With the whole “Solo Dining” project I’ve been doing this year, one of my bugbears has become OpenTable (who provide a lot of the table-reservation services for restaurants) and – more particularly – their “Dining Points” loyalty plan.
As it says on that page about Dining Points,
OpenTable UK members can earn OpenTable Dining Points when they make and honor reservations made through opentable.com, or our related mobile sites and apps.
They say the same thing on another modal window to explain Dining Points.
“Earn points every time you dine”
Except that’s not true – not true at all. I queried why I’d received zero points for several reservations over the last year, and they then started to say (and this is a direct quote from one of the responses)
points are only given to diners who start their search on our website and not the restaurants website as you know. This is because as you came from the restaurant website, you are considered a customer of the restaurant and they use our services on the back end to take your reservation for them. If we started awarding points to the customers of our clients they would feel that we are trying to steal you as a customer.
So OpenTable are, frankly, liars. They say clearly throughout the site “make a booking through OpenTable, and get points“, with no provisos, asterisks, or get-out clauses. This isn’t even me being pedantic about something – they’ve said something (repeatedly, in black-and-white!) that’s simply not true.
This would’ve been an easy fix for OpenTable, if they’d had any sense at all. If they’d said “Oh, sod, sorry, here, have the points, and we’ll make that text clearer“, we’d be done. But no, they started backtracking, patronising, and explaining why I was so wrong to believe their “Get points every time you book” spiel. No apology, no “thanks for letting us know“, nothing. All the customer-service skills of a concrete monolith.
Having hit that concrete monolith with no joy, I decided to take it further. Having checked their criteria, I raised it with the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) and I’ve now had a confirmation from them that, having done an initial review, they’re going to investigate it further.
So, that’s going to be entertaining. I’m assuming that getting an ASA investigation done isn’t a trivial step, nor one that the ASA do for the fun of it. I’m also assuming that, because they’re investigating, the complaint has at least some merit.
As and when I hear back, I’ll write more here…