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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?


                                3. Wow, that has never happened to me. That sucks! But that's technology for you, sometimes things just go wrong. But I'd be seriously bummed if that happened to me.


                                  1. This jsut happened to me for a July 4 reservation at B's in New York City. I am very sad and do not know now how to trust reservations at OpenTable.

                                    12 Replies
                                    1. re: gungadin

                                      Again, OpenTable is the entire reservations system that the restaurants listed on OpenTable use. It's not that you can't trust OpenTable, you can't trust the restaurant itself.

                                      1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                        It doesn't matter whose fault it is. The fact is that the consumer had a bad experience. The average Joe doesn't care. All they know is that there reservation was lost.

                                        1. re: dchu220

                                          Not trusting an OpenTable reservation is like ordering something online, and then not trusting FedEx when the item isn't the right one.

                                          1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                            They are part of the value chain. The reason people began to trust Amazon is because Amazon rarely screwed up their orders and FedEx rarely failed to deliver. It's actually quite amazing when you think of it.

                                            When a customers has a bad experience, there's usually a design decision at fault. For OpenTable, it's important for them to fix it because they are on the customer facing end. By not addressing these issues, they limit the stickiness of their platform. Which is super important because they are essentially trying to get people to order from them instead of picking up a telephone.

                                            If you are scared that you will have to call to make sure your reservation was really taken, then what's the point of using Open Table in the first place?

                                            1. re: dchu220

                                              I suppose this won't help, 'cause no one seems to understand -- JK tried, as have others, to explain -- but I'll give it another shot: the reservation goes into Open Table whether you make it online (*you* type it into open table) or call on the phone (*the reservationist* types it into Open Table). Do you get it? ALL the restaurant's reservations are stored in Open Table. The restaurant, and only the restaurant, has control over what is available, what gets added or deleted. It's not a flaw of the program, but a flaw of the restaurant. There's nothing Open Table can do about it, because it has nothing to do with them. Once again: the restaurants are the only ones that can add, delete, or otherwise manipulate their reservations on OT.

                                              1. re: purple bot

                                                Thank you! Geez, what's so difficult to understand here?

                                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                  For some reason, thread after thread -- no one seems to be able to grasp this concept. I don't know why.

                                                2. re: purple bot

                                                  Purple bot. I totally understand how it works. But most users won't and wont care to learn. Just read the thread of people who no longer trust OT to make their reservations. That's what matters.

                                                  It's not that these people are dumb or dense. The majority of people just want a tool to get the job done faster. They dont care who is technically at fault. 95% of the time OT does an awesome job. The question is whether that 5% is a deal breaker or not.

                                                  1. re: dchu220

                                                    See, I think most users DO understand; maybe not each and every degree/intricacy of the OT back-end, but certainly well enough to manage.

                                                    Also, you DO realize that you revived a years old thread, right? I'm pretty sure with OT gaining more and more market share in the past two years that peoples' understanding of how OT works has grown along with it.

                                                    I'm not really sure from where you are coming on this ...

                                                    1. re: a213b

                                                      I didn't know it was that old. My apologies. OT is doing really well as a company. They should do about $100M+ In revenues next year. I've been reading lots of OT threads because I'm looking into reservation software right now.

                                                    2. re: dchu220

                                                      You say you get it, and yet you still insist OT needs to "fix" the flaw. How on earth can they fix something that has nothing to do with them?

                                                      1. re: purple bot

                                                        I don't know. Ive been thinking about it and its a super hard problem. Perhaps they have. As I said above, I shouldn't have commented on a thread that's almost four years old. A lot has changed since then. My apologies.

