Good Food Blog
Credit card bookingsPosted at 9:47AM, 01 May 2008 by Jenni Muir - Food writer
It's almost become the norm for London's most popular posh restaurants to take your credit card details at the time of booking 'to secure a table'. No longer. it seems, is taking your phone number and calling you to reconfirm the table one or two days before arrival enough of a guarantee that you will turn up at the appointed hour.
At Gordon Ramsay they email over a contract for you to sign and return to them, making it clear that should you cancel with less than 24 hours notice they reserve the right to charge your credit card ÃÂ£100 per person. At Tom Aikens the no-show fee is ÃÂ£50 per person, but they require 48 hours notice.
It does rather take the gloss off organising a special night out, but I have mixed feelings about it. Sadly, there are many people who book tables at more than one restaurant and then decide on the day which one they're going to grace with their presence - the other restaurants are left to lump it.
Imagine what a nightmare no-shows are to small businesses, especially, when they've turned away other customers to honour the bookings of these people. Yes, it grates when they also want a deposit for tables of eight or more, but the larger the tables, the larger their potential losses.
If a restaurant has ever offended you by asking for your phone number, taking your credit card details and ringing to make sure you really are going to come, what you're probably forgetting is that you're well mannered and considerate - and plenty of other people aren't.
But even gastropubs are trying to get in on the act now. Two I've recently booked tables at have wanted my email address to send through a confirmation (or should that be contract?). Even to someone with my good intentions, that smacks of invasion of privacy. Or am I being unreasonable?