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Apr 4, 2014 05:34 AM

Reservation Confirmation.

I know this probably shouldn't annoy me......but it does.

When I make a reservation for a restaurant (for example, I made a reservation tonight at Sarma), I usually get an email reminder from OpenTable and the restaurant usually calls a day or 2 in advance and leaves a voicemail reminder. Lately, I have been noticing that more and more Boston area restaurants are asking for a phone call back to confirm. This REALLY annoys me (for multiple reasons).

I TOTALLY understand that they want to make sure that the party actually shows up as table space is valuable and an empty table is not profitable. I guess in my ideal world (you know, the world in which I make all of the rules), OpenTable would send out an email reminder and there would be a button to "confirm" that you do in fact intend to show up. This could be part of the OpenTable protocol. Users would understand that if you do NOT confirm the reservation the day before by email (or call the restaurant to confirm instead if email is a problem), then the reservation will be made available to someone else. Likewise, if the reservation is not made through OpenTable the restaurant would inform you when you make the reservation that a confirmation call is expected.

I know this is a "first world problem" and really shouldn't get-my-goat everytime it happens, but it does. My poor coping is to ignore the request for a call back and hope that when I show up at the restaurant my table is still available.

Does this bother anyone else or am I the only A*&*hole on this board?

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  1. The policy doesn't bother me, but I'm sure you are just one of many.

    If you understand the reason, is for the restaurant to make a profit and stay in business maybe you should be more flexible.

    This maybe a disconnect between open table and the restaurant does the restaurant get your email address from open table or just phone numbers?

    I hope in your world you would also think about solving more serious problems and just execute those who double book reservations or don't show up.

    1. Ugh, I loathe it. I really don't like calling places (my hearing isn't great), and restaurants are some of the worst b/c they're generally taking the call in a noisy room. I make reservations via opentable because otherwise I just won't make reservations unless it's a really special occasion, because calling is too stressful. Also, I have a landline, not a cell, so I sometimes don't get the voicemail until after I've gotten home from the dinner in question (if they called that morning).

      I vastly prefer the ones that, if they need to really be sure I'll show, take a credit card and charge $25 or whatever if I don't show.

      2 Replies
      1. re: antimony

        YES, that is another BRILLIANT idea. I know Craigie and Main does this (or at least they did the last time I made reservations which was some time ago)!

        1. re: granolagurl

          it is a bit amusing that we'd rather risk a fee than make a phone call... but that said i also fall on that side of the line, if only because it's also a better enforcement mechanism (you can call to confirm, and nevertheless intend to flake out). I did like with Craigie (iirc) that they only charged the fee, or said they would anyhow, if they were unable to fill the table.

      2. I use OpenTable to make reservations *because* I don't like to make phone calls, so if using OpenTable was causing me to have to make phone calls, I would be super cranky about that, too.

        I suspect the problem is that a lot of people still manage to consider the internet not quite the real world, and thus commitments made on the internet to be not quite committed. I don't know that this is true, but I would not be at all surprised to find that restaurants get a much higher no-show rate for OpenTable reservations than they do for reservations they take over the phone, and if that speculation is correct, it could explain why they are so hardcore about confirming them.

        Which doesn't make it less annoying, just understandable.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Jacquilynne

          "I use OpenTable to make reservations *because* I don't like to make phone calls, so if using OpenTable was causing me to have to make phone calls, I would be super cranky about that, too."

          This is me to a tee, and therefore I agree with the OP that I find restaurants that require a "call back confirmation" annoying.

          I will also say that for the restaurants that use Open Table, they can see my reservation history and they know if I'm a frequent no-show (which I am not; I have NEVER not shown). I wish I got some sort of credit for that... Like, if there were a way restaurants would only require the call back confirmation from folks with a bad history in their OT file and give the rest of us the benefit of the doubt. That probably is hoping for too much though.

          1. re: Jacquilynne

            I doubt very much that restaurants have a greater no-show rate with OT reservations than with telephone reservations. Two reasons: 1) It is impossible to double book using OT, and more importantly, 2) if you no-show for an OT res, you not only get a strong dunning email automatically from OT, but you get noted in their system. If you no-show more than 2 or 3 times, you automatically get kicked out of OT.