                                        2. It's very simple and clear and it's all about MONEY!
                                          Restaurants with open table do use this system to streamline all their reservations. However, at the end of each month, they will have to pay money to open table for every guest who booked a reservation through OT. They don't have to pay money if the guest called and booked directly with the restaurant even if the restaurant manually added that reservation in the OT computer. This is very easy to track for OT and for the Restaurant. OT is a marketing tool for the restaurant and of course restaurants always preffer guests when they call is rather than booking themselves on OT. Many customers go on OT to book since they get points that translates into $$ checks so the bottom line a restaurant loves it when they get the booking directly from the customer. After all the check they write to OT at the end of the month can be substancial!
                                          Restaurants can tell the diffrence between a direct caller or OT customer

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: nicony2006

                                            The only difference between a direct reservation and an online one is that in the reservation notes it says "Web Reservation" and the reservationist's initials show up as WWW. Once at the restaurant, you aren't going to be treated any differently whether you reserved online or not. I would imagine that if a restaurant was going through and cancelling online reservations and replacing them with manually entered ones that OT would not be very happy with the restaurant, possibly to the point of taking the restaurant out of the OT system. The OT webpage acts as an additional source of revenue for the restaurant since visitors to OT's webpage likely did not have a specific restaurant in mind when they visited the website.

                                            1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                              Keep in mind the restaurant signed up with OpenTable on their own free will. Thinking the restaurant hates OpenTable customers just seems backwards to me. I've seen many posts on chowhound that seem to imply that restaurants treat Open Table customers differently. I own my own business and I advertise. I don't get mad when I get a customer from my advertising, it's the reason I advertise!

                                              1. re: Rick

                                                Not only did they sign up, but they paid for the software, and the service, perhaps maybe a terminal.

                                                To date, I have never received anything but the utmost respect, and love using OT, as it saves me many telephone calls, and often international and at odd hours. Two weeks of dining in Europe in about 5 mins. is not a bad way to go.


                                            2. re: nicony2006

                                              This is not surprising to learn My last two reservations through Open table in the East Bay of SF area have resulted in my coming home to find that the restaurant had "canceled" my reservation, thus denying me points, and apparently saving themselves money. Pretty sleazy.

                                              Then again, Open Table is no saint. I stopped using the service for a couple years b/c I was so annoyed with them for canceling out my points back in 2006, and that happened exactly when I got enough for a reward. Lame.

                                              I wouldn't even bother with this service at all but like others have mentioned many, many restaurants use it.

                                            3. Your experience was most likely a restaurant mistake. It could have been a new hostess or some large party issue. Contact Opentable directly and call the restaurant.

                                              From my experience as a General Manager in an upscale restaurant, I like to see Opentable reservations because I expect a certain quality customer. Opentable users seem to be more experienced diners who are often willing to try something different or listen to suggestions about wine and food pairings. And it actually helps me to know if they are an Opentable diner so I can give them some extra attention because if I don't make their visit enjoyable they know how easy it is to find another restaurant at opentable.com. As for the rake, we do pay Opentable a refferal fee, but we don't mind because it is a small fee per cover and it is better than arriving at the restaurant to listen to 30 messages and then find space for them in the Opentable computer and then call them back and sometimes leave them a message and sometimes never hear from them again. Nothing drains your will to live like a constantly ringing phone and the amount of time an online reservation saves me is worth it. And with online reservations my hosts and servers don't accidently offer a reservation at the same time my banquet manager needs food for three parties to come out of the kitchen. Personally, I would not run a decent restaurant without it.

                                              1. I had an Open Table reservation mysteriously disappear as well. So I do not use Open Table to book reservations anymore.

                                                I use Open Table as a reference tool only. I get ideas of what restaurants may have availability, or to get ideas of places to go, but I call the restaurant directly and talk to a human being to book my table, many timess they have tables available when Open Table says there are none.. Ive Never had a reservation vanish talking directly with the restaurant.

                                                19 Replies
                                                1. re: swsidejim

                                                  I'm a major OpenTable fan (have amassed about 6000 points over the last couple of years). I've never had a problem with any restaurant I've booked in about 6 states. If the system says they have no room, I will give the restaurant a call directly to reserve. Then I ask them to apply the phoned-in reservation to OpenTable so I can get the points. I've never had anyone refuse to do that.

