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Being charged for cancelling a reservation...


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I feel pretty certain that you expected them to hold up their end of the bargain, right?

which was?

Which was...

"We will reserve solely for your pleasure at 8pm our space, our time, our skills, our paid employee workforce, our perishable resources. You can count on it. You can arrange your day, your evening, your transportation, your guests, your pleasure, your manner of dress, your hunger, your time around it. We will not sell it to anyone else, and we will turn them down should they ask. In return for that, we request that should your plans change, and should you no longer wish to avail yourself of our space, time, skill, workforce, perishable resources, do you agree to notify us by 2pm so that we can plan accordingly, such as perhaps sell that table to someone else should we have the opportunity? Or perhaps not to call in extra part-time staff as we routinely do at 2pm when the restaurant is going to be full that evening? Or otherwise rearrange our resources or mitigate our costs as we see fit? And do you understand that if you fail to cancel by 2pm, we will charge your card a cancellation fee? Well, good then. We're in agreement. May we please have your card number for that purpose?"

You know, I really think that there are two separate issues here:

CAN the restaurant do it? Do they have the moral/legal right?

I believe that they do. I think that the original poster is wrong to be indignant about something happening that he agreed to up front. It's exceedingly difficult to keep your doors open when running a small business, and the failure rate of restaurants in particular is spectacularly high. I believe they have a perfect right to attempt to protect themselves to at least some extent against the whims of fickle or rude customers that feel free to behave as they damn well wish, without fear whatsoever of negative consequences. Any damages that might be incurred from their thoughtless behavior are entirely the burden of the restaurant.

But SHOULD the restaurant do it?

I don't know about that one. I owned a business for many years (in, coincidentally, the travel industry where deadlines and cancellation fees and penalties are a way of life), and often did things for "goodwill." I tried to judge each incident as it arose and make a decision based on those specific conditions.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

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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as for Tosh - nice twist, that garbage about admin costs for a cancellation is utter fiction. do you pay a receptionist extra cash for a cancellation and re-organising a table plan? does it cost more to cancel at 3:00 and not 2:00? is there any evidence of a single penny extra in costs to the business about rearranging things? it's called being in business.

I'd love to hear you have this same chat with the airlines.

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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as for Tosh - nice twist, that garbage about admin costs for a cancellation is utter fiction.  do you pay a receptionist extra cash for a cancellation and re-organising a table plan? does it cost more to cancel at 3:00 and not 2:00?  is there any evidence of a single penny extra in costs to the business about rearranging things?  it's called being in business.

I'd love to hear you have this same chat with the airlines.

Have you already given the airline your money?

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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as for Tosh - nice twist, that garbage about admin costs for a cancellation is utter fiction.  do you pay a receptionist extra cash for a cancellation and re-organising a table plan? does it cost more to cancel at 3:00 and not 2:00?  is there any evidence of a single penny extra in costs to the business about rearranging things?  it's called being in business.

I'd love to hear you have this same chat with the airlines.

Have you already given the airline your money?

Oh, I'm sorry. I guess I misunderstood your point.

I thought your argument (do you pay the receptionist extra money? evidence of a single penny extra in costs...etc.) was regarding the principle of cancellation fees vs costs incurred.

I had no idea it was in actuality a squabble over whether or not the person that you believe to be in the wrong already had the money.

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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No one has mentioned another force in this little drama - the people who *didn't* get a reservation because of the person who made the reservation first - but canceled.

Robyn,

you make a good point, though perhaps it can add something.

The odd thing is that few restaurants actually bother to call up their 'waitlist' in place of a cancellation or no show. that table goes to the next person to ring or show up.

the credit card gives them no incentive to ring the waitlist, and surely you must act to mitigate your losses. incidentally, many, many non CC restaurants don't ring the wait list either.

If you don't follow up your wait list, how important is a cancellation in the bigger picture really?

Now, no doubt someone will be argue overly that this does not happen, they will be wrong, but that's another story.

Well - I have never put myself on a waitlist. My rule of thumb is at a big deal popular restaurant - you reserve far in advance - or just take a chance and walk in at 8. I have on a few occasions been a "walk in" at 8 - but that is only when the restaurant where I had my original reservation screwed up - and I walked out. There aren't too many times when it's a choice between watching TV in my nightie but if I get a call at 6 that there's been a cancellation - I'll get all dressed up and run out.

Has anyone here ever put him/herself on a waitlist? With what kind of luck? Robyn

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I'll add another twist to this discussion, something that actually happened to me. What about a restaurant that doesn't honor a reservation? What recourse does the customer have? This past November I had made a reservation for the restaurant Da Fiore in Venice and "confirmed" it before I left for my trip. I also asked American express Concierge to reconfirm it for me along with several other reservations.This dinner was to be the culmination of my trip with my son. We arrived at the restaurant promptly for our reservation to find it closed. Ironically, it seems the proprieters were in NYC. American Express did try to reconfirm a day or so before and tried to reach me via e-mail to no avail. Fortunately the rest of my trip was too good to have been spoiled by that unfortunate event.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

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- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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I'll add another twist to this discussion, something that actually happened to me. What about a restaurant that doesn't honor a reservation? What recourse does the customer have? This past November I had made a reservation for the restaurant Da Fiore in Venice and "confirmed" it before I left for my trip. I also asked American express Concierge to reconfirm it for me along with several other reservations.This dinner was to be the culmination of my trip with my son. We arrived at the restaurant promptly for our reservation to find it closed. Ironically, it seems the proprieters were in NYC. American Express did try to reconfirm a day or so before and tried to reach me via e-mail to no avail. Fortunately the rest of my trip was too good to have been spoiled by that unfortunate event.