            1. re: josephnl

              I would agree that OT's no-show policy makes it likely to discourage bad behavior although I don't have hard data. But it should be noted that there is a wide spectrum when it comes to the impact of no-shows on a restaurant. They cost the restaurant money and that's why some places require credit card reservations while others, typically larger places with a strong amount of walk-ins, may not care quite as much.

              As for OT, pretty much every time I've made a reservation, I've gotten a phone call asking me to call back to confirm.

            2. re: Jacquilynne

              Just checked with OT. Four no-shows in a 12 month period results in being kicked out of program and loss of any accumulated points. I guess you could always get a new account, but you would need to use another email address and new phone number...a real pain.

              I'd welcome another CH who's in the know commenting re the n/s rate with OT vs. that with phone reservations. I'd bet it's either the same or maybe even lower.

            3. restaurants could easily give people the option of sending an e-mail to confirm a reservation.

              1. It annoys me and, like you, I know it shouldn't. The point is, I went out of my way to schedule a reservation. I don't want to have to go out of my way to contact you a second time, on your schedule , to confirm the reservation I personally made. I'm a busy person, I don't have time to do things twice. Once ought to be enough. If everyone is required to do everything in life twice, we'll have only half as much time for leisure activities...such as dining out. Back. Off.

                Charge my credit card, put me on a blacklist for future reservations, I don't care, but just treat me with respect and like the responsible adult I am.

                I have never, ever missed a restaurant reservation. (although I have missed multiple haircuts and now very much appreciate the reminder from the salon the morning of my haircut appt.)


                23 Replies
                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  "I don't want to have to go out of my way to contact you a second time, on your schedule , to confirm the reservation I personally made. I'm a busy person, I don't have time to do things twice. Once ought to be enough'

                  Absolutely, and while the restaurant hostess or clerical worker taking my call may be making only $10/hr and that 2 minute call costs the restaurant 32 cents, I am an attorney and my time is often billed at $400/hr (sometimes less, sometimes more) and that 2 minute call can cost $13.

                  This may sound harsh, but it is reality. The restaurant is paid for my meal when I dine there, but doesn't pay me for my time when requiring the extra confirmation phone call. can be sure I won't be making those calls while in court.

                  1. re: bagelman01

                    Just out of curiosity, if you are running an attorney's office, wouldn't you have some lower paid individual take care of stuff like that?

                    1. re: nocharge

                      I was just thinking the same thing.....either my husband's assistant, or I (and sometimes I FEEL like the secretary!) make the call back....

                    2. re: bagelman01

                      so, why doesn't a $400/hour attorney have a personal secretary who handles all this stuff? people who earn less than that have secretaries that make reservations, do filing, fill out expense reports, write thank you letters, make travel reservations. etc.
                      part of the nachas involved in making $400/hr is having people assigned to relieve you of all this stuff.

                      (an alternaive to this might be that you just make an arrangement with the restaurant agreeing that they can charge you if you don't show. give them your credit card number.)

                      1. re: westsidegal

                        Due to recent health issues, I have been working from the office attached to my home. My staff is working from our downtown office, and it would take a call from my to a secretary and then the secreatry to the restaurant and then the secretary notify me. Too many steps and not needed.
                        Before my current illness, my secretary would have handled all these things, as she was seated right outside my private office door and regularly came in and reveiew schedule, etc.
                        Even so, my legal secretary's time is far more costly than the restaurant's hostess.

                      2. re: bagelman01

                        Bagelman....really, your time may be worth 400+ to someone who calls you for your time and advice....but not to anyone, or business, who you call, unless they are your client, discussing their case.

                        1. re: fourunder

                          simply put there are only so many billable hours in a working day.
                          I have never billed more time than I actually work, or more than one client for the same time. Some lawyers who research something and the answer will be used for more than one client bill that time to each client. Not ethical,
                          That said, there is no reason for duplicative work which is what these confirmation calls are. Take my credit card number with my reservation and charge me a fee for a no show.

                          1. re: bagelman01

                            Does the secretary also post on CH for you? ;) CH is my favorite way to kill time, er, I mean, take a quick mental break at work to optimize my remaining work :)

                            1. re: Hobbert

                              CH is my personal diversion. As I am the principal, I don't answer to anyone. Secretary does my work as requested, but answers to the office manager in the downtown office. Now that I am scaling back, I don't need a full-time secretary doing only my work. I don't mind getting my own coffee............................