                                                  1. re: Trixie Too

                                                    Open Table let me down again for a reservation next weekend. Open Table only showed availability for a 4:30 p.m. reservation Saturday the 15th for Joe's Seafood, Prime Steaks, and Stone Crabs in Chicago. I called the restaurant, and got the 5:30 reservation I wanted.

                                                    I am not interested the points Open Table gives, so as a research tool is the only way they work for me, I still prefer talking to someone at the restaurant human to human.

                                                    Open Table obviously works for others, otherwise they wouldnt be in business, I just havent had much luck with them. As I have mentioned I do like to use Open Table for getting ideas, and the availability & ease of pulling up restaurant websites and menus on the site.

                                                    1. re: swsidejim

                                                      Again, the restaurant controls the table availability -- not Open Table. Open Table didn't decide the say the restaurant only had 4:30, the restaurant did. They only made a certain number of slots available online. Open Table did not let you down -- the restaurant chose to make only "x" of their "xx" possible tables available online. Is this making sense? Many, many restaurants do this, it gives them more flexibility in their seatings. Once again, the business of Open Table is not online reservations. That's just one feature of it. Restaurants have Open Table as their entire reservation system -- online, in-house, phone in, walk-in -- whatever it is, they enter it into their Open Table system. They also control the number of available tables.

                                                      1. re: Kbee

                                                        Perhaps the wrong phrasing "let me down" as opposed to not being totally usefull( in getting the time slot I wanted), other than to refresh my memory quickly of the phone number of the restaurant so I could talk to a human being who had access to all the tables, not just those allotted to Open Table.

                                                        Once again, for I think the 3rd time , for me Open Table is a great research tool, but not always the best way to go about getting access to all the open time slots a restaurant may have available. I believe calling the restaurant is the only way to insure knowing all the times slots available. Just the humble opinion of an experienced Chicago diner who makes reservations a few times a week for pleasure, and business meals.

                                                        1. re: swsidejim

                                                          You are exactly correct -- better results can almost always be had by calling. But that isn't Open Table's fault. It seems like a lot of people here (NOT referring to you swsidejim) get an inferiority complex when it comes to Open Table, which is completely ridiculous. Hence the frustration.

                                                          1. re: Kbee

                                                            I imagine it is a valuable tool to travelers, and on the ocasion I have booked a table with them I have never felt I was getting worse service than a non Open Table reservation.

                                                            1. re: Kbee

                                                              I like OpenTable, but I don't get why you guys keep defending them. There are design flaws in their product that they still haven't addressed and I think this is a pretty big one.

                                                              1. re: dchu220

                                                                It's because they are a company that makes reservation system computers. What happens to your OpenTable reservation has NOTHING to do with the OpenTable company, and EVERYTHING to do with the restaurant.

                                                                1. re: dchu220

                                                                  What is this "design flaw" that you keep referring to ? That the restaurant can cancel your reservation from their end ? That it doesn't require mutual consent of restaurant and diner to cancel a reservation ?

                                                                  1. re: dump123456789

                                                                    This is only my opinion, but I don't think restaurants, especially higher end restaurants, are good candidates for automated reservations. It's not like a plane where the seat never moves. Tables get pushed together, chairs get moved around. It's dynamic. They have done things to mitigate that problem, such as only putting a certain number of tables on automated ordering, but it sort of defeats the purpose.

                                                                    From a users perspective, getting a reservation canceled is a big deal. A reservation is considered a soft contract. The average user is likely to think that it was canceled because they used OpenTable and that it wouldn't have happened if they had called. Here's my big point.

                                                                    It doesn't matter who is technically at fault. What the user perceives might as well be the truth.

                                                                    1. re: dchu220

                                                                      I'm still not getting what the design flaw is. Everything you mention above applies whether the reservation is made online or over the phone.

                                                                      It seems like what you're saying is that because people are less accustomed to using OpenTable, they tend to blame OT instead of the restaurant. That's just an issue of a bias due to lack of familiarity with the technology.

