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Confirming online reservations

This is a pet peeve of mine. I make an online res to a restaurant that accepts them. They accept it, confirm with an e-mail, and then demand that I call to confirm.

What is the point of making reservations available online if you send the customers right back to antiquated ways: dial during open hours, wait until someone answers (if they do), then get put on hold, only to say once more what they already had a written record of.

For people who have never failed to cancel a res when they couldn't show up (and I consider myself in that group), this is somewhat insulting, time-wasting, frustrating, and basically making us pay for the sins of others. I assume Open Table (and other online res services) cuts off subscribers who are no-show too often.

At the very least, if you want a confirmation, make that available on line. Then we can answer on our schedule, not yours, and everyone (the restaurant included) will save time.

Am I the only one who feels this way?

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  1. What do you mean they demand that you call? They send an email asking for that? I've made many reservations online and I have never been asked to call the restaurant. However, they usually call me to confirm, which I understand. What restaurants are you talking about?

    1. I use Open Table quite a bit. I've never had a restaurant demand that I call to confirm a reservation, but I have had them call me to confirm.

      Open Table will send you a nastygram if you miss a reservation, and I assume that they will remove/restrict your account if you are a repeat offender. Personally I've missed one reservation, and I blame being in Vegas.

      1. "At the very least, if you want a confirmation, make that available on line. Then we can answer on our schedule, not yours, and everyone (the restaurant included) will save time."

        Is a 1-minute phone call really asking a lot? Maybe age has something to do with this? Just guessing, not making any assumptions.

        I like speaking to a person on the phone to confirm the reservation. I admit, having the restaurant ask you to call is kind of odd; in most cases they are the ones to call you. Speaking to an actual person on the phone is, well, personal. I'm no Luddite by far, I do most of my retail shopping online because I find retail stores annoying and many salespeople don't know half as much as the info I can find on the store's web site. But when it comes to a reservation at a high end restaurant, I want to speak to an actual person to assure me I have the reservation.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ttoommyy

          What's the point of an online reso setup if you have to call them anyways? That was his point.

          And yes, I eschew using the phone, it is so much easier to do things online where possible

        2. I make plenty of reservations on OpenTable and have never been asked to call the restaurant to confirm. The restaurant has always called me. If I don't take their call, I call them back to confirm. Making a 20 second phone call really isn't too taxing.

          2 Replies
          1. re: LeoLioness

            +1.

            1. re: LeoLioness

              <<Making a 20 second phone call really isn't too taxing.>>

              Maybe not for you, but when one is in the air for virtually days at a time, it is not as easy, as you make it sound.

              Hunt

            2. I do become annoyed when I make an Open Table ressie, then when the restaurant calls a day or two prior to confirm, gets my voicemail, then asks me to call back to confirm. It would be better if they said to call back if you can't make it and leave it at that.

              7 Replies
              1. re: nancyhudson

                In my experience, v-mail & e-mail are not always received -- usually messages make it through all the filters, but sometime not. Per the restaurant is merely trying to confirm you actually received the voice message they left?

                1. re: Stephanie Wong

                  Yes, after one has made the reservations, and then tried to return the telephone call, that some restaurants would still want direct, voice confirmation. That's cool if one one lives in the city, where the restaurant is located, but almost impossible, if one lives in the air.

                  As an Opentable VIP member from way, way back (I have 25,000 points now), I have had two incidents, where I did not make my reservations (out of maybe 2500), and one was missed by a day (my error), and the other was a reservation that I meant to cancel, along with the trip, and just missed them, thinking that they were in NYC (a trip still on the books,) and not Chicago (a trip that had to be canceled). I will call every restaurant, even international, to cancel, should the trip change dramatically. Stuff happens.

                  When I can, I return the calls, but when I cannot, I do not want any guff, when I show up for my reservation. I do, what I can do.

                  Hunt

                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    Like you Hunt, I use OT extensively...I'm sure at least a few thousand times. I don't recall ever being asked to reconfirm by telephone...am not even sure how this would be requested...in the confirmation email?? This has never happened to me! I frequently receive a confirmation call from the restaurant, but have never been told that I must return the call to confirm. There are a few restaurants which require a credit card number to make an OT res, and state a penalty for being a no-show. This I think is perfectly fine!

                    1. re: josephnl

                      We get requests for confirmation, on my wife's cell phone, as it is International, where mine is only US. I'd speculate that it's about 30% of the time, and most in San Francisco, though that is no surprise, as we are there 1 - 4x per month, and usually book through OT. Most often, these are delivered via voice-mail, as we are in the air, with her phone turned OFF. When we land, we confirm.

                      Hunt

                2. re: nancyhudson

                  "It would be better if they said to call back if you can't make it and leave it at that."

                  But the restaurant can't assume you got and/or listened to the voicemail. That is why a call back is asked for. Have we gotten so advanced that courtesy phone calls, both ways, are beyond us? I hope not.

                  1. re: nancyhudson

                    Yes, Nancy that's what I was describing. I guess I should have mentioned the timing -- a day or two before the res (which is sometimes the day after I made it, sometimes a week or two later). They get my machine, and ask me to call back. Demand is a strong word, but there is an implicit threat that if you don't call back to confirm, you will show up and be told sorry, you didn't confirm, we gave your table away.

                    This is now the third time it happens to me.

                    To ttoommyy's point, it is only a one-minute or a 20-second phone call if they pick up and don't put you on hold. It tends to be the popular restaurants who do this, and their reservation lines are busy. You are right back to the aggravation you were hoping to avoid by reserving online.

                    1. re: FrancisdeR

                      Since there are no restaurants (that I know of at least) that have an online reservation confirmation system, then I default to the restaurants in this situation. There must be a reason they all want a telephone call as confirmation. After all, they are the experts in this situation.

                      I do agree with you though FrancisdeR, the restaurant putting the ball in your court and having you call them is annoying (I'm not talking returning a VM, but having a policy that you have to call them from the start to confirm).

                  2. This happens to me all the time and I don't mind returning a call to confirm. I've never had to wait on hold but, if it turned into something inconvenient, I'd just skip calling back. Or call during off hours when I know I'd get a machine. But I've also forgotten to call back and confirm several times and no restaurant has ever canceled my reservation.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: bluex

                      Often, due to time zones, we have to rely on VM, and if that is not adequate, then I make note to never bother them again. I vote with my AMEX card.

                      Hunt

                    2. I am pretty much with you on this one. Even when making the reservation, with an international call, many restaurants will demand that one call (often twice), with confirmations. Not exactly sure what the deal is, but for one recent reservation, we had to do three international calls (though we were in the UK, the phone was based in the US), for a table for two. It probably cost us more to do those confirmations, than to actually dine there, with wines.

                      On one occasion, we were flying back from London, through IAD to SFO, and had received a call, to confirm our reservation in San Francisco. We called from IAD, but they were not open. When we arrived, they gave us grief about not returning their call. Well heck, we were in the air for a total of 18 hours, so we were unable to return your call, since you did not have voice mail. Finally, after a few moments of trying to make us feel bad, they relented, and the restaurant was about 1/4 full. Guess who has never made it to our list for any of our 25 trips to SF per year? An attitude will likely allow you to fall completely off our list. YOU are not the only restaurant in SF, and we do have choices.

                      I feel your pain, and aggravations, and now book with restaurants, who do not need hourly updates and confirmations.

                      Hunt

                      1. House of Prime Rib in SF does this.

                        They are good about answering the phone, so I don't mind although I do worry they'd give my reservation away if I somehow forgot to call back.