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buyer bewart

Complaint Rating:  95 % with 55 votes
95% 55
Contact information:
United States
You guys don't know how Restaurant.com works. I'll explain it from the standpoint of someone who owns a restaurant and works directly with them. Restaurant.com sells the Gift Certificates and keeps all of the money from said sale. Restaurant.com 'sells' their program to restaurants by giving them 'free advertising'. "We'll put you on our site, add your restaurant to our mailing list, and to our e-list and you'll see hundreds of new customers!"

The only money that the restaurant sees from these transactions is the money that is spent over and above the actual gift certificate. The reason many restaurants add an 18% gratuity is because you, the consumers, don't understand that when you're $50 bill gets reduced to $25 you should still tip on the $50.

This is also the reason that there are so many terms and they are different for different restaurants. The once a month rule is in place for the following reason: Restaurants don't make any money off of these except what you spend above the gift certificate. For example, you bought a $25 GC online for my restaurant for $2. Restaurant.com gets that $2. You come into my restaurant and spend your minimum $35. I add the 18% and take off the $25 from your bill. I gave you $35 worth of food and got $10 for it. You also tipped the server about $6.30. Factoring in the cost of the food, the cost of the server, the cost of the cook, and the cost of keeping the lights on in your booth, I made about -$1.27 on the entire transaction. Obviously not a good deal for me. We more than likely impressed you with our food, so you want to come back. If you can come back every day with a Restaurant.com gift certificate, I'll go out of business. If you want to come back every day but can only use a Restaurant.com GC once a month, you either come back in between and pay full price, or you wait.

To say that most problems come from the restaurants and not restaurant.com is completely false. In my experience, 95% of the problems come from the guests using the gift certificate. We as operators are put in a position every time one of you either didn't read the terms or didn't care and just wanted to take advantage of us. We either have to go with the 'customer is always right' and lose our balls, or we have to risk pissing you off and never seeing you again. What I've found in my experience is that you probably aren't going to come back without a gift certificate anyway, so we may as well piss you off and hold you accountable for reading a little bit. Here's what I see on a weekly basis:

Customer doesn't spend the minimum
Customer wants to use two restaurant.com coupons
Customer wants to use the 'gift certificate' with another coupon
Customer wants to use the gift certificate on a daily special that is already discounted
Two couples go to dinner, each has one
What is this 'service charge'?
Customer wants cash back for the unused portion
Customer spends $28, leaves the restaurant.com $25GC and $6 in cash in the book and leaves

We will not be 're-joining' Restaurant.com because for restaurants it is a profit eater.
Complaint comments Comments (22) Complaint country United States Complaint category Food


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A  12th of Apr, 2010 by    +1 Votes
I agree 100%... We have a restaurant and it has been nothing but a headache... We currently have our attorney dealing with them...
A  16th of Apr, 2010 by    +1 Votes
I think this comment from the restaurant owner should be required reading for all those folks who complain so vigorously. Unlike many of the other 'scam' complaints, it is a simple presentation of the facts. You spent $10 (or less) for a $25 certificate and you get your panties in a bunch, because the restaurant wishes to apply some common sense in dealing with you versus the guy next to you who is paying full price. Grow up and get over it!
D  19th of May, 2010 by    0 Votes
We, as restaurant patrons, have discovered 3 outstanding restaurants in the Hilton Head area that we would not have tried had we not had discount certificates for our dinners from Restaurant.com. We have returned to these restaurants repeatedly, WITHOUT the certificates. We have never had ANY trouble at the restaurants we've used the discount certificates at. Patrons simply need to read and FOLLOW the directions and "play according to the rules" (i.e. tip on the pre-discounted tab; spend the required minimum, etc). One of the restaurants we had purchased a discount certificate for was no longer in business. I called Customer Service at Restaurant.com and had outstanding service. Promptly, my unusable dinner certificate was exchanged for a restaurant of my choice from the list of participating restaurants. My husband and I are thrilled with the opportunity offered by Restaurant.com to learn about new restaurants and to then become frequent patrons of the restaurants we like. So far, we have found 3 outstanding restaurants that we did not know about prior to our joining Restaurant.com. It does provide advertisement for participating restaurants, not only by the listings and photos included on the website but also through our word-of-mouth to friends who now know about the 3 great restaurants we discovered. (I am not being paid for this post. I am simply reacting to all the negativity that has been posted about this website and program!!!).
A  21st of May, 2010 by    +1 Votes
I do marketing for a restaurant and we are finding that, while some of the patrons are indeed new customers who might not have visited otherwise, many others are the sort who bought their coupon and agreed to the terms, but want to ignore those terms when they get to the restaurant. Add to this the fact that Restaurant.com shares NONE of the money people pay for the certificates with the restaurant, and frequently discounts them dramatically -- we've had people come in that paid $1 for a $25 certificate, while we were told by Restaurant.com that we were "required" to offer a $25 for $10 deal with a $35 minimum.

