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2 4 1 coupon not honored... what to do?

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Hi, we downloaded a 2 4 1 coupon from Timeout for 2 entrees at the price of 1. Several of the restaurants had constraints as to when you can use them. We chose a rather nice restaurant that would take this coupon for lunches. So my husband and I decided to celebrate our anniversary on Saturday and went. When we got there, we were told that that this coupon is only for weekdays. We said, 'oh how confusing, i thought it was for weekends too, but lets just stay because we are here and are hungry.' When we got home, we double checked and NO WHERE on the time out website where the coupon is nor on the restaurant's website does it specify WEEKDAY lunches. I sent them a polite email asking about how to get this confusion corrected (read: i want my coupon to be credited), and they wrote back saying 'we are trying to get time out to correct this.' What is my next step towards getting my money back? Do you even think I'm due some money back?

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  1. No. They told you it was not for Saturday lunches. I don't know if it's the economy or what but there seem to be more and more "give me something for nothing" and "I've been wronged so give me something free" threads of late.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Janet from Richmond

      I think your post is a bit harsh -- relizabeth wasn't "trying to get something for nothing," she was trying to get the restaurant to honor the discount that drew her into the establishment in the first place. That being said, she lost any bargaining position trying to correct the situation after the fact. Her remedy was at the time, pointing out that the coupon stated no such restriction, and if they refused to honor it walking out. The place already showed they are willing to be less than upfront; after they have the money they aren't going to return any. If I saw myself on the losing side of the argument before I ordered and ate, I would not patronize them. And I'd be very loud about it on my way out, especially to any potential customers waiting to be seated or on the way in.

      1. re: nosh

        Better yet, write a letter to your local paper about your dining experience. The restaurant will be forced to clarify their restrictions, resulting in fewer customers on weekends who expect the discount.

    2. I'm sorry that I can not support you here, relizabeth. The coupon did not say anything about weekends, and perhaps it should have. The thing is, you agreed (in a tacit way) to pay full price when you were told your coupon could not be honored, and you chose to stay. I'm afraid it's as simple as that. You ate, you pay, and you tip.
      Lesson: call ahead to check if there are any restriction (written or not on the site or coupon), note the time, date and with whom you spoke.
      Better luck next time.
      www.houndstoothgourmet.com

      eta: I hope that you enjoyed your anniversary lunch!

      17 Replies
      1. re: monavano

        "And I'd be very loud about it on my way out, especially to any potential customers waiting to be seated or on the way in"

        I certainly hope you're kidding, Nosh. Even when you are in the right that is incredibly obnoxious and childish behavior. 1) it is disturbing the other patrons who are paying for their meals and don't want to listen to someone having a hissy fit and 2) sometimes a patron DOES miss some small print- your instant hissy fit could also be based on false pretenses.

        Now, to the coupon. I am an owner. I would never use these coupon sites for my business because they often put up inaccurate information or leave off information that restaurants want to be included. Why? because more people purchase the coupons if restrictions aren't mentioned... and the restaurant is left holding the bag.

        I'm not saying this is the case at this place but this is a notorious practice of these coupon websites and the reason why many business owners won't use them anymore.

        1. re: lebelage

          No, I was not kidding. But let me be very specific about the exact circumstances where I would feel justified being loud about it on the way out:

          First, I examined the coupon and the source. I was seeing a two-for-one deal. There were no listed restrictions saying it was only valid weekdays, or invalid on a weekend.

          Second, I brought this to the attention of my server and if necessary a manager or owner. They told me the coupon was only good for weekdays, but admitted that noplace on the coupon or the source was that specified.

          Third, I told them how we had come to take advantage of the coupon. They still refused. I told them I thought it was a "bait and switch" and they should honor the coupon or we were leaving.

          At that point, it is my strong opinion that they are in the wrong and deserve to suffer the consequences. If it is the fault of a misunderstanding between the establishment and the coupon purveyor, let them work it out between themselves, or at least try to explain that to me. If they are refusing a written coupon and making up restrictions on the spot (what next, you can get two-for-one on the burger or pasta but not the fish) then I have every right to complain and warn others. I would not walk out saying they are filthy or the food was bad, I would walk out saying they are dishonest and my coupon was not honored, and others should beware of bad customer relations.

          C'mon folks, we aren't lemmings. If we are wronged we have every right to complain. But at the time and face-to-face, not after the fact by email.

          1. re: nosh

            "And I'd be very loud about it on my way out," ok, but this is what you said... meaning that you are ruining the atmosphere for other paying patrons.

