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“Buyer” Beware: OpenTable.com

22-Apr-2008
So right off the top I’m going to tell you that this is my own fault as the information is in their FAQs on the site but I still think the way it’s handled stinks. 
 
Occasionally I use OpenTable.com to make reservations mostly at local establishments but I had been thinking that I really should use it more often when traveling.  However, I don’t use it regularly for a number of reasons:  I’m a pretty spontaneous diner; my friends and I generally prefer to sit at the bar instead of in the dining room; hardly anywhere in Seattle really requires a reservation unless you are really set at eating right at 7:00 on a Friday night; a lot of places that I like to go are not available through OpenTable; most places that are on OpenTable also take phone reservations. 
 
If you’re not familiar with the site it does offer a few nice features.  For instance, you can put in a date and time and it will show you all restaurants in your area that have open tables which is a lot easier than searching for them one by one.  And the primary reason I liked it was that for each reservation you get 100 points (sometimes more during promotions) and once you have 1000 you can redeem them for a $10 certificate – at least that’s how it started.  Now you can’t redeem until you hit 2000 points and you’ll get a $20 certificate.
 
Well, I hit 1000 quite some time ago but thought I’d hold out until I had 2000 since a $20 certificate just sounded better than a $10 one.  But for several months I’ve been lingering in the no man’s land of more than 1000 but not yet 2000 points.  Apparently I’ve been lingering there for over a year.  And apparently if your account hasn’t been used in a year they take back all your points.  Which I realized today when a newsletter was delivered to my mailbox and it said "Your balance is 0."  And so I scurried to check my account and sure enough the balance was 0 because the last entry was a negative entry for the exact number of points I’d accrued. 
 
As I said, when you read the FAQs it’s right there plain as day so I’m totally at fault.  But what I think is stinky is that they didn’t even bother to send some sort of warning.  And of course, they probably hope they don’t have to pay out rewards so why would they?  Well, maybe because part of their compensation comes from the restaurants and is based on how many reservations are made through the site so by reminding me it might have spurred some activity on my part because I wouldn’t want to lose my points.  And it would have kept me from writing this post which is now warning all of you to make sure you remain active on the site. (Although even bad publicity is good publicity, right?) Or maybe you should just skip the site altogether because, at least in the Seattle market, it really doesn’t offer that much.  That’s probably what I’ll do from now on.  I’m sure the loss of my activity won’t break the bank but I think, in general, it’s always a bad idea to lose customers. 
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3 Comments
  1. Stephanie permalink
    22-Apr-2008 2:01 pm

    A lot of companies pull this crap. Airline mileage plans, even some banks. I learned about the banks the hard way. My children had savings accounts, once my oldest turned 18, they started taking out 5.00 a month because he was under $100.00, but I wasn\’t really paying attention, so they had taken almost everything before anyone noticed.
    Thanks for the warning. BIG HUGS, Steph

  2. renay permalink
    22-Apr-2008 7:52 pm

    awalys be carefulm hen going on to a sight lik that.

  3. Culinary permalink
    23-Apr-2008 6:22 am

    Thanks for the support, Ladies!  I felt much better once I just whined about it for a bit.  ;-) 
     
    Steph:  Now with actual money that is a very bad deal!
     
    We all need to get better at reading (and remembering) the "fine print"! 
     
    ~ B

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