Table reservation is the new black. You can read more about it here
As I said, the big daddy Zomato has entered the space recently.
Last week, a call on Sunday from friends led to my calling up Fatty Bao for reservations for Friday evening. They were polite – Pankaj attended and informed me up front that it is on WL and we will call you. Fair enough. (Disclaimer: I have already eaten twice at Fatty Bao, like the place, food, service. The first time we were early and so spent time at the Bar)
The friends were insistent about eating there, never having been there or in Bangalore or Delhi; hence I decided to check again on Wednesday. Fired the app and was surprised to see reserve a table service. However, since I already had a WL decided to call them. 12 noon to 2.30 the phone rang but nobody picked up. (This is the zomato service that they offer restaurants)
I decided to check out the table reservation; in parallel tweeted to Fatty Bao about calling me back.
A fair amount of Free advice floated to me:
- Why should they respond here?
- It is your fault for not checking with them
- Make alternate reservations
- Fatty Bao is so good that you won’t get reservations. And so on
Trying out the App offering, showed me the following:
Trying various combinations – Nos of people, time, date – none of seemed to work. To be fair somebody else managed to book a table for 2 people. However, I do not understand if the system is limited to number of people or is automated like airlines or is manual operated by the restaurants themselves.
Their tweet was 23 days old so did not bother, but tried the number on the Bio and a lady picked up spoke in hindi and said this is a personal number.
Finally got thru to a lady called Sonam(or Sonia) who said it was still on WL and if somebody cancels, we would give you the reservation. Or you can come at 10.30 pm and there would be a table, which I refused. Answer to my question ‘Are there chances, gave the same answer’. And she was unable to answer my question, why was your phone ringing but nobody picked it up. An hour later, Pankaj called up with the same spiel – do not know if they really call up or because I called up or I tweeted. And I was informed that Friday by 5-6 pm I would receive a call if my reservation is confirmed or not, but we cannot say anything.
We cancelled the reservation on Thursday night, went somewhere else.
Do I blame Zomato or The Fatty Bao?
No, absolutely not. They are here to do business and make money. However, the following points left me irritated:
- Table reservation cannot be a lottery system on an App where the house always wins. If you have just two seating 8.30 pm and 10.30 pm Why would you have options of different timings open?
- So many options cannot be full and if they are, switch of the Table reservation system.
- Most restaurants, hotels, airlines over book and offer WL, however been in the business for a while, there is some data which tells you – that you cannot accommodate 6-8 pax on a Friday evening on WL; so be upfront about that.
- As a customer facing operation, being on twitter should mean a reply in at least an hour. And not checking the wrong number is a bit much.
- There was no response to the tag and questions asked from Zomato also.
All this can be fixed in half a day. I have had experience with Manu and Deepinder who are proactive about such things and hopefully would act upon it.
For, those who asked me, Will I go again, Of course, To me this is no deal breaker, except that I am probably more finicky about customer approach, communication and behaviour.