            Sorry, there is NEVER an excuse to disturb other patrons. Ever.

            When you resort to poor behavior you don't make any point at all.

            1. re: nosh

              Of course you have the right to dispute the veracity of the coupon, and question their intentions. But the "right" to disturb the entire establishment, or whomever is within earshot and eyesight of your behavior? I say no.
              Go through all the appropriate channels that you can. Talk to the server, the manager, the owner, the local Civic Association, the Better Business Bureau, the company which issued the coupon, etc. etc... But please, don't assume that your problems are necessarily mine because I am dining near you.
              Remember, your meal was affected, not mine.
              Again, not that the OP did that. I just don't agree that it's an acceptable form of action to walk out the door making a scene. It's unseemly and embarassing...for you.
              Go home, cool off, don't assume the worst, work through your frustrations and resolve the problem in a mature manner. Decide what your course of action needs to be after you've gathered all the facts that you can.

              1. re: monavano

                C'mon folks, read and pay attention to the details. I would feel free to be loud about it ON THE WAY OUT, and I specified people waiting to be seated and coming into the restaurant. My dissatisfaction is aimed at those people planning to eat there, not the ones already seated and eating their meals. I didn't say I'd cause an uproar in the dining room, I specified on the way out.

                And I'm sorry, a place that falsely plants coupons and then makes up restrictions -- exactly the scenario I explicitly specified -- deserves to have their despicable little practices protested. Perhaps others, should they become aware of the controversy, would express their own outrage at similar practices they are silently enduring by applauding.

                1. re: nosh

                  You're assuming that it's the restaurants fault. As leb said above, sometimes these coupon sites purposely leave stuff off. How is that the restaurants fault?? Them not honouring a coupon before any transaction has occured is not the worst thing to happen to a person is it??

                  DT

                  1. re: nosh

                    Nosh, let me burn down your straw man arguement right here and now, lest anyone think my reading and comprehension skills are faulty or that your clarification would make a bit of difference in my opinion.
                    In the establishment, at the door of the establishment, on the sidewalk-what I just said.

                    1. re: monavano

                      "and I specified people waiting to be seated "

                      um... but Nosh, I'm assuming they don't have some completely seperate soundproof holding corral for waiting as few places do. Since you specifically say you plan on being LOUD on "your way out" about it it stands to reason that people within the establishment are going to be bothered.

                      "On my way out" is not outside. It is causing a disturbance on private property. Anyone does that in my place I call the police.

                      But then again I don't do those coupon websites because as I mentioned many are scams.

                      I repeat: many of these websites that sell restaurant coupons DELIBERATELY leave off restriction info that the restaurant wants to have on... because people are more likely to buy the coupon if it doesn't mention restrictions.

                      Restaurants do not get a portion of the sales from these sites.
                      Because this is a fairly new thing many owners do not realize what they are getting themselves into.

                      If you are going to use these coupons I suggest calling first. Now I'm not saying no restaurant has ever left this info off either deliberately or through neglect. But with these coupon websites it is deliberate and it happens frequently.

                      Please note also that while a coupon may not list specifically when the coupon is not valid it may simply say "restrictions may apply".

                      When you see "restrictions may apply" you MUST call first or risk your coupon being invalid.

                      Case in point:
                      The coupon may be valid for weekday lunches but say maybe Valentines or Xmas falls on a weekday and there is a special prix fixe menu. Probably won't apply on holidays.

                      1. re: lebelage

                        For the record, my coupon was not 'bought' from a coupon site. Time out London is THE weekly magazine (and guide book empire) for London. They are teamed up with these restaurants to offer these deals. I have read all of the fine print which makes lunches the ONLY restriction. Some other restaurants that had this coupon had more specific reservations. I'm just miffed because who is to say that they aren't changing their 'restrictions' for anybody who comes in whenever ("oh i'm so sorry, the coupon is only for Tuesday lunches and not wednesday lunches"). I've raised the issue with timeout.

                        I just feel like if they said this to me, who is to say that they aren't saying it to everybody who comes in whenever. "Oh I'm sorry,

                        1. re: relizabeth

                          Why not call up the restaurant on a weekday and see if they'll take the coupon that day? It doesn't seem that hard to me. It seems to me like it was an honest mistake that's not that hard to verify.

                          1. re: queencru

                            Isn't that pouring more money and time into the restaurant than initially budgeted? After I have spent more money in an establishment than I had planned for, I'm hardly like to to send even more money their way just to see what happens.