                              At 60 I'm one of the last of the area attorneys who has a secretary. Most of the younger lawyers do their own typing on their own computers and legal secreatries are a scarce category of employee. Paralegals are the bulk of non attorney personnel in area law offices, and they don't generally get coffee, make dinner reservations, pick up dry cleaning or buy gifts for the wife.................

                              Not saying whether the change is good or bad, but when I used to spend all my days in a downtown office, my secretary was also the equivalent of a good hotel concierge....reservations, tickets, etc. Somehow when secretary morphed into 'administrative assistant, the willingness to do these things lessened. I'm old school, in that if I pay you a salary for your time, then I own it and if what I ask you to do isn't illegal, demeaning, or soils yor hands or clothing it's part of the job. Then again, these tasks would have been discussed in the interview process.

                              and as I am now working out of the home office and seldom have to see clients in person, time is flexible. I might be drafting a contract at 5am and on CH at 10am

                              1. re: bagelman01

                                I agree. I just accepted a new position at work and my new sergeant seemed surprised that I didn't care that I'd be working some Saturdays. Apparently, others had issues with it. As long as I know up front what's expected of me, I'm happy. Change the expectations after I'm doing the job? Then we've got problems. Now I just need to figure out how much time I have to screw around on CH at this new position...

                                1. re: bagelman01

                                  << when I used to spend all my days in a downtown office, my secretary was also the equivalent of a good hotel concierge....reservations, tickets, etc>>

                                  that's how it always was for me.
                                  my boss had a really simple way of looking at things.
                                  he TOLD me that the ONLY time i was really making money for him was when i was selling.
                                  he was VERY CLEAR that the only thing that he truly valued from me was the time i spent selling.

                                  he expected/demanded that EVERYTHING ELSE was to be off-loaded to lesser paid personnel as completely and quickly as possible.
                                  examples of the the things that were to be handled by others:
                                  expense report generation
                                  travel plans
                                  everything clerical
                                  all administration
                                  restaurant reservations and appointment confirmations
                                  making all the arrangements for my brother's birthday party
                                  incoming phone calls
                                  dry cleaning
                                  buying birthday gifts for friends and relatives (yes, you got that right. one of my girlfriends received a round trip airline ticket from CA to NYC as a gift, and i was told about it later when i was changing planes in chicago)
                                  taxis and car services
                                  credit card reconcilliations

                                  (you get the picture)

                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                    I can understand your boss wanting to maximize return on your salary by having non-revenue producing tasks done by less expensive personnel..............

                                    However, you portay him as such a control freak/tyrant that I can't imagine you remaining in his employ for that long UNLESS the pay made it bearable.

                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                      he was the very best boss i ever had in every way.

                                      he allowed me to completely control how to go about handling my own job.

                                      he managed, but he NEVER micromanaged

                                      he ran interference for me when the meddling idiots that were sent by our parent company came into town to show us their new and improved mission statement/organizational chart/theory of how the world worked/ etc.

                                      i never had a boss that good before or since.

                                      i never knew a boss could be that clear-minded.

                                      His thought process was completely straight and focused, and, as a result, it helped me learn to identify extraneous BS when i saw it.

                                      he was the farthest thing from a "control freak" or a "tyrant" that i could imagine.
                                      he FREED me from the tyranny of doing stupid, time-wasting, tasks.

                                      he expected me to foist crap-work onto other people so that i was completely free to do what i was hired to do and what i was GOOD at doing.

                                      keep in mind, i was the only marketer for the ENTIRE COMPANY.
                                      i had a NATIONAL TERRITORY.

                                      really, if i had gotten side-tracked by anything it would have been disastrous.
                                      ALSO, i am LOUSY at all things clerical.

                                  2. re: bagelman01

                                    bagelman, I'm now an Administrative Manager, but I *used* to be a legal secretary and then an admin. assistant. Personal work for a boss was never enjoyed, and *is* demeaning. If I was doing things that the boss himself (or his wife) should be doing, it puts the secretary/assistant as nothing more than a servant for the household. In my opinion.

                                    If I was hired to do a job with set *business* parameters, having the personal tasks (picking up dry cleaning, buying gifts for wife, arranging a vacation trip for the boss and his wife) added on later was not part of the job signed up for. If it was made clear during an interview that personal tasks were part of the job, as you noted, I understood that before accepting the position...which I usually didn't, depending on the amount of personal tasks required for the position.

