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davecap

Cancelled reservations at the last minute

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...but as far as I am concerned a potential customer who makes a reservation enters into a contract with the establishment.

This comment continues to resonate with me. It's true that when one calls a restaurant (or any other service provider) and reserves time and resources, one has entered into an informal contract.

I agree to show up and receive your service. You agree to hold that time and space and resource for me and not grant it to anyone else. I can count on it and plan accordingly, and so can you.

I wonder how davecap would have reacted had the contract been broken the other way around.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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...but as far as I am concerned a potential customer who makes a reservation enters into a contract with the establishment.

This comment continues to resonate with me. It's true that when one calls a restaurant (or any other service provider) and reserves time and resources, one has entered into an informal contract.

I agree to show up and receive your service. You agree to hold that time and space and resource for me and not grant it to anyone else. I can count on it and plan accordingly, and so can you.

I wonder how davecap would have reacted had the contract been broken the other way around.

I have had, I thought, reservations only to discover that the restaurant was actually closed the evening I expected to dine there. Once was in Venice and the second time was in Peru, when the restaurant in question was closed for a wedding. In neither case did the restaurant let me know. In the case of the Venice restaurant, we discovered the situation when we showed up for dinner and in Peru, we discovered it by calling to let the restaurant know that our flight was running late and to push the reservation back. This is a good reason to call and confirm resrvations for the benefit of the customer! Needless to say I wasn't happy in either case.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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Yes, I agree that the guy on the phone was rude and he could've handled it differently. However, Why should we treat restaurants any different than other service sectors? Many people who posted here seem to believe that old and tired adage 'The customer is always right'. That is just not the case. LEt's take an example, namely Hotels! try and cancel a hotel res. the same day and see what's going to happen. It does not matter if they have 'walkins' up the wazoo. They will charge you money for it. Saying that the res. was cancelled at the exact time it was made for is really not doing the restaurant or hotel or dr office a favor. Restaurants operate on very small margins and whether we like to believe it or not, sometimes losing one table too many can mean the difference between turning a small profit or incurring a loss.

If this same situation happened to me (I do have 2 kids under the age of 4) I would not like it. I would not like being lectured to, but on the other hand I will completely understand that I was certainly at fault as well.

That is why many high end places actually do take a cc # and bill the card if you do not cancel early enough or just not show. In this particular case the restaurant owners should either make it clear ahead of time that this will happen and take a cc or simply not complain about it to the customer if a cancellation happens. I firmly agree with one of the previous posters, neither the customer nor the restaurant in this case was totally 'clean'.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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What! Joe Beef is fine dining. And the food is quite something.

This restaurant is about as far from the usual hi-my-name-is-Steve-and-I'll-be-your-waiter-tonight dining as I've ever experienced. And nobody in town has better oysters.

Sorry Lesley, I didn't make myself clear. I only meant that Joe Beef is not a "white tablecloth" sort of place. Someone upthread used the term "intimate fine dining" and it called that picture into my head. I wanted to convey how Joe Beef differs from that image. The ambiance is quite casual. The mood is sometimes like a party. I wasn't disparaging the food at all. I had, in fact, one of the better meals of my life there last September.


Edited by rcianci (log)

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Has anyone else been treated this way by other restaurants?

Yeah, that's not the right way to manage that sort of thing. The right way, in my humble opinion, is to overbook by 15% and thank your guest for taking the time to call and cancel. Anticipation on one side and hospitality on the other, that's how the restaurant world works.

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Add me to the list of people who feel the restaurant worker was rude and that anyone and everyone has a right to cancel last minute if necessary...not just parents with young children. Like a waiter getting stiffed on a tip, it's a risk a restaurant owner takes and sometimes cannot be helped. To be fair, I work in an extremely busy place where no shows or cancellations on weekend nights usually cause relief since walk in business is always very strong.

I question the use of collecting a CC number and charging a guest for a no show. Can a restaurant get away with this practice? if it happened to me I would dispute the charge and since they don't have a signature or evidence of my swiped card I imagine I would easily win the dispute.

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Has anyone else been treated this way by other restaurants?

Yeah, that's not the right way to manage that sort of thing. The right way, in my humble opinion, is to overbook by 15% and thank your guest for taking the time to call and cancel. Anticipation on one side and hospitality on the other, that's how the restaurant world works.

So what happens on the night when 100% of your bookings turn up and your 15% short of space.Then we will have another thread about how you had a contract with the resturant which they broke.Ever feel like this is a no win situation?

