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david goodfellow

Restaurant cancellation policies.

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I booked a meal recently at a restaurant that we have dined at before. I was asked to confirm by credit card.

This happens to be a pet hate of mine and I have boycotted some restaurants because of this policy. I very nearly cancelled the booking there and then but decided to go ahead with it because it was for the following day.

Having said that, I am slowly coming around to a kind of acceptance since seeing it from the other side so to speak.

Lumiere who I reviewed on here a couple of weeks ago had a table of ten cancel on a Saturday night at a quarter to eight on the night, just because one of the party was ill.

I think that was despicable of them. I also think its despicable, the fairly common practice in London where some low life, multiple book and decide at the last minute where to eat and don't inform anyone, resulting in valuable revenue being lost to the restaurant as a result.

As with everything else, the tiny minority spoil it for the rest of us.

What do you think?

Really appreciate comments from the trade too.

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Lumiere who I reviewed on here a couple of weeks ago had a table of ten cancel on a Saturday night at a quarter to eight on the night, just because one of the party was ill.

I think that was despicable of them. I also think its despicable, the fairly common practice in London where some low life, multiple book and decide at the last minute where to eat and don't inform anyone, resulting in valuable revenue being lost to the restaurant as a result.

As with everything else, the tiny minority spoil it for the rest of us.

Standing ovation. Especially for small restaurants no-shows are a killer. It's criminal to do it deliberately.

On the other hand, now from the point of view of the customer, I think restaurateurs should (1) make an effort to tell the genuine from the bastard when this is possible, and (2) not implement penal cancellation policies: if the aim is to deter deliberate double bookings, or light-hearted ones, a small fee is enough. Just to pluck a number from the air, £90 is unjustified.

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If you want to prebook seats for the theatre or cinema you pay in full in advance, why should restaurants be expected to offer free reservations?

I dispare of people who don't show up or cancel at far to short notice. This must drive some very talented chefs and restaurant owners to just shut up shop, you cannot make a living on noshows. I wonder if the UK is particularly bad for folks booking and not turning up, we generally do not seem to have enough respect for reastaurant staff.

Lapin

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I'm only slightly annoyed by restaurants asking for my credit card to hold the reservation. It's an extra step that I would rather not go through. That being said, I understand why they do it and if that is what they need to do to prevent no shows, then I am okay giving it to them.

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I hate them.

Just past experience dictates we protect ourselves.

Earlier when we first opened we never did a credit card/cancellation policy and we lost nearly 11k in no shows in a year. Crippled us, and unfortunately has made us take the precaution..


Edited by Brownbear (log)

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I hate them.

Just past experience dictates we protect ourselves.

Earlier when we first opened we never did a credit card/cancellation policy and we lost nearly 11k in no shows in a year. Crippled us, and unfortunately has made us take the precaution..

Sat, thanks for the insight.

I've been in business for decades and also hate people p-ssing me about and believe you me, we have had a huge amount.

So I know where you are coming from.

As stated above, I am very slowly coming around to giving credit card details out but I just don't get your 72 hour, £90 pp charge. Thats why we have only been the once to your place.

I really enjoyed your food on our visit, but I have this recurring vision of serious illness, or the A50 being closed off and having to pay £180 for our table a deux, with no benefit.

As a point of interest I follow you on twitter and notice that you had a cancellation last week? and sold it on in what, literally two minutes.

Is 72 hours really necessary?

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David - Interesting point about the notice period. I had a similar thing with the Fat Duck, but we were just going from a table of 4 to 3. I think I gave them 48hrs notice but it still wasn't enough to avoid the cover charge

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David - Interesting point about the notice period. I had a similar thing with the Fat Duck, but we were just going from a table of 4 to 3. I think I gave them 48hrs notice but it still wasn't enough to avoid the cover charge

Oliver, hope you don't mind me asking. How much was that.

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What about all the people who don't show for a doctor/dentist visit. Should they be charged? I'd wager its a larger number than the resto no-show rate.

Cost of doing business.

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Its a real difficultly, you dammed if you do, dammed if you don't have a cancellation policy.

We have had more last minute cancellations/ no shows this year than any other time in the previous seven years of trading. Some of the excuses are just pathetic, I won't bore you!

