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Restaurants that call you and ask that you "Call us back to confirm" a reservation you've already confirmed online. Do you call back?

Increasingly restaurants are accepting, if not encouraging, online reservations. I happen to love the convenience of this however, lately I've been finding that more and more restaurants are calling me a day or two in advance and leaving a message saying to give them a call back to confirm the reservation.

While I understand why they're doing this, I also find it annoying. It tells me that they don't trust that if my plans have changed, that I'd let them know.

They are now creating a more cumbersome, two-step reservation process. The message is, if you want to dine here, make a reservation on-line and then, you better call us closer to the date too.

I dine out frequently due to business and lately, I haven't been calling back. What about you?

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  1. Yes. I'd rather spend 5 minutes on the phone than lose the reservation. We've had too many online reservations disappear. Or maybe "disappear".

    1. Yes, I call back. Always. Not only would I, too, "rather spend 5 minutes on the phone than lose the reservation," but online reservations are not fool-proof. In other words, from my end, I've shown up at the appointed date and time only to have the restaurant have no record of my making a reservation -- this is why I *always* print out the emailed confirmation and bring it with me.

      But more importantly, from the restaurant's point-of-view, you have hit the nail on the head:
      >>> It tells me that they don't trust that if my plans have changed, that I'd let them know. <<<

      Have you ever worked in the front of the house? Do you have any idea how many people change their plans and do NOT let the restaurant know? Happens every night -- or, at least, several times a week -- whether we're talking about casual dining, fine dining, or even "uber-fine" dining. This is precisely why they still ask for a confirmation within 48 hours, and why some restaurants will insist on a credit card to charge if you fail to appear . . .

      1. it isn't personal ..... no one is calling you,specifically, untrustworthy. most restaurants are operating on a razor thin margin right now, and they cannot afford tables sitting empty

        1. It's unfortunate that so many people are so inconsiderate as to make reservations and simply fail to show up. But it's pretty common, so you can't blame the restaurant for asking for confirmation. They're just trying to make sure they have customers for all their tables and tables for all their customers - that's a good thing. And for me the confirmation phone call has always been a matter of seconds, not minutes, so it really isn't that big a deal.

          At least it's harder these days for the boors to make three or four reservations and then decide at the last minute what they're "in the mood" for. Lots of places use Open Table, which will only allow you to hold a single reservation at a time without resorting to convoluted shenanigans.

          1. BC, have to agree with everyone, though it's a pain for someone like you who dines out a lot. Better to call and make sure they have your spot, as you'll waste more time and energy arguing with a restaurant about not having your res, then maybe having to find someplace else to eat - just a bad start to an evening.

            1. Even if you call in advance it is good etiquette to call the day of to confirm your reservations. If they call me it is one less thing I have to remember. If I make the reservation the day of I don't confirm. I have never been asked to call and confirm after making one online though.

              3 Replies
              1. re: melpy

                >>"I have never been asked to call and confirm after making one online though."<<

                Really? I'd say that 90% of the time when I reserve online I get a phone call the day before or the day of. Maybe if it's a regional thing?

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  Perhaps you just don't answer your phone and then have to call back from the message they left you?

                  1. re: melpy

                    Ah, I think we're actually saying the same thing. Yes, it's the restaurant that initiates the confirmation. If I catch the call, that's the end of it. If not, the reservationist leaves a message and I call back.

              2. I call back. It literally takes about 45 seconds, so I don't see the big deal.

                Actually, when I have any sort of special dinner (with clients, or a personal special occasion) I call and confirm even if not prompted to, just to try to alleviate any issues with an existing reservation.

                1. I don't mind returning the call either, and completely understand the reasoning. The discourtesy of the general public is running rampant now and this is becoming necessary in many areas - for example, almost all my doctors and dentists now call you to confirm the appointment 24-48 hours in advance and if they have to leave a message, they require a call-back to confirm you are actually coming. Too many people not showing up when they're supposed to.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: rockandroller1

                    the discourtesy of the general public is running exactly as rampant as it always has, and probably always will. there was no golden age when people were better or worse than they are now

                    1. re: thew

                      Please show evidence and references to your statement.