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Add me to the list of people who feel the restaurant worker was rude and that anyone and everyone has a right to cancel last minute if necessary...not just parents with young children.  Like a waiter getting stiffed on a tip,  it's a risk a restaurant owner takes and sometimes cannot be helped.  To be fair,  I work in an extremely busy place where no shows or cancellations on weekend nights usually cause relief since walk in business is always very strong.

I question the use of collecting a CC number and charging a guest for a no show.  Can a restaurant get away with this practice?  if it happened to me I would dispute the charge and since they don't have a signature or evidence of my swiped card I imagine I would easily win the dispute.

As a comparison,

I've been on many a dive charter that took a CC when reserving a spot on the boat. There have been times I thought the weather was iffy and I wanted to cancel that morning after checking the weather station but knowing my CC would be charged I have gone on a couple really nice dives and the weather turned out not as bad as I thought. Most operators will cancel the trip if they feel it is dangerous but sometimes you have to weigh out how much rocking and rolling you want to endure.

I think a restaurant has the same right to take a CC for a reservation. It is the patron that has the right to not book should they find this practice unpalatable. I know some restaurants are so busy it doesn't really hurt but for some really small places it can mean the difference between profit and loss if they get a few no shows. I guess I would rather have a restaurant take a CC than reserve a table in a restaurant that has no concept of the reservation. I have been at a couple of places with reservations and waited 30 min to over an hour to be seated.

I know it is very common although in poor taste, for people to book reservations and no show and not call, or book at several places and then at the last minute choose where they want to dine. Yes a restaurant has to accept some risk but there has to be limits on both sides. So if the owner felt the need to chastise someone that cancelled at the last moment the patron has the right to not go back if offended. I see no foul as we each have to draw the line at what we think is right.

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the restaurant i work for confirms ALL reservations and politely requests credit card information for parties of 5 or more (and all parties on days such as valentine's day, new year's eve, restaurant week, etc.). if a guest objects we usually explain that we don't charge the card unless the guest doesn't show up without calling to let us know, but if it makes them uncomfortable we would just ask them to call if they couldn't make it. with this policy, we very rarely have "no-shows", and the ones that don't show with no call are about 95% ones that didn't give a cc # in the first place.

it is important to note that this policy protects the guests who would like to dine with us and can't because we are fully committed (as well as protecting the restaurant against the revenue lost if the table isn't filled). On our busier shifts we keep a waiting list; in the case of the original post, an hour's notice would have helped the restaurant recoup the cost of losing the table and also helped a group of diners get a reso that wouldn't have that opportunity if the guest calls at the time of the reso.

finally i think it should be noted that even though if you bought a ticket to a show and decided not to go at the last minute you would not get a refund, and even though you can't go into best buy and pick out a $2000 HDTV and walk out with the tv after leaving $1500 at the counter but many people leave 10% tips, don't tip on wine, taxes, etc, and even though people make resos at several restaurants knowing they will only fulfill one of them, this is the service industry and our job is to be HOSPITABLE, which means giving people the benefit of the doubt and assuming that they either had a good reason to do what they did or that they don't fully understand the impact that their actions had on the restaurant and/or other diners. either way they didn't intentionally try to do any harm and don't deserve any malice. the professional thing to do is to do the best you can to avoid these situations and be gracious and hospitable when they arise.


Sandy Levine
The Oakland Art Novelty Company

sandy@TheOaklandFerndale.com www.TheOaklandFerndale.com

www.facebook.com/ArtNoveltyCompany twitter: @theoakland

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i would also like to add that since i started at this restaurant we have NEVER charged a credit card due to a no-show.

incidentally i read the following statement at the bottom of the menu of a special chef's dinner (included in the newsletter i received TODAY of one of the most expensive and acclaimed restaurants in the detroit area):

"The last date for cancellation or reduction of reservations without charge is March 17th, and it is the obligation of anyone wishing to cancel or reduce a reservation to inform us by that date, not the following week and not when receiving a call to remind you of your reservation."

thought that was pretty humorous in light of this thread


Sandy Levine
The Oakland Art Novelty Company

sandy@TheOaklandFerndale.com www.TheOaklandFerndale.com

www.facebook.com/ArtNoveltyCompany twitter: @theoakland

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Try the reverse: you show up with a reservation, be told that they over-booked and gave your table to another party. Let's see how you handle that...

Making a reservation is making a contract; violating a contract has consequences...