                                                                      It's like when the telephone was new, and people would make reservations over the phone instead of dropping by the restaurant to make the reservation in person. If the restaurant lost a reservation or bumped someone off the book, would diners blaming the phone company mean there was a design flaw at the phone company ?

                                                                      Or are you saying that OpenTable should require that restaurants confirm OT reservations with diners, rather than OT auto-generating reservation confirmations ? That way, diners would feel that the responsibility for honoring reservations had moved away from OT and onto the restaurants ?

                                                                      1. re: dump123456789

                                                                        I personally can't remember ever having a reservation canceled where I phoned it in. Other people may have had a different experience.

                                                                        What I'm saying is that these problems effect the 'stickiness' of OT. It doesn't matter if the restaurant was at fault. Perception is reality. These are the kind of problems that will keep OT from going mass market. People think Macs are immune to viruses. It's not true, but a lot of people buy macs because they feel safer with it.

                                                                        Reservation management software is crazy hard. I'm not going to say that I have the answer. I've been looking into the subject and I can understand why OT designed their system the way they did. Btw. Every software has design flaws. The question is if this flaw is critical. It's only my opinion, but if people go to OT to get fast, reliable reservations, then I would categorize this as critical. Fear is the fastest way to make or break a business.

                                                                        1. re: dchu220

                                                                          The "flaw" in OT is that they are at the mercy of idiots in the restaurants they deal with (at times) and idiots at the end of keyboards blaming them for something they have no power over, didn't create and can't solve (unless they buy every restaurant they supply dining reservations to and run them themselves). That's the "flaw" in OT.

                                                              2. re: swsidejim

                                                                My OT experience is just like yours, swsidejim!

                                                            2. re: swsidejim

                                                              I didn't think I was interested in the points, either -- until I got my $50 certificate which allowed us to dine at a restaurant that was otherwise out of our price range.

                                                              1. re: Trixie Too

                                                                Last time I used Open Table I had the same thing the original poster was talking about happen to me. Very irritating.

                                                          2. re: swsidejim

                                                            Funny -- none of my open table reservations have disappeared. But I've had reservations that I've made over the phone and reservations made by the restaurant web sites to have disappeared.

                                                            1. re: Miss Needle

                                                              if it works for you, then you should keep using Open Table.

                                                              I just was not as lucky, and with me, one or two strikes and they are out, & I will use them as a research tool as I stated above. I also prefer talking to a human at the restaurant anyway.

                                                              1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                Ditto this. Nowadays I get nervous when making a non-OT reservation--I hate not getting that paper receipt.

                                                            2. I have used OT on several occasions and have never been disappointed. We used it at Texas de Brazil, Emeril's in Orlando and at Seasons 52 in Altamonte Springs with perfect results. We were never made to feel like we were "inferior" at all.

                                                              1. I just had a bad experience with Opentable. I made a reservation through them about a month ago, and they sent me an email confirming my reservation time for 7:30. Then a day before my res, I get an email telling me that my reservation time is 10! When I called the restaurant, they claimed not to know anything about it. I certainly won't be using opentable for reservations in the future.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: pefrase

                                                                  Odd question for you... did you make the reservation from a computer or server that might be in a different timezone?

                                                                  I've used OT for about the last year... maybe 10-15 times. Never had a problem. Though I have learned when opentable says it's full, call the resto. You can still sometimes get the rez you want.

                                                                  1. re: egit

                                                                    Not likely. I made the res from my apartment in Queens through my Time Warner cable modem connection, for a restaurant in Manhattan. And anyway, I have both of the emails from opentable--the one from when I made the reservation clearly says 7:30, and the day-before confirmation email clearly says 10. I received no notifications from them in between.

                                                                    The funny thing is, American Airlines did more or less the same thing to me a couple of months ago, changing a flight time without notifying me. But I expect restaurant reservations to be a little bit less of a nightmare than dealing with an airline!