Now we want out of the program and they're evasive about how to get out, how long it takes, won't give me a phone # or email to contact the "cancellation department."

Smells like a racket to me.
A  18th of Jun, 2010 by    +3 Votes
For the restaurant owner, this is one of the worst companies you can get involved with. You receive no profit, you do not get repeat business from these certificates, and nothing compares to the fight you have on your hands when you finally decide that this "certificate program" is doing nothing for you but sucking you dry of any money you might have made. It perhaps wouldn't be that bad if once you wised up and saw how it wasn't working in your favor that you could just cancel; the restaurant and the restaurant.com site could shake hands and walk the other way. This will not happen. They are very tricky about their contract that you thought was a sign-up form outlining the restrictions. This is a binding legal document that is full of unlisted terms you can look up on their website and aren't even in black and white on the paper. This has happened to me. I am the manager of the restaurant that has been scammed by this company. I have reported this to the BBB. They have an unbelievable amount of complaints on the BBB website yet rate quite high - I can't figure that out. Do not sign up with this company. Find other companies who do the same thing but don't try to put small businesses out of business. This company is Anti-American.
N  3rd of Jul, 2010 by    0 Votes
i am a customer and was looking at the restaurant.com website for a restaurant in town that i wanted to try out. the deal looked too good to be true, and as a former waiter, i couldn't figure out the angle for the restaurant in this deal from the website. suspicious, i turned to the complaintsboard website and surprise! this program appears to be a scam that makes neither the customers nor the restaurants happy. i think i'll just go to the restaurant i want to try and pay full price, if i like it i'll come back, and if not, i won't...just like usual. who needs the hassle of haggling over a coupon you have to pay for with an online company or arguing with a restaurant about whether they will honor it (a coupon should be absolute, non-negotiable)
D  3rd of Jul, 2010 by    0 Votes
We have never had ANY trouble using restaurant.com coupons at ANY of the restaurants enrolled in the program. Maybe those of you who are having problems are not reading the small print. Buying a $25 discount coupon for $3, $4, or somtimes $5 is a real savings. A no brainer for the customer. This discount program allows us to eat out at nice restaurants much more often than we normally would and we also recommend the restaurants to our friends. The restaurants we patronize using the discount coupons have NEVER given us any trouble. Maybe it's because we follow the rules and understand that the wait staff should be tipped based on the total bill BEFORE the discount is taken. Also, customers need to spend a certain amount for meals before the discount is allowable. Simple!! We love and appreciate the program offered by restaurant.com and we have been introduced to some outstanding restaurants because of the program.
N  6th of Jul, 2010 by    +3 Votes
I'm the original poster. I notified Restaurant.com in writing that we would not be participating in the program when our 'contract' ran out (6/30/10). On 7/2/10 we were still listed on their site. Our 'contract' states that we are required to honor the certificates up to 1 year after the purchase price. I notified Restaurant.com that since they breached their contract with us by having us listed after 6/30, I would not be honoring these certificates at all any longer. We have it posted on our website, on our facebook page, and on our specials board at the entrance. I have had one guest complain.