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...Making a reservation is making a contract; violating a contract has consequences...

No. Having a client break a reservation is not a violation of a contract, and it does not call for rudeness. Show us all where the contract laws state that rudeness is an acceptable consequence of anything. Rudeness is plainly negative and, moreover, selfish.

By the way, if you try to take someone to court for breaking a reservation, you will lose. There is no contract, it is legally considered a "courtesy of the business", to make a reservation for them. You do not have to save the reservation, either, but good luck, staying in the service business that is a restaurant, if you don't make an attempt. Unless a deposit is given, or a paper contract is sgned, there is no contract. It is all conjecture.

This thread is making me feel very disappointed in so many of us. How do we all feel so entitled to be rude to customers? They are why we are in business. If you want to succeed at the public end of things, you need to be pleasant. And that means that you need to WANT to be pleasant, too, or you will be miserable. And, really, that's a waste.


More Than Salt

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Some of the stuff I am reading here is absolutely BIZARRE.

Things happen and reservations get cancelled. It's part of doing business.

If a restaurant can't handle the occasional cancellation then the owners should try a different profession.

A restaurant employee who lectures a person who calls to cancel a reservation is unacceptable and would be fired at once from my restaurant. A person who takes the time to make a reservation at your restaurant could very potentially be a repeat future client even if they have to cancel a reservation.

The ONLY acceptable thing for this employee to have done would be to say sorry you are not able to make it, perhaps we will see you sometime in the future.

Whining about the loss of the table and loss of revenue is of NO concern to the client and it is completely unprofessional to even mention it.

Finally, BRAVO

Amen! Things happen! People get sick, kids get cranky, planes are delayed. My standard line is, 'thank you for letting us know, and we hope to see you again soon!'

A lot of restaurants do overbook...it's all kind of a nerve-wracking process, especially on a busy night. Trying to fit everyone in, seat a few walk-ins, hoping that large party that sounded kind of strange on the phone actually shows up so the server who was going to get that table doesn't bludgeon you with a hole-punch...


Edited by phlox (log)

"An appetite for destruction, but I scrape the plate."

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I continue to maintain my original position, that scheduling a 3-year-old for a good restaurant after a long day of cold-weather touring was a bit optimistic, and that not noticing the imminent breakdown until virtually the moment of the reservation was, as has been said of other actions, the triumph of hope over experience (and I speak as a loving dad, not one of those kidz-free folks). I can see why the proprietor of a small place that lost a table at the last minute would be pissed off, though I do not defend what was clearly an unprofessional and inhospitable response.

But, as approbation is being heaped upon the head of Mr. Beef, let me ask this: Is there a history of him being a jerk? Did he make one mistake or is he driving customers away in droves with wild outbursts and sneering phone conversations? Are any of us perfect? And, more to the point, isn't it better to have a few restaurants with personality and passion -- even if it sometimes goes bad -- than to be subject to the bland friendliness that is the hallmark of the modern restaurant trade?

There are a couple of restaurants here in DC where the owners/chefs are known to have "personalities." Not surprisingly, their restaurants do, as well, and I am much pleased to have them around, even if I personally had a verbal fisticuffs with one owner (at a previous establishment) and the other chef goes off on bizarre rants with local newspaper columnists and posters on other food boards.

It's good that some people can go decades in the restaurant business without losing their cool. I couldn't. But the -- until a pattern of customer abuse is established -- I think the self-righteousness over a single incident is a little cloying.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I am not sure who on this thread ever said that rudeness is ok. I certainly did not. The issue some of us are arguing here is the complete belief of some posters that the customer is infallible. that they have the RIGHT to cancel and reschedule whenever they want regardless of what their actions' impacts are on the restaurant. It is rude to make a reservation and cancel on the last minute or not show up for no good reason. And we all agree that rudeness is not good. Is it breaking a contract? well sort of, a verbal and civil one. I say I will be there at 7 and the restaurant owner says he will be there to cook for me.

We might not like it if a restaurant chooses to enforce their charge the CC rule, but ultimately it is their right and we agreed to that 'contract' when we made the res. and gave them our phone number.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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I continue to maintain my original position, that scheduling a 3-year-old for a good restaurant after a long day of cold-weather touring was a bit optimistic, and that not noticing the imminent breakdown until virtually the moment of the reservation was, as has been said of other actions, the triumph of hope over experience (and I speak as a loving dad, not one of those kidz-free folks).  I can see why the proprietor of a small place that lost a table at the last minute would be pissed off, though I do not defend what was clearly an unprofessional and inhospitable response.

