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Cancelled reservations at the last minute


davecap
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That's funny because I can't recall even once in my life reserving a table with the words "I give you my solemn pledge, my wife and I will be there at 7:30", usually I just  say that I would like a table for two at 7:30 and the reservationist tells me if that's possible. 

Yes yes, but just because there's no "solemn pledge" it doesn't mean that manners have to go out out the window. It may be "acceptable" to some to simply not turn up, or to cancel too late for the restaurant to fill the booking, but it's hardly exemplary behaviour, especially when a little thoughtfulness would have nipped the issue in the bud.

I'm not accusing you of this, rcianci, you sound altogether civilised, but the fact remains that people do this, think it's okay, and don't spare a thought for what it means for the restaurant or for others who have been turned away. I don't think it's right to shrug your shoulders and say tough shit, if the restaurant doesn't like it they shouldn't offer reservations. Again, that may be the position taken by many, but it's hardly the best possible way the customer could act. Whether it's malicious or not is irrelevant if it has a knock-on effect. Is it too much to ask that individuals think about the effect their actions have, or is that simply irrelevant when dealing with a business? Personally, I think it's important, and even more so when dealing with a small restaurant with limited covers. As I said above, if everyone took that attitude the restaurant wouldn't stay in business for long, and then it's not just the restaurant's problem, it's a problem for everyone who wants to eat there.

Si

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I alway call to cancel a reservation. I always call to confirm one as well. And I stand by my position that I am extending a courtesy. It's a gift, not an obligation,

So doing what you said -- or clearly implied -- you would do is a "gift," not an obligation? I guess the whole "a man's word is his bond" thing is passe, as far as you're concerned.

One assumes that similarly, if the restaurant decides to hold the table you have reserved until you arrive, that too is a gift, and not an obligation on their part. I trust that you follow up with a hand-written thank you note.

Perhaps instead of reservationists, restaurants will begin retaining notary publics and we call all have our reservations signed and stamped and legal obligations clearly spelled out, until such time as people agree to act like grown-ups once again.

That's funny because I can't recall even once in my life reserving a table with the words "I give you my solemn pledge, my wife and I will be there at 7:30", usually I just say that I would like a table for two at 7:30 and the reservationist tells me if that's possible.

Busboy, I apologize if my opinions have made you angry. I think I understand your frustration. Restaurant owners have to extend trust to (and gamble resources on) people they can't control. I get that there's economic fallout when the customer doesn't show, but that is risk the restaurant owner assumes when they agree to take reservations. I understand that there are "serial reservationists" who abuse the system. But people see restaurants as a service and they show up or don't for reasons that have to do with their lives and not yours. Seeing that as malicious just seems pointless, unless the point is to make yourself crazy.

Actually my frustration is that people often seem to have forgotten what common courtesy is -- or perhaps what "class" is -- or appear to expect praise for for doing what was once considered a matter of course. If you tell someone you are going to be at a certain place at a certain time, civility -- if nothing else -- demands that you make an effort to do what you said you would do. The fact that, with your reservation, you displace others who might have as much or more desire to dine at that restaurant makes the obligation modestly more urgent. And, though I am only marginally interested in a restaurant's profits, I do think that considering the money one may be taking out of the pockets of everyone from the busboy to the owner shows a heartening ability to see beyond oneself.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Isn't there a profound difference between expecting praise for exercising common courtesy and getting berated for exercising common courtesy? Because it seems to me that the entire tenor of this thread has completely subverted the original post.

I think it's been hashed over to death that neither side behaved ideally. And I think that it's great that this concept of the implicit two-sided contract has been discussed so animatedly. But really, what is this thread about anymore?

Let's throw in a few more inflated conspiracy theories and innuendoes ("oh, there are facts to this case that no one here knows that would *blow your minds*, I tell you!"). Lets's conspire to change Joe Beef on a dime from a cozy, out-of-the-way-but-worth-the-trip bistro to a 4-star haute cuisine restaurant, the kind of restaurant where children should only be served on a platter and not as a guest at a table, and God help any parent who dares think otherwise. Let's get in one another's faces about how I'm better than you are because I always call to cancel, or I've never dared cancel a reservation, or hey, who needs reservations anyway? Let's propose a severe cancellation fee structure that every restaurant in the Greater Known Universe must adopt, because obviously the whole reservation thing just isn't working out.

Or maybe we can just agree that stuff happens. Customers can behave perfectly, perfectly horrid, or anywhere inbetween. Restaurateurs too.

