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Feb 26, 2012 07:35 PM

Canceling a Reservation

This past weekend, I had a friend with reservations at a restaurant here in town. She had to cancel last minute, because the couple she was planning on dining with couldn't make it. When she called to cancel the reservation (it was for that night), the person on the phone said that there was a $50 per person late cancellation fee. My friend protested, and the person on the phone said that it was stated on Opentable when they put their credit card info in to secure the reservation. MY friend is quite upset with this policy, and plans on disputing the charge with her bank. Is this something that happens often?

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  1. MY friend is quite upset with this policy, and plans on disputing the charge with her bank. Is this something that happens often?

    What happens often? The policy of having a cancellation fee, or people being upset about the policy?

    3 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      I meant restaurants charging the cancellation fee

      1. Yes it does happen. I would most absolutely ask the couple to pay their portion of the fee especially since they're the ones who cancelled last minute.

        6 Replies
        1. re: letsindulge

          But the couple did not know about the cancellation fee. The one who made the reservations should have, especially since she did it via opentable. I've made reservations through opentable where a credit card # is required to secure it. They don't make their cancellation policy a secret. It's pretty apparent (not like fine print in a huge legal document).

          1. re: Miss Needle

            If I was the couple, I'd offer to pay the $100 for us as a good faith gesture. I'm more amazed that the OP's friend didn't ask/look for a cancellation policy when giving her credit card number than I am that the restaurant has a cancellation policy.

            In a perfect world, when the OP's friend made the reservation she would have conveyed to her dining partners what the policy is.

            As the one who ALWAYS makes the dinner reservations among out friends and family, it's a thankless task..but that's another thread for another day.

            1. re: Janet from Richmond

              And if you were the one making the reservation -- well, you'd probably have known better and realized the cancellation policy and convey it to the others.

              If I was making the reservation, I would absorb the entire fee because it would have been entirely my fault. If the couple was aware of the cancellation fee and then canceled, I would have asked them for the $100.

              1. re: Miss Needle

                I agree with you :-) If I had made the reservation and didn't check the policy, I wouldn't mention to my friends when not checking backfired.

                If I was the friend and made aware of the policy, I'd pay my share.

                Hope that makes sense :-)

                1. re: Janet from Richmond

                  Perfect sense. I think you're just a very nice and accommodating person. : )

                  I think it's going to be a bit difficult to try to collect the fees from the couple, especially as they had no knowledge of the policy. Asking for their share may cause some ill will. I would think it's better for the OP's friend to just absorb the losses herself and chalk this up to being an expensive lesson for the future.

                2. re: Miss Needle

                  If the other couple was aware of the cancellation fee and still cancelled, they should pay the entire $200 unless a hospital or funeral home was part of the reason for their cancellation.

          2. Nothing at all unusual about cancellation charges (always presuming that a declaration of that policy was made clear at time of reservation - which the OP seems to indicate that it was, through OpenTable).

            1. What is her dispute? I would guess there was a cancellation policy (as there are with hotels, etc.) if reservations required a credit card as guarantee.

              The only people she should be upset with is herself for not reading the policy and her friends for cancelling at the last minute. The restaurant did nothing wrong.

              I make reservations on Opentable all the time and have not been asked for a credit card, so if a place required it I'd definitely check out the policy and let my friends know what it is as well.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Janet from Richmond

                Yeah, I guess I just wondered whether Open Table has my credit card in there somewhere (I don't think it does) and if so, then just having some pop-up or fine print wouldn't necessarily be enough to warn me. But if there's an extra step on OT to enter a credit card (just for this restaurant) then it's more obvious. Is it possible the OP was a first-time user of OT and didn't realize that the credit card entry was an extra (not usual) step? I've never run into a cancellation policy at OT, but then again, I've never dined at Per Se :)

                1. re: DGresh

                  From Open Table's website.....seems to me it would be obvious when entering one's credit card info.


                  1. re: Janet from Richmond

                    yeah, I agree, that looks pretty straightforward, and obvious.

              2. Having a cancellation fee at restaurants is most definitely a new thing and I wouldn't say happens "quite often".

                It has recently become more common with higher end restaurants because of the ease of making online reservations through multiple channels - and the subsequent increase in no-shows. In restaurants that don't have a large walk-in business these reserved tables can end up going unseated, thus impacting the bottom line - and thus the cancellation fee.

                I very much dislike these policies but have come to understand them and now look for this policy when making online reservations. If a restaurant is able to seat my table then there should be no charge, if the table goes empty well . . . but often then can re-seat the table so there really is no loss.

                1 Reply
                1. re: thimes

                  I would guess it is "quite often" when a credit card is required to make a reservation. At the very least, it should prompt a person to check out the cancellation policy.