$100 Olive Garden Pasta Pass Sparks Resale Headache

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Credit: eBayOlive Garden Never Ending Pasta Passes for sale on eBay.
By Katie Little | @KatieLittle

In the wake of Olive Garden's highly successful promotion for never-ending pasta, the Italian chain 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 (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."

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 bend the rules and not risk alienating customers.

So far, the company has chosen the first path.

"We're working with eBay to notify both buyers and sellers that the Never Ending Pasta Passes are non-transferable and may not be resold," said Tara Gray, a Darden (DRI) 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.

At least one seller has been transparent about the potential issue that buyers face.

User rpskoolinu, who listed two passes for $500, wrote "If the cards are marked with our name and not able to be used, I will issue a full refund. I don't know if they simply have to state the non-transferable for legal reasons or if they will implement."

Many of the other listings for the pass fail to mention that they can't be re-sold.

One eBay reseller that CNBC emailed planned to get around the reselling ban by leaving one of the fields for a name for the pass blank.

"Yeah I don't know exactly. There isn't a name on the card. There is just my billing info. I can always tell them I bought it for the person who got it on ebay. How are they going to tell me I didn't?" he wrote in a message.

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.

Best Days to Snag New Markdowns at 7 Big Retailers
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$100 Olive Garden Pasta Pass Sparks Resale Headache

 Go on Thursday. Why? The markdowns are required to be completed by the time the store opens on Thursday morning, James said.

Monday and Tuesday is best at CVS (CVS), he said. Markdowns are started on Sundays, so if you want to get a chance to see the bulk of what's been price-chopped, waiting beyond Monday or Tuesday could cost you a shot at a great deal.
Sunday is the first day or markdowns, James said, but coming to the store on a Monday you'll typically find a less crowded a store and will see the latest markdowns. And, he said, don't forget the 40 percent off one item coupons Jo-Ann always puts out.
The second and fourth Saturday of every month are the two days of the month when Kohl's (KSS) has the biggest markdowns.
Macy's (M) goal is have all the markdowns ready for Tuesday's store opening, James said he was told by a women's apparel manager. That means get to the store on Tuesday morning, if you can.
Wednesday is the day to expect to best shot at markdowns, James said. Markdowns and clearance rack additions are typically done on Tuesday nights or early Wednesday, he said.
Markdowns at Target (TGT) are more complex than you'll find at most retailers because they happen on different days for different departments. Monday, for example, expect new markdowns in electronics, accessories, kids clothes, books, baby products and stationery. On Tuesday, markdowns will be in domestics, women's clothing, pets and food items.
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