Now, for restaurant owners who are involved with this company...I've found that a very small percentage of Restaurant.com customers have become regular full price paying customers. With that said, as an owner, you do have access to the email addresses of every person that bought one of your certificates. Use them. I have added over 300 emails to my customer database in hopes of converting these guests into regulars.

N  20th of Jul, 2010 by    +3 Votes
We are in the same situation as gbjordan. Our 30 day cancellation notice period ran out on 7/17 and we are still listed on their site. We have placed a sign at our entrance that we will not honor certificates purchased after the 17th and I will be posting on our facebook page and our website as well.

If we continue to be listed on their website after a week or so, the lawyers will get involved and I will also start contacting other restaurants in the R.com system and make them aware of what they may face if they try to leave the program.

Their attitude toward the companies that drive their business is horrible. The person who came up with the idea of screwing the restaurant owners should be fired if they haven't already.

A  29th of Sep, 2010 by    0 Votes
Agree!!! This company is a horrible company to deal with. The restaurant makes no money and the clientel never return unless they have a coupon.
N  14th of Nov, 2010 by    0 Votes
I am a consumer and have been using gift certificates from restaurant.com for many months. I follow the rules and have never had a problem. I was curious about the perspective of the restaurant owner, so I came to this site. I just have a few thoughts:

1) I am not surprised that some restaurant owners have entered into a contractual arrangement with restaurant.com without understanding the terms of the contract. There is no excuse for entering into any contract without understanding the terms. There are many attorneys and CPA's out there who offer reasonable rates that can review the contract before you sign. Falling prey to hard sell tactics is not an excuse either.

2) For financial reporting purposes, each restaurant.com gift certificate transaction should be recorded at the full value of the meal provided. The offset should be recorded as an "Advertising Expense". That way a restaurant owner can track the expense and compare it to the annual advertising budget. If the expense is what you would have budgeted anyway, then you will balance correctly. If not, then you may have to cut back on other forms of advertising until your contract expires. If your total revenue is in excess of what you had budgeted as a result of using restaurant.com, you may have a favorable experience. The secret is to track the results of any form of advertising. If you can't track the results, what is the point?

3) I understand that many states, if not most, impose a meals tax. I am not suggesting that the restaurant owner pay the tax based on the grossed up transaction if it is not required by the taxing authority.

4) I notice that when I go to the restaurant.com site, that some restaurants are "out-of-stock" with regards to certificates. This is obviously a control mechanism to protect the restaurant owner from unlimited risk.

5) I noticed that some very reputable web sites have mentioned restaurant.com and recommended it to consumers, particularly in this economic environment. I know there are many scams out there, particularly for credit counseling and other services, taking advantage of desperate individuals. This does not appear to be one of them.

For what it's worth...
N  10th of Dec, 2010 by    +1 Votes
No Shirt, No Shoes...thanks for your insight. You're giving owners some advice here, and since I'm one of the two owners on this post, I'll assume it was directed at me. I didn't get roped in by a hard sell. I was looking to drive traffic, and I didn't have the $$ flow necessary to do it. Trading COGS for guest traffic instead of $$ for guest traffic was what I got, and it was exactly what I thought I would get. The reason I made this post was because of all of the consumers complaining about the restaurants...why are the terms different for each restaurant? Why is the gratuity included? Why can't I get specials? Etc.

