You have probably seen Restaurant.com advertised online but maybe weren't sure what it was or how it worked. Or maybe you did investigate the site but were hesitant to pay for a discount up front because you wondered if it would be honored.
I, too, had the same doubts but have since found that Restaurant.com can provide significant discounts to many Baltimore restaurants. And I have never had a problem with a certificates' acceptance.
The trick is to read the fine print. But the fine print is actually quite prominently displayed, so you should always know what the conditions of the discount are prior to purchase. Scroll down for more on conditions and terms.
How Restaurant.com WorksCustomers buy a gift certificate online for a specific amount and restaurant, paying a fraction of its face value. Customers print out their discount certificates, which are good for one year, and bring them to the restaurants. (Certificates are not sent by regular mail.)
For instance, a $25 certificate to Arcos Restaurant in Fells Point might only cost you $10. Most certificates give at least a 50 percent discount. Often Restaurant.com offers special discounts that give an additional percentage or dollar amount off.
Steps for purchasing Restaurant.com certificates:
- First, browse Baltimore restaurants. The easiest way is to use your zip code. If you are interested in restaurants in the Inner Harbor, Fells Point, Canton, Federal Hill or Mount Vernon, the 21201 zip code will call up all of them.
- Choose a restaurant. Read conditions and exclusions in the grey box on the right of the screen. Click on restaurant name and read description.
- Choose an amount (notice that the conditions, usually the minimum purchase, might change). Add to cart. If you have a discount code, enter it and hit "Apply."
- Register, if you are not already registered. You will need to provide your email for a confirmation to be sent.
- When you are done shopping, proceed to checkout. Enter billing address. (Remember certificates will not be mailed to this address.) Pay using credit card, Pay Pal or Give Anything. Submit order.
- Confirmation and details will be emailed to you. (No need to take the survey that pops up at the end of the process.) If you have any trouble accessing your email, you can always go back to Restaurant.com, click on "My Account" in upper right, then click "View and Print Certificates."
- Print certificate and bring to restaurant. It is always best to mention the certificate to your server when you are seated. The restaurant must call to activate your certificate.
Conditions and ExclusionsSome of Restaurant.com's general conditions include:
- One redemption per party, per month, per restaurant.
- Certificates expire in one year.
- Can't be combined with other discounts.
- No refunds, but gift certificates can be exchanged at Restaurant.com within 90 days of purchase.
All of the certificates have some additional conditions. Some of the most common ones are listed below, though I have not seen any restaurants with all of these conditions.
- Minimum purchase (excluding tax and tip) - This is the most common condition. It varies depending on discount certificate amount.
- Weekends, holidays or other dates excluded
- Alcohol excluded
- Dinner only
- Lunch only (less common)
- Automatic gratuity added to pre-discounted bill
- Dine in only
In my experience most do restaurants do offer more the next month, though not always on the first day of the month. Keep in mind these restaurants still honor certificates already purchased even while they are not selling new certificates.