                            1. re: thinks too much

                              I don't see that it costs you anything extra to call a restaurant saying you plan on coming in that day to use a two-for-one coupon. There's nothing that binds you to having to return to the restaurant after making the call, even if they do say they'll take it.

                              1. re: queencru

                                Sorry I misunderstood. I read your "call up" as "call upon." That is to say, stop by again on a weekday to see if the coupon is valid at that point.

                2. re: nosh

                  I'd have to agree with the others -
                  there is NEVER an excuse for that type of behaviour - and the only poing that you would actually make is that YOU are a jerk.

                  "At that point, it is my strong opinion that they are in the wrong and deserve to suffer the consequences" "I would walk out saying they are dishonest and my coupon was not honored, and others should beware of bad customer relations."
                  "
                  The restaurant would suffer no consequences because even if your point was valid, no one would care or respect your point because you would look like such a fool.

                  "

                  1. re: NellyNel

                    I agree with nellynel and the others. That's just boorish.

                    1. re: NellyNel

                      Exactly.....nosh's reaction says far more about nosh than the establishment.

                3. re: monavano

                  I agree with monavano. You agreed to stay and pay full price, you are not "due" anything. Either find a way to use the coupon on a weekday or throw it out or give it to someone else who can use it. Agree that they should specify on the coupon that it's only good for weekdays, but they told you they wouldn't honor it and you chose to stay, so they don't owe you anything.

                4. is there any more polarizing topic then this? good times.......

                  anyways, sounds like you are SOL, dealing with less then accomodating restauranteurs is a bit of a pain, but atleast you learned in one meal which place you dont need to patronize again. Sometimes its not about winning as such, but what you take away from a situation that counts.

                  1. Sorry relizabeth.

                    I have to agree that you're SOL. The basic fact is that you agree to pay for what you ordered.
                    You now have two choices. If you liked the place but it left a bit of a bad taste in your mouth, go back and see how it goes. If you're thoroughly irritated by the matter, don't waste your time and money on them.
                    Sometimes life just isn't fair. It happens and you move on. Resorting to poor behaviour doesn't make up for it. (Not saying that you did). Perhaps you'll get some good karma your way in the near future.

                    DT

                    1. A question is did you pay for the coupon? If so then you can complain to whomever issued it and took your money. I once had an incident where a coupon in the Entertainment book was not honored and the call to them along with a copy of the coupon and receipt in the mail brought a refund.
                      Since then I always call ahead unless it's a place I have experience with.
                      I have found some really great places that I return to for full price after first visit with a coupon. Example Kirin Palace Indian restaurant in Hicksville NY.
                      If the coupon was free, then, you gave up your complaining rights when told not on weekends.

                      One incident really got me angry when I had 3 entertainment coupons for a restaurant that had specified Saturday seating before 6p.m. and one couple was late in arriving 6:05-6:10 and the restaurant said no dice, but the question was upfront before ordering. We enjoyed the meal with friends and the show after. Still good food even though its fun to get meals for free.

                      1. I'd say if you enjoyed the meal, go back during the valid coupon hours and have a second meal for 1/2 price. If you didn't enjoy the meal, find another 2 for 1 deal for someplace else, and call first. But I'd say once you learned the coupon wasn't valid for Saturday (whether it was stated on the coupon or not) and decided to stay, you lost all bargaining power.
                        I've had Entertainment book coupons disallowed because I learned after dining that "we changed management and we don't have to accept those coupons anymore". And yet I've had coupons that weren't valid at a particular location that were honored anyway. Those are the places I continue to frequent even if I don't have a coupon.

                        1. Well as a small business owner, I'm going to chime in. Seeing how the restaurant was aware the website does not specify weekday only and they were there for Saturday lunch not dinner (going to guess less than a full house), why not just honor the coupon? The coupon did its job, it got the customer in the door, you were aware that the coupon did not mention weekdays only. I for one would have honored the coupon. Now if were a blatant misprinted error like buy 1 entree get 4 free, then I'd say give the restaurant a break.

                          1. I feel for you - you decided to patronize this particular restaurant over others at least in part because of the coupon. The best thing would have been for the restaurant to have honored the coupon. If they weren't going to do that, at least they could have been apologetic and maybe given you a free app or something? But, at least you found this out before you had ordered, so you *could* have gone somewhere else if you had chosen to. Since they told you upfront that they wouldn't honor the coupon that day and you chose to stay and eat there anyway, I don't think you are due any money back.

                            The good news, if you like the restaurant, is that you still have the coupon, right? You can go back and use it for a 2 for 1 weekday lunch in the future.

