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So a few weeks ago, my mom bought some Restaurant.com “gift certificates” for me. It seemed like a good deal – $25 gift certificates for just $2. Not bad, right? Well, that is until you read the fine print and actually go to one of their “participating” restaurants…

Twain's Restaurant[Flickr/Twain]

To sum up my dining experience this evening in a nutshell, the restaurant did NOT accept my Restaurant.com gift certificate. In fact, so many customers before me have tried to redeem their coupons that the restaurant has had to post a sign on their front door stating that they would not honor them. What the heck, Restaurant.com?! Seems like you’re just arbitrarily listing any restaurant that you can think of on your site as a participant. What a MAJOR FAIL!

Coincidentally, my mom decided to try and use her Restaurant.com coupon this evening as well. While she had a completely different experience, it was equally as disappointing as my experience.

Rather than telling you the story, let me break it down with some simple math:

Here’s the premise: The Restaurant.com gift certificate for this restaurant requires the user to spend at least $50 and provide an %18 minimum gratuity on the pre-discounted meal.

Cost of the meal: $58
Cost of the gift certificate: $2
Tip: $10
Tax: $5
Discount: $25
Total: $50

In the words of Mastercard, this is “priceless” and ridiculously ironic if you ask me. Once again, MAJOR FAIL!

Now believe you me, I have no intention of ever using Restaurant.com again and I am pretty sure my mom feels the same way,  but don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what some other more prominent bloggers have to say:

  • Consumerist – Chris Walters calls it “shady” and warns consumers to watch out for a no good, sneaky third-party vendor – Shopping Essentials – that wants $15 from you every month in exchange for a non-existent service.
  • WiseBread – As much as I like and respect WiseBread, I can’t help but wonder if Xin Liu and her readers have been force feed Restaurant.com Kool-Aid, ’cause the feedback is overwhelmingly positive and supportive.