Here's my experience. I followed the rules and cancelled the program in writing 30 days prior to our anniversary. We continued to be listed on the site. Every gift certificate purchased from 6/09 until 2/10 had an expiration date 1 year from the purchase date (ex. Expires 12/23/10 except where prohibited by law). After 2/10, every gift certificate purchases stated on the bottom "This Gift Certificate Never Expires"; R.com told me that "we didn't sell any extra gift certificates so, no big deal, and the expiration date was taken off because some states, like California don't allow gift certificates to expire." I asked if the 'except where prohibited by law' covered that, and he told me that it did, but they "changed it and let all of their customers know that some of the gift certificates will expire in 1 year." So, I'm left to piss somebody off that comes in with a gift certificate for my restaurant that says 'this never expires' because R.com supposedly let every one of their purchasers know that "some restaurants have a 1 year expiration"?

With that said, I'll stand by my original post. The problem with Restaurant.com isn't R.com itself, it is the people that use the gift certificates. I'll argue that you can't compare the 'advertising' you get on R.com with traditional advertising. R.com advertising will drive more traffic in the short term, but its impossible to know what the long term benefits are. My experience is that a very small percentage of R.com guests come back as full price paying 'regulars&'. That was confirmed to me by a R.com agent who told me that according to their studies less than 10% of their customers return as full paying guests.

So, as an owner, I'll tell you that R.com will generate unprofitable sales in the short term, and the long term gain in regular, paying guests probably won't be worth the extra COGS as compared to traditional advertising. If you do work with R.com, add every single one of those guests to your database, as it will increase the liklihood that they become your guests instead of R.com customers.

A  24th of Jan, 2011 by    0 Votes
RDC has cost my restuarant thousands of dollars in COGS. My restaurant is no longer listed on rdc ever since I had an attorney take on the battle to be removed from their websight. This was the worst mistake any restuarant owner could make. The clientel are not faithful customers. I have never seen a rdc customer come back to my restuarant without a coupon. Actually I have never witnessed a rdc customer spend more than ten bucks over the minimum purchace. I am at my restaurant all six days a week so I can make my "witnesses" honest. I've dealt with so many hassles from the rdc customers since they choose not to read the terms and follow the rules. RDC costs a fortune and I wouldn't be surprised if they lied to me and sold more than one coupon a day for my restuarant. One friday night when we were participating with rdc we had 50+ tables booked in our 28 table capacity dining room. It was a nightmare!!! 34 tables were cheap rdc customers spending the bare minimum. Full paying classy customers were forced to wait long for their table to be ready which was not fair. I gave out over $1, 100 worth of goods to the rdc customers and none of them have come back without a coupon. Overal rdc cheapens the image of an upscale restaurant and eats profit. It's better to have low covers and control your operational costs than be booked with cheap customers and raise your operational costs.
D  24th of Jan, 2011 by    0 Votes
It's very interesting how the restaurant owners continually complain vehemently about RDC but these same restaurants NEVER identify themselves. As I've said repeatedly, as a consumer, my husband and I have discovered some wonderful restaurants by using RDC and we DO return to these restaurants WITHOUT A COUPON!!! We've also recommended and taken some of our friends to these newly discovered restaurants and have NOT always used coupons. So, to begin with, your observations are NOT accurate (at least as far as our family goes) and, also... people filing complaints should check spelling so at least these unhappy restaurant owners appear to be somewhat familiar with proper use of the English language.
N  28th of Feb, 2011 by    0 Votes
I completely understand the restaurant's position, but having recently tried to redeem a $25 Restaurant.com "coupon" and had it refused by the merchant in question (Shelburne Steakhouse, in VT) for the reason that "we aren't accepting them anymore because we don't make any money from them" (versus any issue where we didn't read the fine print carefully) we were just blown away and much angrier at the restaurant than at Restaurant.com, scam that they might be. Note that the restaurant has no mention of this policy on their Website, just on a printout at the hostess stand.

