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Requiring credit cards to confirm resos: is this common in SF? [moved from San Francisco board]

I'm not sure if this topic is appropriate here but I'll give it a whirl since it happened when I tried to book a resto in SF last night. I was told that I had to give a credit card to hold the reservation. Nothing would be charged to it unless I failed to honour the reservation, or cancel it within 24 hours. I know that people do not cancel resos they can't make (which makes me pig-biting mad!), but I still passed on the restaurant and booked elsewhere. I have neve had this experience before. Is it common in San Francisco? Was I wrong not to give my cc? Other thoughts?

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  1. It is not common, but a few upper-end popular places are doing it; ususally smaller places that can't easliy afford empty tables from cancellations.

    1. I think you responded in a completely appropriate way. My experience tracks with what Paul H wrote: it's not common but its also not unheard of. So long as they're upfront and straightforward about it and I have the option to do just what you did (say "no thanks" and move on to a different place) then I don't have any problem with the policy. Sometimes I make the reservation anyway if my wife and I are particularly keen to eat there.

      1. Chez Panisse instituted that policy because they were getting such a high percentage of no-shows that they had empty tables.

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        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I can't recall ever being asked for a credit card number at Chez Panisse. I haven't been there in a few months. Is this new?

        2. I'm wondering if this is also a defensive mechanism due to a couple businesses that have opened online that are selling restaurant reservations in SF, in addition to trying to curb no-shows. I haven't got a problem with this at all and would gladly give my credit card number as long as I understood what their cancellation policy was. If it curbs trafficking in reservations and no-shows, that is better for all of us.

          1. I really don't like this policy. Partly because I always call if I cancel a reservation. But I also know that's not common practice from diners. But like you, I have given in for a special occasion restaurant from time to time.

            As Paul mentioned, it's more common at some of the higher-end places. But it can get rampant at so called big restaurant holidays: Valentine's Day, etc. Then you start encountering totally different (and less high-end) places that require that. I generally refuse to participate and it's contributed to why I often travel away from the area if I want to have a simple dinner out on one of those holidays.