New OpenTable Scam to Cheat You Out of Your Points

OpenTable made your points worth less and harder to use – while imposing new expiration rules – earlier this year. That’s after devaluing their awards program three years ago.

Now 777 global mile hound points out to me another way OpenTable avoids rewarding you for your bookings through their website. There’s now a box you have to check to earn points. If you make your reservation and fail to check the box, no points. You think you’re getting your (much devalued) rewards points, but you won’t.

Oddly the same opt-in is not required when making a reservation through their mobile app. (Update: reportedly it’s required via the mobile app, too.)

My wife tells me the change to their website has been in place for at least a month. Fortunately I simply hadn’t used OpenTable rather than having missed the box, made reservations, and forfeited points. But this change seems pretty unsporting to me when their best customers are used to using the site a certain way, continue using it out of habit expecting one result, and they haven’t proactively informed customers of the change.

When I make my bookings I can no longer scroll down to the submit button and click it. I have to check a box, something I used to ignore because that was about opt-in marketing I had no interest in.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. I’ve used Opentable once and found no benefit. Hopefully this will quicken their demise….

  2. This is the beginning of the end for them. You can’t treat customers like this. Something is going on that they are implementing this type of sneaky opt in to minimize the points they provide.

  3. I use to be a high user of OT however it has changed over the years limiting the number of redemption restaurants and this of course is the worst. Of note I stop using service leaving a hell of a lot of points on the table.

    Good article

  4. Thanks so much for this warning. I hadn’t earned points for my last three reservations this month and couldn’t figure out why. Poor customer service on their part. At least they could have sent us all an email to let us know about the change.

  5. Please make reservations from the restaurants’ web sites, not through the OT site or app. You’ll miss out on some pretty worthless points, but more importantly, the fee that OT charges the restaurant is lower when reservations are made from the restaurant website. This is an easy way that you can support local businesses that inject substantial economic benefit into your community.

  6. Trying to cheat one’s way to greater profitability generally does not produce the desired result — eventually people figure out (1) they’ve been/are being cheated, and (2) who cheated/is cheating them, and they either drop use of the cheater altogether or cut back on use.
    I hope the brilliant and unprincipled executives at Open Table are pleased with themselves. They’ve just lost a customer who’s been with them for going on 10 years. I already was wondering about the value proposition given that, instead of being able to use the program’s earned dining credits at ANY Open Table restaurant, they now can be used at only a fraction of Open Table restaurants — AND the value of the credits now is half or less of what it used to be at most of the restaurants where they can be used at all.
    But this pushed me over the edge. Sayonara, Open Table. I’d speculate that they’ve placed themselves on a slippery slope, and it will be interesting to see if they survive at all.

  7. That isn’t the only way they cheat you. 1000 point tables are only available if you search that parameter and browse. If you search for that restaurant directly you get the standard 100. You don’t earn any points on OT reservations made on the restaurant’s personal site via the OT plugins. In fact, if you visit that site and they return to OT to book, you likely won’t get points either due to cookies.

  8. For the record, and I probably shouldn’t be saying this so OT can see, but the rewards are not why I use OT. I find OT to be a convenient way to make reservations – rewards are nice, but I value the service it provides regardless of the rewards. That said, this move, especially without notice, is sleazy.

  9. Thanks for posting this Gary. This is clear deception by OT with the intent that people won’t notice they need to check this little box in order to collect their points.

  10. Since OT changed their redemption policies I only redeem in Vancouver, Canada. I spend many summer months there and you can still get great value at any OT restaurant. If it wasn’t for Canada, I would find the service useless.

  11. I’ve also found that if OT says that a reservation I want isn’t available, then I call the restaurant, and often I can get the reservation I want. Strange but true. I noticed this most recently at “Roast” earlier this month, a Detroit steakhouse (in the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel). Reservation for 5 at 8PM wasn’t available via OT, but when I called, no problem. And we got a good table too. Go figure.

  12. Re: SE_Rob “I’ve also found that if OT says that a reservation I want isn’t available, then I call the restaurant, and often I can get the reservation I want. Strange but true”

    The Achilles heel of OT is not the crappy points. It’s the fact that the best restaurants don’t post their best availability on OT. A friend in the restaurant industry told me years ago that top restaurants view their prime time tables as a valuable asset that they want to control, give to regulars and VIPs etc. so they don’t post prime time on OT. Living in NYC I find this to be the case, and if I don’t see availability on OT I call the restaurant directly.

    To me that’s totally understandable EXCEPT that they don’t tell you. They just say it’s unavailable which is false.

  13. @SeanNY Correct. Many places also hold back inventory from OT (or limit OT res to 4 ppl) to save money. I believe it costs them $2 for every 100 points we get. Plus fixed costs. It adds up quickly.

  14. One more data point. A restaurant I frequent got into some sort of dispute with opentable and they cut ties. That’s all fine except open table didn’t make any mention of that on their website and just showed all times as being unavailable just like any actual fully booked night. Well I just happened to go there anyways thinking I could slip in and they weren’t full at all and when mentioning this to a manager he told me about the cutting ties and they they were “working through it with legal”

  15. It’s scummy, but I also don’t think it’ll hurt their bottom line. OpenTable is well enough established and integrated into restaurants’ websites as well as Google maps and others that the simplicity alone is enough.

  16. @Gary I was just out tonight – made the reservation and lo and behold, the radio button on the confirmation page in the app defaults to NO POINTS.

    Thanks for the heads up – I might have just clicked through if I hadn’t seen your post.

    I’ve gotta say it’s kind of bizarre but glad they still let you receive points!

  17. If waiving points saves the restaurant from paying a fee to OpenTable, I’ll always forgo the points, which I don’t need, anyway.

  18. I noticed it last night when booking a reservation for my upcoming trip to Aruba. This almost makes me not want to use OpenTable anymore.

  19. It’s ridiculous. Also, good luck actually trying to make a reservation with your points once they’ve been redeemed. After multiple tries and emails with customer service, they put the points back to my account, I took the Amazon gift card and got the hell out. I continue to make reservations through them and collect points, but I won’t bother redeeming them for anything other than a gift card at this point.

  20. I’m still wondering if anyone knows if participating restaurants have to pay a service charge to OpenTable (or get any other benefit) when customers opt out of receiving points.

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