Is restaurant.com for real?
Can you trust such a good deal?
When I first learned about Restaurant.com–a website that offers $10, $25, and even $100 gift certificates to nice restaurants at a bargain, discounted rate–I wondered if it was a scam. My conclusion is that restaurant.com is a great deal. But sometimes it can entice you to spend too much.
My girlfriend approached me about restaurant.com. She said it seemed like a good deal, but I was skeptical. She suggested that we try one of the cheaper certificates and try it out. I assented, prepared to pay full price if we had to.
So we purchased our first gift certificate for $4. It was worth $10, and we set out to a restaurant that was new to us: Dominguez Family Restaurant in Minneapolis.
Not only did the certificate work, it was also a fantastic dining experience. Dominguez Family Restaurant is a gem of a neighborhood Mexican place.
The second time we used Restaurant.com, we went to a higher end, new restaurant called Nick and Eddie in the Loring Park neighborhood of Minneapolis. We ate $35 worth of food for $14, once we subtracted the $25 gift certificate, for which we paid $4.
The only problem is that there is a minimum that you have to spend with each certificate. So, if you get a $50 certificate for $25, but have to spend $100. You end up spending $75, maybe more than you bargained for. It works great for groups, though, when you might be spending a lot anyway. Why not knock $25 off the total.
In conclusion, restaurant.com is a great way to try new restaurants. Each place has its own restrictions. which you should keep in mind when buying, but we have never had so much as a frown from waiters or owners when we pay for our meal with a gift certificate we got at a discounted rate. Try it for yourself.
Call Ahead When Using Restaurant.com
Recently I went out to dinner and as the host was seating us he said, "You don't have a coupon from Restaurant.com do you?"
"No," we said, "Why do you ask?"
"We don't have a contract with them, but they sell on their site."
When I returned home I check the site and saw that they were listed, but certificates were "Out of Stock." I took the host's caution as an indication that they weren't honoring even older coupons.
In short, it may be best to call ahead, to see if the restaurant is still honoring Restaurant.com certificates.
I don't think Restaurant.com is a scam, but advertising relationships can change, and if they do not change amicably, you could be left holding a worthless certificate. If you do, I would take it up with Restaurant.com. They have a reputation to uphold and should at least allow you to trade for a different restaurant.
Other Deal Websites
It's no secret by now, but there are many other deal websites like restaurant. In fact many of them have better deals and are more reliable than restaurant.com. One I like is called Crowd Cut. It is a great deal website to use in addition to Groupon, far and away the largest. Watch out for Google Offers, a brand new deal website brought to you by Google. I would bet they are going to have some ridiculously good deals early on to create buzz, so sign up early.
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