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Feb 13, 2007 05:21 AM

Open Table bummer.....

About three weeks ago I made a reservation using Open Table for this Thursday @ Tabla. I wanted a special night out since I'm celebrating my first anniversary w/my gal. Well, I get an email from Open Table the other say telling me the restaurant cancelled my reservation. Tabla said it was cancelled and wouldn't give me a decent time. Now, w/2 days to spare, it's tough to get a table at a place my honey might like.

Has anyone had this happen to them? Does the restaurnat pay Open Table a rake or commission so they'd prefer to give the table to a "direct" customer?

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  1. Restaurants pay some sort of fee for the Opentable service. But, I've been using Opentable consistently for 3 years and have never had this happen to me. I'm guessing it was a glitch on the restaurant's side--maybe a private party or an overbooking--and not some sort of preference for non-opentable reservations.

    1. This idea that Open Table users are somehow considered inferior comes up here quite often, but it simply isn't true and here's why: if a restaurant uses Open Table, they use it for ALL their reservations. It's more than just an online service, it's an entire reservation system. By using it for all their rezzy's, what I mean is that every reservation goes into OT, whether you put it there yourself by booking online or you call directly and the hostess puts it in. Of course, there's more flexibility with booking on the restaurant's end, so that's why often when Open Table says nothing is available you can sometimes call and get in.

      In this case I agree with Lucia, sounds like like a booking glitch by the restaurant.

      14 Replies
      1. re: Kbee

        Actually here in Richmond, that isn't true at all. Several places we go to use Open Table, but I have not used it and feel more comfortable getting the reservation directly through the restaurant.

        1. re: Janet from Richmond

          I think you still misunderstand. If I own a restaurant, I might opt to use Open Table as my reservation system. Forget all about the online booking part of it for a moment, for the sake of discussion, there's no online booking involved. I use the open table software to organize my reservations, I use it to plan seating for the evening. I use it to keep track of how many people we serve at a given time. I use it to make note of when you're a no-show. I use it to keep track of my guests likes, dislikes, anniversaries, birthdays, seating preferences, etc. I use it throughout the night to see which tables might be coming available and which have recently been sat. When you call me to book your reservation, I go to my computer and enter the information into the system. I also enter the fact that you would like a quiet table and that someone in your party has a peanut allergy. When you come in (or when you return) I have that info handy. The online booking part is just an extension of the reservation system, not the main point.

          1. re: Kbee

            I did misunderstand. Thanks for the clarification.

            1. re: Kbee

              However, a restaurant may have a reservation if you call and OT will show that they are booked. This has happened to me several times. Not just last minute bookings either. So don't be discouraged if OT says a restaurant is booked, give a call anyway.

          2. re: Kbee

            Most of the open table restauiarants in the SF Bay area use Open Table only as a supplement. I have booked the same restaurants using OT and over the phone depending on where I am. I haven't noticed any diifference in quality of table/time availability/or service depending on which way I reserved.

            1. re: lgphil

              OpenTable isn't a supplement. It's the entire system. When you make a reservation over the phone, I pull up the Reserve screen, then punch in the date, number of guests, and preferred time. OT then tells me if the exact time is available, plus the closest times before and after. The one difference in calling is that I can look at what reservations have actually been made and adjust as necessary.

            2. re: Kbee

              The concept of "inferior diners" does come up. Ninety percent of my reservations are done on OT, and the various restaurants, up to Michelin starred establishments, have NEVER made me feel that way. When we have special needs, no restaurant has ever ignored those. Matter-of-fact, we have been called by several, just for clarification.

              Except for my errors (cited above, or maybe below?), I have never had one issue.


              1. re: Bill Hunt

                Bill, I totally concur. OT is a great service that I have used for years and also make at least 90% of my reservations through this system. I'm sure that I have made at least a few hundred reservations through OT (I eat out a lot!), and not once has there been a problem. Being compulsive, I always print out the reservation and keep a copy in the car should there be a problem, but have never needed it. I love OT for its convenience (I can make a res night or day), and the points/certificates are icing on the cake.

                The one downside of OT, is that sometimes you may not get exactly the time you want...but often if you make the reservation for a time that's close, you can call the restaurant and change for the time you really want. The other issue that has happened to me twice, is that I have gotten a dunning email from OT for being a "no show", although I definitely wasn't. On each situation, I called the restaurant manager, who straightened it out with OT.

                Overall, OT is great!

                1. re: josephnl

                  "The other issue that has happened to me twice, is that I have gotten a dunning email from OT for being a "no show", although I definitely wasn't."

                  Of course that was because THE RESTAURANT reported you as a "no show" back to OT. So the problem, Horatio lies not in the Open Table, but in our restaurants...

                  1. re: Servorg

                    You are absolutely correct. If the restaurant doesn't "check you in" through OT, the system considers you a no-show. The 2x that this has happened to me, the restaurant was not busy, and the host seated us and apparently ignored my telling him/her that I had a reservation. Certainly not OT's fault.

                    1. re: Servorg

                      I have also gotten two. One was definitely my fault. I had to cancel a Chicago trip, and thought that I'd covered all reservations. I saw one, but thought that it was in NYC for a trip the next week. It was not. It was in Chicago, and I just missed it. My bad.

                      The other was for a reservation that I had honored (something that I have been almost 100% at), but somehow, the restaurant missed it. One e-mail, and all was cool. At last, someone else's fault.