                      1. re: Boychucker

                        "The world is passing through troublous times. The young people of
                        today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for
                        parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as
                        if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is
                        foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest
                        and unladylike in speech, behavior and dress."
                        Peter the Hermit -A.D. 1274

                        "The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for
                        authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place
                        of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their
                        households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They
                        contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties
                        at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.
                        attributed to Socrates by Plato

                        if people were always living by the rules of "proper manners" none of jane austin's books would have had antagonists. the entire genre of manners fiction of the victorian age would not have existed. can you please show me any evidence that people were less discourteous in the past?

                        1. re: thew

                          No, I didn't say that people were less discourteous in the past. Thank you for the evidence.

                          1. re: thew

                            These are fun quotations, Thew, but these are not evidence that people were no better or worse than they are now. Only that people have made observations about the discourtesy of the younger generation for millennia. This could just as well serve as evidence that we've been heading downhill for some time.

                            Seriously, though, I am more troubled by the recent studies that have observed a distinct decline in empathy within the past twenty years. This is not a matter of manners, but a something different and still important.

                    2. It has nothing to do with you or your plans. It has to do with people who make reservations on phone or on line and then just decide notto show up and don't call the restaurant. Happens all the time.

                      1. The OP is right. An increasing number of places call you 48 hours or so before the date to reconfirm. Doesnt matter whether it's originally an online or phone reservation. Proves how much no-shows can impact on the business. I don't blame them at all for calling - it's not a problem.

                        1. It's an unfortunate fact of life. Many people just don't show up, so restaurants need to be careful. I just roll with it as it's better than showing up and having them tell me they canceled my res because I didn't "re-confirm" (which is actually just a confirmation of an online booking).

                          On the other side of this, though, I once planned a major special occasion SURPRISE dinner for my wife and the restaurant called back to re-confirm two days before in spite of my very careful request to email me if they needed anything. OF COURSE my wife took the call. So much for the surprise. Very annoying and disappointing.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Midlife

                            That's why I give them my cell phone number . . . I'm the only one who answers it! ;^)

                            1. re: zin1953

                              Jason.................. I think this was before cell phones. Anyway............. until just a couple months ago we didn't have cell service at our home. I finally talked our carrier into a network extender. Amazing piece of equipment when you need one.

                              1. re: Midlife

                                Ah, yes -- the magical wonders of mini-cell phone towers. The City of Berkeley won't let anyone build more cell sites, and as a result, cell service in the Berkeley Hills *sucks* -- but not with that mini-tower! ;^)

                          2. I mostly have a "screw you" response.

                            If you don't trust a system, stop using the system. If a restaurant has a double confirmation system for its reservations, the first step shouldn't even be used. If you only trust a phone, then stick with a phone-only system.

                            15 Replies
                            1. re: ediblover

                              If you make a reservation -- EITHER online OR by telephone -- 2-4 weeks or more in advance, MOST places will call you 24-48 hours in advance to confirm . . . it has nothing to do with trusting a "phone-only" system . . . .

                              1. re: zin1953

                                Want to confirm a phone reservation? Call me.

                                Want to confirm an online reservation? Send me an e-mail.

                                Call up the webmaster and put in a confirmation check box of contact preference (phone, text message, etc.) and stop annoying me.

                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                    no, it really isn't. emails are easily ignored

                                    1. re: thew

                                      Yes it is. I really tired of paying exhorbitant roaming and long distance fees to 'confirm' reservations from my cell phone when in a different city.

                                      If the reservation needs to be confirmed please don't make me pay to keep the table.

                                      1. re: Atahualpa

                                        Roaming and long distance fees? What is this, 1992?

                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                          Huh? Are cellular plans that much cheaper in the US that this isn't an issue? One call in NYC cost me nearly $9 last summer and it was under 4 minutes.

                                          1. re: Atahualpa

                                            Ouch! Virtually all cellular plans in the US are nationwide. No long distance, no roaming. You do tend to get hosed whenever you cross an international border, though.