                                                                  2. re: pefrase

                                                                    From what I understand, the OpenTable system can't make changes to a reservation like that, only the restaurant can alter them. That is, OpenTable doesn't actually "do" anything...it reports the information the restaurant tells it to and enters the information you tell it to. Apart from you or the restaurant making changes, nothing else can happen. It seems analogous to saying Travelocity is responsible for American Airlines changing the time of the flight. Did you ask the restaurant what happened?

                                                                  3. I am a huge fan of OT. I have been using it since they started service in NYC, and have used it here and at cities across the US.

                                                                    I have never had experiences like the ones that have been described.

                                                                    I love being able to make, and if necessary, cancel reservations without having to call a person on the phone, wait, etc. etc.

                                                                    1. I work in the Biz and have used open table for over 4 years. It sounds like the someone at the restaurant hit the cancel button on your reservation, and the system sent you an automatic email letting you know. Unfortunately this CAN and does happen. I hope you got it worked out.

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: foodgirl111

                                                                        I have been using OT for a few years and although it is a great idea, I think they just don't care about the customers.

                                                                        First I would like to say that we never, and I mean never, make reservations and then not show up. In the event that we become unable to keep the reservation we always have the courtesy to call in advance and cancel. Also we typically tip 20% and we eat out about 5 or 6 times per week.

                                                                        I have found that some of the more popular restaurants in NYC use OT to fill tables at less than desirable times. Sometimes if an OT search comes back with information that there is no availability at say 7:30PM or 8PM we are often able to get a table if we phone the restaurant directly. Happens in some popular restaurants in Tribeca all of the time.

                                                                        Here are a few of my problems with OT. Somehow I wound up with two different accounts. It took some time but ultimately I was able to get one of them canceled. I lost the points in that account but at least the confusion caused by having two accounts was addressed.

                                                                        Shortly thereafter, I was wrongly accused of being a no show. It never happened. After a lot of effort they agreed to reopen my account but with a nasty threat for something that never happend. I was on double secret probation. Made me used OT a lot less often.

                                                                        Recently I closed an old email account, it was the one that was registered with OT. It was several days or maybe even a week before I got around to notifying everyone of my new address. When I attempted to contact OT they had already canceled my account. I sent an email to them a couple of days ago and did not received either a reply or even an acknowledgement to my email. I sent a follow up this morning. In the meanwhile I am already getting spam from OT at the new address so I know they have it.

                                                                        OT is a very convenient way to make reservations but they are pretty nasty and paranoid at times. I know they had lots of problems with their software and a lot of people were accused of being no shows but they need a serious attitude adjustment.

                                                                        1. re: elaineinnyc

                                                                          As a software engineer, let me say a few things about OT. It's probably up to the restaurant to set a threshold for when a time-slot is "full." If a resto has 10 two-tops, they probably only allow 6 or 7 to be booked through OT. If I can't get an online rez, and my heart is set on a day/time, I always call.

                                                                          As far as your no-show, OT only knows what the resto tells it. If you don't say "i'm elaineinnyc" AND they don't enter the fact that you were there then it probably gets credited as a no show. That's the FOH staff at the restaurant's fault, not OT's. Your confirmation emails from them state this.

                                                                          As far as the email address woes... hm. Yeah, that's a bummer. They probably don't have enough staff to manage direct contact with online users.

                                                                          No, I don't work for OpenTable, nor do I want to seem like an apologist for them. But I know how software works and two of these three complaints are either errors or intentional decisions made by the restaurant.

                                                                          1. re: egit

                                                                            I'm in the computer biz, and agee w/ equit. I've actually enjoyed using OT these past few years, and have had no glitches, while American Airlines has canceled 4 of my last 5 flights WITHOUT telling me until I got to the airport, even though I checked in 24 hrs in advance each time. I don't fly American anymore, but I did use OT for 4 restaurants last week.

                                                                            1. re: Claudette

                                                                              I had a conversation just last night with my best friend during which I commented on how extremely efficient Open Table has always been. I have used them many times in several different states with no problems and was happy to receive my $50.00 dining check the other day which just adds to an overall pleasant experience with OT.

