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Mar 22, 2011 01:00 PM

Canceling Reservations

Question: When one makes a reservation for dinner with a friend at a very busy restaurant weeks in advance, how annoyed can I be when the friend cancels on me three hours prior on behalf of the restaurant? Also, do they note this stuff on my opentable account so that I continue to look like a jerk who should get a bad table in perpetuity? Or is three hours prior not really a big deal to a restaurant (even one that called me to confirm my reservation yesterday?).

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  1. I'm sure they won't hold it against you. They won't have a problem seating someone else and, if you're a regular patron, they won't want to lose your business. They'll understand last minute changes can happen.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mucho gordo

      So many people don't show and don't call, so I say it's a point in your favor that you actually cancelled.

    2. I have also had to cancel at the last minute or close to it and each and every time they have thanked me profusely for calling. I'm guessing that most people don't bother and they are just happy to know what is going on.

      I wouldn't worry about it. We all have things happen that we can't control. The important thing is that you did the right thing with what you could control...notifying the restaurant as soon as you knew you couldn't make it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: baseballfan

        I've had the same experience. I had to cancel a 7pm reservation at 6:45 once, and the woman who took my call thanked me warmly. So either she was genuinely grateful, or they were over-booked, and I was doing them a favor.

      2. Good, I feel better.

        1. As a former waiter I can honestly say that if you cancel more than once then it is put on your opentable record that you don't show up to reservations. We also put stuff on your opentable profile like bad tipper, allergic to water and such. Just an FYI.

          15 Replies
          1. re: jayadams22

            Oh, my. Allergic to water. New to me. I'll use that one.

            1. re: jayadams22

              I think how many times you cancelled is on your record (at that particular restaurant) but I'm pretty sure you're not recorded as a no-show unless you called to do it and the restaurant enters it that way. I can't imagine why they would if you cancelled 3 hours prior. If I can't make it I always call and cancel, even if 10 minutes prior, so they're not holding a table - it's still better than being a no-show.

              1. re: jayadams22

                Huh. But not showing up is very different from canceling. And exactly what vengeance would a restaurant take on patrons who cancel and then rebook? Treating them badly would serve no purpose - "Ooh, let's hold dopey grudges and encourage people to avoid us. That would totally help our restaurant succeed." With all due respect, I call bullshit on this.

                1. re: small h

                  No, there is no reason to use that information against people, but it all does get recorded, it is what it is. We know if you are a first time diner, or if you have been in 20 times and cancelled 3 others, but mostly use the notes area to keep track of allergies, preferences, and birthday/anniversary months, especially for our regulars. It is very, very rare that we are driven to put a negative comment in a guest's reservation notes.

                  A few months ago, a diner apparently claimed to be allergic to kale, something else, and ice. <sheesh> It's OK to just ask for no ice if you have sensitive teeth or whatever.

                  1. re: babette feasts

                    I'm interested that you say that about birthdays/anniversaries, as I have made reservations as several restaurants using OT and indicating that it was a special occasion such as a birthday or anniversary and it has never been acknowledged in any way, ever. It's not like I'm at the olive garden and I expect a free cake and a song, but I've wondered what the point is of mentioning it if nobody ever acknowledges it. Do they actually do something about these special occasions at other restaurants than the ones in my town?

                    1. re: rockandroller1

                      We ate at a popular restaurant in Philly two weeks ago and I used Open Table to make the reservation. I did note it was a milestone birthday for my husband and the waiter sort of made a nice fuss about it.

                      1. re: rockandroller1

                        i've definitely had them take notice @ high end places - not flash and singing, but maybe the dessert plate will have happy birthday written in chocolate on it. at per se it had happy birthday matthew printed on the top of our menus. it varies, but it's definitely been paid attention to

                      2. re: babette feasts

                        I absolutely believe that cancellations get recorded. But if nothing is done about it, why should I care?

                        1. re: small h

                          I meant to support your calling of BS on supposedly vengeful restaurants. You shouldn't care. Well, you should care enough to make your cancellations in a timely manner, but otherwise the restaurant doesn't much care either. We just want to know who is coming when, it's nothing personal.

                          1. re: babette feasts

                            Exactly. I absolutely care enough to keep my reservation, or to cancel it as soon as I know I have to. But I don't care whether the servers are off in a corner gossiping over a notation in my Open Table profile. (Which I'm pretty sure they wouldn't be, since presumably they have more interesting things to do.)

                    2. re: jayadams22

                      Do you look differently on diners who cancel through OpenTable's online interface themselves, versus those that cancel by calling ? (I assume you don't lump these diners in with those who simply don't show and don't indicate they're not showing.)

                      1. re: dump123456789

                        I promise you that top restaurants pay attention to this. They all understand "life" happens, and some things are out of your control but if it happens too frequently you may have difficulty getting that primo time slot for a while. You have to understand that when u cancel last minute there is a very good chance that spot won't be filled. Open Table keeps a detailed history of diners reservation actions for the restaurant.

                      2. re: jayadams22

                        Yep, that's what I figured. Tonight I am actually going to a restaurant where I changed the date of the reservation *twice* but I did so both times weeks in advance. How would this reflect on me? Does it matter? I'm celebrating my birthday tonight, so when we order multiple bottles of wine and drop a nice tip will all be well?

                        Also, do people ever write *nice* notes on an opentable profile? Are things like my hatred of banquette tables and the fact that I'm always willing to wait for a better table on there?

                        Just to clarify, I in no way hold anything against restaurants for doing this - most of the time it seems like a net positive.

                        1. re: Raids

                          i occassionally hostess at the restaurant my husband is chef at, and use Open Table. Canceling /rebooking weeks in advance is a none issue. calling if you can't make your reservation makes you seem like you give a fig about other people, canceling repeatedly on the evening of is noted and makes you look bad.

                          1. re: Raids

                            Those top restaurants I speak of know that hospitality comes first. If a restaurant ever holds a grudge or shows arrogance it is not considered a top restaurant. Changing reservations is normal and so is canceling them. It does not matter how much you spend when you dine, and if you notice a sense of egotism when you have changed a reservation or cancelled before there is no reason to go back and spend your money there. We all love open table reservation notes because it is a way for us to know more about you before you come in, which increases the rate of us satisfying your needs, however unusual. A restaurant General Manager's main job is to keep the restaurant full, cancellations hurt that goal but pissing people off because things change is detrimental.

                        2. Much will depend on the restaurant, although I imagine most would understand that "emergencies" can arise and will appreciate the fact that you called rather than simply not turning up (which happens all too often and, rightly, considerably pisses off many places).