Has No Reservation About Cancelling Happy Hour

, , , , | Working | December 3, 2019

(Every year, my family and I go to the same beach-front timeshare. It has an inside expensive restaurant, a casual bar/lounge, and an outside casual restaurant, all within a two-minute walk of our room, so it’s very convenient. Last year, the inside restaurant was the only part that took reservations. Last year, the food wasn’t great, but in previous years it had been very good. This time I’m with my parents and my two young kids. On Friday night before my kids and I arrive, my parents eat at the bar/lounge. They’re seated pretty quickly and have their meal, which is pretty good. On Saturday night, we go to the outside restaurant, but the live music is too loud for the kids, so we decide to go to the bar/lounge to eat. At the hostess stand there are two people: the manager and another hostess.)

Me: “Hi. We have five for dinner and need a highchair.”

Hostess: “Do you have a reservation?”

Me: “No?”

Hostess: “I’m sorry; we’re only taking reservations tonight.”

Mom: “Since when do you take reservations? Last night we just walked up and were seated right away.”

Manager: “We’ve always required reservations for the lounge. Last night we weren’t very busy, but tonight we want to be sure all guests have the finest service, so we’re only taking reservations.”

(I can see my mom getting really mad, and the service is always slow here so I tell her not to bother; we’ll order takeout from elsewhere and I’ll go pick it up. We do, and it’s fine. Sunday late afternoon, my mom calls the restaurant to make reservations for the bar, since the outside restaurant will have live music again.)

Mom: “This is [Mom]; I’m calling to make a reservation for three adults and two kids at 6:00 pm.”

Restaurant Staff: “Oh, I’m sorry, but we don’t take reservations for the lounge.”

Mom: “You don’t? Oh. All right, then. We’ll just come by at six.”

(We go at six, get seated, and have our dinner. The food is mediocre; I’m a little disappointed. 

The next day, Monday, I go home with my youngest kid, leaving my oldest with my parents, so the rest of this is based on what my mom tells me after. The lounge is having a lobster special and also trivia night, so they decide to eat there yet again. Mom calls a couple of hours in advance to make a reservation just in case.)

Restaurant Staff: “You don’t need to make a reservation.”

Mom: “Are you sure?”

Restaurant Staff: “Yes.”

Mom: “Because that’s not what I was told on Saturday when we tried to eat there.”

Restaurant Staff: “We’ve never taken reservations at the lounge. Who told you that you needed a reservation?”

Mom: “[Manager], the manager.”

Restaurant Staff: “Oh. Well, she was wrong. You don’t need a reservation.”

Mom: “All right. Then we’ll be by in a little while with no reservation.”

(A little after 5:30 pm, they go up to the hostess stand. Only about half the tables are filled, so they expect to be seated pretty quickly.)

Mom: “We have three for dinner.”

Hostess: “Do you have a reservation?”

Mom: “No.”

Hostess: “I’m sorry, but if you don’t have a reservation, it’ll be about half an hour.”

Mom: “I was told you weren’t taking reservations.”

Hostess: “No, we always take reservations.”

Mom: “Listen. We came on Friday and didn’t need reservations. We came on Saturday and were told we needed reservations. We came on Sunday and were told you don’t take reservations. I called this afternoon and was told you don’t take reservations. Now you’re taking reservations. Which is it?!”

Hostess: “Ma’am, I’m sorry, but if you didn’t make a reservation, you’ll have to wait.”

Mom: “I tried! You wouldn’t take my reservation!”

Dad: “Fine. It’s fine. We’ll get a drink while we wait. Just put our name in.”

(They put their name in and go to the bar to order a drink. There is a happy hour special, half-price drinks before 6:00 pm. It’s around 5:50 by this time. My parents order drinks for themselves and a juice for my son. They get their drinks. The bartender takes a few minutes to bring them their bill, and my parents notice a problem.)

Mom: “Excuse me, these aren’t half-price for the happy hour special.”

Bartender: “Ma’am, that special is only until 6:00 pm.”

Mom: “It’s before 6:00 pm.”

Bartender: “No, it’s after 6:00. You can see on your receipt it’s time-stamped at 6:02pm.”

Mom: “But we ordered and got our drinks before six.”

Bartender: “I’m sorry, but the computer will only allow the special before 6:00 pm. I can’t override it.”

Dad: “It’s not our fault you didn’t ring this up until after 6:00 pm! We ordered in plenty of time and even got our drinks before 6:00 pm. We should get the happy hour prices.”

Bartender: “I’m sorry, I can’t override the computer.”

Dad: “I want to speak to your manager.”

(The manager comes, and the bartender explains that the customers want the happy hour prices but the bill was rung up at 6:02 pm.)

Manager: “Sir, I’m sorry, but we can’t override the computer. The happy hour prices are only for before 6:00 pm, and you weren’t here before 6:00 pm.”

Dad: “We ordered before 6:00 pm! We got our drinks before 6:00 pm! The only thing that happened after 6:00 pm was when he rung us up!”

Manager: “Sir, I’m sorry, but the special is only before 6:00 pm, and now it’s after 6:00 pm.”

(The night didn’t really get better after that. They waited almost an hour and a half for their table, and then, only after they complained about the wait and the fact that there were still several empty tables, were seated in another section that’s technically part of the expensive restaurant so they couldn’t be served the lobster special. Fortunately, their server was more willing to help and set up an empty table in the lounge so that they could get the lobster special and also participate in trivia night. The lobster special was good. They did not go back to the lounge after that; it was just too confusing. Next year, I vote for takeout every night; I don’t care if it’s longer than a two-minute walk to get it!)

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