Automated Rudeness

Flakes are ruining it for the rest of us.

I’m a responsible adult who keeps a digital calendar. When I book a table for dinner, I also create an event, complete with reminders. Thanks to this system, I don’t believe I’ve ever missed a reservation in my life. That’s not boasting, it’s just how one should act in society.

Nevertheless, as the dates of my reservations approach, I am frequently assailed by demands that I confirm them. For many years, this took the form of dreaded phone calls. I generally don’t answer unexpected phone calls from strangers, but I will search the web for the number displayed on my caller ID. Sometimes I’d then pick up with a weary sigh, and confirm. Other times, I’d be too slow or unlucky in my searching. Then, I’d wind up with a voicemail that then seemed to require a call back, lest I lose my table. I found the whole process more than a little vexatious.

Lately, things have improved, as these reminders have mostly shifted to texts and emails. Though still annoying, I can live with this. It’s certainly better than forcing me to use my phone as a phone.

A text message request to confirm a reservation.

The restaurant business is a tough one. I sympathize with restaurants who want to maximize their throughput, only to find themselves stymied by flakes. Though I don’t believe I should have to do anything beyond making a reservation and showing up for it, I am willing to text “1” or click a link in an email to confirm that I’ll be where I said I’d be.

However, some places go too far. You see, in addition to reminders like the one above, I’ve received warning texts like this:

A text reading “You’re due at the restaurant in 30 minutes.”

Though it’s factual, this text just reads terribly to me. When I first saw it years ago, I was honestly taken aback. I thought the restaurant itself was being ungracious. However, after seeing it from different businesses, I realized the message was actually sent by online reservations system Resy. As far as I know, restaurants have no control over the message’s content. That’s a shame, because it’s making them look discourteous.

So, then, a plea to Resy: How about improving this language, to make it a little softer, a little more friendly? Perhaps something like “Motorino is looking forward to serving you in 30 minutes”. Anything would be better than this impolite nagging.