                                    When I was a legal assistant, the personal tasks didn't happen, as it was a small legal dept. within a holding company. However, when I was a "Executive Secretary to the President" at another company, the job morphed from 90% business / 10% personal to 75% personal / 25% business. Sorry, not for me, especially since it changed so drastically over a 3 year period. I left that position (and state, as a matter of fact).

                                2. re: bagelman01

                                  I think I get this, Bagelman, but maybe not. You believe that time is money, but money is not money.

                                  1. re: Virginian

                                    I believe that 'work time' is worth money. Either the amount being paid to an employee or the amount that can be billed for services or the amount of revenue that can be generated for the business.

                                    That is why lesser tasks are usually perfomed by employees who are paid lesser amounts

                                    Money is definitely money, a dollar is worth what a dollar will buy.

                              2. re: bagelman01

                                While I won't find it necessary to drop how much I make an hour I *will* offer that I think in this day and age we're all quite busy with our personal/business/ life…some get paid for their time, so don't.
                                I don't quite understand the problem with calling the restaurant back. What does it take? One minute? At the most?
                                What's at the core of the irritation?

                                1. re: latindancer

                                  "What's at the core of the irritation?"

                                  I've made a reservation, it has beeen accepted, that's both a confirmation and a contract. It doesn't call for reconfirmation/reaffirmation.

                                  Life would be far simpler if people just did things correctly the first time. As stated earlier, take my credit card info, charge me for a no show reservation, that upholds my end of the contract.

                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                    I understand what you're saying and I agree.

                                    There seems to be a vague, sometimes not so vague, entitlement mentality surrounding me and now it's apparently arrived at my restaurant too.
                                    When I make my reservation and give them my phone # I think I've done my job as a customer coming to THEIR restaurant to give them MY business. It's up to them, or it always has been until now, to call me to confirm and thank me for MY business. If it weren't for me there would be NO business.
                                    Should I now, essentially, feel privileged to dine at their restaurant and do all the work?

                                    1. re: latindancer

                                      "Should I now, essentially, feel privileged to dine at their restaurant and do all the work?"

                                      The only time one should have felt privileged to dine at a restaurant is during wartime rationing and shortages based on weather castastophes such as a flood or hurricane.

                                      1. re: latindancer

                                        do you really feel that if a restaurant (that is on the hook if you were to be a no-show) is having you "do all the work" by expecting more from you in the confirmation process?

                                        latindancer, i know you better than this.

                                        the truth is that there are many flakes in LA that will intentionally take advantage of the "normal" restaurant reservation policies.

                                        the restaurants have a choice among several lousy countermeasures to counter these bloodsuckers.

                                        NONE of the countermeasures are good for the remaining "good" customers. we pay the price for the bad behavior of others.

                                        we can argue forever about which countermeasure we like the least or the best, but the basic truth is that if all potential customers behaved themselves we wouldn't be having this conversation at all.

                                        1. re: westsidegal

                                          If what you're saying is true…
                                          The 'bloodsuckers' who've taken advantage of the 'normal restaurant reservation policies' are the ones causing this shift in countermeasures.
                                          This is the reason I'm now going to have to call back with a confirmation in order to make sure my reservation isn't given away. Compound that with the fact there are many who make numerous reservations on any given day/night and then pick one that suits them at the last minute, knowing full well the other reservations were made and ignored.
                                          If you put it that way… it's not too much to ask from the restaurant. We, as good customers like you say, pay the price for the bad behavior of others. Things are changing and it looks like behaviors are also.

                                          1. re: latindancer

                                            we pay the price and the restaurants pay the price too.

                                            the restaurants didn't all sit around one day and say to themselves,
                                            "wouldn't it be nice to pay the additional labor cost and phone costs involved in 'reservation countermeasure confirmation' just for the heck of it?
                                            think of it, we can spend more money and irritate ALL our customers at the same time!
                                            a complete LOSE-LOSE set up for us!"

                                            they did it because a bunch of douchbags abused what, at base, is still primarily an honor system.
                                            the restaurants are forced into the position of dealing with what psychologist would call an "avoidance-avoidance" conflict--one in which all the options are negative.