                                                                      2. We use OT here in NYC with various results, some the problem are OT, many the problem of the person booking on line and sometimes the problem of staff.

                                                                        1. We allow 30 minutes before we no-show a table. If you booked on line and are more than 30 minutes late without calling to notify us, you get the email. Many times a table has been no-showed and then appeared for their meal because they didn't let us know they were running late.

                                                                        2. Identify yourself at the door so we know you arrived.

                                                                        3. Respond to the confirmation call. We call the day of and if we don't hear from you, you may be bumped earlier than the 30 minute window.

                                                                        4. Ask your dining companions if any of them made the same reservation---one of you will get the email if you don't let us know and this happens a lot.

                                                                        5. Notes about birthdays, allergies etc are always appreciated. Notes requesting special tables can't always be accomodated.

                                                                        6. If you are attending a special event at the restaurant (a wine dinner, caberet performance etc.) please note this in the reservation notes.

                                                                        7. If OT only lists a table availability for 4, don't book if you have more guests than that.

                                                                        8. If booking on line, do yourself the favor of checking out the restaurant's web-site so you actually know about their menu and style. Read the blurbs, don't just look at the pictures. If the restaurant doesn't call itself kosher, it probably isn't and no, a rabbi isn't on call to certify the kitchen on demand.

                                                                        Every night, at least 5 reservations get the email because they didn't show, didn't call. At least 15 will call and cancel---which is noted automatically in your OT records. Frequent no-shows mean less chance of being seated on time because we expect you to not show and give the tables to either new guests or those who never no-show first.

                                                                        Your best bet to get the table you want, is to call the restaurant directly, confirm your reservation and honor it as originally agreed. If you use OT, do not consider it the last thing you need to do. Follow up with a confirmation call and be on time or at least let the restaurant know you are running late.

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Le Den

                                                                          I don't understand.
                                                                          1) I went to the trouble of signing up for OT to make it more convenient for me and more convenient for you.
                                                                          2) I went to the trouble of booking my reservation through OT at your restaurant at (for example) 7Pm for two people
                                                                          3) I received an email confirmation, therefore barring the "server crash", I know it's in your system.
                                                                          4) I use OT 20-30 times a year, and have never been even 2 minutes late, not to mention a no show.
                                                                          5) Yet during a busy Saturday afternoon, between the dry cleaner, the karate class, the kid's baseball game, and planting flowers I have to try to call your restaurant (probably several times because no one answers the phone between 2 and 5PM) just to make sure I RE-reserve? Or what? You're not going to honor my reservation?
                                                                          That pisses me off.

                                                                          1. re: Pappy

                                                                            I think Le Den was saying that if you don't respond to their confirmation call _and_ then don't show up on time for your reservation that they may not hold the table for a full 30 minutes after your reservation time. Not that they'd cancel your reservation or give your table away when the time of your reservation arrives. Only that if you don't communicate to them that you're running late, they won't hold the table as long as they otherwise would.

                                                                            1. re: ccbweb

                                                                              Thank you ccbwed, that was what I meant. We never take a reservation off the books until at least 30 minutes after the time it was booked for with the exception of non confirms which may get bumped earlier because the ratio of no-shows to non confirms is almost 90 percent.

                                                                              Everyone has a cell so there is no excuse for not calling and if for some reason you arrive much later than your original time, we will fit you in, but I can't leave a table sitting empty for an hour on the chance you might be late rather than not coming.

                                                                              As a side note, I never use OT to book reservations for myself. I always call as I find I have a better chance of getting a table at a convenient time than with OT.

                                                                        2. The resto has to pay a fee for every reservation made thru open table. That fee is significantly less if you make the reservation by going to the resto's website and clicking on the Open Table link. Also, of course, there is no fee for reservations mades by calling the resto.

                                                                          The resto and Open Table are linked and their is an Open Table computer at the resto and it is a software program that they use to manage their dining room. So, what happened to you has more to do w/ the resto either wanting to accomodate a large party or whatever and less to do w/ Open Table itself.