                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                              Well . . . UNLESS you have international roaming and/or international data . . . . I find I can add these as necessary, and then subtract them when no longer needed.

                                  2. re: ediblover

                                    If emails resulted in prompt confirmations, restaurants would be using them already. They're quicker, easier, and cheaper than confirmation phone calls. Problem is, emails don't work.

                                    Seriously, is taking a 20-second confirmation phone call really a major annoyance or an undue burden? If so, you must lead a very sheltered life.

                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                      Don't see why you couldn't have an email option like this: The restaurant calls you to reconfirm. If you pick up the phone, the conversation is over in 10-15 seconds and you're done. If you don't pick up the phone, the restaurant leaves you a message urging you to reconfirm either by email or phone. It simultaneously sends you a similar email message that you can easily reply to in order to reconfirm your reservation. Now the choice is yours. If you want to reconfirm by email you can do so with a few keystrokes and it will probably save a little bit of time and money for both you and the restaurant.

                                      1. re: nocharge

                                        I like that idea. It sounds like a reasonable compromise.

                                1. re: ediblover

                                  It's not a matter of the system failing, it's people that fail to show up for reservations. We deal in life with all sorts of policies that are implimented due to the bad apples spoiling the bunch. Same thing with confiming reservations. It's just a way for a restuarant to maximize it's business and plan as best as possible to give great service to everyone.

                                  In my experience, on a typical night a restuarant will have 10-15% no show rate of non confirmed reservations. Confirmed, day of reservations have a no show rate of about .05%. So it really helps to plan the night if the majority of the reservations are confirmed.

                                  1. re: timxph

                                    Also consider that you might not get a last minute reservation at a particular restaurant because they are "booked up", yet if the restaurant knew that, say, that extra 10% weren't showing up after all, you might be able to get a table. (Not sure if I explained that clearly.) So the bottom line is that you/we (the dining public) can benefit from a restaurant's re-confirmation policy. It can help you when you're at the other end of the (dining) stick.

                                    1. re: boredough

                                      boredough - yes, you explained it clearly and I agree. I know that, at the very top end, walk-ins or same-day bookings are as rare as chocolate teapots but, a little further down the scale, they can be worth a punt. If a place knows it has a table just come free, then everyone can benefit. The re-confirm phone call is one of those things that just seems a win-win.

                                2. Definitely call back. I am in a service business (not food related) and we have people all the time who do not cancel appointments and are simply no-shows or "oops I meant to call and cancel" when our technician shows up at their house.

                                  Customers are increasingly inconsiderate. If everyone canceled....heck even if most people canceled...when plans changed there would not be a need for such a confirmation. Trust me, it's as annoying (if not more so) to make those calls than it is to receive them.

                                  11 Replies
                                  1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                    again - are they increasingly inconsiderate? or are they just as spread out along the spectrum of behaviors as they've always been?

                                    1. re: thew

                                      Increasingly inconsiderate.

                                      Do you seriously have any doubt?

                                      1. re: zin1953

                                        yes. yes i do have doubt.

                                        i think there have always been rude people and polite people. I also think that what entails good manners changes, and what people often decry as a loss of civility really means an inability to update one's mores to the world they live in now.

                                        1. re: thew

                                          Don't take this the wrong way, but all I can say is, "Good for you!" Perhaps in New York City, the level of rudeness has remained constant -- after all the city has a certain reputation (whether true or not) to maintain.

                                          On the other hand, without delving into a huge philosophical (and off-topic) debate of when and how bad manners transform into social mores, I have seen a significant increase in restaurant no-shows over (approx.) the last 10 years, as have the chefs/GMs/maître d'hôtels with whom I have spoken. (This thread was a conversation at dinner last night.)

                                          You are correct in that -- of course! -- there have always been rude and polite people, but since when has it been "good manners" to make a reservation at a restaurant, and then change your plans without canceling the reservation??? That has *nothing* do do with social mores.

                                          1. re: zin1953

                                            did i support not calling? i call even if it's just because i'm running a few minutes late. Not calling is rude.

