Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Security Reservations on OpenTable Checks

UPDATE:  Friday, 8/20 - Upon checking the website, the company has changed their pdf poster.  I have removed the copy of the original poster from this website as well.
But I have to say, this is a poorly constructed mechanism to inform their members about important financial transactions.  And there is a very important difference between OpenTable Restaurant checks and Traveler's checks, even if phony, a Traveler's check will never be returned to the payee.
I was visiting the website today (this is where businesses conduct their OpenTable relationship) not logged in, just a "regular Amy" checking it out, and noticed an alert in red ink:

Who knew that OpenTable was getting in the "traveler's check" business, I guess it's their way of capturing part of the gift certificate market, or maybe they issue their rewards this way.   Anyhow, it was news to me, we haven't had one presented before at Sevy's Grill.

Apparently anticipating greater numbers of these checks during the holiday season, they were letting us know to train our staff should one be presented as payment.  Continuing, they added the next really helpful message:

Useful Facts about Dining Cheques
1. Accepting Dining Cheques is part of the OpenTable contract.
(Does this seem a little pushy for a company that makes money off of their  client transactions?  I mean it's not like they're VISA or anything).

Attached was a PDF file "an informational poster to download and print and post for your employees".  And upon downloading it, this is where the SHIT HIT THE FAN

Photocopied onto this PDF file (completely accessible to anyone who goes to was full pictures of the two types of checks OpenTable is issuing - including their bank account and routing numbers.

So let me get this straight - me, member, paying YOU fees, must accept a check that YOU HAVE PROVIDED FREE OF CHARGE TO ANY ONLINE THIEF WITH A PRINTER AND A SUPPLY OF BLANK CHECKING PAPER?  Don't think so.  Because when we are presented with this old-fashioned payment, we have to deposit it, and won't find out for days that it is a forgery. 

And I have a reservation with that, "Security"!

UPDATE:  So admittedly I'm not the best at explaining a situation, re-reading the above is confusing even to me.  So to elaborate, let me put it in the form of a fictional story scenario.

One night at a restaurant, not so far away, a random guest pays for all, or a portion of his dinner check with a "Checque" [please].  The server takes it to the back of the restaurant (it's printed as payable to any Member restaurant) compares it to the check photos on the "informational poster" provided, and hey, it's a match.  Thank you sir and have a good night.

The check is deposited in the bank, and a few days later the restaurant is informed that "sorry", it was a forgery.  Downloaded off the internet - in fact the company website itself, graphically perfected, printed on blank check paper by a ring of (fill in your favorite ethnicity here) thieves, who printed thousands of these checks, selling them over a 24 hour period for 25 cents on the dollar on an internet sales site, called Teebay.

By the time the first check is redeemed, refused and returned to the restaurant, the site is closed down and the restaurant eats the lost money.  Or OpenTable does.  Which would it be?

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