Restaurant.com Leaves Us Hungry

Reader Shaun writes us with a troubling tale of starvation and humiliation in the hinterlands. Okay, he got dicked over by Restaurant.com. It seems they like to sell expired gift certificates, but are fairly reluctant to issue reimbursement.

Isn’t it embarrassing enough to use a gift certificate without having to endure being informed by snotty waitstaff that they “no longer accept those?” One would think Restaurant.com would be overcome with remorse, showering Shaun with replacement certificates aplenty. Not so.

Call and leave your information? They call back and tell you to contact them at the number where you just left your information. E-mail? They ignore you. And when you finally get your refund? It’s only half what it should be.

Read about Shaun’s ultimate humiliation after the jump.

I’ve come to realize that there is such a thing as a free lunch… but they ain’t gonna make it easy to stomach.

I’ve got a stash of Restaurant.com gift certificates I bought when they were on sale some months back. If you don’t know, it’s a pretty good deal overall–I paid $3.50 each for $25 off at some decent restaurants here in Richmond. If you have a girlfriend who appreciates frugality and can tolerate sneering waitstaff (who act as though you’re stealing profits out of THEIR pocket), it’s not a bad deal.

I bought two for Zuppa, and later found out they were no longer accepting them. No big deal… I’d just contact the website for a credit, right?

I place two calls. I send an email. I get one call back, a message from
their call center employee. Even though I’ve given all the information they’d need to process a refund, she does nothing other than say “call us at 1-800-979-8985 if you need help”… the same damned number I called in the first place!

One more email later, I clearly explain the situation. I’d like a credit for two certificates, please. This is my fourth contact with no resolution, and I’m not a happy camper. Two days later… miracles of miracles, praise Jesus and Hallelujiah! There’s a credit in my inbox.

A credit for ONE certificate, not the two I’m owed.

I think next time, I’ll have to draw pictograms to get my message across.

Comments

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  1. ikes says:

    “who act as though you’re stealing profits out of THEIR pocket”

    well, considering most coupon users tip on the post-coupon total, rather than the real price, this is indeed the case.

  2. DeeJayQueue says:

    Did he look at the expiration dates of the certificates when he first got them? Even if they had no expiration date, restaurants often reserve the right to change the terms without notice, which means they were getting hosed on the certificates and needed to stop taking them. If this is the case his beef is with the restaurant itself, not the website.
    If he bought certificates that had close expiration dates, he should have been more mindful of them.
    Short of getting post-expired certs in the mail, I don’t really see where the website was responsible for any refund or credit at all.

  3. RandomHookup says:

    While the g/c may have been a bit dated, Shaun never said they were expired, just that the restaurant no longer accepted them. He gave his money to Restaurant.com, so that’s where his recourse is.

  4. Antediluvian says:

    This is another example of why I really don’t trust 3rd party gift certificate vendors (or brokers). Any time someone offers a gift card or gift certificate for pennies on the dollar, evaluate the offer very carefully.

  5. hiphopnerd says:

    FWIW, I’ve had decent customer service responses from Restaurant.com. My issues have involved restaurants going out of business…the first time it happened, I waited a month or so and then contacted them (can’t remember if it was by email or phone). They promptly sent me an email with a credit to use on an equally valued certificate at a different restaurant. The other two times, I wasn’t even aware the places had closed until I saw similar emails in my inbox, again with links to exchange the now useless certs for ones at other dining establishments.

    That said, I don’t really like using Restaurant.com certificates due to all their restrictions, mandatory gratuities, and the general feeling of cheapskateness & staff disdain.

    Frequent diners might want to consider Rewards Network, which refunds your credit card a % of the total bill at partipating restaurants. Of course there’s a catch with that too, in that the first $50 of refunds in a year goes toward a membership fee, and only after that’s covered will you see a credit.

  6. Chongo says:

    ikes: Thats that fault of the tipper though. Whenever anyone gets a deal, they should still tip a full amount.

  7. medalian1 says:

    I USED to use restaurant.com certificates, but they’re way too much of a hassle. Either the restaurants stop taking them or use it as part of a scam.

    We used it once at a local restaurant, showed them the certificate first, ordered food for all 5 of us. Bill time, she comes and say oh sorry, I’ve been informed we aren’t taking this anymore. WTF, we JUST asked you PRIOR to ordering to insure this wouldn’t happen!! She just said “sorry”. Needless to say we don’t eat there anymore. I wanted to protest further, but the the othe 4 people were getting embarrased.

    Other places that accept the coupons/certificates (rare) do treat you like crap, like your a cheapskate or something. I tip well for good service, and on the pre-coupon sub-total, so I don’t understand it. So combine all this shit and it makes you an unhappy customer.

  8. alexabel says:

    Well, I just redeemed some of my frequent flier miles for these certs. I havent even went out to use them yet, and I already smelling a scam. “18% gratuity, minimum purchase and 2 entrees.” WTF. I will keep an open mind tonight when we hit the restaurant. Im in the mood for a good laugh