                                            I just do not think, that as a whole, people have changed all that much in the last 50, 100, or 1000 years.

                                              1. re: thew

                                                Well, I wish we all lived in your world . . . (but we don't).

                                                1. re: zin1953

                                                  I'm glad to say that I live in that world as well. People have been complaining about the decline of civilization pretty much since the dawn of civilization.

                                                  1. re: donovt

                                                    I don't disagree with that, nor with the fact that people will always find something to complain about -- no matter how great things happen to be . . . but -- sticking to the topic at hand -- every restaurant owner, manager, etc. has complained about an increase in "no-shows," and I've seen it myself, so . . . .

                                                    1. re: zin1953

                                                      id be curious to see if the numbers really reflect the perception. im sure there are more cancellations in absolute numbers, because more people are going out to dinner more often than in the past. I wonder if the percentage has actually changed.
                                                      or perhaps the margin for profit is thinner, and thus every empty seat stands out more in the perception of those involved. I can think of many reasons for the perception to grow, without actually being correct.

                                        2. re: thew

                                          Increasingly. It's all about them and all of that.

                                          I think the economic situation hasn't helped either. Some customers feel they have the upper hand and don't mind being inconsiderate.

                                      2. I've received confirmation phone calls from restaurants for reservations I've made online and by phone. If I miss the call I'll call back to confirm if they've requested that in the message. I only make reservations when it's a special occasion or I'm on vacation so I don't want to risk losing the res or having to wait.

                                        It's not just restaurants, I get these requests from doctor's offices, the vet and other types of appointments. In the past, messages would say just to call back if I need to cancel, now they want me to call to confirm either way. I've never missed any appointment with anyone so I don't think it's personal. My vet's office is really getting on my nerves. They will leave messages asking me cofirm an appointment I made by phone the previous day.

                                        1. Unfortunately, they need to do this confirmation call because they get burned so often by people who make reservations and don't show up. Restaurants can end up with a half empty dining room on what should be a busy night, just because would-be diners don't have the courtesy of calling to cancel. That can literally kill a restaurant, especially one that is just starting, if it happens enough.

                                          I always call to cancel should that need to happen, and don't mind at all calling back to confirm. The only problem I would have is if I showed up and found that they gave away my reservation because I didn't confirm.

                                          1. It annoys me because I screen my calls and don't pick up unknown #'s. I get that they want to make sure that my plans haven't changed, and it would be unfair of me (and rude) to not call back. But I do like it when the restaurant says that a call back is not necessary.

                                            Just don't put me on hold when I call back to confirm. That pisses me off.

                                            1. I thought I'd add a story about how restaurants should NOT handle booking confirmations. Around 7 years ago, our friends made a reservation for a Saturday night at The Grocery in Brooklyn. At the time of the booking, they were not told they had to reconfirm. When they got home after a day of chores/shopping, they found a recording from the restaurant that said "Calling to confirm your reservation for tonight. If we don't hear from you by 5pm, we will cancel your reservation." Of course, it was 5:30pm - our friends called The Grocery, quite angry, to complain about this unacceptable treatment, claiming they would have been happy to call had they known of the policy, insisting they find us a table or we would never set foot into their restaurant. The response was something to the effect of "We just got a great review by the NY Times, so we don't need your business." Needless to say, we have never ever considered going to The Grocery, and never will. And on that evening in question, we discovered a wonderful new restaurant in Queens after having to scrounge around for a last minute table on a Saturday night. At least we got lemonade out of those lemons....

                                              1. Well, a generation ago, it was quite the norm to confirm the night before or midday of for fine dining reservations in the evening. It sorta fell by the wayside for 20-30 years, but it turns out that declining manners (increasing prevalence of no-showing) and the harsh economy have contributed to a revival of the practice. Except they are doing it for you (in the "old" days, no one did it for you, and if you didn't do it, you might show up and find your rezo gone).

                                                1. As l am an anachronism, l rarely carry a phone. When a res is made at restaurant or Dr office or whatever, l tell them this and to mark me confirmed, l will get to them if l need to cancel, has always worked.