But from a restaurants point of view, what do you do? At the end of the day if a restaurant charges a credit card then the said customer can claim there has been an unauthorised payment taken. Its only the big boys that can really get away with such policies it seems. We on the other hand are a tiny, sixteen cover neighbourhood restaurant. Its absolutely killed us this year, ie week before last twenty two cancellations between two parties. Ok we secured small deposits etc but because one party cancelled so late for a Friday night, we ended shutting for the night. And folk wonder why chefs etc can get so pissed off with the bullshit, politics etc etc of trying to run a restaurant and ultimately make people happy. There have been times when you do think is it really worth it all...it is a constant test of resolve, which can be very distracting and distressing.

I sometimes wonder just how more difficult will get to secure reservations for a night out at a restaurant, as unfortunately there is an ever increasing 'couldn't give a damm attitude' out there from customers. :sad:

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Many of the doctors and my kid's orthodontist charge for now-shows or lates.

I have to charge reservations, or I'd be bankrupt. Not only for dining, but for custom cake orders. There's only so many times that you make a custom cake with the inscription "Lordy, Lordy, Gordy's 40" on it, and then wait like an eejit for the one who ordred it to never pick it up an pay for it.e

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The worst no shows or cancellations are regulars - we have it regularlly and no matter what steps we take to diplomatically avoid the situation, it is quite difficult to a)enforce any cancellation charge we might have and b) not piss them off by pointing out a no show is rather annoying when they want to book the following week. This is particularly the case when we run events that are sold in advance, with money taken, much like a theatre ticket. Our guest speaker is booked at a cost, special wine delivered that might not be on the wine list to go with a specific menu of expensive ingredients. Then 5 hours before they call, say they are ill and that the whole table of 6 can't come, please refund the money. And if you don't, and if you dont, we won't be coming again! In a small village in the depths of winter, you want to avoid this.

We have also had situations with our rooms where people cancelled on a firday at 4pm before their saturday stay. They tell us they would contest the cancellation charge with their bank on the basis that 24 hours notice was ample time to resell the room, despite clear and explicit details of what happens when you cancel. In the end, the room was resold, at slightly less than full price, yet the customers premtitive agressiveness was really unnecessary.

Ultimatley there should be no issue with handing over card details and accepting a charge if you don't play by the rules given on or prior to booking. Most goods are paid for in advance, before you use them. Of course it all slightly misses the point of what restuarants/pubs are all about - goodwill, conviviality, enjoyment - but unfortunately it doesn't always work both ways.

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I have had to cancel a few times for a variety of reasons but have never had to pay a cancellation charge. Most recently, I had to cancel a table for three at Arbutus and they took it pretty matter-of-factly. Usual practise seems to be that someone from the restaurant calls the previous day to confirm the reservation...

I would be happy to provide a credit card by way of showing real intent to fulfil the reservation, but would never choose any place that mandated a cancellation charge.

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David - Interesting point about the notice period. I had a similar thing with the Fat Duck, but we were just going from a table of 4 to 3. I think I gave them 48hrs notice but it still wasn't enough to avoid the cover charge

Oliver, hope you don't mind me asking. How much was that.

£150/head:

http://www.thefatduck.co.uk/Cancellation-Policy/

Thankfully the person who dropped out paid (he had cocked up his calendar) but i was pretty shocked. 5 Days notice to change a table of 3-4 people - so if you cancelled a table of 3 4 days in advance, you'll be charged... £450!

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This thread is a real eye opener.

I'm really surprised at just how many no shows/very late cancellations there seems to be out there.

It beggars belief, its disgusting really.

As has been touched on , goodwill is vital in the hospitality trade, do you upset your regulars, or take the hit to ensure that they return, thereby getting another chance of their business.

I would not be suited to it, I would be unable to bite my tongue.

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As has been touched on , goodwill is vital in the hospitality trade, do you upset your regulars, or take the hit to ensure that they return, thereby getting another chance of their business.

All depends on how long you want to stay in business, I guess.....

A good owner or host/ess will call up the day before to reconfirm, but they always explain the policy of charging.

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As has been touched on , goodwill is vital in the hospitality trade, do you upset your regulars, or take the hit to ensure that they return, thereby getting another chance of their business.

All depends on how long you want to stay in business, I guess.....

A good owner or host/ess will call up the day before to reconfirm, but they always explain the policy of charging.

calling up the day before is still no guarantee that there will still be no shows, by regulars and non-regulars. And as i said, it is difficult to enforce cancellation policies on regulars, not that that is what we always want to do, of course repeat and regular business is sought. I have been in business for almost 10 years and it still happens.