But, as approbation is being heaped upon the head of Mr. Beef, let me ask this:  Is there a history of him being a jerk?  Did he make one mistake or is he driving customers away in droves with wild outbursts and sneering phone conversations?  Are any of us perfect?  And, more to the point, isn't it better to have a few restaurants with personality and passion -- even if it sometimes goes bad -- than to be subject to the bland friendliness that is the hallmark of the modern restaurant trade?

There are a couple of restaurants here in DC where the owners/chefs are known to have "personalities." Not surprisingly, their restaurants do, as well, and I am much pleased to have them around, even if I personally had a verbal fisticuffs with one owner (at a previous establishment) and the other chef goes off on bizarre rants with local newspaper columnists and posters on other food boards.

It's good that some people can go decades in the restaurant business without losing their cool.  I couldn't. But the -- until a pattern of customer abuse is established -- I think the self-righteousness over a single incident is a little cloying.

Well put and could not agree more.


Robert R

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... And, more to the point, isn't it better to have a few restaurants with personality and passion -- even if it sometimes goes bad -- than to be subject to the bland friendliness that is the hallmark of the modern restaurant trade?...

There are a couple of restaurants here in DC where the owners/chefs are known to have "personalities." Not surprisingly, their restaurants do, as well, and I am much pleased to have them around, even if I personally had a verbal fisticuffs with one owner (at a previous establishment) and the other chef goes off on bizarre rants with local newspaper columnists and posters on other food boards...

Firstly, I take great pleasure in being friendly, and EXTREMELY nice, on the job. And, I can guide anyone to that place, while they maintain their own identity, pride AND passion. All they need to bring to the table is a desire to succeed at their passion, and a willingness to work at their passion, I can teach anyone the rest. And it doesn't involve any 'bland friendliness', either. That's a falsity put out by people who are too lazy to do the work involved in learning how to be nice. It doesn't come naturally to many people, we are all chained to our own personal histories, and that brings a lot of ego to the room. And egos are easily bruised. That is what makes for 'verbal fisticuffs'.

Finally, A) No one on this planet would ever accuse ME of 'bland friendliness', and B) I have QUITE a "personality", like it or not, you can't disagree!

I maintain that all of that matters not one whit, when you are speaking to a customer. Nothing matters but your business, and it's reputation. If you lose your temper, YOU lose.


More Than Salt

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... And, more to the point, isn't it better to have a few restaurants with personality and passion -- even if it sometimes goes bad -- than to be subject to the bland friendliness that is the hallmark of the modern restaurant trade?...

There are a couple of restaurants here in DC where the owners/chefs are known to have "personalities." Not surprisingly, their restaurants do, as well, and I am much pleased to have them around, even if I personally had a verbal fisticuffs with one owner (at a previous establishment) and the other chef goes off on bizarre rants with local newspaper columnists and posters on other food boards...

Firstly, I take great pleasure in being friendly, and EXTREMELY nice, on the job. And, I can guide anyone to that place, while they maintain their own identity, pride AND passion. All they need to bring to the table is a desire to succeed at their passion, and a willingness to work at their passion, I can teach anyone the rest. And it doesn't involve any 'bland friendliness', either. That's a falsity put out by people who are too lazy to do the work involved in learning how to be nice. It doesn't come naturally to many people, we are all chained to our own personal histories, and that brings a lot of ego to the room. And egos are easily bruised. That is what makes for 'verbal fisticuffs'.

Finally, A) No one on this planet would ever accuse ME of 'bland friendliness', and B) I have QUITE a "personality", like it or not, you can't disagree!

I maintain that all of that matters not one whit, when you are speaking to a customer. Nothing matters but your business, and it's reputation. If you lose your temper, YOU lose.

I'm not disagreeing. I'm just saying that it seems like there's a lot of finger-wagging going on over a single incident in which the proprietor was understandably irritated.

It's nice that you're nice without being bland. But I think a restauranteur has every right to run his or her place exactly as they see fit, and if they want to give themselves the right to speak harshly to someone -- well, the market will determine whether their virtues overbalance their failings and the restaurant stays in business.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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But I think a restauranteur has every right to run his or her place exactly as they see fit, and if they want to give themselves the right to speak harshly to someone -- well, the market will determine whether their virtues overbalance their failings and the restaurant stays in business.

Finally!