That is when you become a walk-in at 8 :smile: . Robyn

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I'll add another twist to this discussion, something that actually happened to me. What about a restaurant that doesn't honor a reservation? What recourse does the customer have?

this has happened to me several times over the years. the times that come to mind are at Mesa Grill in NYC, and at Cibreo in Florence.

Mesa Grill handled it horribly, and i've never returned (this was probably 10 years ago, and i no doubt would have gone over and over for personal and business reasons), and Cibreo went out of their way to accommodate us and did the right thing (although the transaction was a bit awkward and left me wondering if we'd be sent packing for the night).

i can't imagine having any real recourse other than never returning (Mesa Grill) and perhaps helping to perpetuate an unflattering nickname for the chef/owner (Booby Flay).

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I'll add another twist to this discussion, something that actually happened to me. What about a restaurant that doesn't honor a reservation? What recourse does the customer have?

this has happened to me several times over the years. the times that come to mind are at Mesa Grill in NYC, and at Cibreo in Florence.

Mesa Grill handled it horribly, and i've never returned (this was probably 10 years ago, and i no doubt would have gone over and over for personal and business reasons), and Cibreo went out of their way to accommodate us and did the right thing (although the transaction was a bit awkward and left me wondering if we'd be sent packing for the night).

i can't imagine having any real recourse other than never returning (Mesa Grill) and perhaps helping to perpetuate an unflattering nickname for the chef/owner (Booby Flay).

I alluded to this potential outcome (abeit flippantly) a couple of pages ago because I can't read this conversation without thinking about the number of times I've had to wait 20+ minutes for a table at a restaurant when I've had a reservation.

I'd hope that in this case, the restaurant would be especially mindful of honoring, in a timely fashion, the reservations they had accepted. If not, I'd be pretty damned :angry: IMO, anything less would be somewhat hypocritical...although I know there is a difference between being absent and being tardy. :wink:

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

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ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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as for Tosh - nice twist, that garbage about admin costs for a cancellation is utter fiction.  do you pay a receptionist extra cash for a cancellation and re-organising a table plan? does it cost more to cancel at 3:00 and not 2:00?  is there any evidence of a single penny extra in costs to the business about rearranging things?  it's called being in business.

I'd love to hear you have this same chat with the airlines.

Have you already given the airline your money?

Oh, I'm sorry. I guess I misunderstood your point.

I thought your argument (do you pay the receptionist extra money? evidence of a single penny extra in costs...etc.) was regarding the principle of cancellation fees vs costs incurred.

I had no idea it was in actuality a squabble over whether or not the person that you believe to be in the wrong already had the money.

If you book a holiday or flight, there are a number of differences.

1. the contract is complete, it is only final delivery that is pending.

2. the amount is fixed

3. the money has been paid over. often incurring bank/CC charges to vendor.

4. this money may then have been paid to suppliers or 3rd parties

5. A number of authorisations and genuine processing, outside of the normal course of business must be performed before a payment can be made. Why do you think this similar to rearranging the table plan of restaurant?

6. see point 1, beyond stated terms, they have no obiligation to refund you.

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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A number of interesting points raised recently, I especially relate to the restaurant not honouring the reservation.

I think one thing to remember is that this is notional, if there is no loss, should he be charged. legally and morally no. I don't know why this causes difficulty.

Curiously you would have little way of knowing if they had filled the table or not.

Another thing I would like to venture:

what about those restaurants that hold back tables, in case special 'celebrity' or regular guests come in. How concerned can they be with the odd empty table?

Or perhaps the restaurant with double sittings, that can only get you in at 10:30, and has already covered the table that night?

If no loss, no charge.

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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A friend and have each had St John deny a booking - anyone else?

Yep. We booked Martin Wishart in Leith for lunch on Bank Holiday Saturday. Luckily we rang to confirm beforehand, to find out they were closed.

There's nothing you can do.

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I would ask that all contributions to this discussion be kept within the limits of the eGullet user Agreement, which if you haven't read recently, you might want to re-aquaint yourself with its terms which you can do by clicking here. Any further infractions will result in this thread being locked.

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I honestly don't understand what the issue is here. As I understand it, you agreed to the cancellation fee when you made the booking. As you didn't cancel in time, the restaurant advised you that you would be charged. If you're not happy with that then you shouldn't really have agreed to it in the first place. Sorry. :-(

Yes, they could have let you off with customer/public relations in mind but that would surely send out the wrong message? Everyone you’ve told this story to will now be aware that they have to honour a reservation or cancel in time with this restaurant. One assumes they have enough business not to worry about people put off.

As for the general question of cancellation fees, restaurateurs have the right to run their business as they see fit within the law. Again, if you don’t like it, eat somewhere else and enjoy it! And if you're asked for your credit card when booking and you don't like it then refuse, cancel the booking and complain in writing.

All the best,

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As for the general question of cancellation fees, restaurateurs have the right to run their business as they see fit within the law.

Ian,

hasn't this point already been discussed fairly extensively?

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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