I wanted to take an opportunity to review Restaurant.com because it was one of those deals that just sounded too good to be true. How can a company offer $25 gift certificates to restaurants and only charge you $10 (or less if a coupon is involved) and actually be a deal that is for real? I was a skeptic, but was willing to take a gamble on it to enjoy an evening out with my husband.
We purchased our gift certificate for $25 for a mere $4 because they happened to be running a great sale on the gift certificates. When we typed in our zip code, it popped up a few restaurants in our area that were participating. Last year when I had checked there had not been restaurants in our area, so this was a pleasant surprise.
We chose a nice Italian place for dinner and I purchased the gift certificate. I did read through the terms of the gift certificate before purchasing it and still was a little puzzled by all of it. For example, this gift certificate had said that I needed to spend $35 to get a $25 gift certificate. Did this mean I needed to spend $35 at Restaurant.com or did this mean the restaurant itself? Only when I received the gift certificate did I understand that I was supposed to spend $35 at the restaurant and not the website. Would have been nice to know so I thought I would mention this in case anyone else has the same weird confusion.
I purchased the gift certificate for one particular restaurant and a copy of the gift certificate was emailed to me as well as available immediately for printing. You have the ability at this time to make a reservation through the website. This is not required, but I thought it might make the process go smoother and alert the restaurant that I was using one of these certificates (remember I said that I was a little concerned that this was a hoax?) Within a minute of placing the reservation I received an automated call from Restaurant.com to thank me for placing my reservation and that they were confirming it.
We went to dinner that night and had two entrees and two glasses of wine. The total bill was over the amount needed for us to use the certificate so meeting a $35 minimum purchase at the restaurant was not a problem at all! When we received the bill, we tucked the certificate inside and waited for the manager to come out and tell us that we couldn’t use it.
The waiter came out with our bill revised with the $25 removed from the total tab. Now we could let the excitement really begin because it was the real deal! Our evening, including our tip and the $4 purchase price) was about the cost of one entrée at the restaurant.
Now why in the world would a restaurant be open to doing this? Well, if it is a small mom and pop shop, this is a great way to get new faces in the door and let them know about your restaurant. For example, the place we went to was so great that I now want to go there for my birthday. Mission accomplished by the restaurant to get me to be a reoccurring customer. This is also a great way for a new restaurant to get their name out there. The places that were offered were great and they probably know that they are great. They know that they are so great that they can give you food (practically free) and know that you will probably come back and pay top dollar for the same entrée.
Here are a breakdown of the positives & negatives of the gift certificates:
· It is a very inexpensive way to try out a restaurant without paying a lot of money.
· The certificates are instant- no waiting for them to be put in the mail to you.
· The company guarantees the certificates. If, for some strange reason, you are having trouble with a particular restaurant they will refund your money.
· The website provides pictures of the restaurant and it includes the menu so you know exactly where you are going and what they have to offer.
· You can get gift certificates as gifts for other people. You do not have to decide which restaurant they should go to (unless you wish to do this) so when they receive their certificate they can pick the place in their area that fits them best.
· The certificates can also be used for online retailers that have partnered with Restaurant.com
· There is fine print on these certificates. The things that stood out for me were that you are only allowed to redeem one of these per month per restaurant, you are not allowed to use two certificates at the same time (even if you have separate checks), and each individual restaurant has the choice to decide whether your alcohol tab can be applied to the gift certificate.
· The choices in smaller towns may be minimal or not at all. They seem to be expanding, but the big city folks definitely get more choices.
· When given as a gift, the recipient needs to know that they will be responsible for a portion of their bill (remember the $25 off of a $35 purchase) and that they can only use one certificate at a time.
The reason I mention these is that they do make excellent gifts. Giving someone fifty dollars in gift certificates when spending a fraction of the price is a great thing for frugal folks like me. These would be great for a college student (as they could apply this in their area) or could be used when you are traveling and want to be able to dine out without spending a bunch of money.
If you do decide to get one of these, I would love if you clicked through our banner above on our site. We have become affiliated with this program and would appreciate the credit for it.
The current coupon code (good through DECEMBER 10th) is Code#: 73515. When totaling your bill enter the code and then hit, “Recalculate” and this will give you fifty percent off of the price of the gift certificates.
If you have had experience using Restaurant.com, feel free to share it…good or bad!