                                                                          1. Sorry to resurrect this old thread, but I still have two questions after reading this one and others. Several of us were arguing about this last night, until after 30 minutes, we realized that we were all speculating.

                                                                            The crux of the question was, "how expensive is it for restaurants to use OpenTable?"

                                                                            1) Do they have to purchase the hardware and/or software? Exactly how much does this cost?
                                                                            2) Do they pay a fee to OpenTable for each reservation or each guest? Exactly how much does this cost?

                                                                            Thanks Chowhounds. I would love to report back to my friends with some acutal facts.

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Pappy

                                                                              Restaurants have to pay for both the OpenTable computer, and a fee for each reservation. I don't know about the computer but it's got to be a few thousand. I have heard that reservations taken over the phone or in person are 25ยข per cover and reservations taken online are $1 per cover; i.e. a table for six that reserves on the phone is $1.50, while it's $6 if they reserve online. OT's rationale for charging more for online reservations is that the guests would not necessarily have selected your restaurant if you did not have the online presence.

                                                                              1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                                                                So if I have a reservation system, and want to add OpenTable, I guess I have to buy their equipment and transfer my system into theirs?

                                                                                I just find it curious, because several people I know have said that many restaurant owner/managers have complained about how expensive it is.

                                                                                1. re: Pappy

                                                                                  Reservations made through the link located on a restaurant's website are .25/reservation. Those made through Open Table directly are $1.00/reservation.

                                                                                  In addition to those fees, the restaurant pays for the software, computer terminals, and a monthly fee of approximately $80-$100/month. This covers any software or hardware issues that may arise also.

                                                                                  It is quite costly. However, the information gathered from the software is invaluable. For instance, if a party makes a reservation and then calls back a couple months later, all of their information is stored, including special requests, name, etc. It's much more efficient than hand-written reservation books and it narrows the margin of error.

                                                                                  1. re: lynnlato

                                                                                    Thank you. Those are the figures that I wanted to see.

                                                                            2. I just used Open Table to make a reservation and first of all they said I already was a member of Open Table but whatever I filled in seemed wrong. After many attempts to not get it right I gave up. There was no phone number for me to contact them and no phone number for the restaurant. I was disgusted and swore that I would not use a restaurant that used their services.

                                                                              1. That IS a bummer.

                                                                                I have never had anything close, happen to me.

                                                                                Biggest issues have been when I canceled several reservations, but forgot one, thinking that it was for another trip, and then when I made the reservation for a day before we arrived (with flowers for my wife). Both were my bad.

                                                                                I use OT very, very often, and have had zero issues. Now, a few restaurants only give them certain times/tables, and a call has always taken care of that.

                                                                                I am sorry to hear of your issue, and would find that unacceptable too. Nothing even close has ever happened to me, and I rely on OT on a couple of continents, and have loved them.



                                                                                1. Just had an interesting - no, make that annoying - experience with OT. I went onto the Web site of a local restaurant to check their current menu, then clicked through to Open Table from there to make a reservation. Then I remembered that they don't give points when you book that way, so I left the site, went to Open Table directly, looked up the restaurant in question, and booked it.

                                                                                  I got the booking, along with a message saying I would get no points for it. I wrote to OT's support line asking why and was told that the mere fact that I had clicked on the restaurant's OT link invalidated my ability to get points, even though I did not book it that way.

                                                                                  To be fair, they also said that they would make an exception and grant me the points if I write back and request them after actually dining there. But this seems a pretty petty way to run a service. Why the hell should they care how you get to their site as long as you register properly and use it to make a reservation?

                                                                                  EDIT: I just remembered another thread in which someone reported that if you book through the link from the restaurant's site rather than starting from the Open Table site, it costs the restaurant a few bucks less - so that explains why they have the policy. But it still doesn't explain why they were initially not willing to give points just because I had visited the restaurant's OT link even though I did not book through it.