WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Issues with Restaurant.com certificates

Posted September 3, 2010 5:41 p.m. EDT

As many of you know, Resataurant.com offers restaurant gift certificates for a fraction of the cost of the certificates. You can often buy $25 certificates for $3 - $5 using coupon codes.

In the last 2 weeks, I have been contacted by two Smart Shopper readers with complaints about redemption of their certificates. In both cases, the individuals were told that they could not use the certificates they purchased for the restaurants. Then today, I was redeeming a Groupon at Two Guys pizza in Raleigh and noticed a sign on their door that said they are no longer accepting restaurant.com certificates, either. I asked the employees why they were not taking them and one replied that they had tried to remove their listing from restaurant.com for months, but they would not take them off the site. Instead they are offering a free appetizer.

Here is some information on the other 2 restaurants that are no longer accepting the coupons:

Amedeo's North in Raleigh: They are taking off $10 from your total bill since that is the original price of the certificate. The employee said they are no longer accepting the certificates because of duplication and fraud issues from someone who made fake certificates. The restaurant is supposed to call restaurant.com when the certificate is presented to make sure it is valid, but it seems that system did not work for Amedeo's.

Little Italy in Burlington, NC is not accepting them at all. No manager was available to discuss the issue when I called.

I spoke with restaurant.com and they assured me that if a restaurant refuses to take a certificate that they will allow you to choose another certificate from a different restaurant to replace the first. Jack, the reader who called about Little Italy, told me that they also gave him an extra certificate in addition to the replacement certificate. Danielle, who called about Amedeo's confirmed that restaurant.com gave her a $25 credit and that they were very courteous and friendly. In the end, I don't recommend you buy restaurant.com certificates for these 3 restaurants because they will not be honored.

I have used restaurant.com for many years with no issues. My suggestion is that if you want to buy a certificate, call the restaurant first to make sure they are still taking them. Confirm again, once you get to the restaurant, that they are still accepting the certificates so you don't have any surprises after your meal is already eaten. As part of the rules, customers are supposed to present the certificate when you are seated but I suggest you ask the waitress when you first arrive at the restaurant to make sure they still honor the certificates.

If you have an issue with a restaurant.com certificate,  feel free to post here or send me an e-mail to let me know how restaurant.com resolved the issue.  My thanks to Danielle and Jack for bringing this to our attention and helping other Smart Shopper readers avoid purchasing unusable certificates to these restaurants.