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911 Reservations: Actual fraud? [UPDATED]

Here’s a disturbing update on the 911 Reservations story:

I got an email from Louise Maurice, who purchased a Valentine’s Day reservation at Repast restaurant from 911 Reservations for $40. That amount was charged to her credit card through the service’s PayPal account.

I also spoke to Repast’s owner, Joe Truex, who said that he spoke on the phone to a man who tried to reconfirm the reservation and expressly told him that it would not be honored.

When I spoke with Gwinnett County district attorney Danny Porter about the legality of this service, he said it was fine as long as the administrators didn’t sell a reservation they knew wouldn’t be honored.

That begs the question: Does this sound like a case of theft by deception, pure and simple?

(UPDATE: At 4:25 p.m., Maurice received an email from 911 Reservations with a refund.)

(Full disclosure: I do know both Maurice and Truex socially.)

10 comments Add your comment

Lincoln

February 12th, 2010
4:16 pm

Yes. But all 911 would have to do is refund the money.

intowner

February 12th, 2010
5:44 pm

If I were Joe Truex I would contact Louise Maurice and have them at my restaurant on Valentines. She thought she was participating in a legal venture like premium tickets. I do understand him not accepting a reservation from the 911 dude, but it was a good idea, but not properly executed. If I were the 911 dude I would get busy with the refunds or expect to be prosecuted soon. Guarantee he is not sleeping well tonight.

Jsa7405

February 12th, 2010
6:43 pm

Is this really that different than a concierge at a fancy hotel saving reservations for big wig guests. Try calling many New York restaurants the moment the lines open and I bet all they will have is 5 and 10 o’clock reservations. Just a thought.

Foodgeek

February 12th, 2010
6:45 pm

If I were Joe Truex I would certainly tell Louise Maurice that she’s welcome in my restaurant at any time, but I’d also encourage her to prosecute. If there is any legal means to nab the people behind this, then it would be a good idea to take it to court to send a powerful message to anyone else out there who thinks that this would be “a great business idea.” We don’t need this to happen so often that all restaurants will not only have to take credit cards, but pre-charge the estimated cost of your meal on them, just to make sure they don’t lose money. Let’s not make dining out that unpleasant.

Foodgeek

February 12th, 2010
7:13 pm

Very different from the treatment that concierges get, for a long list of reasons:

1) Concierges don’t actually “set aside” reservations for hotel guests. They call the restaurant and ask if anything is available, and if the restaurant has a relationship with that concierge, they try to accommodate in exchange for having extra business thrown their way by the hotel.
2) Concierges usually send business over from business travelers who are staying in town on a weeknight, when some of these nicer restaurants are likely to have tables open. It’s rare to get a call from a concierge on weekend nights trying to squeeze someone in.
3) I’ve never even heard of a concierge trying to get a guest into a nice, upscale, highly regarded restaurant on Valentine’s day, because they know that all of those restaurants are booked a month in advance. Sometimes they might direct you to one of the lesser restaurants that they know will not be booked (because they’re not very good) if you’re really desperate.
4) Those New York restaurants that tell you that they’re booked? They’re actually booked. Restaurants don’t turn down people for secret, nefarious reasons like saving a table for a potential guest from a concierge. If they had a table, they’d give it to you, because it’s in their best interest to do so.
Really, this conversation gets more ridiculous as time wears on.

Patrick Loomis

February 13th, 2010
10:39 am

Repast is not a huge restaurant so I can understand them not honoring the reservation. It’s not just the 911reservations.com people who are trying to pull a fast one, but also the people who are willing to send them money, and then lie in the faces of Maitre D’s and managers, saying they are someone they are not, just to get a table. I don’t see them as victims here as much as all the people who were willing to get on the Wait List, but wouldn’t have gotten in because these guys had clogged up the pipeline with their phony spots. And do you think they would have done these places the courtesy of a phone call if they didn’t sell them? Doubtful…

Paddy

February 14th, 2010
9:57 am

I have my reservations about 911 Reservations! Think I will pass on this company.

Food Fan

February 15th, 2010
3:39 pm

Repast is awful anyway. Better that the person didn’t get in.

Jaime A Salvat

February 16th, 2010
3:43 pm

Now that St Valentine day has past, so will Repast.
In the future if you want a reservation in the best restaurants in Atlanta, or Boca Raton FL. call me at 404-262-2675 at Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, and will for sure find you acommodations in one of our famous and world acclaimed restaurants.

Jaime A Salvat

February 16th, 2010
4:01 pm

My Apologies to Repast; I meant 911 Reservations will be a thing of the past on my last comment.