Tactics are apparently rough in the business of online dinner reservations. An employee for OpenTable, the nation's No. 1 such service, made 300 fake reservations over three months at dozens of Chicago restaurants through rival service Reserve, reports Eater Chicago. The idea was to make Reserve look bad. As many as 1,300 expected diners didn't show up, including on Valentine's Day, representing a significant loss of income for the restaurants, Reserve CEO Greg Hong tells BuzzFeed. His company figured out the scheme after looking into the data and notified OpenTable on Feb. 21. OpenTable fired the employee a day later, making clear the person "acted alone."
"We immediately terminated this employee because we have a zero-tolerance policy for any unethical behavior," OpenTable said in an email to its restaurant customers. It's "disgraceful, unsanctioned behavior," CEO Christa Quarles added in a statement. She stressed the "rogue" employee wasn't in a managerial or sales position and said affected restaurants would be reimbursed for lost revenue. At least one of those restaurants, Tavern at the Park, switched to Reserve from OpenTable in June 2017. "I'm so upset with OpenTable that I think the company should leave Chicago," the co-owner tells Eater. (The company has other issues.)