Note from Restaurant.com clarifying some of its policies

In my last post announcing an 80% Off Restaurant.com coupon, I decided to highlight some things to bear in mind before buying a dining certificate package.  Jeff Conlin from Restaurant.com responded to that post in a message to me:

Mighty Bargain Hunter,

Thank you for your recent write-up about Restaurant.com. I appreciate your thorough thoughts and critical look at our site, particularly with your financial savings expertise. I wanted to reach out and address a few points in the piece to clarify our services for you and your visitors.

First, thank you very much for using Restaurant.com. I’m just sorry to hear that you found a favorite restaurant only to discover that it was no longer participating in the program. If your issue was not resolved we will follow up and take care of the matter immediately. Our policy for any similar instance of a restaurant no longer taking part in the program is to issue credit to customers holding their unused gift certificates. That credit can then be applied for thousands of other options on our site. Again, I apologize for the disappointing experience and please do let me know if it’s still unresolved.

Second, a binding contract is in place between restaurant owners and Restaurant.com, requiring restaurants to honor our restaurant gift certificates. The contracts allow us to promote their restaurants and obligate them to honor the certificates. We need a restaurant’s permission and cooperation before ever including them within our program. As long as diners are using the gift certificate according to the stated terms, the restaurant is required to accept the gift certificate. We never like to hear when restaurants fail to hold up their end of our agreement and it’s neither our policy nor our practice to allow restaurants to breach their contracts at the expense of our customers. If there’s ever any doubt, customers can always reach us at 1-800-979-8985 or at info@restaurant.com.

Finally, you are correct to point out that one gift certificate is valid per restaurant per month. This term and others are stated before, during and after purchase. Terms of use are a very important part of using our gift certificates. We post them conspicuously in the following locations:

Main “Terms” link at the footer of each page
Within each specific restaurant micro-site page
On the actual printed gift certificate

I hope the above information answers some of the questions that you raised. I also hope that we can get you back to visit another Restaurant.com restaurant soon!

[ ... ]

Thanks again,

Jeff

Jeff Conlin
VP, PR & Corporate Communications
Restaurant.com

A couple of comments on his note:

  1. First, it was not the case that a restaurant failed to honor a certificate that I had printed out because they had dropped out of the program.  The restaurant dropped out of the program entirely, which they are entitled to do, which meant that I could not exchange my Dinner of the Month certificates (essentially uncommitted dining certificates for particular restaurants) for that restaurant anymore.  Every certificate that I’ve printed out for a specific restaurant has been honored.
  2. I wasn’t sure about the one certificate per restaurant per month rule, but Jeff clarified that this is true.
  3. I’m very satisfied with Restaurant.com and the fact that they took the time to write a note to me improves my feelings about them.

John Wedding

Husband. Father. Web publisher. Musician. John has blogged at Mighty Bargain Hunter since 2005, helping people to recognize the good deals in life.

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Comments

  1. …so there’s lots of buried fine-print to read and understand about these “certificates” — is that supposed to make everything OK and consumer friendly ??

    Even the MightyBargainHunter missed that fine print… and had to contact restaurant.com directly — to have it explained in plain language.

    The basic problem is that most people mistakenly assume these restaurant.com certificates are just like normal restaurant/store “gift cards” (… which have few restrictions, and are pretty much like cash).

    IMO ‘restaurant.com’ takes advantage of that natural customer tendency to think these highly restricted ‘certificates’ (coupons) are really just like standard gift-cards (… they are NOT).

    Also, well over 95% of restaurants in the U.S. will not accept these certificates.

    Some bargain !

  2. Garrison: If you had a bad experience with Restaurant.com, their contact information is right in the post. I’m sure they’d want to make things right if there was an issue with their service.

    Otherwise, the only other thing worth responding to in your comment is that you’re incorrect about me contacting them. They read my post and contacted me.

  3. I have posted about restaurant.com before on my blog and I think they have a quality website and product. Unfortunately where I live there are not that many restaurants that participate with them, so we have slim pickings for money saving.

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