                      I did show up a day late once, but the restaurant was cool with that, especially as they had received the flowers for our reservation and those were cool too - in the walk-in, just waiting for us. Again, my bad.


                    2. re: josephnl

                      "The one downside of OT, is that sometimes you may not get exactly the time you want.."

                      This just happened to us for maybe the 10th time. The only table showing was 5:30PM, so we booked, and then called. The restaurant allowed as how they only released a certain number of times and tables to OT, as we knew. The time was changed, and in a day, my OT Profile showed the new time.

                      One local fav. does the same. I will grab a time on OT, and call, to get the time that we need.

                      We have had several situations, where no tables were shown for the day that we wanted. Upon calling, there was always (IIRC) a table. In one case, we had to call our AMEX Travel/Dining Concierge, and a table appeared. Another time, a call to the hotel concierge yielded a table.

                      So far, I have never had a bad OT experience, except for two cases of OE (mine).

                      I just used them before logging on, for an upcoming trip. Last week I did reservations for 10 nights of dining in London in Oct, and only had to call two restaurants.

                      Nah, I am an OT fan, until they burn me badly.


                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        "Nah, I am an OT fan, until they burn me badly."

                        And, in the end analysis, it will undoubtedly prove to be another case of "self immolation"... ;-D>

                        1. re: Servorg

                          Agree. It works great, and there is no down side that I can see.

                2. I doubt very much that this was an Open Table issue - sounds more to me like the restaurant decided to cancel you in favor of someone else - a regular or a VIP who decided to book at the last minute. You should address this question to Open Table directly. They have a support area where you can report this issue and ask for an explanation. If you happen to have kept the original reservation number that they emailed to you, that would probably be helpful.


                  1. We made a reservation through OpenTable and that week the restaurant closed and didn't notify OpenTable. We were bummed, but found a good Indian place so we were fine. We told Open Table and they gave us a whole bunch of points. I thought they handled it nicely and couldn't have controlled that.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: JABDDD

                      That's the thing about Open Table (and any computer reservation system) - they are sometimes subject to discrepancies...I like to call and confirm *important* reservations (special occasions, etc.) just to make sure everything is set.

                    2. I'm curious-in the comments section, does the hostess and/or server take note of those? I usually make a notation if we have theatre/show tickets after dinner and need to leave at a certain time. Am I just wasting my time putting something like that down or are the comments actually read?

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: rosielucchesini

                        I've made note of birthdays in that section, and the restaurant has always done something in celebration as a result.

                        1. re: Lucia

                          Same for me.

                          Also, with only comments on OT from previous dining experiences, many places have welcomed us with "happy anniversary," though I forgot to make mention of that, for this reservation. Some folk DO read those comments, and keep a dossier.


                        2. re: rosielucchesini

                          We have used OpenTable when traveling and have made special requests like corner table, anniversary, etc., and we've always gotten excellent service.

                          1. re: masala maci

                            I have used it to notify the restaurant, that we do a lot of wines, and usually fill up a 4-top, even for 2 diners. None has missed that, and appreciated the notice.


                          2. re: rosielucchesini

                            In addition to noting special occasions, I use the comments section when dining with friends who have allergies. Of course, when we arrive at the restaurant, we tell our server face-to-face as well. But more often than not, they remember and ask which member of the party has the allergy.

                            1. re: rosielucchesini

                              the host sees the comments when the reservation is opened/on screen. While looking at the "book" for the night, there's a symbol to the right of your name indicating that your reservation has notes. Most hosts, and certainly any half-decent ones, will read the notes and pass appropriate info along to the server and/or kitchen.

                              1. re: nc213

                                Just a interesting note- I made a reservation recently with a very very high end restaurant for 6 of us in the DC area (no, I'm not naming names here). They lost the notes somehow due to a computer mishap- the instructions were that I was to pay the check and that no other individual was to get the check, especially not my girlfriend. Well they lost the notes and I happened to catch the manager on my way to the bathroom. Not only did they get it right by him waiting for me to get out of the bathroom to get my card, but they ended up sending our table of 6 one of every dessert on the menu. Now that's service.

                              2. re: rosielucchesini

                                Yes, we read them. OpenTable automatically prints out a little chit with the basic information of the table, including any notes that have been left by you online, by the person who took your rezzie on the phone, or by the hostess in person. In the case of "I need to leave by xx:xx", it would be best to call over the phone, since the hostess will be aware of normal table turnover times. Once seated at the restaurant, ask something along the lines of "Did the hostess let you know we have theatre tickets and need to leave by xx:xx?" to which the waiter should respond with "I'll make sure you get there with time to spare".

                                1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester


                                  I always appreciate your little insights, that most of us are just not privy to.

                                  Thank you,


                                2. re: rosielucchesini

                                  In my rather vast experience with OT, every (or all that I can relate to) one has read the requests, and will often call to clarify, or to confirm the special needs.

                                  Wife is allergic to bi-valves, so scallops, mussels, oysters or clams, are off-limits to her. I mention this, and especially if we wish to do a "chef's tasting." If there are any questions, it is usually "can she do other seafood?" to which the answer is yes - just those listed.

                                  When we have dined there before, we are usually greeted with a "welcome back," and often with the exact details, that I have furnished, "5 diners over the last two years, and we look forward to your wines." The sommelier is usually standing by, when we are seated.

                                  Now, that does not mean that things cannot go wrong, but I have never encountered any issue. Perhaps lucky?