                            That said - I have had similar experiences with restaurants not honoring Entertainment book coupons (not sure if that's what you had). I've been told by several places that the Entertainment books just keep publishing coupons for the same restaurants even when the restaurant has decided not to participate any longer (and mine has coupons from places that have been closed for several years...). So they get a ton of people coming in trying to use coupons they didn't mean to have out there at all. A few of these places have just posted a sign saying that they don't accept them, but some do accept them anyway. I went to a seafood resto with an Entertainment book coupon - there was a menu printed with the coupon that said like Dungeness Crab $17 (or something). The menu at the resto said the crab was $25 and I asked about it - the manager told me that the Entertainment book must have been printing an old menu for several years and I was the first person who asked about it. I didn't make a big deal about it (I think there is a disclaimer on the book saying prices subject to change without notice, blah blah blah) and they didn't offer to give me the lower price or anything else.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: akq

                              I think you hit on the key point here. Even if the coupon did not say "not valid on weekends" I am sure that somewhere there must have been a "subject to change without notice" clause.... nearly every coupon I've ever seen has either an expiry date or one of those.

                            2. As a business owner I would be very concerned that the site was misrepresenting the offer. If I couldn't find the time to get it corrected (as you said they responded) I would think it had become largely my responsibility to deal with. It's the restaurant's image that will be affected, not the site's.

                              Once I became aware of the problem, if honoring a lot of the coupons were somehow prohibitive, I might have posted a discreet sign at the host station openly apologizing for the error in hopes that it would help mitigate the problem. In any situation where it seemed that not honoring the coupon was causing ill feelings, I would simply honor it. I know that means unequal treatment of patrons, but assumes that people who are more understanding are OK with the inconvenience.

                              In this specific scenario, I do feel that once you accepted the situation you really abandoned your recourse to a refund. That, however, doesn't mean it wasn't worth a try. I definitely would not hold this against the restaurant, given the specifics.

                              1. We recently had a similar experience. In our case we had a 1/2 price second entree coupon for a neighborhood joint that I otherwise would not have tried that night. There were clearly no restrictions on the coupon, except for the expiration date which was several months in advance. When we presented the coupon (for a mediocre, otherwise overpriced meal) the owner stated that he was no longer accepting coupons because business has been bad. Not wishing to argue the point (and knowing that business certainly wasn't going to be getting any better) we paid the full bill, and then were short-changed $10. When that was pointed out, he dropped the $10 on the table with no apology. Long story to make the point that getting customers in with a coupon offer and then denying the coupon is nothing short of a bait and switch, and anyone who engages in such a practice does not deserve to have a successful business. In the OP case, I agree that once the bill was fully paid, no refund should be expected, but I would certainly never darken the door of that restaurant again, and I would let all my acquaintances know the reason.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Marge

                                  There's one big difference between your story and the OP's. They presented the coupon first and were informed that it wouldn't be honoured. They opted to stay and pay full price. You presented yours at the end and had no other recourse. In the OP's instance, if I really liked the food, I'd give it another chance. In your case, not a chance in hell.

                                  DT

                                  1. re: Davwud

                                    I'm gonna be honest. The food was pretty disappointing for a resto/chef with such accolades. My dessert was sublime; a buttermilk pudding with poached pear. So full of flavour and textures. We cant really afford pricey meals, and even if we could, we will certainly never go there again. I absolutely recognize we lost all bargaining leverage when we agreed to stay, but I also think they are lying. This restaurant updates its website daily with a new menu, so it would be easy to post a tiny little note somewhere on it.

                                    1. re: Davwud

                                      sure Marge had recourse, she just chose not to belabor the point! She could have stood her ground and only agreed to pay the amount that was required w/ coupon. It wasnt worth it to her to push the issue(and probably not to me either) but there isnt much the owner could have done if She refused to pay.

                                      1. re: nkeane

                                        I'm not sure what the laws are in other countries, but in the US there is a recourse: file a complaint with the consumer's division at the state attorney general's office. It's easy - you can do it over the phone or (in most states) on-line. State your case - the coupon listed no restrictions, but was not honored, even if you chose to stay at the establishment. The AG's office will work on your behalf (usually for a refund or for a comp dinner) if they believe you were wronged.

                                        There is no reason whatsoever for an establishment to get away with a stunt like this. If a customer comes in with a valid coupon, the establishment needs to honor this. If it's a problem with Entertainment - they need to take it up with them and leave the customer out of it. Same with any other publication.