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Oct 19, 2006 07:30 PM

Canceling a Reservation

My of my pet peeves about dining out is canceling reservations at a restaurant without calling.

On those rare occasions when I may need to cancel a dinner reservation, I call the restaurant to formally cancel and apolgize. Is it me or shouldn't that always be the appropriate thing to do.

Recently, we waited close to 30 for a table only to be told that they had been holding one for a called-in rez and they appeared to be a no show...that 'our' table was now ready..

What's your take?

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  1. Well I agree in a way but you never know their reason for not calling. May have been an emergency.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Johnresa

      May have been, of course, but I'll bet for every no-show that results from an honest emergency, there are another thousand or so that just change their minds and don't have the common decency to be bothered calling. They're the ones that ruin it for the rest of us and make restaurants take "deposits" - a practice that I hate but fully understand.

    2. FWIW, the reservation is not canceled just because the party decides not to's canceled when they let the restaurant know they're not coming (by calling, personal visit, or even e-mail). And no-shows, with few exceptions (pretty much just emergencies), are just plain rude.

      4 Replies
      1. re: ricepad

        Exactly. I was puzzled at the usage of "cancelling" as a passive act....

        1. re: Karl S

          Same with any appointment. Also last minute cancelling is not much better than a no show.

          1. re: scubadoo97

            In a restaurant, even a last minute call to cancel/say you're not going to show up will (or at least might) help some. Unlike a doctor's office or salon, for example, where it's unlikely that they'll be able to fill the slot with 3 minutes notice, the restaurant might have a table waiting (as in the OP's example) and now know that they don't need to hold the previously reserved table. They may lose the business from the table that didn't show up, but the last minute cancellation could still help out in terms of managing their customers that are there.

            1. re: ccbweb

              and it helps them to manage their staff too, eg they can send a server home maybe.

      2. Definitely call to cancel as a curtesy. No need to apologize. Some restaurants ask for a credit card number to hold a reservation.

        1. Question for the pros: Do restaurants track reservations and no-shows? Like, do people get a little black mark next to their name that will impact their seating or require a deposit if they try again sometime? Seems like it wouldn't be too hard to set up since many restaurants use computerized reservations.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Grubbjunkie

            If the restaurant uses Open Table it is for them to track cancelations and no shows. It's also easy for smaller places to do that. As for a "black mark"...well let's just say if you fail to show for too many reservations you'll be remembered. There may be nothing overt but you could start hearing "I'm sorry but we're boked at the time you request."

            1. re: kimmer1850

              And that would be well deserved. The only justification for failing to affirmatively cancel is a health or similar grave emergency where one did not have an opportunity to do so. Otherwise, its slimy.

            2. re: Grubbjunkie

              "Do restaurants track reservations and no-shows? Like, do people get a little black mark next to their name that will impact their seating or require a deposit if they try again sometime?"

              I've done this. Except since it is so easy for a customer to dispute the charge I just blacklist them after 2 no shows. They can come eat, but they can't make a reservation. They get to enjoy waiting in the same kind of gridlock they caused with their rudeness.

              A hospitality form of instant karma.

            3. I'm always surprised by people's reactions when I call a restaurant to cancel. "Oh, you're so polite" or "Why go through all the trouble?"

              Then when I describe why it's not just my being overly polite but actually helps the restaurant not lose business, their response is "Oh my gosh, I never thought about it like that!"

              Basically, most people think of reservations as a convenience for the guest without considering the pros/cons for the restaurant owner.

              These same people think that it's easy for a restaurant to change your party of 5 to 7 or 3 at the drop of a hat, which is my other pet peeve.