For context, my wife and I eat out quite frequently and tend to be very regular customers at our favorite establishments. Our typical bill (before gratuity) is $75 - $120, and we tip a straight 20% on top unless service is awful. We also rarely use gift certificates, unless they are given to us. The restaurant in question is a new one in our area we had not yet tried out, it's right across the street from my wife's offices, and my own little sister recently started working for them. If the food was good, we would be back all the time! When we were told that the $25 coupon we had (which we had been given as a "thank you" by a friend) would not be honored because the restaurant doesn't make money from them, we could not believe it. We shouldn't be responsible for the restaurant's poor decision to do business with a bad merchant. Based on that experience, they not only lost two individual customers, but also two large business accounts (my wife's firm and my own), and we are telling everyone we know about the experience and warning them away, both from Restaurant.com, but also from the restaurant because of their very poor handling of the situation.
N  18th of Mar, 2011 by    0 Votes
does anyone know how a restaurant can cancel rdc without a lawyer
called them and told them but they still offer coupons
N  17th of Apr, 2011 by    0 Votes
Hey jbs3626. I think you're mixing up comments. I'm an owner, definitely against R.com. My post is underneath my name. Thanks.
N  20th of May, 2011 by    +1 Votes
I too am a restaurant owner in the Los Angeles, CA area. I must say, I feel a little better reading the posts from restaurant owners about their frustrations with restaurant.com. I concur with most of the comments made, although we have been really fortunate in that most of the people read the fine print and understand the restrictions. Of course, we get the few people that create an arguement, but we just show them on the gift certificate where it has the restrictions. I was mostly pissed at restaurant.com because the sales person would tell us one thing, then when we tried to make some changes, the "partner relations" department would say something completely different. For example, the sales person told us that we could restrict the # of days to honor restaurant.com to any time after the first 90 days of being involved in the program. After the 90 days expired, I called the sales person to tell him that we only wanted the GC to be valid Monday - Thursday as our busiest days are Fri/Sat/Sunday. I was so surprised to hear that we "had" to offer the coupons at least 5 days a week. Nowhere in the agreement does it say we would have to honor the GC on any # of days. We also wanted to change the minimum purchase from $35 to $40. I had to call about 6 different people at corporate, and pretty much had to threaten legal action in order to get this changed. It took about 5 weeks for them to make that change after they finally agreed to it.

After all of this disappointment, I decided to send in my notice to cancel my restaurant.com listing. Buth then I had an epiphany. Every restaurant.com customer that came in, I offered to sell them a $25 gift certificate for $10 (same deal as restaurant.com). There would be no restriction as to whether it was dine in or take out, I sweetened the deal by reducing teh minimum purchase from $40 to $35. As a restaurant owner, we get the $10 that normally would go to restaurant.com and on top of that the $10 delta from the gift certificate vs. minimum purchase. Customer doesn't lose anything because they are getting the exact same deal that they would normally get at restaurant.com. So far, this has worked really well. I sent out an e-mail to all of the people who purchased a gift certificate from restaurant.com and we've received pretty good feedback. Basically restaurant.com is doing all of the advertising to drive in some new customers, and then we are converting them to our gift certificates.
Fight the Power!!!
N  1st of Jun, 2011 by    0 Votes
Do any of you restaurant owners feel that you've been harmed by restaurant.com? Have they failed to cancel your agreement after you followed their cancellation procedures? Have they attempted to bill you for 'outstanding certificates' after you've been out of their program for some time?

We are assessing interest in participation of a class action suit against restaurant.com at this time for issues such as these and more.

If you are interested, please contact me via email at info@canstaqueria.com or by phone at 404-290-8637
D  23rd of Jul, 2011 by    0 Votes
You discuss the mandated 18% "gratuity" which apparently you put in your pockets and expect that the customer tips on top of that? Wow... I'd hate to work for you. You talk about how all the customers don't read the terms and conditions and then gripe about how you're getting hosed by restuarant.com. Sounds like you didn't read (comprehend) terms of your agreement with restaurant.com and details of the program. Point fingers at others that (might) have the same failings as yourself and pocket the gratuity meant for the waitstaff: world. class. douche.

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