It amazes me that people here think that the owner (who answered the phone) doesn't have the right to run his own damm business the way he likes.

It's the reason most of us start our own business, in fact in my case, the only reason.

I am sure that Dave is looking at this thread and laughing his ass off.

I know I would be if I was him.

"Gee, I might have been rude to the guy but look at all the free advertising I just got."

No such thing as bad press.


"Why then, the world is mine oyster, which I with sword, shall open."

William Shakespeare-The Merry Wives of Windsor

"An oyster is a French Kiss that goes all the way." Rodney Clark

"Oyster shuckers are the rock stars of the shellfish industry." Jason Woodside

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Eleanor Clark

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we work in nyc, probably the toughest market in the country.

we always remain polite and accomodating when people call to cancel even at the last minute. we understand that plans change, things happen.

we also systematically call our no-shows within the first quarter hour and politely remind them we are still holding a table for four in their name. very often people hang up on us. welcome to gotham.

the no-show rate can go up to over 20 per cent...recent record was 33 per cent.

so it seems to me that overbooking becomes an economic necessity for any restaurateur operating at our level, 2 stars ny times. managing overbooking is not a problem IF you know your job. never had any problems, a little hors d'oeuvre while waiting at thebar works wonder.

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we work in nyc, probably the toughest market in the country.

we always remain polite and accomodating when people call to cancel even at the last minute. we understand that plans change, things happen.

we also systematically call our no-shows within the first quarter hour and politely remind them we are still holding a table for four in their name. very often people hang up on us. welcome to gotham.

the no-show rate can go up to over 20 per cent...recent record was 33 per cent.

so it seems to me that overbooking becomes an economic necessity for any restaurateur operating at our level, 2 stars ny times. managing overbooking is not a problem IF you know your job. never had any problems, a little hors d'oeuvre while waiting at thebar works wonder.

Oh, you New Yorkers arealways whining about how tough you have it. When you're not bragging about how good you have it. :wink:

Anyway, that overbooking thing plays out a lot different in a smaller spot (which I gather Joe Beef is) than in a larger spot (which so many NYC places seem to be). If you're running 12 tables, overbook two and everyone shows, you have a problem. If you don't, and two tables no-show, you have a problem, as well.

If you're running 40 tables, statistically speaking the overbook/no show thing is more likely to even out on any given night and you have a little more freedom to work your customers as you see fit.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Try cancelling a hotel reservation at the last minute; in fact, try to make a room reservation without a credit card.

I would not be "rude' to a customer myself, but I would not run a small high-end place without a CC payment penalty for a last minute no-show. At a larger place, I would count on walk-in customers to account for no-shows...


Edited by BigboyDan (log)

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Last I looked Joe Beef had 25 seats (not tables, seats). There are two seatings a night. There is an outdoor terrace, but last I heard it was only for private parties and it's closed this time of year anyway.


Edited by rcianci (log)

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(1) this isn't the place to bring a three year old in the middle of service on a Saturday night, end of story.. I'm troubled that people with children feel that they have the right to bring even their well behaved child with them anywhere, but there is a time and place for appropriate decisions, and this isn't one of them.. bring the child to a place that is likely to have other children present or that is welcoming to young children and will make menu accomodations for them or hire a babysitter, end of story..

(2) calling at the last minute significantly hurts a place this small, with two scheduled seatings a night, with daily menus, especially when they're closed on the following day and have a habit of not accepting walk-ins..

(3) he was wrong to give you grief when you called to cancel but that's the nice thing about owning a place - you can tell someone to f**k off when they've upset you as much as you obviously did in this instance.. it's not a place for everyone and they don't make excuses for it..

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But I think a restauranteur has every right to run his or her place exactly as they see fit, and if they want to give themselves the right to speak harshly to someone -- well, the market will determine whether their virtues overbalance their failings and the restaurant stays in business.

Finally!

It amazes me that people here think that the owner (who answered the phone) doesn't have the right to run his own damm business the way he likes.

It's the reason most of us start our own business, in fact in my case, the only reason.

I am sure that Dave is looking at this thread and laughing his ass off.

I know I would be if I was him.

"Gee, I might have been rude to the guy but look at all the free advertising I just got."

No such thing as bad press.

I'm not sure that owning a restaurant gives you the right to be rude to customers any more than being able to afford your prices gives customers the right to be rude to you.

If a chef/owner was rude to me, I don't think I'd go back to his or her restaurant no matter how good the food.


Edited by rcianci (log)

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