too perfectly placed.

Before long, the man, or "OP [original poster]" stood accused of working for a company called Grey Worldwide, which is OG's advertising agency.

The image, and the outrage, quickly went viral, prompting Olive Garden's parent company, Darden, to defend itself and its customers from hoax theories.

"The receipt is real and was posted by the guests, not by anyone at Olive Garden or Darden," said Tara Gray, communication manager for Darden.

"We are always looking for ways to surprise and delight guests, and this was one of the ways the Olive Garden team in Vernon Hills, Ill., did that last weekend."

Darden's marketing firm, Grey Worldwide, also denied any role in it.

"Grey had absolutely nothing to do with post concerning Olive Garden," a representative told Consumerist. "It would be against our code of conduct."

The original poster later chimed in with more details: "At Olive Garden, we were talking to my brother about the fire when the manager stopped by," he explained.

"He asked how everything was and my daughter blurted out 'Grandpa's house burned down'. He asked what she just said, and she repeated herself."

"He asked a couple of details like where it happened, when, and if my family had somewhere to stay. I did not expect the bill to get paid, but it was very nice of them!"

He laughs at users who still say he's a marketing maven.

"I wish they paid me!" he posted Wednesday afternoon. "I do love Olive Garden, but I don't work for them. My story is real, sorry to disappoint the mob!"

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reddit is full of cynical, negative readers. Not surprised they can't fathom a selfless kind act.

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@ Kanye W

I worked for chili's in wichita ks and my manager did the same thing for customers who just had house fire. There are a lot of people with compassion left on this planet!!!!!!!!!

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Restaurants always give duplicate receipts. The original is for the restaurant and the duplicate is for the customer. Just because they gave them a free meal, I'm sure they still printed out multiple receipts so the customer could tip the waiter. Stop being so damn skeptical, there are good people out in the universe...

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Ten years ago, my father was in a bad accident that kept him in the hospital for days. My brother happened to work at Olive Garden at the time. His manager brought my parents free food every evening in the hospital because he wanted to help. People are too skeptical.

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