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As I've said before, I don't believe restaurateurs go into business and think i'll set up a really punitive cancellation policy without reason, they get forced into it.

The trade is so one-way with customers seemingly believing they are not only right, but now demanding compensation if things aren't perfect. one high profile Leeds restaurateur of my acquaintance said 'at the hint of a mistake they've got the calulator out' and then no matter what you do they'll be on trip advisor.

Chapeau to anyone who survives and sticks with it!


you don't win friends with salad

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A top-flight restaurant GAVE AWAY my Saturday night table when I had to change it from a four to a six mid week. I phoned to let them know, they said they would have to ask the chef if this was OK. I asked them in terms whether this meant there could be a problem with a table for four, they said, no they were only saying they had to check with the chef. So, I thought to myself that it looks like there could be a problem, and started asking round other friends to see if I could find two people who might like to have dinner with two people they'd never met, just in case. And when I spoke to the restaurant again, the table was no longer available for four or for six. 'Twas Rugby International night, not an easy one for getting another place booked in time. I was upset and I'm don't use it any more. Which is very bad from a nose/spite/face perspective, as it does very good food. Best in town, I would say.

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we dont take CC apart from tables of over 6 persons because that means we need to use 2 tables up and reduces the amount of potential customers we could serve that service,

however we do still have no shows on every night of the week this year alone we have had 97 tables not turn up or be bothered to even cancel!!!

most cancelations can be resold with 48 hrs but no shows are rude and make me want to start a CC policy!!

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A good owner or host/ess will call up the day before to reconfirm, but they always explain the policy of charging.

What I have experienced is restaurants ringing up to confirm/remind on the day of the reservation. On at least a couple of occasions they have called mid-morning for a lunch reservation when I was travelling (and unable to answer my phone). In one case I saw the missed call and phoned them back, but on another occasion I didn't notice the missed until after we had eaten.

In such cases I have been left wondering what exactly the objective of the call really is - the day before may help to "remind" about the reservation, but I feel that calling on the day itself while you could very easily be travelling doesn't really help them or their customers.

I have also been asked by a couple of places to ring them to confirm the reservation, particularly if it was made well in advance. (Clearly this can only work if it is not somewhere like the Fat Duck where it is all but impossible to contact them by phone)

In both situations I have also wondered whether or not I risk losing my reservation because of a failure on their part...

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Surely the cost of no-shows is figured into the overhead and accounted for in the price of the food.

If it isn't, how about raising the prices of every item by $1. That would never be noticed and ought to more than cover the loss.

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I support a restaurant's right to have a cancellation policy that protects them against flippant no shows. Something like "Cancellations must be made 48 hours or more before the reservation otherwise a charge will be incurred." My dentist does the same!

However, I do also believe that a good restaurant will make a judgement call on cases that appear to be genuine. People do get ill sometimes and they are likely to want to return to the restaurant when they feel better again. Perhaps one way forward in this case would be for the restaurant to say "We'll waive the cancellation fee this time as you are making another reservation. Hope you and your dining partner feel well soon."

Basically, restaurants should be able to protect themselves....but since it's their own policy they can also show discretion.

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Surely the cost of no-shows is figured into the overhead and accounted for in the price of the food.

If it isn't, how about raising the prices of every item by $1. That would never be noticed and ought to more than cover the loss.

how can you account for peoples rudeness?? or put the prices up 'excuse me sir I need to inform you we are charging you an extra £2 because a few tables havent turned up this week' dont think that is good practice

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we dont take CC apart from tables of over 6 persons because that means we need to use 2 tables up and reduces the amount of potential customers we could serve that service,

however we do still have no shows on every night of the week this year alone we have had 97 tables not turn up or be bothered to even cancel!!!

most cancelations can be resold with 48 hrs but no shows are rude and make me want to start a CC policy!!

Mark, thats a staggering amount of no shows. I really am taken aback by how rife this is throughout the industry.

Problem is there must be a small percentage of people who would not be prepared to give credit card details out and it could be equally costly in putting people off in the first place.

It would certainly sort the wheat from the chaff if you did insist on a credit card, but would it work?

From my experience of booking with you I know you take telephone numbers, I did not get a call pre arrival, could this help out a bit if your reception double checked in advance of arrival? I normally get a call in advance from most of the London restaurants.

At the very least if you were full on the night it would perhaps forewarn you of a no show enabling you to sell on the table.

BTW, I'm not after a job :laugh::wink:

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