The end.

Right?

Christopher

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Isn't there a profound difference between expecting praise for exercising common courtesy and getting berated for exercising common courtesy?  Because it seems to me that the entire tenor of this thread has completely subverted the original post.

I think it's been hashed over to death that neither side behaved ideally.  And I think that it's great that this concept of the implicit two-sided contract has been discussed so animatedly.  But really, what is this thread about anymore? 

Let's throw in a few more inflated conspiracy theories and innuendoes ("oh, there are facts to this case that no one here knows that would *blow your minds*, I tell you!").  Lets's conspire to change Joe Beef on a dime from a cozy, out-of-the-way-but-worth-the-trip bistro to a 4-star haute cuisine restaurant, the kind of restaurant where children should only be served on a platter and not as a guest at a table, and God help any parent who dares think otherwise.  Let's get in one another's faces about how I'm better than you are because I always call to cancel, or I've never dared cancel a reservation, or hey, who needs reservations anyway?  Let's propose a severe cancellation fee structure that every restaurant in the Greater Known Universe must adopt, because obviously the whole reservation thing just isn't working out.

Or maybe we can just agree that stuff happens.  Customers can behave perfectly, perfectly horrid, or anywhere inbetween.  Restaurateurs too.

The end.

Right?

Christopher

hallelulia

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Isn't there a profound difference between expecting praise for exercising common courtesy and getting berated for exercising common courtesy?  Because it seems to me that the entire tenor of this thread has completely subverted the original post.

I think it's been hashed over to death that neither side behaved ideally.  And I think that it's great that this concept of the implicit two-sided contract has been discussed so animatedly.  But really, what is this thread about anymore? 

Let's throw in a few more inflated conspiracy theories and innuendoes ("oh, there are facts to this case that no one here knows that would *blow your minds*, I tell you!").  Lets's conspire to change Joe Beef on a dime from a cozy, out-of-the-way-but-worth-the-trip bistro to a 4-star haute cuisine restaurant, the kind of restaurant where children should only be served on a platter and not as a guest at a table, and God help any parent who dares think otherwise.  Let's get in one another's faces about how I'm better than you are because I always call to cancel, or I've never dared cancel a reservation, or hey, who needs reservations anyway?  Let's propose a severe cancellation fee structure that every restaurant in the Greater Known Universe must adopt, because obviously the whole reservation thing just isn't working out.

Or maybe we can just agree that stuff happens.  Customers can behave perfectly, perfectly horrid, or anywhere inbetween.  Restaurateurs too.

The end.

Right?

Christopher

Agreed. I'm done.

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But really, what is this thread about anymore?

Ultimately human nature, I'd say. The 2005 "French Laundry, Is it too late to vent?" rant especially (posted, note, two years after the episode), and others of its genre I've seen for years, demonstrate (if you can see it) a larger picture. People undertake elaborate mental gymnastics (even dozens of postings in the 2005 thread) to rationalize an internal picture casting themselves the injured victim -- and others buy into it. (Else, why would they post?)

Last decade I saw or heard close accounts of half a dozen "road rage" cases that became nearly violent. In each (most observers would say), the enraged person also initiated the problem. A savvy psychologist in a valuable workplace training years ago described "externalizing:" people look everywhere for the cause of a problem, except in the mirror. With restaurants, naive or convenient customer notions help promote that (another example: not knowing how far servers depend on tips -- making a big point of not leaving a penny too much, etc., because "the restaurant" is seemingly a faceless institution out to take us all).

An electronic forum may or may not shine light on human nature but surely it can highlight the human nature of restaurants and elements of two-way respect and understanding (important in other kinds of business too, by the way). For those readers who are interested.

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In case anyone failed -- as I did -- to notice that MaxH was not talking about the main French Laundry discussion, here is the link to the topic to which he is referring.

That thread is so silly. Just recently I had a meal at a local restaurant that, while not quite TFL, was probably in the same league. The food and wine and service was so good that I don't think getting slapped by the maitre'd on the way out would have provoked feelings as strong as the OP displayed TWO YEARS after a single, one sentence, slightly dismissive (not even outright rude) comment. I just can't fathom reacting that strongly, especially if I were in TFL post-meal afterglow. But I guess some people can find a negative to fixate on under ANY circumstances, huh? Wow.

"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)

My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

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dividend, further to your own point: Though you didn't mention the factor, can you also imagine responding in that way if the restaurant's slightly dismissive reaction flowed from your being falsely represented to the restaurant in order to get the reservation?

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