A reader writes about a recent experience with Restaurant.com. If you aren’t familiar with the site, the discounts are hard to believe.
Nicholas Restaurant on NE Broadway recently refused to honor a certificate sold specifically for that location on Restaurant.com. The waiter, and an easy-to-miss sign out front (when the door is left standing open) accuse Restaurant.com of fraud. “We never signed up with them,” the waiter told our table.
That’s two $25 certificates down the drain. Fortunately, they cost me only $1 a piece. (Restaurant.com frequently offers absurdly generous discounts.)
So I asked Restaurant.com for a refund. 7 days later they finally answered: “No.”
Restaurant.com never gives refunds. It only gives credits to be spent on their website in the future. Their email comes very close to accusing Nicholas of lying. They write, “All restaurants on Restaurant.com do have to sign a contract with Restaurant.com. If a restaurant does not sign a contract with Restaurant.com then they can not be featured on our website.”
I could flippantly say it’ll be as risky as throwing craps to buy another certificate but actually I’ve used Restaurant.com certificates many times and this was a first. A favorite restaurant used to be part of this program and then dropped out. Another continues using it to this day.
So did Restaurant.com sell certificates without permission? Or did Nicholas sign up, sell more than they expected and then get cold feet when they realized how much money they were going to lose?
Interestingly, after this story was posted, Restaurant.com sent out this further email.
Our records indicate you have unused certificate number XXX
for Nicholas Restaurant which is no longer participating in our program. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
While rare, restaurants do stop participating in our program. Rest assured that Restaurant.com highly values your trust and support and strives to ensure the complete satisfaction of all our customers.
Even though the above mentioned restaurant is no longer in our program, your certificate(s) value remains and can be used at another restaurant location of your choice. Please check out our website for other participating restaurants in your area.
I saw recently on Basta’s website that they are not taking Restaurant.com certificates due to fraudulent practices. I called Nostrana, for which I still have a certificate, and they said they would honor it. Guess it’s going to be one of those call ahead situations from now on.
Dave J. says
The Indian place on SE 35th and Belmont has a similar sign up in their window. Knowing little more than the story above, I’d guess that restaurant.com has some sort of automatic renew option for restaurants that sign up, and then some of the places forget this, or lose the email, or don’t open the letter, or whatever, and get automatically renewed without approving it.
Restaurant.com is a scam and a huge pain in the ass to restaurants. We had to pull the plug on them after they FLOODED the market with coupons without authorization.
Chowhound has had many threads on this problem. I won’t even bother with this scammer.